Monday, August 24, 2015

Night Drive

“The mist across the window hides the lines
But nothing hides the color of the lights that shine.”
         “Steppin’ Out [into the night]” Joe Jackson
drawing by William Buckley

Poet William Buckley suffers from vertigo on humid days and showed up at the Archives bandaged from a recent fall that had landed him in the ER.  Driving to IUN, Buckley avoids highways.  His plan is to be in California within two years, but he loves Lake Michigan and the blue-collar Region zeitgeist, so, meanwhile, he’s content.  He brought several poems with him including “night-drive”:

Billy Lee feels tight he feels nervy,
grass and gun on the front seat
of his truck. “Driving round with yer
gun is no way out,” sez his Brenda.
Billy extends the mad anger
in his boot to the pedal.  Brenda
sez, “Let’s walk by the lake.”  But
Billy needs his tight freedom,
“Gotta go,” he sez and Brenda sez
“Take me too.”  Billy sez “gunna blow
a big hole in the X.”
“You a bad-ass,” Brenda sez, “you be
bad-ass.”  Billy drove straight ahead,
Brenda’s feet on the dashboard.
He’d been a scrubber and a welder. 
There it was, USX,  “Put a hole
through that X, right in the middle!
Owe it a parting shot for my exchange
rate!”  Brenda slid her legs
to the back of his knees, braced her
arms across his shoulders until they
both held the gun.  Then they shot it.
They jumped into the truck and threw gears.
Brenda saw flame in Lee’s eye.
He rubbed his stomach.
“The X of ’im,” Brenda sez, as winds gush through truck.

In 1986 U.S. Steel reorganized its various components as USX Corporation; hence the “X” in Buckley’s poem as a symbol of steelworker rage.  The 1986-1987 USX lockout lasted six months and was the longest in the history of Gary Works. The company’s intransigence – refusing a union offer, for example, to continue under terms of the previous contract until a settlement could be reached - infuriated veteran workers.  Unlike in Japan, management felt no allegiance to its workforce.  Quite the opposite – in its eyes they were adversaries.  In fact, once the USWA (United Steelworkers of America) agreed to wage concessions and the elimination of 1,300 jobs, just three days after ratification of the new contract arrogant USX honchos closed four additional plants with the resulting loss of 3,500 more positions. 
 photo by Bill Carey
Another mill work stoppage looms.  Reporting on a recent rally near the Gary City Hall statue of corporate founder Elbert H. Gary, Bill Carey wrote tongue-in-cheek:
  After marching to the Broadway gate of U.S. Steel’s Gary Works, 2000 steelworkers rallied with speeches of solidarity at Gateway Park. As the crowd dispersed, Elbert Gary U.S. Steel’s first president who famously said that the corporation prefers not to deal with their workers’ union when he brought in troops to break a strike in 1919, looks on nervously. Although Judge Gary oversaw the construction of the Gary Works in 1906, he never actually saw the inside of a blast furnace until after he died.

I try not to drive at night unless on familiar routes.  Headlights from the opposite direction bother me, so I’m actually better off on divided highways such as 80/90 than on two-lane roads.  Even though my preference was to stay in the Wednesday night Sheet and Tin bowling league, perhaps moving to Thursday afternoon will be safer for me getting home afterwards.  Prior to the onset of poor night vision, my favorite drive at dusk was along Route 12, with tree branches leaning over the road like ghost tentacles.

In Judd Apatow’s “Sick in the Head,” a compilation of interviews with fellow comedians, Jerry Seinfeld revealed that hard work and constant editing are key components to his creating funny bits – as a dogged editor, I can appreciate the sentiment.  Apatow’s parents went through an ugly divorce while he was a teenager, and his dad’s favorite expression was, “Nobody said life was fair.”  Chris Rock expressed amazement about a scene in “Louie” where Melissa Leo gives Louis C.K. oral sex and then says, “Now you’re going to eat my pussy.”  “That blew my mind,” Chris Rock said, “like the first time I heard NWA.”  A hot current movie is the NWA biopic “Straight Outta Compton.”  Chris Rock’s anecdote reminds me of a scene in “Georgia Rule” (2007) where Lindsay Lohan flashes a shy guy while they’re in a rowboat and then tells him he has to reciprocate.  He shows her his private parts, leading to a bj.  The poor sucker is so shook up he thinks he has to marry her.

