Wednesday, May 7, 2014

On a Carousel

“Nearer, nearer by changing horses
Still so far away
People fighting for their places
Just get in the way.”
    “On a carousel,” Hollies
In the latest episode of “Mad Men,” titled “The Monolith,” it’s 1969, the year of the “Miracle Mets,” Nixon’s first year in office, the moon landing, Chappaquiddick, Woodstock, Altamont, and so much more.   The firm is installing a giant computer that in time will transform Sixties corporate culture.  Roger’s married daughter joins a rural commune and takes the name Marigold.  Roger seems to accept her life change but then, despite living with hippies himself, tries (unsuccessfully) to “rescue” her.  Don goes on a drunken binge after ordered to work on a burger franchise project under Betty, his former secretary now apparently on a fast lane to success (“looking like the cat who got the cream,” reviewer Sean T. Collins wrote in Wired, “at least until Don pisses in it”).  Assigned suicide victim Lane Pryce’s office, Don finds an orange NY Mets pennant. The episode ends to the strains of “On a Carousel” by the Hollies, as Don has returned to the fold and is typing out copy.
Under the caption “Happy Mother’s Day” Indiana Historical Society’s In Perspective ran a photo of five babies born in 1983 to 21 year-old Suzanne Gaither in Indianapolis, the world’s first naturally conceived surviving black quintuplets in the world. Riley Hospital’s physician-in-chief Richard Schreiner later said: “It’s such a rare event, just incredible to have quintuplets survive and do well.”  Fifty doctors and nurses were on hand in the delivery room during the Caesarian procedure.
from left, Don Ritchie, Ray Smock, Brian Lamb, Dick Baker

Marylanders Ray Smock, Don Ritchie, and Dick Baker attended a DC book signing for C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb, whose new book is entitled “Sundays at Eight: 25 Years of Stories from C-SPAN’s Q & A and Booknotes.”  Essential ingredients for a good interview, Lamb believed, were preparation and “a guest with an interesting story to tell, who can tell it well.”   I passed on to Smock something that Paul Wilson wrote in the NY Review of Books in an article about Michael Ignatieff's book “Fire and Ashes: Success and Failure in Politics”: “Of all political systems, democracy is the easiest to pervert, because it depends far less on rules than on mutual respect among the players.  When that breaks down, as we have seen in the U.S., good government itself breaks down, and no amount of reform measures can easily bring it back.”

Agreeing, Ray replied: “I would include another even more troubling observation. We no longer have a democracy. It is no longer about the will of the majority. It never has been.  It is about the will of the rich--the 1%.  With recent decisions of the Supreme Court our politicians are bought and paid for in advance and spend most of their time in office sucking up to donors for the next election.  So the people become the puppets in a tiny puppet theater, where we march to the polls with strings attached, happily playing out our democratic roles and genuflecting before the great idea of We the People.  To a substantial degree we have always been a plutocracy. But it is worst now than ever because the plutocrats today represent war industries and energy companies, which have greater control over the masses and the mass media. I am at a loss to see a solution to this mess.”

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany announced that the 2017 conference tournament will take place in Washington, D.C. in order to make newcomers Maryland and Rutgers feel welcome.  The real reason is financial: to expand the Big Ten (TV) Network to new markets.  Previously the event rotated between Chicago and Indianapolis to sell-out crowds.

NWI Times columnist Marc Chase wrote about Private James Merrill, the son of Merrillville pioneer Dudley Merrill, who died during the Battle of the Wilderness, one of 700,000 Civil War casualties.  Beforehand, though strictly forbidden, Merrill’s infantry unit crossed the James River and socialized with Rebels. Chase concludes: “James Merrill’s Civil War story – his desire to better understand the enemy and his death at that enemy’s hands – offers powerful lessons.  How better off would we be if more time was spent finding common ground rather than fighting our rivals?”  Marc obtained his information mainly from historian Craig Dunn’s book about Indiana’s Twentieth Infantry entitled “Harvestfields of Death.”  The 1999 volume begins with these words by a Hoosier volunteer: “When I was sixteen years of age I traded the golden harvestfields of grain for the red harvestfields of death.”

