“Mother of us all
Place of our birth
We are all witness
To the rape of the world.”
Tracy Chapman, “The Rape of the World”
A two-day “Democracy Is in the Streets” conference at IUN organized by Raoul Contreras and Social Justice Club members LaSharn Barfield, Sharon Batiste, William Mabon, Alexandra Saucedo, Aneeb Mohideen, Teresa Augustine, and Ana Sparks focused on climate change. Contreras and Rene Nunez, of the Political Action Caucus, asserted in a joint Welcome statement: “We join with thousands of others across the country in building a movement for social justice and against imperialism.” I attended a workshop moderated by Patricia Ann Hicks entitled “Global Climate Justice and Averting Global Climate Catastrophe.” Most attendees tended to blame inaction on unvarnished capitalist greed.
Leading Republican Presidential contenders have belittled warnings by environmentalists of global warming. Trump called the phenomenon a hoax, while Ted Cruz claimed that “ [these] alarmists are the equivalent of flat-Earthers.” He has it backward. John Kasich said, “We don’t want to destroy people’s jobs based on some theory that is not proven.”
1957 Pine Barrens blaze
In a Rolling Stone article entitled “Apocalypse in the Garden State,” Kyle Dickman predicts that a devastating wildfire will occur within the 1.1 million-acre Pine Barrens of New Jersey. The last out-of control blaze in 1963 stretched 190,000 acres from Long Beach Island to Atlantic City. In “The Pine Barrens” John McPhee wrote: “Since then, the population in the Pinelands has tripled while the forest has become even thicker. If a series of blazes starts on the right dry and windy day, it could take out a large chunk of the Jersey coastline. Yet despite the increasing danger, state officials can't do much to counter it.”
WXRT’s Saturday morning 1987 playlist included “Alex Chilton” by the Replacements, “It’s the End of the World” by R.E.M., “Sentimental Hygiene” by Warren Zevon (whom I saw twice at the Holiday Star), “Need You Tonight” by INXS (whom Dave and I witnessed open for Adam Ant), and “Only Love” by the BoDeans, whom I saw at VU. I have a BoDeans CD on heavy rotation, “Blend,” along with Eighties performers Steve Winwood, Steve Earle, Traveling Wilburys, and the Replacements. The Regular Guy discussed my favorite movie comedy, “Trains, Planes, and Automobiles” and played Steve Martin as Neal telling John Candy (Del), “When you’re telling these little stories? Here’s a good idea – have a POINT.”
In honor of native son Prince, Minnesota is about to make purple the state color. Thousands of mourners have descended on his Paisley Place estate. In “The Understanding” Sam Llanas and Kurt Neumann of the BoDeans lament: “The expectations that we’re painting/ they go from paisley to white.”
Ron Cohen heard NPR TV critic Eric Deggans speaking about Prince’s legacy on WBEZ and discovered that his father was Chuck Deggans, who wrote an entertainment column for over 50 years starting in 1961 called “Chuck Deggans’ Den” touching on black social life in Gary and the Region. The column first appeared in INFO, then in Gary Crusader, for a while in the Post-Tribune (frequently featuring attractive women in swimsuits), and then again in the Crusader. Deggans also hosted a jazz show on WGVE until shortly before his death of a massive stroke last year at age 82. Press secretary for Richard Hatcher when he first ran for mayor in 1967, Deggans assembled supporters who called themselves the Hatcherettes. In “City of the Century” I wrote that he also “organized a zealous band of canvassers called the ‘Shock Troops.’”
In the H. Theo Tatum collection at IUN’s Calumet Regional Archives are issues of INFO from March 1968, when Gary Roosevelt won the IHSAA basketball championship. The “Deggans’ Den” column for March 14 included photos of Bea “Cookie” Hicks, former Roosevelt cheerleader and secretary of the Roosevelt Alumni Association, and East Chicagoan Pam Cody, door-prize winner and proficient “Four Corners” line dancer during SOUL-STIRRER night at Gary’s Club Woodlawn.
The HBO movie “Confirmation” about Anita Hill’s appearance during the 1991 Clarence Thomas Senate hearings was quite riveting. A reluctant witness, Hill was treated shabbily by the all-male committee. Her testimony left little doubt but that Thomas harassed her while head of the EEOC. On the other hand, televising the salacious testimony was a disservice to all involved and unimaginable had the disputants been white. Republicans found shrinks to imply that Hill might have had erotic fantasies about her once-boss. Alison Wright, so good as Martha in “The Americans,” played the wife of Clarence Thomas. Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post wrote: “If ‘Confirmation’ is the story of how Hill lost the short-term battle over Clarence Thomas’s nomination but helped win the long war for women’s equality, it’s also the story of how Virginia Thomas entered a particular and inextricable circle of wifely Hell.”