On the Chesterton post office wall was a framed likeness if the new Elvis stamp, which went on sale on the 38th anniversary of the legend’s death.  According to Phil Arnold’s blog, a 1993 Elvis stamp sold over 500 million copies; many were never used but instead saved as collectibles.

Becca and James shined in a sparkling musical review directed by former East Chicago Central teacher Leon Kendrick.  It took place in a former Carnegie library that had been closed for years and recently rehabbed as a community center.  Both grandchildren danced the Charleston.  James was in a doo wop group.  Becca sang “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” from “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

Monday’s lead front-page Post-Trib story was about IUN professor Eve Bottando’s “selfie class,” titled Mass Communication and Culture.  Bottando told reporter Michelle Quinn: “We have this generation of digital natives, as it were, and with it has come this long-term fallacy of what a generation is.  So we can move past [this fallacy] or we can harness it strategically and see how things become accepted.”  Like with video games, critics of the trend have attributed all sorts of negative consequences, ranging from narcissism to psychopathy, citing as an extreme example a Russian woman whose selfie recorded her suicidal lea[p from a cliff.  “Moral panic,” Bottando argued, is a barrier to understanding a cultural phenomenon involving mass communication.  She added: “Aristotle was a proponent of, ‘Why not learn about the world and then make your arguments?’ Leave cultural assumptions out of the reports.” IUN Fine Arts professor Jennifer Greenburg told Quinn that sometimes puritanical parents teach their children “to be embarrassed to be self-involved, but the act of picture-taking is really like a diary, even though we don’t think of our likeness that way.”

Born in Munster on August 6, 1993, Alyssa Minton wrote about her upbringing and boyfriend CJ in a summer journal:
          Introduction: As a child, I was always jumping off walls.  One way I expended my energy was through gymnastics and then cheerleading for Pop Warner football, at Wilbur Wright Middle School, and at Munster High School.  At the end of my freshman year, after tryouts for the next cheer season, I assumed I would make the junior varsity team but I actually made varsity.  When I put my letterman jacket for the first time, it was a beautiful moment of pride and joy. The summer after I graduated, my home life spiraled out of control.  As I moved to Bloomington for my freshman year, my parents finally announced they were getting a divorce. It hit me hard, but I knew it was coming.                   
      Alyssa Minton at h.s. graduation and with CJ

June 1: My boyfriend CJ and I have been together for almost a year. We both went to Munster, but he was two years ahead of me.  I ran into him at the local bar Danny Z’s. We have been inseparable ever since.  He is a union roofer for Korellis Roofing and also attends Purdue Calumet, seeking a degree in construction management.  Last summer his crew was assigned a three-month project at Notre Dame. The company provided living arrangements on campus, and I’d stay there with him. I was amazed how hard CJ worked.  He’d bring heavy bundles of shingles up a ladder and place them on the roof. Seeing him in his harness with all his tools made me realize what a man he truly was. I love when he explains the roofing process to me or points out jobs he has done all around Northwest Indiana.  CJ and I are both very independent and don’t feel the need to be texting every second of the day. In my first high school relationship, I was insanely clingy and insecure, but I am the complete opposite with CJ. This may sound cheesy but I am extremely proud to be his girlfriend. He sets a good example for how to respect others and maturely handle stressful situations. I have never felt more confident than when with him.
  June 2: For two months I have been employed at Sheffield’s Sports Bar in Dyer as a cocktail server.  I love the atmosphere when the Blackhawks are playing.  Saturday when the Hawks beat the Ducks, everyone was celebrating. People were hugging friends and random strangers.  Most people get nicer when alcohol enters their system, but occasionally we’ll run into mean drunks. CJ isn’t supportive of me working in a bar because I do get hit on.  He accuses me of flirting back.  I tell him every day how important he is to me, so he needs to deal with it. Sheffield’s is dependent on regulars for their business, so I often see the same people every day and understand the boundary between friendliness and flirtation.
  June 4: I am majoring in Psychology and understand that a good paying job will require more school.  I am up for the challenge but fear that after all my schooling, I won’t get a job in my field.  It doesn’t help when I tell people my future plans and they give a look like “Honey, you aren’t going to go far with a Psychology degree.”  Not being able to picture where I am going to be in four years terrifies me. My sister Katy landed a full-time nursing position as soon as she graduated from Valparaiso University. If I don’t find a job in my field, I will feel like a complete failure. Sometimes when I tell people that I want to help those suffering from mental illness, they’ll react like it’s a fault of the individual.  I understand what it is like to deal with depression, not knowing where to turn, and want to make it easier for young teens to seek help.
  June 22: My best friend Joanna came home for the weekend from Bloomington. CJ, Joanna, and I went to CJ’s friend Tyler’s estate in Culver, Indiana. The main house has three levels with an elevator stopping at each floor, kitchens on the first and second floor, and the master bedroom on the third floor. We stayed in the guesthouse, which was equally as beautiful. CJ took Joanna and me jet skiing, and we tipped over twice.  Tyler is the son of Pete Korellis of Korellis Roofing.  I had met Tyler’s parents at the Korellis Christmas party back in December. His mom, Susan, is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met.  I always ignored the phrase “money can’t buy happiness,” but Susan is so genuinely happy, maybe it’s because they do not have stressful financial worries.
Pete Korellis

