Monday, June 13, 2016

PULSE of America

"No act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans." President Barack Obama
A gunman who claimed allegiance to ISIS and apparently hated LGBTs  killed 49 patrons and injured over 50 others at PULSE, a gay dance club in Orlando, Florida, before members of a SWAT team took him out.  Perpetrator of the worst mass killing in recent American history, the disturbed killer was American-born whose parents were from Afghanistan.  Inside the crowded main room of PULSE on Latin night, Jackie Smith said of the 29 year-old killer, "He had an automatic rifle, so nobody had a chance."  Jon Alamo added: "You ever see how Marine guys hold big weapons, shooting from left to right.  That's how he was shooting at people."   Several victims huddled together in a bathroom texted loved ones that they were about to die.  President Obama said, "How easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or house of worship or a movie theater or in a night club."  Omar Mateen was evidently on an FBI watch list, but at present such suspects can still purchase automatic weapons.  Even Ronald Reagan came out against semi-automatic weapons and for tolerance towards gays.

Unlike Stonewall in 1969, whose patrons generally concealed their identities, PULSE party-goers were generally proud of their identity and not all were gay.  Hell, if I were 50 years younger and in Orlando, I'd have checked it out.  President Obama put it this way: "[PULSE] was a place of solidarity and empowerment where people came together to raise awareness, speak their mind, and to advocate for their civil rights."
Just two night before in Orlando not far from Disney World a gunman fatally shot singer Christina Grimmie as the former runner-up on "The Voice" was signing autographs following a concert.  When Grimmie's brother accosted the killer, he fatally shot himself.   Christina had a YouTube following in the millions and was friends with Selena Gomez, who stated that she was devastated over the incomprehensible incident.  Meanwhile, in Chi-town over the weekend, shootings took seven lives and sent a dozen others to the ER.
Carmella Saraceno; below, Will Miller & the Jazz Gang; photos by Jerry Davich
At Miller Market two guitarists were performing "Psycho Killer." I ran into precinct committeeman Michael Chirich while in line for a taco.  There to distribute flyers about a September block party along Lake Street, he raved about Will  Miller and the Jazz Gang featuring Willie Fultz, which performed at Carmella's Cafe on the Lake,  located at Marquette Park.  In the Post-Trib Jerry Davich recently profiled Carmella Saraceno, who also runs Carmella's Stage on Shelby Street in Miller.  A native of Allentown, PA, Carmella told Davich, "Of all the places I've visited - Singapore, Italy, Thailand, New York City, you name it - here I am in Gary.  Why?  I've found my tribe here."
Paul V. Dudley, "The Magic Hour" (1950); below, James Pringle Cook, "Willow Crest" diptych (1992)
Taking place at South Shore Arts Gallery in Munster was John Cain's opening reception for "Sand and Steel: Visions of our Indiana Shore," curated by VU's Gregg Hertzlieb.  I was pleasantly surprised the brochure containing my historical essay was completed in time for the show.
Joshua Jebb, "Two Ottawa Chiefs from Michilimackinac" (c. 1813-1820)
Michael A. McDonnell's "Masters of Empire: Great Lakes Indians and the Making of America" focuses on the Odawa (Ottawa) Indians, whose most important homeland was near the straits of Michilimackinac and who for at least 200 years flourished by forging alliances through marital ties with such other Anishinaabeg tribes as the Chippewa (Ojibwe) and the Potawatomi and even Huron, Lakota, and Iroquois bands - plus Frenchmen, including Joseph Bailly, the first permanent resident of Northwest Indiana..  Referring to their extensive trade with the French, McDonnell asserts that it was on their terms, and New France existed on their sufferance. Los Angeles Times reviewer David Treuer wrote: "By keeping the balance of power between the French and the British, and later the British and the Americans, the Indians themselves functioned as a kind of swing vote.  A little pressure here, a little room there, and they swung the course of history in major ways, including but not limited to the Seven Years War, the French and Indian War, and the Revolutionary War."
sand hill crane family near IUN; photo by Kathy Hall
According to IUN biologist Spencer Cortwright, thousands of sand hill cranes once migrated through Northwest Indiana, but with the destruction of most marshlands few, if any, stayed to breed.  Recently, a few pairs are at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and one pair is raising its offspring close to IUN's main parking lot.  Cortwright explained:
Ever since the levee was built in the late 1990's, the site has not been physically altered.  Prior to the levee there were football fields in there and even golf was tried, neither of which produced stable habitat (but were flooded a lot).  In addition, our restoration efforts have doggedly removed nonnative weeds from the wetland areas, which provide an opening in the marsh vegetation that the cranes seem to enjoy.  This nonnative weed removal is ongoing, but clearly presented a view to this pair of flying cranes that IU Northwest is nature friendly and a good place to raise a family!  

I'm getting comfortable driving my new Corolla.  Strangely, however, when the engine's off, a lock icon flashes constantly, whether or not the car is locked.  Worried that this unnecessary nuisance (perhaps intended to thwart thefts) drained the battery, I asked a Toyota serviceman if the device could be put on a different setting.  Nope, he replied, adding that icons in every car in the lot were flashing. 

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