Monday, August 10, 2015


“I’ve got a theory that if you give 100% all the time, somehow things will work out in the end.” Larry Bird
 above, 1954 state champs; below, Larry Bird
Next year being the thirtieth anniversary of the movie “Hoosiers,” inspired by tiny Milan High School’s miraculous 1954 Indiana state basketball tournament victory, the Indiana Pacers will wear replica uniforms of fictional Hickory High to honor the film.  Pacer president Larry Bird still recalls his bitter disappointment when Spring Valley High in French Lick bowed out of the tournament despite his averaging 31 points, 21 rebounds, and 4 assists.  Bird told SI’s Dan Patrick: “Unfortunately I played with a kid who kept missing free throws at the end of the game.”  In 1980 a similar fate occurred when Andrean played New Albany in a semi-final match, and a teammate of Dan Dakich (who scored 32 points) missed two foul shots with no time left on the clock.  Bird added this stone cold statement:
  I was at a party about two years ago, and this lady in her 70s looked at my friend and said, “What are you doing here?  After missing those free throws back in ’74, you shouldn’t even show your face.”
HitchBOT, an amicable hitchhiking robot that successfully traversed Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands, was fatally beaten in Philadelphia two weeks after beginning a trek across America – another black eye for the “City of Brotherly Love.” A campaign is underway to resurrect HitchBOT.
 NWI Times photo by John J. Watkins
Resigning recently were six Gary police officers, who took higher paying jobs elsewhere.  The city cannot compete with suburban salaries.  With eight homicides in as many days, the situation facing the 200 remaining officers is dire.  Columnist David Rutter wrote: Their beater squad cars have bald tires. They have to change their own oil. The city's broke. It's pitiful.”
above, Kirsten and Jimbo; below, Brenden Bayer
Our old friends the Bayers stayed with us overnight.  Michael showed up first, all excited by Bernie Sanders’ campaign causing so much excitement, and then Janet, who had business in Illinois.  Coming from the beach in Miller were Kirsten with Dane (6) and Nicholas (4) as well as Shannon with 4 month-old Max.  The baby is quite adorable, making eye contact with everyone and able to grip fingers, toys, and his binky.  Angie, Becca, and James joined us for dinner.  Toni’s pork roast was supplemented by two racks of ribs from Wagner’s, one dry (my preference) and the other with barbeque sauce.  In the morning Brenden showed up wearing a Grateful Dead shirt.  He watched the band’s final concerts in Chicago on his computer aboard a Lake Michigan ore boat.

Sunday we saw the witty and ribald Memorial Opera House musical “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” developed a decade ago by an improve group. Two audience members joining the cast as spelling bee contestants were so good we thought they might have been plants.  Brilliant Zachary Gipson, looking like a small-town hood, played Official Comfort Counselor Mitch Mahoney, an ex-con roped into the job as part of his community service requirement.  Particularly humorous were the responses to when contestants requested spelling words to be used in a sentence.
With manager Joe Maddon at the helm, so far the Cubs have enjoyed a magical season..  In the opener of a crucial four-game series against the Giants amazing rookie Kyle Schwarber hit a three-run HR.  Next day he doubled, scored the first run and then had the game-winning hit.  Wrigley Field is rocking. He had two hits Saturday, and scored the winning run on Sunday.  As we left Memorial Opera House, the Cubs were clinging to a 2-0 lead but bases were loaded in the top of the ninth with no out.  Closer Hector Rondón then struck out the side; Dick Hagelberg and I stayed in the car to hear the final out after we had reached Popolano’s Italian Restaurant. Cheryl and Toni went ahead to get a table outside, as the threat of rain abated.

