Friday, May 30, 2014

The Breeze

“You can call me the breeze
I keep blowing down the road
I ain’t got nobody
I ain’t carrin’ me a load.”
    J.J. Cale, “Call Me the Breeze”

Terri Hemmert on WXRT played J.J. Cale’s “Call Me the Breeze” at noontime and announced that Eric Clapton was planning a tribute album of Cale’s songs.  Clapton has covered “Cocaine” and “After Midnight” by the country blues and rockabilly giant, who died in July of 2013 at age 75.  Among those who have recorded “Call Me the Breeze” are John Mayer and Lynyrd Skynyrd.

At IUN yesterday Indiana governor Mike Pence provided details of his Medicaid alternative, Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0.  He opposed Obamacare while in Congress but hopes to obtain $17 billion in federal support for the 450,000 able-bodied Hoosiers without medical insurance.  There’s nothing wrong with states being laboratories to test practical alternatives to providing health care for the poor, and it is nice to see a trace of pragmatism in the probable future presidential candidate.  State Representative Charlie Brown introduced Pence, who said: “This is an exciting and dynamic campus.  With the medical school and all that’s happening here and the Redhawks, there is great leadership at IU Northwest.”  Could he have been referring to basketball’s Lady Redhawks, who have excelled under Coach Ryan Shelton?

According to NWI Times reporter Vanessa Renderman, IUN Chancellor William J. Lowe concluded, "Presentations like we've had today both enable citizen engagement with critical public policy questions and make the health care leaders of tomorrow more aware of and better prepared for health care needs, challenges and opportunities.”

Eric Shinseki resigned in the wake of the Veterans Affairs crisis after firing the top administrators at Phoenix medical center, where a waiting list was kept hidden so managers would receive bonuses.  Before forced out during a face-to-face meeting with President Obama, Shinseki lamented “a systemic, totally unacceptable lack of integrity” within the VA.

Vietnam veteran Jay Keck, the self-proclaimed “Vietnam Boogieman,” composed “DAMN WAR” in May 2009, while attending what he labeled the “Marion, IN, V.A. hell hole.” It starts pessimistically but ends hopefully:

. . . .



Jerome Ezell thanked me for mentioning his deceased mother, Corrine Joshua, in my latest Shavings.  He sent copies to sister Geraldine and several grandchildren.  A prize student, Corrine supported her family by cleaning houses in Miller, including that of Chancellor Hilda Richards, who had no idea she attended IUN.
 Laurie Shields (l) and Tish Sommers

The March 2014 Journal of American History contains Lisa Levinstein’s “’Don’t Agonize, Organize!’: The Displaced Homemakers Campaign and the Contested Goals of Postwar Feminism.”  Its leader Tish Sommers, gravitated to feminism during the late 1960s after years of leftwing activism.  Joining the Berkeley chapter of NOW, she eventually became national chair of its Task Force on Older Women and labored for public policies recognizing the economic value of housework.  Disappointed by NOW’s tepid support, Sommers and Laurie Shields formed the Older Women’s League.

Fellow Republican James Watson thought Teddy Roosevelt too impetuous and agreed with Senator “Dollar” Mark Hanna that it was a mistake in 1900 to have him be William McKinley’s running mate.  After an assassin’s bullet put “that damned cowboy” – Hanna’s phrase – in the White House, Watson hoped that Hanna would challenge TR for the 2004 nomination, but the Ohio Senator fell ill and died before the Republican convention.  Among TR’s sins, in Watson’s view, were lack of respect for the Constitution during the anthracite coal strike and lack of deference toward Congressional prerogatives.  Contrasting TR’s policies toward industrial giants Standard Oil and United States Steel, headed by his good friend Elbert H. Gary, Watson wrote in “As I Knew Them”: “Teddy was vigorously in favor of those he liked and who stood by him and violently opposed to those he disliked and who defied him.”

Patricia P. Buckler’s final chapter in “Bloody Italy: Essays on Crime Writing in Italian Settings” is “Michael Dibden’s Peripatetic and Puzzling Aurelio Zen.”  Appearing in eleven of Dibden’s anti-formulaic crime novels, Zen, according to Buckler, is a “very human police detective who can be, by turns, whimsical, loving, erratic, sad, unethical, and, too often, clueless as he negotiates, usually alone, the dangerous sliver of territory among corrupt officials, the invidious rich, and murderous organizations.”  Now that I’ve completed Buckler’s excellent book - inscribed “To Jim, for our shared values” - I’m passing it on to Chancellor Lowe along with a note pointing out that Buckler, like Balay, was a victim of misogynistic treatment by those who clearly poisoned IUN’s tenure and promotion process.

