Monday, May 12, 2014


“The cosmos is within us.  We are made of star-stuff.  We are a way for the universe to know itself.” Carl Sagan

In an essay for New York Review of Books entitled “How Memory Speaks” Jerome Groopman distinguishes between declarative memory consciously recalled and reflexive, non-declarative memories such as using utensils, riding a bicycle or swinging a tennis racket.  Illustrating the piece is Roy Lichtenstein’s 1965 piece “The Melody Haunts My Reverie,” a pop art paean of sorts to Hoagy Carmichael’s 1927 composition “Stardust.”  A great R and B version of the classic by Billy Ward and the Dominoes came out in 1957 and was popular at my high school sock hops.

East Chicago Central’s Lady Cardinals defeated Bishop Noll 4-1 Saturday in a tennis make-up match.  Both E.C. doubles teams won, as did numbers one and two singles, Fabiola Guillen and Kayla Cast.  I had a chance to give volume 43 to Ahmad Muhammad, who was on the men’s squad last fall.  He’s in a team photo, and I mention his being Cardinal mascot at the football Regional when E.C. defeated New Prairie.  Ahmad will be attending Valparaiso University in the fall seeking a four-year degree in Nursing.  Dave gave me an E.C. team t-shirt that says, “Tennis … Eat … Sleep … Tennis.”

At the Gardner Center bazaar Ron Cohen was selling his Woody Guthrie book and tickets to Charter School of the Dunes casino night.  One buyer, Dan Godston of Borderbend Arts Collective, performed musical selections.  Familiar with the activities of the Gary grassroots group ARISE, Godston is friends with Samuel A. Love.  Checking Sam’s Facebook page, I noticed he lists “City of the Century” among 15 recommended books, including Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense,” “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells, and “Rules for Radicals” by Saul Alinsky.  I’m in good company.  TV shows Sam admires include Carl Sagan’s “Cosmos” and “Doctor Who.”
 Corey Hagelberg, Untitled

Corey Hagelberg’s impressive assortment of works on display included woodcuts and junk sculptures.  At18th Street brewery, my first time, a nice crowd was on hand, including Gene Ayers, Michael Chary, Anne Balay, and her daughter Leah (who doesn’t drink but enjoyed a homemade pretzel).  We sat by the window, and first Omar Farag and then Floyd Rivera waved from their cars.  I’ll probably get the reputation of being a regular.  Years ago Penny King claimed I was a Miller Station regular; despite my being friends with owners Ron Cohen and Dave Marr, I only patronized the place a handful of times.

Before taking off for Puerto Vallarta with Josh, Alissa sent Toni two dozen tulips for Mother’s Day.  Phil wrote a nice note and Angie and Dave brought a hanging plant when they came for a Sunday feast featuring lobster, mussels, and shrimp.  Anne Balay had invited us for croppies that daughter Emma and neighbor Bob Calvert caught on Saturday.   Emma cleaned them herself and then prepared them with mango salsa and raspberry reduction.  I asked for a rain check; Anne replied that they’ll be plenty left over in the freezer.  Sunday evening while Angie helped Becca with math homework (percentages), four of us played Uno and dominos, first a version Kate Migoski taught us and then partners. 

Around 7 p.m. a fierce storm hit, with torrential rain and wind gusts that reached 80 mph.  Dave got as far as Jewel and, after almost hitting a post, came back to our condo.  When they finally got home, it was to a house without power.  Gary Airport reported wind gusts of 78 miles per hour.  Not us (knock on wood), but a river was flowing through our back yard.  I watched Game of Thrones (charged with murdering King Joffrey, Tyrion demands trial by combat) and the Blackhawks win over Minnesota.
Port Crossings Apts. in Portage, photo by Diane Rudd; tree near St. Bridget's in Hobart, photo by Joshua Kaiser.  From NWI Times Facebook photo file
After raking up mulch uprooted during the storm and getting TIAA-CREF forms notarized at LaPorte Savings Bank, I had my toenails clipped at L.A. Nails.  My feet looked mighty ugly, and a clipping was way past overdue, but the Asian lady was pleasant.  Back in the day, school would have been busy the Monday after final exams, with final grades due by noon; now it’s all done via computer. Nary a faculty member was in sight.  I did run into Amanda Board and her friend Lydia.  When Lydia asked my name, Amanda said, “That’s Jimbo.”  Nice.
above, Amanda and Lydia; below, Navaho cliff-dwelling site

Good old Jerry Pierce writes: “First the [Cliven] Bundy asshats point weapons at Federal agents and now these stupid mofos desecrate Native (Navajo Nation) burial sites!  Time for the Feds to drop the hammer on these seditious punks.  Oh, and (Nevada) county commissioner (Phil Lyman) who called for the illegal ride (through Recapture Canyon) is a member of a family of convicted grave robbers.  Huh.  Wonder why they want the canyon open.”
 City Methodist Church near Gary public housing; NWI Times photo by Jonathan Miano

Speaking to Gary Chamber of Commerce members, James Hartung of Port Development Solutions LLC, asserted that “unless Gary succeeds, Northwest Indiana will never reach its full potential.”  Claiming that Gary is ready to be reborn, similar to Cleveland and Pittsburgh after their steel industries collapsed, Hartung, according to Times reporter Joseph S. Pete, argued that Gary enjoyed the same advantages as Chicago in terms of location, transportation infrastructure, and water resources, but without it’s congestion.

PFC. Jay E. Keck sent three poems along at my urging.  Everything he writes from the perspective of a Vietnam veteran is unbelievably moving.  Here are the first and last lines of “Homeless Veterans” (1995):

Homeless Veteran living on the street,
Looking for food and a place to sleep.
Homeless Veteran wandering around,
Some in the mountains, some in the towns.
 . . . .
Homeless Veteran in the USA, 
Got one in my garage just lost his way.
Homeless Veteran in the land of the rich,
Done paid his dues won’t hear him bitch.

I caught the beginning of E.C. Central’s tennis match at River Forest, including the impressive opening ceremony when coaches introduce the players, before raveling to Gino’s for the history book club talk on Lawrence in Arabia.  It was good to see Rich Maroc, who missed several sessions due to his wife’s health problems.  Presenter Michael Bosch concentrated mainly on Lawrence’s military achievements and diplomatic disappointments, so I talked about his unconventional background and sexual orientation.  That got people’s interest, I must say.  Maroc brought up the WW I era Armenian genocide, and I mentioned that when the International Oral History Association met in 2000 in Istanbul, there was a session about it that attracted hundreds of people.  There had been an attempt to cancel it, but organizers threatened to move the conference elsewhere if that happened.  I gave Judge Ken Anderson and Times columnist Rich James copies of my Shavings.  Anne Balay had attended our last meeting and impressed the members.  Too bad her fate wasn’t in their hands.

Anne still hasn’t gotten the final word on her tenure appeal from IU President McRobbie, and when she handed in her keys, the English secretary was surprised and said she’d been told to collect keys from Pat Buckler but not her.  Could the administration finally be seeing the light?  It’s doubtful, and every time I’ve dared been optimistic, it’s been for naught. Still it’s not too late for the university to save itself lots of bad publicity.

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