June 23: CJ has been working for Korellis Roofing since high school and will soon be promoted to foreman. During the summer of 2012, after a threatened wage cut, members of the United Union of Roofers, Local 26, went on strike.  They picketed outside the Korellis Roofing shop in Hammond, as well as Gluth Brothers Roofing.  Some strikers went negative and slashed Pete Korellis’ tires, called in death threats, and put feces on his doorstep in Munster.  CJ was on strike for seven months, before the two parties reached a compromise settlement.
  June 24: My mom grew up in Whiting with five younger siblings. Her dad, a steelworker, was an alcoholic who died when she was 17. My mom started working in downtown Chicago once she turned 18 and met my father, who also worked downtown, on the train. My mom was the backbone of the family. She’d take me to and from practice three times a week, make my meals, do my laundry, and so on. She is the most caring and loving person I know. It broke my heart seeing how my dad completely ignoring her when she tried so hard to please him. She’d buy her own Christmas presents, wrap them, and say they were from my father, all so my sister and I wouldn’t catch on. There was a noticeable weight lifted off my mom’s shoulder after the divorce. I once asked her why she stayed with my dad for so long. She said she wanted to give my sister and me a good life, so she put hers on hold.
  June 27: During my senior year at Munster I became really close with Paige.  At her house one day I saw a little Chihuahua in the laundry room and fell in love with her.  Emmy was the absolute sweetest dog I have ever met. She couldn’t bark; she would try, but no noise would come out. It was like she was always on mute. When Paige went on vacation and I dog sat, which eventually turned into me keeping her for good at a very unstable time in my life. Emmy could nuzzle my neck, and I’d instantly feel better, happier than I ever thought I could be. Sadly, in April, she passed away. Heartbroken I cried for three weeks. She will always be in my heart; I wish I could hold her one last time.  My mom found an animal rescue place in Crown Point that had a female Chihuahua puppy for us.   I named her Daisy.  I honestly feel like Emmy is reincarnated into Daisy, they have so many similarities.  When I got her, she didn’t even weigh three pounds, but she has so much energy, she cannot sit still for more than five minutes. CJ has an American Bulldog named Jaxson, whom Daisy just adores.  CJ is as obsessed with Daisy as I am. He cuddles with her at night instead of me. I don’t mind because they are adorable together. My mom says Daisy and I are both under CJ’s love spell.
Leaving IUN, I found a flyer between my car window and the windshield wiper titled, “Qualified Workers Denied Jobs.”  It was an invitation to join a rally next Monday “to demand [as promised] local hiring on $45 million dollar IUN-IVY Tech Arts and Sciences Building.”

CDs on heavy rotation after watching the Cubs win fifth straight on a Kris Bryant walk-off HR: Joe Jackson, Romantics, War on Drugs, Spin Doctors, and Robert Blaszkiewicz’s “Best of 2014” to hear New Pornographers and Wilco.

Steve Spicer photographed a truck unable to get through an overpass on Grand Boulevard in Miller.  How could he have missed the warning sign – maybe it happened at night.
From a certain angle the 37-foot William Penn statue atop Philadelphia’s City Hall appears obscene, as if the founder of Pennsylvania colony was about to take a piss.  Sculptor Alexander Milne Caulder meant for him to be holding a copy of the treaty he signed with Native Americans, not his penis.

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