My letter stated: “The recent disparity between the fate of male and female tenure and promotion candidates has been nothing short of scandalous and is precipitating a nascent revolt against the ‘old boy’ network of operations (witness the recent challenges to those seeking re-election to Faculty Org positions) that sadly may be too late to retain the services of two sterling teachers and scholars. For a year, whenever I have spoken out against the unjust treatment of Balay, who received neither mentoring not adequate warning about her alleged teaching deficiencies, I was told to let the process play itself out.   Well, even though the Faculty Board of Review recommended an extra year severance pay, this has not happened.  Neither has Balay received an answer to her final appeal to IU President McRobbie.  An obvious compromise would have been to transfer Balay to Women and Gender Studies (now gutted with the departure of Balay and Buckler) for an extra probationary year and have Associate Executive Vice Chancellor Cynthia O’Dell and CISTL director Chris Young mentor her.  Maybe this is still possible.  How tragic (and embarrassing for IU Northwest) that instead of celebrating the publication of ‘Steel Closets’ and ‘Bloody Italy,’ we are allowing Anne and Pat’s detractors to rid the university of two of its most valuable faculty.  In two weeks, in order to support herself, Balay will start an apprentice program at a truck driving institute, a bleak fate for one who gave so much of herself to an institution I dearly love.”

Anne appeared on WBEZ with narrator Jan Gentry and interviewer Michael Puente.  I listened to the 12-minute segment by computer.  Jan kept quiet about her sexuality on the job but sometimes would run into a co-worker at a gay bar.  She had fewer problems with male steelworkers, who treated her basically as one of the guys, than with women, who tended to gossip and spread rumors about her.  One asked her if she were a lesbian.  “Does it matter?” Jan responded.  The co-worker said, “No, I’m sorry I asked.”  After that, they became friends.

Secretary Dorothy Mokry told me that former Arts and Sciences dean John Kroepfl attended the farewell party for Dorothy Greer and Diane Robinson.  She was wearing a French Lick shirt.  She and her friends started going there rather than an outdoor music fest in Memphis because the weather in Tennessee was so bad in May.  Once Hall and Oates were barely into their set when everyone was ordered to leave due to a tornado warning.  The first time I was in French Lick – for a FACET retreat – there was a fierce thunderstorm and tornado warnings.  

At the student art show in Savannah Gallery guitarist Red Woodville, who performed when Ron Cohen spoke about Woody Guthrie, teamed with Seamus McColly.  Jesse Johnson, whom I met at a Brother 2 Brother banquet, had several pieces on display.  Katherine VanDrie and Cathy Freeman, whom I knew from Nicole Anslover’s Sixties course, received the top awards.  VanDrie used wallpaper as background for a photo collage.  Third prize went to Richard Contreras, no relation to Raoul, but he has taken courses with him.  Impressive sculptures by Seamus and Macrina Lopez won no awards.  One of Macrina’s friends recognized me from Anne Balay’s “Steel Closets” party.  I told her Anne was entering an intern program to learn to drive large trucks, and we both lamented her treatment by the university.

Lee Botts and Pat Wisniewski showed an eight-minute trailer of t “Shifting Sands,” about the history of Lake Michigan’s southern shore and and present sustainable efforts to preserve and improve its fragile environment.  I arrived at 6:50 to find the two of them and Ken Schoon waiting for someone to let them into the Gardner Center.  Within 15 minutes about 50 people showed up, including Dorreen Carey, who, like me, appeared in the 8-minute clip, as did Botts herself, geologist Mark Reshkin, and Save the Dunes founders Sylvia Troy and Charlotte Reed.  I discussed heavy industry coming to the Region while Dorreen spoke about the Grand Calumet Task Force.  Among the suggestions afterwards was George Rogge’s idea of zooming in on the area like Google maps can do starting with a view of Earth from space.  I asked whether the finished product will include mention of the Bailly anti-nuclear fight (yes) and reiterated that public pressure is vital in getting corporations to behave.  Still passionate at age 86, Botts said that things are improving but the pace of change could be faster.

The Blackhawks won game six to tie their series with Los Angeles.  They went ahead 2-1, fell behind 3-2, and scored the final two goals, including a thing of beauty by Patrick Kane.

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