Saturday, November 7, 2015

Calumet Headwaters

“A river with beautiful and optimistic symbolism attached to its name not only becomes a pipe, but on its 16 mile journey to Lake Michigan also becomes one of the most polluted rivers in America, containing up to 90% industrial effluent.” Powell A. Moore, “The Calumet Region: Indiana’s Last Frontier” (1959)
Fereshteh Toosi
Corey Hgelberg’s handmade woodcut book “This Is Not Peace Pipe” was part of “At the Headwaters,” an interactive Chicago Art Institute exhibit about the Calumet River at Miller’s Gardner Center.  Among the interesting items were a floor trail,photos taken from a balloon, materials found at an abandoned rail yard, and mounds resembling piles of sand made from Calumet baking powder. Fereshteh Toosi explained:
  A portrait of an Indian person has served as the logo for the Calumet baking powder company since its founding in Chicago in 1889.  “Calumet Mounds” alludes to the industrial and commercial history of this region, its impact on our health and quality of life, and the ways in which human culture is consumed and traded as a commodity.
  The flour mounds are a visual reference to the piles of industrial materials currently found along Calumet waterways.  These forms also invoke the presence of ceremonial burial chambers covered with soil that were traditionally built by indigenous people along rivers and lakes in the Midwest.
 fans at Sinatra Tolerance concert; below, Lucille Gause Bobo
WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo interviewed historian Ron Cohen and former Froebel students William Hill and Lucille Gause Bobo for a piece about the 1945 Froebel School Strike.  Hill, active in Black Lives Matter, told Perdomo that the strike “instilled activism in me, from that time on.”  Bobo worked in the Lake County prosecutor’s office and now has a booth Saturdays at a Gary flea market.  The former high school cheerleader told Perdomo that told of making up a special cheer for basketball player George Revetta that went: “Cheese, cheese, cheddar, cheddar, nobody can beat George Revetta.”
The Defense Department paid 14 NFL teams a total of more than $10 million to put on patriotic halftime displays believing it to be an effective recruitment tool.  Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake criticized the “paid patriotism” as wasteful and fraudulent.

On the fourth anniversary of “Casual Fridays” Lakeshore Radio hosts Jerry Davich and Karen Walker played clips of past highlights and interviewed Graham Russell of Air Supply, an Australian soft rock group scheduled to perform sappy songs like “Lost in Love” and “All Out of Love” at Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City. 
Touted as a hero since his death in September, Fox Lake Illinois officer Charles Joseph Gliniwicz, known as “G.I. Joe,” staged his suicide to make it look like a homicide.  For years he’d pilfered from a police Explorer fund to pay his mortgage, fly first class on junkets, and visit porno sites.  He may even have attempted to hire a hit man to kill a local official investigating him.  What a scumbag.
Calling soldiers G.I.s gained widespread popularity during World War II.  The initials first stood for logistics products made from galvanized iron and later “Government Issue” equipment.  In the early 1960s Hasbro marketed G.I. Joe as “America’s movable fighting man” and put out four different action figures (not dolls, the company emphasized) representing the army, navy, air force, and marines.  Comic books followed and then films, video games, and animated TV series.
above, Dalton and Cleo Trumbo; below, Bryan cranston and Diane Lane
“Breaking Bad” actor Bryan Cranston stars in a biopic about blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo.  One of the “Hollywood Ten,” Trumbo spent a year in jail for contempt of Congress.  Twice he joined and then quit the American Communist Party, unable to tolerate its strict orthodoxy.  Sometimes using a pseudonym, Trumbo wrote the screenplay to “Exodus,” “Spartacus,” and “Roman Holiday,” plus B-movies and wartime flicks such as “A Guy Named Joe” (1943) starring Spencer Tracy and Van Johnson as pilots; neither main character is named Joe, but after Tracy returns from a successful bombing run, a British kid tells a friend, “That’s what all American soldiers are called, guys named Joe.”
above, January Jones as Betty Draper; below, Alissa with Josh and Miranda
For Halloween granddaughter Alissa dressed as Betty Draper from “Mad Men,” the beautiful “ice queen” who had trouble adjusting to the 1960s.  My favorite Betty Draper scene was when she fired a gun at a neighbor’s pigeons with a cigarette in her mouth after the guy threatened to kill the Draper dog.  She slapped the mother of ten year-old Glen, who criticized her giving Glen a lock of her hair after being told she looked beautiful, like a princess.   Learning Don was unfaithful, she pleasured herself by embracing a vibrating washing machine.  The season she ballooned in weight she squirted whipped cream into her mouth.  A smoker like nearly everyone in the series, Betty deserved a better fate than to come down with terminal cancer.  I had hoped the Drapers would end up together again.  In the Huffington Post Joanne Bamberger, who loved Betty’s gumption despite her flaws, wrote:
            She's the anti-mom who threatened to cut off Sally's fingers when she found out her child was "exploring" herself and then locked her in a closet for smoking a cigarette.
            She's a character that many people pitied -- a caricature of a housewife of a certain era who had no options other than to stay in 'burbs, raise the kids, drink too much wine and smoke too many cigarettes, throw some dinner parties and forget any budding Feminine Mystique-type ideas they might have had before walking down the aisle.

