Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Blue Devils

“Adversity can build character, and I’ve certainly seen an awful lot.” Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan
The derivation of Blue Devils, what Duke athletic teams call themselves, comes from the nickname (Les Diables Bleus) of an elite, highly decorated World War I French light infantry mountain unit.  The Chasseurs Alpins were first formed in the nineteenth century in the wake of Italian unification to oppose possible invasion through the Alps.  The unit, still active, took part in the 2009 Battle of Alasay in Afghanistan against the Taliban.

At Camelot Lanes James’s team, Bowling for Doughnuts, clinched first place, as both Kaden Horn and Josh Froman had series over 500.  Kermita English, whose grandson Andrew is a teammate, thanked me for the Steel Shavings her son John passed on to her in which I mention her work with the Girl Scouts.  She knew former Education professor Aline Fernandez, to whom I dedicated volume 44, when both were at Franklin School.  Longtime Post-Tribune columnist Carrol Vertrees, who passed away in 2014, boarded with her family when he first worked at the Glen Park Herald.  During the post-World War II housing shortage, Gary mayor Joseph E. Finerty had asked homeowners to take in boarders.

Portage H.S. and IUN grad Tom Horvath, visiting from Germany, stopped by with daughter Annika and son Julius in tow.  He is arranging international exchanges for grad students at Notre Dame and Grand Valley State.  He said grade inflation for flood of foreign students at American universities is so rampant that A’s on transcripts don’t mean much.  Attracting overseas students is so profitable that professors are sometimes discouraged from being tough graders.  Had Anne Balay allowed a couple flunking students to slide by, her chair would not have been able to use their subsequent complaints as ammunition against her.

Phil correctly predicted all Final Four teams, as did daughter-in-law Beth, bragging rights indeed.  Since Phil and I both picked Wisconsin to win it all, we were thrilled at the Badgers’ upset of unbeaten Kentucky but rightly feared the Duke Blue Devils, peaking at the right time.

During host Michael Keaton’s SNL opening monologue, cast members begged him to play Batman and Beetlejuice in subsequent skits. I went to bed before seeing if he repeated my favorite Beetlejuice line: “Let’s turn on the juice and see what shakes loose.”

In the NWI Times Sunday “Forum” contributors discussed the recent Indiana legislative fiasco regarding religious freedom and gay rights.  A piece by Rich James was titled “Gov. Pence ought to be ashamed,” while the lead for Doug Ross’s column is “Indiana, it’s time for us to get back to business.”  Referencing the NCAA Final Four being in Indianapolis, Ross wrote:

At a time when Indiana should have been putting its best foot forward, the state’s political leaders were wearing clown shoes.  The Religious Freedom Restoration Act didn’t bring brimstone, but it sure lit a firestorm that has consumed Indiana.
    . . . .
My own denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) decided last week to move its 2017 convention from Indiana, and other groups pulled business in the state.  Indiana’s reputation was built over decades.  In just a week, it has become pitted, not just tarnished, and it will take a long time to burnish it.

Joining the “chorus of outrage” against Governor Mike Pence, former Gary mayor Richard Hatcher wrote: “The power to discriminate has nothing to do with freedom but everything to do with arrogance, ugliness, and division.”   Ironically, Pence’s effort to suck up to religious fanatics ended up with the state legislature “clarifying” the law in a manner that forbids discrimination by businesses based of gender orientation.  Right now, it’s hard to imagine Pence winning a second term as governor, much less the Presidential sweepstakes.
NWI Times ran a 1933 photo from the Calumet Regional Archives of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers at a camp at Dunes State Park in Chesterton.  The CCC was one of many New Deal work relief initiatives launched by the Franklin Roosevelt administration during the Great Depression that benefitted Northwest Indiana. 

After reading Ron Cohen’s copy of “Empire of Sin” by historian Gary Krist, I came across Lois Battle’s novel “Storyville,” about a woman thrust by circumstances into the New Orleans vice trade.  Named for Alderman Sidney Story, who in 1897 sought to restrict prostitution to a 16-block area, the red-light district of Storyville thrived for 20 years until American military brass demanded its closure during World War I.  In the following paragraph a madam named Mollie instructs a new employee on some tricks of the trade:
NWI Times ran a 1933 photo from the Calumet Regional Archives of Civilian Conservation:

There were certain positions, squeezes, and feigned cries of pleasure that could bring a man off fast.  You shouldn’t take off your clothes unless the man was an overnighter.  There were ways of protecting your breasts and face if it looked like the customer was going to get rough. You gotta handle the customers firm but gentle, like a farm girl handles the animals.  Upstairs they all want more or less the same thing; it’s downstairs where you can raise the price.  You gotta move to show off your equipment to the best advantage.  You listen and act interested no matter what balderdash the man’s telling you.  You always compliment them.  Tell the ugly ones they’re handsome and the handsome [ones] they’re smart.

