Thursday, October 16, 2014

Jake and Elwood

Elwood: “There’s 106 miles to Chicago, we’ve got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark out, and we’re wearing sunglasses.
Joliet Jake: Hit it.
            “Blues Brothers”

For a scholarship drive Chuck Gallmeier and Chancellor Bill Lowe made a three-part video as the Blues Brothers, borrowing a university police car and changing the words slightly from when Elwood (Dan Aykroyd) picks up Jake (John Belushi) from prison.  Aaron Pigors directed it with his typical professionalism.

I had a childhood friend nicknamed Jake (Bob Jacobs) and played ping pong at his house on a surface installed atop the kitchen table.  In the late Sixties at a party thrown by Terry and Gayle Jenkins, Jake insulted my Nehru jacket.  I told him I’d bought it for 20 dollars, and he replied, “Too much.” 

Publicizing Anne Balay’s talk at Big Blue Marble Bookstore in Philadelphia Gay News, Jen Collette wrote: “The notion that being LGBT is becoming more accepted is gaining traction, but there remain wide swatches of the LGBT community who still routinely face discrimination and harassment.”  Balay told Collette that one of her goals in writing “Steel Closets” was to paint a more realistic picture of the gay community.  She stated:
“The media presents one image of what it means to be gay or queer – a white, male, middle-class architect [for instance] – but that’s only one side of what it means.  To be responsible, social-justice-minded queer people, we have to help these stories to be told.”

In “The Vikings” Else Roesdahl, an archaeologist by trade, focuses on the three centuries beginning around 800 when Scandinavian seafaring adventurers dominated much of Europe.  In an Introduction entitled “The Allure of the Vikings” Roesdahl stated:
“It used to be thought that the Vikings were just energetic, robust, straightforward people or that they were wild, barbaric, axe-wielding pirates; and that they lived in a fairly democratic society.  The Viking Age is now seen as having been altogether more complex, with a strong class system, diverse social conditions, and far more radical achievements.”
Michael Hutchence
 “We Are the Vegetables” by INXS has a punk sound and attitude reminiscent of the Ramones.  One eerie line goes:         
“I’ve got the feeling in the back of my head
“I feel like making someone’s face turn red.”
Frontman Michael Hutchence died in 1997 at age 37 by hanging himself, perhaps the result of autoerotic asphyxiation.  He left no suicide note.  Good friend Bono wrote “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of,” based on an imaginary conversation with Hutchence.  The final lines go:
“If the night runs over
And if the day won't last
And if your way should falter
Along this stony pass
It's just a moment     
This time will pass”

At IU law school Julian Bond spoke on “The Broken Promise of Brown” 60 years after the seemingly momentous Supreme Court decision.  IUN’s Office of Diversity skyped the program into a campus classroom.

IUN’s Student Alumni Association sponsored a “Celebrating YOU” reception designed to raise money for scholarships.  I enjoyed chatting with young faculty Kevin McElmurry, Frances Daniel, and David Parnell, who thanked me for my suggestions to stimulate discussion in his Barbarians class.  Four students talked about mentors on campus and scholarships they’d received, one named for under-appreciated former chancellor Hilda Richards.  Chuck Gallmeier mentioned being a first-generation college student and regional campus grad (from IU Fort Wayne) who bartended to pay his way until a scholarship enabled him to take 15 hours a semester his senior year.  He introduced the Chancellor as William “Elwood” Lowe, who in turn said that when he was at the Fitness Center a new receptionist didn’t recognize him until he pointed to a Blues Brothers poster nearby and said, “That’s me.” He noted the Clothesline Project t-shirts adorning Moraine.  One near me read, “It’s Never Your Fault: Stop Victim Blaming.”  I grabbed extra grapes on the way out and said hi to Pat Bankston and Pamela Lowe, the best chancellor’s spouse we’ve had since I’ve been at IUN.

Seattle City Council voted to supplant Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day, and Minneapolis followed suit.  A Seattle spokesman for the Sons of Italy said, “Italian-Americans are deeply offended.”  In 1892, 400 years after Columbus landed in the Bahamas, President Benjamin Harrison established the original holiday.  In 1992 South Dakota declared the second Monday in October Native American Day.  In 1892 Berkeley became the first city to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day. 

Deeply touched by Jeff Manes’ SALT column, Anthony Forbes received it electronically while bowling.  He “lost it” when he got to the line, “Dennis Forbes might have finished second back in ’91, but he’ll always be No. 1 in his son’s heart and soul.”
Engineers Jimbo, Robbie, John, Frank and Mel; below Town Drunks Chris, Ray, Sam, John and JP
 The Engineers took 5 of 7 points thanks to Frank Shufran’s 680 series and despite two games in the 280s by opponent Tony Miller, who has about 20 career 300 games.  His teammate Steve Gorches, a sports reporter for The Times and before that The Post-Trib, told me that he got his son hired there part-time and then got fired in a cost-cutting move.   “Thankfully I belong to the union,” he said.  When Sam Hill left a split on an apparently perfect hit, it gave me the opportunity to exclaim, “What the Sam Hill?”
above, Steve Gorches twitter photo; below, the McCanns

Evidently “What the Sam Hill?” is a euphemism for “What the hell?”  In “The American Language” H.L. Mencken expressed the belief the phrase derived from Samiel, the name for the Devil in the opera Der Freischutz.  There was a nineteenth century surveyor named Sam Hill who allegedly had such a foul mouth that the name became a synonym for swear words.

Boardwalk Empire’s “Devil You Know” episode was full of surprises as the series winds down.  “What sense that make?  We headed to different places,” Chalky White says as he tries to save his daughter and former lover from the evil Dr. Valentin Narcisse (above).  Gunned down, he hears Daughter singing “Dream a Little Dream of Me.”  First recorded by bandleader Ozzie Nelson in 1931, the song was a hit two decades later for Kate Smith, Frankie Laine, Ella Fitzgerald, and Louis Armstrong and in 1968 for the Mamas and the Papas.
 Ron "Sparky" Cohen; photo by Socheata Ing

Scott Fulk asked me to introduce Ron Cohen at his Soup and Substance talk about folk music.  I mentioned that we started the Archives and Steel Shavings and our collaboration on a Gary pictorial history.  Ron told the decent crowd of staff, faculty, and students that host Fulk was a past winner of the History prize.  I especially enjoyed the Q and A part where “Sparky” talked about Harry Belafonte, the Kingston Trio, Country Joe McDonald (whom he brought to campus 25 years ago) and others who popularized folk and protest music.  When a student asked him to define folk music, he repeated Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: you know it when you see it – or rather, hear it.   He cited Bob Dylan as an example of one who went from playing Rock and Roll as a teenager to in 1960-61 started emulating Woody Guthrie and then went from folk to folk rock back to Rock and Roll.

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