Monday, April 14, 2014


“Adults are obsolete children.” Dr. Seuss
James (in hat) and Becca (with flower); photos by Angela Lane

James and Becca shined in the Discovery Charter School production of “Seussical the Musical, Jr.” with James playing Horton the Elephant and Becca Horton’s nemesis, the Sour Kangeroo.  Based in large part on Dr. Seuss’s, “Horton Hears a Who!,” it traces the elephant’s attempts to help out tiny residents of Who-ville, located on a speck of dust. The original “Seussical” opened on Broadway in 2000, and a one-act version designed for middle schools debuted ten years ago.  There were around 80 cast members, and, amazingly, everything went without a hitch despite no dress rehearsal due to a three-day camping trip.  Alice Sasak’s granddaughter Anali was a “Jungle Citizen,” and county auditor Mike Brown was with the mother of Jaden and Tiffany Nolasco.  Jaden was one of the Wickershim brothers, Tiffany a fish.

In the “Meet the Cast” section of the “Seussical” program was this statement about fourth grader Linus Majcherczyk, who played Yertle the Turtle: “Although this is his first stage production, he is inspired by his favorite characters: James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, Iron Man, and Finn the Human.  He has been known to keep character for days on end.”  Finn is a character in the Cartoon Network series “Adventure Time,” the only human in the land of Ooo, the others having been wiped out in “The Great Mushroom War.”
above, Finn the Human; below, S.S. McClure

According to Doris Kearns Goodwin, during the early 1870s publisher S.S. McClure attended Valparaiso’s newly built high school.  In exchange for a basement room and board, McClure had to do numerous chores for Dr. Levi Cass.  He lacked a winter coat and ran to school, later commenting, “Speed was my overcoat.”  Born in Ireland, Sam lost his father when he was seven and his stepfather, a Hoosier farmer, when he was 16, forcing him to quit school for a year.  He eventually graduated from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, before moving to New York and establishing America’s first newspaper syndicate and then McClure’s Magazine.  McClure once said: “If I like a thing, then I know that millions will like it.  My mind and my taste are so common that I’m the best editor.” 

In 2005, on the occasion of S.S. McClure’s induction into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame, Ray Boomhower wrote: To fund his education, McClure worked as a teacher at a country school, clerked in a grocery store, and served as a printer’s devil for the Valparaiso Vidette. At the newspaper, McClure learned how set type and prepare an edition for circulation. What he remembered best, however, was learning how to swear. ‘Profanity was the accepted etiquette about a country newspaper,’ he said. With a friend named Charley Griffith, McClure also raised funds for his education by buying old cows cheaply, butchering them, and selling the meat. The two boys also traveled to Anderson, Indiana, where they found jobs grading the track for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.”

IUN graduating senior Marla Gee has been accepted to Valparaiso Law School despite being in her late 50s, evidently not a handicap in the eyes of the admissions committee.  She’ll be a real people’s attorney.  I wrote a letter on her behalf and am invited to her graduation party.

Every book on the final day of the Anthropology dollar sale was free because Bob Mucci has vowed this would be the last big one.  I picked up Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America” (recommended by Mike Bayer when published ten years ago).  Frank examines why so many farmers and workers continue to vote against their own interests.  Referring to a city in Kansas, he writes: “Even as Republican economic policies laid waste to the city’s industries, unions, and neighborhoods, the townsfolk responded by lashing out on cultural issues, eventually winding up with a hard-right Republican Congressman, a born-again Christian who campaigned largely on an anti-abortion platform.  Today the city looks like a miniature Detroit.”

I also discovered “The Road to Indianapolis: Inside a Season of Indiana High School Basketball” by Mark and Mike Plaiss.  On the cover was Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson in a Gary Roosevelt uniform.  To my delight the book dealt with the 1990-1991 season when the ‘Velt won it all.  In Roosevelt’s Regional match-up against East Chicago Central at John A. Baratto Athletic Center the Panthers trailed most of the gamer; only a heroic performance by Robinson kept it close.  In double overtime Glenn hit a turnaround jumper with seconds left, his 40th and 41st points, to give Roosevelt an 81-80 victory.  Dave and I were right under the basket and had a clear view of Robinson jumping for joy and, uncharacteristically pumping a fist in the air. After the Panthers beat Andrean later that evening, Coach Ron Heflin said: “If Glenn isn’t the best player in the state of Indiana, there is no sun in the universe.”  Two weeks later Roosevelt beat Indianapolis Brebeuf by 19 for the state title, and Robinson was subsequently named Mr. Basketball.

According to Rolling Stone, many heroin addicts in Vermont first got hooked on prescription drugs such as Vicodin and OxyContin.  Devoting his entire State of the State address to the “full-blown” crisis, Governor Peter Shumlin categorized the epidemic as a public health problem.  Ironically, crackdowns on “pill mills” caused a spike in heroin usage.