The Cubs opener at Wrigley Field was a fiasco.  Not only did Cardinal Adam Wainwright toss a shut-out, making mince meat of their young batters, due to bathroom malfunctions people had to wait in line for almost an hour.  USA Today reporter Bob Nightengale wrote that some guys used their beer cups as portable urinals.   Construction delays meant that there were no bleachers, and the new Jumbotron was so noisy that many neighbors complained.
In Nicole Anslover’s class on “Women and the Media” I talked about two-time Oscar winner Jane Fonda, who incurred the wrath of many Vietnam veterans for traveling to Hanoi in 1972 and having her picture taken on an anti-aircraft gun battery, spawning false rumors that “Hanoi Jane” fired at American pilots.  After visiting the “Hanoi Hilton,” Fonda naively claimed that American POWs were receiving humane treatment.  Two years earlier, on an FTA  (officially “Free the Army” but nicknamed “Fuck the Army”) tour of military towns with Donald Sutherland, hoping to talk soldiers into refusing to serve in Vietnam, Fonda wore provocative, braless outfits.  In 1971 she raised money for the Vietnam Veterans against the War.  On TV she described obscene anti-personnel and chemical weapons employed against civilians as well as enemy soldiers.  While critics branded her a “media whore,” she was sincere but credulous and later repudiated some earlier beliefs and actions.  I’m not opposed to celebrities using their fame to support worthy causes but with these caveats: do your research so you don’t come off as shallow and have the courage of your convictions when critics jump on you.

While I was speaking, Nicole displayed images of the controversial actress on an anti-aircraft gun battery.  I noticed one of her and John Kerry at an antiwar rally and pointed out that in 2004 Republican dirty tricksters cropped two photos together to make it look like Fonda and the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee were side by side.  There’s still a demand for urinal targets with “Hanoi Jane’s” image on them and a vet spat on her during a book tour.  Nicole added that her mother refuses to watch any Jane Fonda movies. Would the animus be as virulent and unforgiving were Fonda a man?  Fonda’s most recent incarnation is as a Christian feminist.

Nicole showed an excerpt from the documentary “Makers” that traced women in film.  With the industry consolidating into five Hollywood studios, women directors became a vanishing breed.  In films, with few exceptions (i.e., Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis) women were virgins, vamps or sexless girls next door.  After Jane Fonda played vacuous ingénues and sex symbols, she jumped at the chance to star in the gritty “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” (1969) -  about a bitter young woman who enters a dance marathon contest during the 1930s.   Fonda couldn’t believe it when director Sydney Pollack asked her opinion on the script.   One of her favorite roles was as a new secretary in “Nine to Five” (1980), co-starring Dolly Parton and Lily Tomlin.  The movie title was also the name of a labor organization for clerical workers Fonda actively supported, whose slogan was “Raises, not Roses.”
Nicole inquired if I’d watched the new “Mad Men” episode.  Indeed I had.  There was plenty of sex – if only it were on HBO the scenes could be more graphic.

A Jeopardy question on English poetry asked who was “my little Portuguese.”  One contestant answered Robert Browning, the author of the quote, but should have said Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the object of Robert’s affection.  Had he simply said Browning, he’d have gotten credit for the answer.  In the category “Coachella” questions had to do with performers who had played at that music festival.  Surprisingly contestants had heard of Skrillex and Gorillaz.

Duke won a fifth NCAA title under Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K), defeating Wisconsin with the help of two controversial no-calls, one involving a Blue Devil player with his foot on the baseline and the other on a ball that appeared to touch a Blue Devil Justice Winslow’s fingertip before going out of bounds.  Coach K worked on the refs all game in order to discourage them from calling the rough body contact that stymied the Badgers’ flow offense.  Duke shot 16 free throws in the second half compared to 3 by Wisconsin.  Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan had legitimate beefs but gracelessly whined afterwards about the Duke rent-a-players who turn pro after one year rather than remain in college.
In the Archives Louise Hillery was researching Vivian Carter for a middle school reader on important Hoosier women.  I told her that in addition to recording doo wop and rock and roll artists, Vivian’s first love was gospel music and that Vee-Jay Records put out albums by the Staple Singers and the Highway Q.C.’s, featuring Sam Cooke and Lou Rawls.  Hillery is planning chapters on Diana of the Dunes and Save the Dunes activist Dorothy Buell, so Northwest Indiana will be well represented. 
Anne Balay, on a book tour, posted an article on ADVOCATE. COM that listed “Steel Closets” among “18 Must-Read Books We Missed Last Year.”  Others included “The Up Stairs Lounge Arson: Thirty-Two Deaths in a New Orleans Gay Bar June 24, 1973” by Clayton Delery-Edwards, “Fat Gay Men: Girth, Mirth, and the Politics of Stigma” by Jason Whitesel, and several volumes on transgenders.  I continue to follow Balay’s life journey, as like novelist Richard Ford in his Frank Bascombe series, I deem it historically important to trace how good people react after bad, unjust things happen to them.  Learning that historian John D’Emilio lost his 77 year-old partner Jim Oleson, Anne wrote: “This would be sad, hard news any time, especially now when Riva is sick and I am far away.  It reminds me that life pushes us apart, but love draws us together.”
Anne Balay and Riva Lehrer

Maurice Yancy went to services for Coach Ron Heflin.  Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson was a pallbearer, and he most prominent floral display was from Robinson’s Class of 1991, the year Roosevelt captured the state basketball championship.  Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson (below) said that Heflin frequently picked up her daughter Jordan from day care and that one day Jordan told her that “Coach” was her best friend.
Post-Tribune photo by Jim Karczewski

I found a great seamstress, Kim Lindstedt, recommended by my dry cleaner.  When the pocket of my favorite slacks developed a large hole, I was afraid I’d have to toss them. Kim sewed on a patch and charged only two dollars.  I told her I’d recommend her to all my friends.  Her daughter Abigail is an IUN student with interests in anthropology and fine arts.

No comments:

Post a Comment