Friday, February 20, 2015

Record Low Temperatures

“It’s so cold they had to use an ice scraper on John Boehner’s face to get the tears off.” David Letterman
Porter County winter scenes; photos by Tom Coulter

With subzero weather and more lake effect snow probable, I stayed home Thursday except for brief stops for gas, a Subway cold cut sandwich, and something to read.  Chesterton library’s two copies of Anne Tyler’s new novel “A Spool of Blue Thread” were both checked out (I’m first on the reserve list), but I found “Captive Paradise,” an interesting history of Hawaii by James L. Haley.  Captain James Cook, who discovered the Hawaiian Islands in 1778, was the son of a farmer and apprentice to a coal merchant.  His first taste of seafaring life was aboard a coal vessel, the collier Freelove.  He had a unique talent for surveying and during the French and Indian War, as commander of HMS Pembroke, mapped the entrance to the St. Lawrence River.  The feat led to the capture of Quebec City. 

Captain Cook’s initial contact with native Hawaiians at Waimea Harbor in Kauai went well, but on a second voyage, after being thought to be an incarnation of the god Lono, Hawaiians stole a cutter vessel, and Cook was killed during efforts to retrieve it.  Most historians believe that his crew infected the native population with syphilis, but Haley speculates that contacts with Japanese seamen (pun intended) predated Cook’s arrival and may have been the culprits.  He claims that Cook tried to prevent carnal intermingling but that the native women were sexually aggressive (desiring to be impregnated by good-like creatures) and his crew horny after weeks at sea.  Cook noted with dismay on his fateful return trip telltale signs of the infection.

Future king Kamehameha met Captain Cook and was impressed with the English weapons, recognizing that they could provide the means to unify the islands under his leadership. Kamehameha’s mother, High Chiefess Kekuiapoiwa II, had two husbands, both of royal blood, a not uncommon practice known as poolua (two heads) intended to abate rivalries and cement alliances.  During his rule Kamehameha recognized only one, and mention of the other was punishable by death.
 Broadway in downtown Gary; photo by Carole Carlson

Carole Carlson’s Post-Tribune cover story, “Gary waging blight fight,” summarized a University of Chicago Public Policy survey that identified 12,393 blighted structures, including about 7,000 vacant houses that needed to be demolished.  The near west side and Midtown had the most blight, according to Redevelopment Director Joseph Van Dyk.  Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson vowed to hold property owners accountable and noted that squatters setting fires for warmth constitute a public health danger.  Appearing on Channel 2 news in Chicago, Freeman Wilson said her goal was for residents young and old to have pride in their city, as she does, and to create opportunities for college graduates who might otherwise seek greener pastures.

In the latest episode of “The Americans,” set in 1982, an est (Erhard Seminars training) instructor tries to draw out Stan, the FBI agent, by having him imagine conversing with his estranged wife.  Frustrated by the simulation of intimacy, Stan says, “That’s bullshit!”  The instructor applauds and others join in.  Weird!  Soviet spies Phillip and Elizabeth argue about whether to recruit daughter Paige, who declares her desire to be baptized.  Philip buys Paige a Yaz album after learning about the British synthpop duo from the daughter of a CIA agent, who he is snuggling up to as part of his work.

With Vince Clarke on keyboards and vocalist Alison Moye, Yaz (Yazoo in Europe) were the rage in 1982-1983 with hit albums “Upstairs at Eric’s” and “You and me Both.”  It was fun hearing bits of “Don’t Go” and “Winter Kills,” the latter including this verse” “Pain in your eyes makes me cruel, makes me spiteful, tears are delightful, welcome your nightfall; winter kills.”
 Chris Brown (l) and E'Twaun Moore; photo by Al Hamnik

NWI Times columnist Al Hamnik characterized East Chicago Central grad E’Twaun Moore, now a Chicago Bull, as friendly, soft-spoken, and “a good kid from the mean streets of a city battling drugs and gangs on a daily basis.”  Appearing with longtime friend Chris Brown at Bridges’ Scoreboard Lounge in Griffith, Moore credited his parents Edna and Ezell Moore with keeping him out of trouble, insisting, for instance, on a nine o’clock curfew while his buddies often hung out until 1 a.m.  Moore told Hamnik, “We used to argue, bicker, and have fights all the time, but my parents saw the big picture and I understand now.”   Brown’s younger brother Donte, E’Twaun’s closest friend in school, got killed six years ago.  Moore said, “I think about him all the time.  He had the same potential I had as far as athletic ability.  If he had stayed on the right path, the same thing could’ve happened to him.”  Son Dave, who taught them both, agreed, adding that Donte was a good kid.  At Donte’s funeral E’Twaun gave the father his first Big Ten championship ring as a token of his love for Donte.

