Saturday, November 1, 2014


“You got a smile so bright
You could have been a candle
I’m holding you so tight
You know you could have been a handle.”
         Temptations, “The Way You Do The Things You Do.”

In “Without our memories, what are we?” Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts wrote about visiting his Aunt Millie in a facility that cares for Alzheimer’s patients.  Millie’s memories had mostly vanished, but when a band played the Temptations’ “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” Pitts put his arms around his aunt and started singing. “I’m watching her lips and she is nailing the words,” Pitts recalled, adding that the next day Millie had no recollection of the experience: “It is another piece of her, lost to her.  But I will keep it for us both.”
With original members David Ruffin, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Otis Williams, and Eddie Kendricks, the Temptations had a string of Motown hits starting in 1964, including “My Girl,” Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone.”  Known for intricate harmonies, tailored suits, and syncopated choreography, they underwent a host of tribulations, including health issues, alcoholism and drug abuse, as well as personal conflicts.  Ruffin died in 1991 from a cocaine binge.  Blue-eyed soul singer Daryl Oates remembered, “His voice had a certain glorious anguish that spoke to people on many emotional levels.”

I’ve never been tempted to take up cocaine.  The buzz is quite intense and only lasts a short time, so addicts are stuck with a very expensive habit. Long ago, someone offered me a line, and I sneezed at the absolute wrong moment.  The only other time I partook, my heart seemed to be pounding so hard that it scared me away from further use.

Producer and Stormy Weather vocalist Henry Farag got to sing with David Ruffin, Eddie Kendricks, and Pookie Hudson of the Spaniels in January 1991, and called it the “biggest thrill of my singing career.”  Not long afterwards, he attended Ruffin’s funeral at a church in Detroit whose pastor was Aretha Franklin’s father.  Stevie Wonder delivered the eulogy.  In “The Signal” Farag described the scene as “right out of the Old South”:
  “Hand-held fans were waving in unison to stir the air in the un-air-conditioned church.  Cries and moans sometimes interrupted tributes and lengthy speeches.  David was laid out full length, exposed complete with tux and patent leather shoes in a coffin on the altar below the preacher’s platform.  A spontaneous, incredible version of ‘My Girl’ was sung at the podium by all the remaining Tempys putting their in-fighting aside as the ultimate eulogy.”

In a Rolling Stone interview novelist Stephen King admitted to using cocaine “all the time” for eight years beginning in 1978.  Before that he consumed an estimated case of beer daily and recalled:
  “I realized I had a problem about the time Maine passed a returnable-bottle-and-can law.  You could no longer just toss the shit away, you saved it, and you turned it in to a recycling center.  And nobody in the house drank [beer] but me.  I went to the garage one night, and the trash can that was set aside for beer was full to the top.
A good liberal, King said about Republicans:
  “Whenever it comes to money – the national debt, for instance – they yell their heads off about ‘What about our grandchildren?’  But when it comes to the environment, when it comes to resources, they’re like, ‘We’ll be OK for 40 years’”
Tom Wade brought over Russian Railroad, voted 2013 Meeples board game of the year recently. Of the worker placement genre, it involves developing railroads, constructing and improving track and acquiring and upgrading engines to run on them.  Players can acquire factories and accumulate bonus points in a somewhat bewildering variety of ways.  Meeples, I learned, are characters representing people, in this case Russians.

Phil, pumped after scoring four soccer goals against a team of skilled college-age guys, described each in detail over the phone, including two with his left foot and two with the right.

Anne Koehler asked if I could speak to the Porter County Historical Society.  I mulled it over and offered to talk about Edgewater, a “Vanished Community” due to its incorporation into the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.   Many interested people resided there, including the daughter of Gary’s first mayor, poet Gib Laue, artist Dame Fleming, and a doctor who had a colonic clinic – giving enemas to patients.

It’s difficult to write a 190-word review for an edited book on international sports containing 13 articles plus an intro and conclusion.  Just to critique a single article in so short a space would be difficult.  My final draft, for example, does not mention President Jimmy Carter’s stupid decision to boycott he 1980 Moscow Olympics after the Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan for much the same reason our troops are there today.  Also left out, contributor Nicholas Evan Sarantakes citing the opinion of ancient Greek historian Thucydides that foreign policy is based on national interest, fear, and honor.  To that Sarantakes would add ideas (religion and ideology) and internal politics.  Public opinion initially supported Carter’s boycott, but after the winter Olympics’ “Miracle on Ice” support melted away and Carter failed in efforts to create alternative games to compete with Moscow.

Frederic Cousseau and Blandine Huk sent me a DVD of their two-hour interview of Mayor Richard Hatcher for the Archives.  I’m hoping for a copy of “My Name Is Gary” as well.

Inclement weather didn’t stop dozens of trick-or-treaters from stopping by the condo for candy.  Several wore black ski masks without cut out spaces for eyes.  Toni told me they became the rage a couple years ago.

Two days into the NBA season Derrick Rose went down with an ankle injury.  He’s missed almost two full seasons already during his brief pro career with knee problems.  I put on the final minutes of the Bulls home opener against Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Lo and behold, Derrick Rose was not on the court, felled by a twisted ankle.  Chicago forced overtime, thanks to a stellar effort by “Captain Kirk” Hinrich, but lost by six points.

In the car I heard the Temptations’ “I Can’t Get Next To You” on WXRT's show on 1969, as well as "Suspicious Minds" by Elvis and "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones.  The Tempts also recorded “Run Away Child, Running Wild” that year, at a time when many young folks were running away from home.  Tom Marker discussed the tragic free concert the Stones put on at Altamont Speedway in San Francisco in December.  The Hell's Angels were hired to work security (with horrible results) because the venue was moved at the last minute and there wasn't time to build a stage high enough to prevent spectators from leaping onto it.

Between watching James bowl and attending IUN’s Homecoming basketball doubleheader, I showed off the Archives to photographer Cuck Walla, who likes to visit abandoned Gary buildings such as City Methodist Church and the Palace Theater.  It turns out he worked closely with volunteer David Mergl, photographing inside Bethlehem Steel and even doing wedding with him.
Nicki Monahan, Bernadette Grabowski, Danielle Zandstra; below, Nate Flores, Darrius Davis, Davin Ellis, DJ Teague 
Homecoming was quite exciting, with the bleachers almost full, many Alumni on hand, and hamburgers, hot dogs and chili served between games, or earlier if one was hungry.  The Lady Redhawks, led by Nicki Monahan’s 26 points, extended their record to 7-0 with a four-point win over the St. Francis Fighting Saints.  Scrappy guard Christina Ekohumu, who made numerous driving layups earlier in the game, got fouled attempting a three-pointer with seconds remaining but missed her second free throw, sealing the victory for IUN.  The men’s team lost a tough match against Roosevelt University 67-64, but I was impressed with their play against an NAIA team that was expected to win handily.  In the past the men’s team has been virtually all-white or all-black, but under Kristofer Schnatz, who is both coach and athletic director, there was a nice mix of talented players. 

Dave’s family came over for dinner Saturday and then we had Tom Wade over to teach him Russian Trains after an Amun Re game that I lost on a tie breaker, finishing with the same number of points as Tom but with two fewer pyramids.

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