Roosevelt Career Academy parents, angry over an administrative decision to hold the senior prom in Munster’s Centennial Park, are planning a competing prom at Marquette Park Pavilion on the same night of May 9.  Wanda Wyatt told Post-Trib reporter Michael Gonzalez: “The kids were really looking forward to moving about freely, by the beach.  You know, it’s the prom.”  Munster recreation superintendent Barb Halajter had vowed to restrict students to a single building, stating: “With high school students, we’re not going to want them running the grounds.”  EC Central senior class adviser Dave Lane (my son) has encountered troublesome experiences with suburban police forces being less than welcoming to inner city prom-goers.

Extremely light primary day turnout favored incumbent Lake County sheriff John Buncich.  Challenger Richard Ligon, hurt by perennial spoiler Oscar Martinez being on the ballot, trailed Buncich by about 10 points.  Calumet Township trustee Mary Elgin lost to Gary Councilwoman Kimberly Robinson, who had the support of Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and benefitted from a suspiciously timed FBI raid on Elgin’s office in March.  Elgin, a former USWA official who had the backing of Hatcher supporters, told a reporter sarcastically, “Karen [not Kimberly] fought a good race.”
Brenda Ann Love often shares Facebook remarks about her South Shore commute to Chicago.  The latest involves a guy who boarded the train with a large unleashed pit bull, which he claimed was a service animal.  As the conductor was calling for security, the man casually lit up a cigarette.  The incident caused about a half-hour delay, and police cited the man for not having the dog on a leash.

Nicole Anslover will teach a Gender Studies course next year on Women in American History.  With Anne Balay and Pat Buckler having been purged, the program has been seriously depleted.  The disturbing pattern of denying tenure or promotion to female faculty continues unabated.  Meanwhile, IU’s president won an award from the Ant-Defamation League for his commitment to equal opportunity to all – all, that is except open lesbians. The response to my latest Shavings among women faculty, in contrast to the silence of most male colleagues, has been very gratifying.  Maybe is just a case of them having better manners.  Ana Osan wrote, “It simply looks beautiful.  Muchísimas gracias.”  Margaret Skurka called my “continual contribution to NW Indiana beyond terrific.”
above, Audrea Davis; below, Marla Gee
Anne Balay is in Connecticut visiting her dad, a former Yale library director, and bringing daughter Leah home from Smith College.  Photos of the Brother 2 Brother (B2B) diversity banquet briefly appeared on IUN’s Home Page.  One of Anne Balay snuck through as well as one I’m in with event planner James Wallace.  Now the site has profiles of four students, Laura Rowen, Isabella Juretic, Bridget Swope, and DeJuan DeVoe, the latter a B2B member.  When DeJuan first wanted to go to college, he couldn’t afford the tuition, so he joined the navy and then received benefits as a veteran.
Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren appeared on Diane Rehn’s NPR program discussing her new book “A Fighting Chance.”  She mentioned that when her “daddy” died suddenly of a heart attack, her stay-at-home mom went to work at a department store for minimum wages.  The family subsequently lost their station wagon but not their home, and Elizabeth was able to attend a community college because the tuition was just 50 dollars a semester.  Now the minimum wage could not support a family, and college tuition saddles young people with onerous debt.
 Heather Shafter shared Working America's photo

At my suggestion Jeff Manes interviewed legendary Gary radio and TV celebrity Tom Higgins, who’s been battling cancer for a couple years.  The 81 year-old “Hig-man,” as I call him, had colorful stories about Memorial Auditorium, WWCA, and Gary greats such as Karl Malden, the Karras brothers, Tom Harmon, and Metropolitan Opera singer James McCracken.  In his SALT column, aptly entitled, “On the air, yet down to earth,” Manes concluded that Higgins was “quite the wit” and, like Karl Malden, one who “has never forgotten his Gary roots.”  My son Phil produced and directed Tom’s Channel 56 news programs.  I was a frequent guest, especially after publishing a new Steel Shavings issue.

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