Thursday, April 10, 2014

Perfect World

“Well, I know what it is
But I don’t know where it is.”
    “Perfect World,” Talking Heads

I’ve been listening to the Talking Heads “Little Creatures” album in anticipation of a documentary about the band at Gardner Center Saturday.  Rolling Stone named the album cover, designed by Howard Finster, the best of 1985.
 Anne Balay discussing "Steel Closets" at IUN's Savannah Center; photo by Amanda Board 
At the request of the student LGBT group Connectionz, Anne Balay discussed and read passages from “Steel Closets” at IUN’s Savannah Center as part of “Week of Silence,” a takeoff on the “Day of Silence” custom in certain high schools of students not speaking for a day to call attention to bullying of those thought to be LGBT.  They carried cards that explained why they were mute.  Although only a couple professors showed up, there were probably 30 or 40 students, staff members, and outside guests, many of whom purchased the book.  Since nobody was prepared to introduce her, I volunteered and mentioned the grave injustice of her being denied tenure and promotion.  Afterwards, Mathematics professor Axel Schulze-Halberg expressed disbelief that such a travesty occurred.

Anne stressed how isolated the mills are and how she got inside one by joining a group of Eastern Europeans being given a tour.  The spirited 90-minute program produced much audience feedback.  Librarian Audrea Davis pointed out that virtually everyone in her family went into the mill after high school despite it being a very dangerous environment.  One man asked Anne about her views on same-sex marriage.  She said that she’s been married twice, to a man and to a woman -  and it’s not for her.  She added that if couples want to get married, the government should not stop them.  Furthermore, same-sex couples deserve the same benefits and protections as married couples.  If a gay or lesbian steelworker gets injured on the job, for instance, his mate ought to be told and allowed hospital visitation.  Asked about her future research plans, Anne is considering a book on why people, including LGBTs, choose to live in places like Gary that seem to be inhospitable environments.

The Associated Press picked up Joseph Pete’s NWI Times article about Anne; as a result, it has appeared in several other newspapers throughout Indiana, as well as the Wisconsin Gazette. I hope it catches the attention of IU administrators and trustees as well as possible future employers.

In the cafeteria Beth LaDuke was having a late lunch; I told her about the program, Anne’s party, our Lakeshore radio appearance, and Emma’s latest idea of possibly attending an Episcopal seminary in Ireland so she can work with homeless people.
John, Tom, and Jane Kreuger

Stopping by the Archives with a treasure trove of family photos and memorabilia was John DeGan, nephew of Tom Krueger, whose WW II letters home were the basis of a book Steve McShane and I edited, “Skinning Cats.”  I gave him a copy of Steel Shavings, volume 41 (2011), which contains three references to the Krueger family.  In the Carl Krueger Collection, named after Tom’s father, are 600 pages of letters that Helene Roames wrote to sister Catherine while living in postwar Japan and Korea.  Helene’s daughter Judy discovered online that they were in the Archives, and volunteer Maurice Yancy made copies for her.
 Zuong Zedong

“Ping-Pong Diplomacy” by Nicholas Griffin documents the much-publicized 1971 visit to Beijing by an American team, which helped bring about a thaw in the Cold War by preparing the way for President Nixon’s visit the following year. During the Cultural Revolution, Chinese champions such as Zhuang Zedong had been beaten, abused, and humiliated.  With Mao’s approval Zhou Enlai brought them back into favor.  The rapprochement between the two countries was primarily the result of fear of the Soviet Union.  Rumored to have been Madame Mao’s lover, Zedong again fell out of favor after the Chairman’s death when she and other members of the so-called “Gang of Four” were purged.  After four years in solitary confinement, he got an obscure job in a Beijing sports school.

Zedong’s flamboyant American counterpart, Glenn Cowan, fared even worse.  In New York Review of Books Roderick MacFarquhar wrote: “Cowan entered China wearing his ‘Let It Be’ t-shirt, purple tie-dye pants, and a floppy yellow hat and carrying a bag of dirty clothes, condoms, and marijuana.”  Appearing afterwards on the “Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson and “Dinah’s Place” with Dinah Shore, he had ambitious plans for his own talk show and to launch table tennis centers around the country.  Neither panned out and, suffering paranoid delusions, Cowan eventually was living out of his car and then on the street.  He died in 2004 at age 51.  As Nicholas Griffin wrote: “Cowan’s trajectory had been very American.  He had been shot into the stratosphere, tested against the market without a safety net, and then cracked in two by a hard fall.”

Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “The Bully Pulpit” contains an interesting portrait of muckraking journalist Ida Tarbell, whose father’s oil refining business was destroyed by John D. Rockefeller’s securing secret rebates from railroad companies for Standard Oil Company.  As a teenager, Tarbell vowed never to marry and graduated from Allegheny College, the lone female in her class.  After writing for The Chautauquan magazine, she journeyed to Paris at age 33 and enjoyed the bohemian lifestyle of an American expatriate.  She wrote articles that caught the eye of publisher S.S. McClure, who convinced her to join the staff of McClure’s Magazine.  Tarbell avenged his father’s misfortune by exposing Rockefeller’s ruthless business practices in a series of articles later published in book form as “The History of the Standard Oil Company.”

Northwest Indiana enjoyed (finally) a nice spring day as East Chicago Central’s tennis season began with a match against Griffith.  Coach Dave Lane (my son) said the team was deep but had no natural ace.  They prevailed, 3-2, winning the two doubles matches and number 2 singles.

Dave said his students enjoyed the Sandra Cisneros event.  Several years ago a surly kid refused to do any work until Dave persuaded him to read “The House on Mango Street.”  Now the young man is in grad school.  On Facebook senior Denzel Smith posted photos plus this tribute to my son: I honestly wouldn't have had the birthday I had without this man! You truly are a huge blessing to me. Thank you for the lunch, the laughs, and most of the love. You have been a great teacher, uncle lol, mentor, and most of all friend! East Chicago is a better place because of you! I love you Lane!”
Keon Kendall Brown; NWI Times photo by Damian Rico

Keon Kendall Brown, East Chicago Central senior class president, likely saved Dialma Diaz’s life after she suffered a seizure and her vehicle crashed into Brown’s home.  After securing his siblings safety, Brown pulled a five year-old and Diaz from the car.  Then, noticing that Diaz was choking on her tongue and having had an EMT class, he pulled the tongue out of her throat.  Police chief told NWI Times reporter Damian Rico: “This kid is inspiring.  I don’t know many adults that could have been that cool under pressure and handled the situation so heroically.  This community is a special place that really cares, and Keon is a prime example.”

Facebook lately has been sneaking ads into my stream of messages.  I found out how to “unfollow” them, but it still seems an intrusion.  On the up side I received friend requests from two old Upper Dubliners, Dave Seibold and Nancy Schade, Molly’s younger sister who we all called Sissy.  Nancy recently got married; Dave posted a photo with a sheephead or “convict fish” he caught off a dock.

Rhiman Rotz’s mother bequeathed a nice sum to the Rotz memorial scholarship fund set up by wife Brenda.  Diana Chen-lin informed that amount given annually has ballooned in the 13 years since Rhiman passed away.

IUN’s School of Education contretemps has resulted in Health and Human Services Dean Pat Bankston becoming interim dean until a replacement is found for Lora Bailey, who remains a professor in the department.  It might be a pyrrhic victory for those who wanted a return to the previous dean’s hands-off leadership style because Bankston is a no-nonsense type who shook up and straightened out the School of Public and Environmental Affairs under similar circumstances.

The wife of fellow bowler Jim Carson being an Education adjunct professor, we discussed the shake-up, which evidently goes deeper than just deposing the dean.  One wonders, could the Women’s and Gender Studies faculty have saved Anne’s job had they marched to the Chancellor’s office demanding her retention and threatening to stop participating in the program?  If Vernon Smith was leading them, as was the case last week, probably so.
 John and Doris Ban (behind Doris is Julie Peller)
Chemistry professor Julie Peller had Anne Balay sign her copy of “Steel Closets” at lunch, and I told her how much fun it was to hear her dad, former Education professor John Ban, talk about music during World War II at Reiner Center and how touching it was when he and wife Doris danced to one of the songs.  Prior to the talk, Julie joked, her dad needed help on how to do a power point presentation.  He ended up quite adept at playing music and YouTube clips whereas I generally get someone to do that for me when I’m speaking to groups.

After two games in the 180s I had just 53 going into the sixth frame but then spared out to finish with a 144 and a 517 series.  Unbelievably I picked up 6-7 and 4-7-10 splits, earning high fives from Valpo Muffler bowlers John and Denny (who rolled a 700 series).  We squeaked out one game against a superior team.

IUN Off-Campus Instructional Sites Coordinator Lori Weed called from Portage University Center to ask if the Archives wanted a flyer from the 1950s advertising IU classes at Seaman Hall in downtown Gary.  Concrete worker Clifton Driver discovered it while refurnishing a building.  During the 1980s Weed worked for Communication and Fine Arts and remembered Garratt Cope, Jim Tolhuizen, and Gary Wilk.  Down the hall was receptionist Shirley Karageorge, a former student, contributor to my Fifties Shavings, and department secretary.

1 comment:

  1. Axel didn't express disbelief, but rather surprise, Like the mills, our campus creates noise, but no communication. Other faculty often don't know the status of tenure cases, and Axel was trying to learn more about what happened to me, and why.