Becca’s friend Alex, who was adopted, believes her parents hailed from Azerbaijan, a Eurasian country on the Caspian Sea that at various times was part of Iran, Turkey, Armenia, and the Soviet Union. Since breaking off from Russia in 1991, the republic has undergone civil war and ethnic tensions resulting in tens of thousands of casualties and more than a million people displaced.  Azerbaijanis comprise about 16 percent of Iran’s population.  There are an estimated 800,000 Azerbaijanis in Turkey and about 400,000 in the United States.

Marla Gee reported on her intern experiences as the Indiana state legislature enters its climactic stage:

  Next week the rubber meets the road.  Second Reading of House bills has a Tuesday deadline; Third Reading deadline is Wednesday, 11:59 p.m. (interns have been warned to bring ‘Spam and a tent’ next week).  Bills that pass are then sent to the Senate, and we in turn receive theirs, and the process starts all over again.  Fortunately, we are being rewarded with a FREE DAY next week, Thursday or Friday, our choice.  Most interns are grabbing the Friday and doing a 3-day weekend, but I am thinking about how nice it will be to SLEEP IN following next week’s brutal Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night marathons; with that in mind, I will be taking off THURSDAY!
 Rep. Gail Riecken
I especially enjoyed the Glenda Ritz supporters showing up en masse here at the Statehouse, non-violent, but noisy and colorful with their signs and placards.  So far it has been the highlight of my internship.  One of my tasks is replying to E-mails received by Rep. Gail Riecken (D-Evansville), and I have responded to more than 300, all in support of Superintendent Ritz and in opposition to the Governor’s move to hamper her authority.  The other big story has been House Bill 1624 (Sunday sale of alcohol).  Even when not in Chambers, interns can listen to the proceedings via intercom while in our offices.  The ‘alcohol bill’ debate had our undivided attention!  This Session has seen bills on everything from the regulation of midwives (HB 1548) to the dissolution of human remains (HB 1069). 

A Taste of Home last week when the House issued Resolution 18 honoring West Side’s track team, who won the state championship last spring.  You know I’m homesick when I, a Roosevelt Panther, cheer on the West Side Cougars!  I told the Mayor her how good it was to see ‘home folks’, and she replied I should ‘come on back!’  I assured her that I would, the minute my internship was over!

Last week the interns met with our State Treasurer in her office, formerly a bedroom.  An exquisite corner sink, porcelain and marble, had very old faucets.  I am constantly amazed and delighted at the antique artifacts that surprise you at every turn in this stately old building.  We visited The Vault Room where old, massive safes are contained. It reminds you of something you would find on the set of an old western, the safes just sitting there, waiting for the bad guys to set off dynamite and blow them up - although, I can’t imagine anything short of an atomic blast making a dent in these safes.   A 200-pound person would have to use all his body weight just to budge those doors a few inches.”

Praising her reportage, I told Marla that the guy who sat next to us in Nicole Anslover’s Sixties class and sang aloud to songs from that decade, was in Anslover’s Women History class.

I planned an April visit to Palm Springs to see my 98 year-old mother around an appearance by The War on Drugs at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown.  Tickets went on sale a $25 a pop and got gobbled up almost immediately by scalpers who wanted up to $200.  I told the owner of my plight and sent her a the Steel Shavings issue that describes my experiences at “Cracker Campout” and extols the roadhouse’s many virtues.  Lo and behold, she agreed to save two tickets for me.  In gratitude I wrote this website review:

I always plan trips to the Palm Springs area around a visit to Pappy and Harriet's, which has fantastic food at very reasonable prices, a friendly staff, a diverse clientele, and live music every night.  I attend Cracker Campout every September and have seen some of my favorite bands there, including Parquet Courts and Camper Van Beethoven.  Walking among buildings once used in Gene Autry and Cisco Kid westerns is also a special treat, as is the breathtaking view of rock formations and Joshua trees on the drive up from 29 Pines Highway.  Recommended for people of all ages - and children are welcome.”

Every time I’ve been to Pappy and Harriet’s, I could have added, I’ve met interesting folks of all ages, many of the counter culture persuasion.

An email announced “Darwin Day Today,” celebrating Charles Darwin’s 206th birthday.  Talks by biologist Peter Avis (“Mushroom Look-a-Likes, but Evolution Knows Better”) and historian David Parnell (“Generals Gone Wild: Why Byzantine Emperors Condoned the Misbehavior of Generals”) looked intriguing.  Alas, at the conference center site, I peered in and learned that the event took place the previous day.  Seated around a half-dozen tables were department chairs, including Anne Balay’s old nemesis, looking old and dour now that his facial hair has turned white.

My friend Omar Farag knows how to escape the Region’s coldest weather in memory.  He’s in Brazil at Carvaval!
Omar Farag at Copacabana Beach in Rio

No comments:

Post a Comment