Geologists have noted increased seismic activity in areas of Oklahoma where fracking (hydraulic fracturing) is taking place.  Small tremors have also occurred in the Youngstown, Ohio, area near the Marcellus Shale basin.  In the crime novel “Light of the World” by James Lee Burke the protagonist’s daughter is investigating the ruinous environmental consequences of fracking. It takes place near Lolo, Montana, where 77 year-old Burke lives.  His distrust of corporations echoes mine, and his women characters are tough as nails. 

A large Gardner Center crowd was on hand for the 1984 Talking Heads concert movie “Stop Making Sense,” directed by Jonathan Demme (most famous for “Silence of the Lambs”).  Collecting money at the door, Judy Ayers expressed the hope that hubby Gene, an introducer along with Dan Rybicky, wouldn’t make a fool of himself.  He didn’t but his enthusiasm about his favorite band was palpable.  After he announced that a surprise guest was in the house, out came George Rogge dressed like David Byrne and wearing a brown wig.  A Lew Wallace grad like fellow attendee Mike Chirich, George skillfully performed a routine with a lamp that Byrne would later do during “This Must Be the Place (Naïve Melody).”

Corey Hagelberg had seen “Stop Making Sense” many times and credited it for bringing he and Kate together.  When David Byrne ran around the stage during one number, Rogge did a couple laps around the Gardner Center.  What a showman.  The rowdy crowd, including Miller Bakery Café “Happy Hour” regulars, loved it. David Byrne enunciates lyrics very clearly although often the meaning escaped me or seemed not to make sense.  As Dr. Seuss once exclaimed, however, “I like nonsense; it wakes up the brain cells.”  People were dancing in the back; Kate convinced Corey to get up, and I noticed Karren Lee swaying to the beat.  Gene and Judy Ayers were getting ready to join in when suddenly the sound went out.  With about ten minutes to go someone had cranked the amp all the way up, and it started smoking.  It was quite an evening to remember.

Afterwards I introduced myself to Dan Rybicky, who teaches film at Columbia College in Chicago and in his introductory remarks said that he knew Miller Beach was a cool community when his realtor told him that he loved the Talking Heads.  Gene had called him erudite, and while he certainly was that, Dan said he was mainly a fan.  He lives next door to Anne Balay and is reading “Steel Closets” and noted that Anne credited me for suggesting that she interview LGBT steelworkers.  Like so many others, Rybicky couldn’t believe IUN was getting rid of her and attributed it to professional jealousy on the part of her superiors and timidity on the part of her supporters.  I filled him in on some of the details.  Anne is a 2014 Diversity Award Nominee.  There are three categories – champion, advocate, and friend.  I doubt that administrators will attend if committee has the guts to honor her.

Bill Payonk, who teaches at Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in Gary, mentioned that the same nonprofit corporation, AQS (American Quality Schools) that oversees Bowman also runs Discovery Charter School.  In fact, he knows principal Ernesto Martinez and once considered seeking a job there.  AQS also is connected with East Chicago Urban Enterprise Academy.

I couldn’t find a Carrol Vertrees column in Sunday’s Post-Trib.  Hope the nonagenarian is OK.  His daughter once was in a Talking Heads cover band.  Someone criticized Jeff Manes for just profiling liberals.  While he tends to seek out environmentalists and do-gooders, the criticism is unfair.  A recent interview was with Mike Starcevich, owner of Lik-Lurch Tackle Outlet in Hammond, one of the last Mon and Pop bait shops to be found in the Region. The former tenant of the tackle shop was Stern’s Hardware, forced out of business no doubt by the big chains such as Ace.
 Mike Starcevich with salmon spawn bait

Season seven of “Mad Men” debuted Sunday at the same time as a “Game of Thrones” episode some are calling the “Purple Wedding.”  Unlike last year’s “Red Wedding” that saw popular Robb and Lady Catelyn Stark murdered, the victim this time was despicable King Joffrey, poisoned, we are left to assume, after imbibing wine. Because HBO and AMC ran the shows twice, I caught them both, including in “Mad Men” this snatch of Nixon’s 1969 inaugural address: “We have found ourselves rich in goods but ragged in spirit, reaching with magnificent precision for the moon but falling into raucous discord on earth.”  Kudos to RN’s speechwriter – too bad “Tricky Dick” exploited the country’s divisions rather than tried to heal them. 
In “Mad Men” two months have passed since we last saw Don Draper literally lose it on the job.  Wife Megan has moved to L.A. to pursue her career as an actress.  When he visits her, he buys a huge console TV hat she seems to resent and falls asleep reading a Playboy magazine (is it hers, or did he buy it at the airport?).  We first see gray-haired Roger Sterling naked in a room with a bunch of hippies and then in a hilarious scene with his daughter, a spoiled brat, who says she forgives him for all his failings as a father.  He’ll have none of it and says he forgives her, too.

Vickie was working on he Spring 2015 schedule of classes when I stopped ny the History office.  Nicole Anslover is planning on offering a Women’s History course.  I asked her what she’s teaching in the summer: two online classes.  Ugh!  The campus will be even more deserted than last summer.

No comments:

Post a Comment