Cory Meacham’s journal discussed his two quite different jobs.
June 4: I woke up around 9 and started breakfast before showering.  I boiled eggs and drank some milk as I normally do. I watched the “Daily Show” with Jon Stewart andplayed World of Warcraft for 2 hours before class.  After class, I headed directly to TGI Fridays where I host and serve.  It was slow until around 8.  During that rush a guy with his family rudely asked for a seat.  He disregarded my “Hi there! How are we doing today?” and simply said “Booth.” I took him to the only open clean one, and he asked if he could sit in a dirty one a ways down.  I said, “That one is dirty at the moment.” Cutting me off before I could continue, he replied, “Well how fucking long would it take to clean it off asshole?”  I responded by saying, “The food tastes the same regardless of where you sit, genius.”  I set the menus down and walked away, after which he requested the manager. 
June 6: I woke up around 8 to prepare for a long day of street performing in Chicago.  I had 6 boiled eggs along with a bowl of oatmeal for energy.  Around 9:30 I left to catch the South Shore into Millennium Park where I met up with my friend Hamza and began performing freestyle soccer with him on Michigan Avenue about a mile westward of the park. After 4 hours we had collectively pulled in about $300 from tips and donations from passersby.   We grabbed food at the Chipotle on Michigan Avenue before paring ways. That evening my girlfriend and I went bowling and grabbed ice cream from a small shop in Valparaiso, where she lives.
June 19: I traveled to Atlanta for one of my jobs as a soccer performer.  Getting through security at O’Hare took nearly 30 minutes.  Once inside, with an hour to kill, I grabbed breakfast at McDonalds.  During the flight I put my I-Pod on and listened to a calming band known as Mimicking Birds.  After the 2-hour flight, I met up with my manager Maria, who took me to our hotel where I took a nap and swam as we waited for Hamza who was coming from Dallas.  The next morning we performed at a youth soccer tournament for multiple sponsors including Powerade and Coca Cola.   It was a long 7-hour day in 95-degree heat with no clouds. We performed tricks for large groups, accepted challenges from the youth and hosted youth 1 on 1 tournaments. I got a nasty sunburn.
June 25: I made preparations for a trip to the Electric Forest Music Festival in Rothbury, Michigan.  I had purchased the tickets online a couple months earlier for $300.  My day started with a trip to Walmart, where I purchased enough food to last me throughout the weekend with cases of water, and unperishable foods like beef jerky and dried fruits.  I had also stocked up on toiletries and self-cleaning wipes since there is no showering on the 4-day long camping trip filled with music.  It was a 3-hour drive to Rothbury plus it took nearly an hour to park the car, another 30 minutes to set up camp with a tent that lacked any instructions, and an hour and a half to get through the entrance line.   The music lasted till 2 a.m. after which we explored the illuminated forest area with trees decorated in bright lights.
June 26: We woke up in a daze from the alcohol and long night of dancing.  Around noon we attempt to do yoga.  After failing to do so, we set up hammocks in the forest and took long naps in order to regain energy and prepare for the night ahead.  On the second day, a few friends of mine saw Trevor Hall and Skrillex. Others engaged completely in the atmosphere of the forest while taking party drugs such as MDMA and LSD.  The hallucinogenic effects gave them pleasure during the intense light shows that we witnessed.  At night the temperature dropped to near 50 degrees, but it didn't seem to bother people despite the lack of clothes on many.  Between the alcohol and drugs, huge crowds of people, and nonstop dancing, I guess it'd be easy to write off cold weather.
June 29: Three days ago the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.  While many are overjoyed about the decision, some are outraged over an issue that has no relevance to them whatsoever. Driving around Hobart, Portage, and Valparaiso, I have noticed churches posting anti-gay sentiments on their street signs.