It’s difficult to dislike a movie starring Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton, but “Our Brand Is Crisis” comes close.  Set in Bolivia and meant to expose the hypocrisy of political operators, it has an unrealistic Hollywood ending and, trying for laughs, several groan-inducing moments, including Billy Bob telling Sandra that in the next couple weeks he’ll be pleasuring himself thinking of her and Sandra responding, “Thanks, I’ll be honored.”  She should have slapped him hard, like Betty Draper would have done.

Against the Pin Chasers the Electrical Engineers took all three games.  Frank Shufran was our high roller with a 587 series.  I bowled a 481 - 145, 182, and 154.  Opponent George Villareal matriculated at IU Northwest in 1972 after getting out of the military and obtaining a job at NIPSCO.  He graduated 25 years later.  His most memorable teacher: George Bodmer.  Wife Betty is vice president of the IUN Board of Directors.  Her favorite instructor: Anne Balay.

In “The Boys in the Boat” Daniel James Brown refers to the final game of the 1933 World Series. In the tenth inning Giants slugger Mel Ott homered into the centerfield bleachers against the Washington Senators pitcher Jack Russell.  In the Seattle Post-Intelligencer appeared a half-page cigarette ad proclaiming: “21 of 23 Giants World Champions Smoke Camels.  It Takes Healthy Nerves to Win the World Series.”  Ott was the first National League player to hit more than 500 home runs; his name is often in crossword puzzles.
At Lake Street Gallery for Jane Ammeson’s book signing (“A Jazz Age Murder in Northwest Indiana”) I chatted with Dick and Cheryl Hagelberg, Steve Spicer, gallery owner Joyce, and Rich Gonzalez, retired Purdue Cal Engineering professor recently hospitalized 17 days after a heart operation.  Walking to the car, I spotted attorney Scott King smoking a cigarette outside Miller Bakery Café.  I told him about visiting George Van Til next week in Terre Haute.  I wonder if King – or the over-zealous U.S. Attorney or judge who sent him there -  fully realizes the debilitating effect prison has had on Van Til’s health and morale.

Saturday was an IUN Homecoming double-header, and Willie Nile rocked Valpo’s Memorial Opera House.  We met our bridge group at Sage restaurant, and Toni hosted bridge back at the condo.  Dessert was a cheesecake sampler- three pieces each of four different types.  Bryan talked about working for Sears for 30 years.  Co-founder Alvah Roebuck began work as a watchmaker at a Hammond, Indiana, jewelry store at age 12.  In 1895 he asked Sears to buy him out for $200,000.  Ruined by the 1929 stock market crash, Roebuck rejoined the company and made personal appearances, especially at stores in the South after a rumor spread that he was black. 

Hosting Saturday Night Live, Donald Trump was pretty boring, basically playing himself.  When Larry David yelled out, “You’re a racist,” adding that protestors had offered $5,000 to anyone who did that, Trump replied that as a businessman, he couldn’t argue with that.  Trump’s act is getting pretty old.  More and more, it looks like Hillary Clinton versus Marco Rubio in 2016, as Jeb Bush continues to fade.

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