A chapter called “Party Bus” in “Once in a Great City” by David Maraniss describes a well-stocked (with booze and, sometimes, broads) “Party Bus” traveling dice and poker games took place. Detroit Lions star defensive lineman Alex Karras once came back to Detroit from a game in Cleveland on it. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle suspended the Gary native one year for betting on football games (something quite common at the time but only Karras and Paul Hornung were punished). Rozelle also demanded that Karras cease being a part-owner of the LIndell A.C., where he placed the bets. The Lindell was a popular watering hole for professional athletes, such as Yankees Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford, and Billy Martin when they were in town. On the wall, in addition to jerseys of local heroes like Al Kaline, Gordie Howe, and Dick “Night Train” Lane, was Lions linebacker Wayne Walker’s jockstrap. Describing Karras as 260 pounds of irascibility, Maraniss wrote: “Karras was a born grappler and actor whose mayhem inspired one of the Lindell’s famous brawls when he and William Fritz Afflis, aka Dick the Bruiser, commenced demolition on each other and the establishment.” Karras wrestled professionally during off-seasons when barred from the gridiron.
John Butsicaris in 1997
Opened by Meleti Butsicaris at a different location in 1949, the Lindell A.C. remained a Detroit watering hole until 2009, managed most of that time by the patriarch’s sons Jimmy and John Butsicaris, friends of fellow-Greek Karras, to whom he was very loyal. Reporter Bill Dow called Lindell’s one of America’s first sports bars and Detroit’s version of Toots Shor’s in New York. Dow wrote: “This was the place where Detroit Tiger players squeezed behind the bar and gave out free drinks to customers on the raucous evening the team clinched the 1968 pennant.” Karras played Jimmy Butsicaris in the made-for TV movie “Jimmy B and Andre” (1980) about a bar owner adopting a ghetto kid. Jimmy Butsicaris played himself in “One in a Million: The Ron Leflore Story” which dramatized, according to Dow, “how Butsicaris convinced then Tiger manager Billy Martin to give Jackson Prison inmate and future All Star Leflore a baseball tryout.”
The Hobart Area Band formerly known as Rusty Pipes put on a rousing concert. Our friend Dick Hagelberg played French horn; IUN student Karl Lugar and Religious Studies professor Rick Busse played trombone; attorney Don Evans and friend Patricia Heckler were in the coronet/trumpet section, as was Communication professor Eve Bottando’s father James, who dressed as a clown for “Screamers,” a circus march medley. 86 year-old former Lake Central band director Doug Jordan conducted his original composition “March for Reeds.” Director Susan Williams dedicated Michael Kamen’s “Band of Brothers” to veterans and recently deceased Gene Beckner and Nic Holzmer. Both played with Rusty Pipes into their nineties. My favorite selection, “Big Band Classics,” featured “Tuxedo Junction,” “Serenade in Blue,” and “In the Mood.”
NWI Times Business Marketing columnist Larry Galler suggested that merchants and professionals create emotional bonds by doing unexpected things - what he termed “special sauce” - to build long-lasting customer relationships. Examples include car salesmen sending a card to celebrate an automobile’s birthday or – something dentist John Sikora does – phoning patients the evening after seeing them. I’ve developed an emotional bond with Dr. Sikora, an IU grad who grew up in Glen Park and is a Cubs fan.
Marc Chase’s NWI Times “Forum” column pointed out that Lake County Circuit judge George Paras, up for re-election against Marissa McDermott (above), has several relatives of county officials on his payroll, including the wife of Lake County auditor John Petalas and the sons of Councilwoman Margaret Uzelac and politically connected Jewell Harris. Marissa McDermott, wife of Hammond’s mayor, has her own political baggage but is a bright, highly respected attorney and my choice (if I could vote in Lake County) for circuit judge. Sexist Paras supporters are telling voters the contest is not for beauty queen.
Geosciences professor Zoran Kilibarda, recipient of IUN’s Distinguished Scholarship Award, lectured on “Unconformities of Geology” in a manner understandable to laymen like me. Vice Chancellor Mark McPhail stated that Zoran was a former soccer player, chess champion, gourmet cook, and, in short, a modern Renaissance Man. Quoting what classical Greek scholar H.D.F. Kitto once wrote about Odysseus, McPhail concluded, “Dr. Kilibarda strives after that which we translate ‘virtue’ but is in Greek areté, excellence. Areté implies a respect for the wholeness or oneness of life, and exists not in one department of life but in life itself.”
Zoran claimed that he took up chess for intellectual stimulation while working as a tour guide in Alaska. He has undertaken research projects in the former Yugoslavia and America, most recently in the Lake Michigan dunelands. He joked that the audience of several dozen was twice the number that turned out for previous recipient Iztok Hozo and fielded questions from Eve Bottando, Gianluca Di Muzio, Pat Bankston, Matthew Benus, and Kristin Huysken. In response to one of mine, he noted that since state and national parks forbade digging or taking samples, generally he and his students can find similar terrain not far from those sites. Modern geosciences, I learned, began at Siccor Point in Scotland with James Hutton (1726-1797), who explained the Earth’s crust as the result of natural processes having evolved over billions of years.
On the cover of Time’s “Hundred most influential People” issue is singer Nicki Minaj. WTF? Bernie Sanders topped a readers’ poll followed by the k-pop hip hop South Korean quintet BIGBANG featuring G-Dragon, T.O.P., Daesung, Taeyang, and Seungri. Joel Stein’s humor column listed the 100 most influential animals, led by Cecil the lion (shot by a Minnesota dentist, sparking worldwide outrage) and the bull orca Tilikum (whose mistreatment after drowning trainer Dawn Brancheau led to SeaWorld agreeing to end the captive breeding of killer whales).
Miller beach photos by Donald Metcalfe taken by drone