John Morikis wrote about his family history and how concussions ending his competitive sports career.  His great-grandfather, Nick Morikis, came to Gary when he was 18 and helped build Gary Works before becoming a steelworker:
The second of four children, I grew up in a home with loving parents.  However, times were not always easy.  My father is an educator, so money was not always there.  My mother remembers days where they did not know how we would get our next meal or pay the rent and other bills.  When I was born, my parents were living in a small duplex in Portage.  My mother told me that when I was a baby, she had to sell an antique cabinet for a fraction of its worth in order to get by.  In 1995 my parents purchased their first house.  Dad landed a job as an elementary school principal in Hobart that came with a small pay raise.  Five years later he received a job offer to become assistant school superintendent in Chesterton.  My parents sold the house in less than a day, and we were on our way to Chesterton. We lived in a modest home, but it had a spacious yard. Other kids in the neighborhood always wanted to come and play in our yard.
In 2003 my father received a job offer in Plymouth, Indiana, a very racist community.  Starting fourth grade, I made an effort to play with classmates at recess but kept getting the cold shoulder.  Finally, a kid told me that he and his friends were shunning me because they thought that I was Mexican.  The one African American student in the school was in my class.  She was taunted with racial slurs all of the time.  Her family just packed up and moved out of town one day.  On her last day in class, she thanked me for being her friend when everybody else was mean to her.  Plymouth had a small migrant farmer community. I eventually made friends with just about all of the migrant workers’ children.  These kids were bullied in the hallways and classroom and especially during recess.  Finally, tempers flared and a massive fight broke out on the soccer field. 
Some days I’d cry walking to the bus stop because I knew I’d be bullied and possibly beat up.  One day at recess I fought my tormentor, and we got sent to the office.  I was the one chastised.  The principal later told my parents that boys will be boys and that there would be no serious consequences from the fight.  That was the last straw.  My father decided to look for another job.  After much searching, he became Superintendent of Schools in Griffith. On April 28, 2005, the moving truck showed up to the house in Plymouth and we were finally leaving Marshall County for good. 
At first everything seemed ok at my new school, but kids laughed at me because of my weight and how I dressed - I’d wear my shirts tucked in with a belt.  One particular student barraged me with constant insults.  One day he shoved me at recess, so I shoved him back. The principal cut me some slack because I was still new.  After that, things did get better. 
The summer of 2005 I joined a Pop Warner football team.  When I put on the pads for the first time, it was like letting lightning out of a bottle.  I finally found a way to release my pent up aggression and was also really good at it, too.  Football also provided me with a way to lose a bunch of weight; I went from 143 down to 125 pounds. Our team won the State championship in our age division and made it up to the National Quarterfinals before losing to a team from Detroit 6-0.  In  2006 I played on the eighth grade football team because I grew a lot and was too heavy for Pop Warner. We went undefeated and won the conference.  After football, it was time for wrestling season to begin.  My wrestling season did not last long because I suffered a season-ending injury three days into the season. 
In 2008 I was finally going into high school, but being a freshman during summer workouts had its downsides.  Freshman had to fill water bottles, carry the equipment, and clean up after practice.  I did not mind because I just wanted to be on the football field. One day we were practicing kickoffs.  I was on the front line of the kickoff return team, a high honor for a freshman.  During the play I was blindsided, flipped once, and slammed my head onto the ground.  I suffered a severe concussion and was out for the rest of the season.  That would be the last time that I would ever wear a set of football pads.  I do not remember much about that week because I was too concussed.  After the injury, I gained over 50 pounds due to the lack of physical activity and a diet consisting of triple stack cheeseburgers from Wendy’s and ice cream. I did not want to go to school, see anybody, or even get out of bed.  One day I was an athlete receiving attention from colleges, and the next day I was a laughing stock.  Some days I would ask, “Why me?” 
As time went on, high school got better.  My sophomore year I went out for swimming.  I held my own in the pool until I suffered another concussion.  A girl jumped into my lane of the pool when she was not supposed to, slamming her head into my forehead.  After that concussion, I figured that was probably the last time I would play organized sports.  I did not want to further increase my chances of getting another concussion.   Once I decided to give up athletics, my life started to turn around.  I finally had gained the mental drive and courage to start losing weight.  I managed to lose 50 pounds, taking me down to 190 pounds by the end of my sophomore year.  I weighed just 160 pounds by the time my junior year began.  I felt a lot more confident, like I could take on the world.  It was a complete transformation. 
In October of 2009 at age 16 I landed my first job, bussing tables at a banquet hall.  My first day I was bending down to grab a glass of pop off a table and dropped my tray in front of 500 people.  Worse yet, I spilled glasses all over a customer’s dress. To make matters worse, I was pulled over on my way home and ticketed for having my bright car beams on in Highland.  I worked at the banquet hall for eight months.  In the summer after my junior year, I was a maintenance worker for the Griffith schools.  We built a new playground, did landscaping, and helped clear out a closed school.  That was probably the best job that I ever had. 
I did not have much of a social life my senior year because most of my friends graduated the year before.  I was more mature and ready for the real world than many fellow classmates. Of the 220 people in graduating class, 190 participated in the ceremony and 30 just picked up their diplomas at school the next day.  The ceremony was emotional because my dad got to hand me the diploma. 
Superintendant Peter Morikis with Dawn Parks and Corporal Hector Arroyo

No comments:

Post a Comment