Tuesday, July 5, 2016


“One act of beneficence is worth all the abstract sentiment in the world.”  Romantic novelist Ann Radcliff

Beneficence is an act of charity or kindness done without thought of receiving something in return, such as mowing a neighbor’s lawn perhaps or giving to the poor anonymously  In medical ethics beneficence means maximizing benefits while minimizing risks to the patient.  Two Indiana universities, DePauw and Ball State, exist in part due to the beneficence of nineteenth-century entrepreneurs who made fortunes in the glass business.  During the Gilded Age egotistical captains of industry such as Leland Stanford, Cornelius Vanderbilt, and Andrew Carnegie – Robber Barons to their enemies – made similar gestures, not always with the purest of motives.

Washington C. DePauw’s grandfather came to America as an aide to Frenchman Lafayette, and his father was a Hoosier founding father.  Washington DePauw amassed windfall profits supplying grain and other supplies to the Union army during the Civil War and then took over a glass works that became the largest in Indiana.  Making shrewd investments in financial institutions, he had become one of the wealthiest men in the state when Depauw's largess resuscitated a failing Methodist school in Greencastle.  Anne Balay recently spent two weeks at a writers workshop on the campus that bears his name.

Five Ball brothers born between 1850 and 1862 – Lucius, William, Edmund, Frank, and George – transplanted the family glass works from Buffalo, New York, to Muncie, Indiana, in order to take advantage of the ample supply of natural gas needed for their operation.  Their most famous product was the blue home-canning Ball jar, but the company diversified into other ancillary products, including zinc lids, rubber sealing rings, and paper boxes.  Ball charitable interests in Muncie included not only Ball State (formerly a Normal teacher training school) but also the YMCA, a memorial hospital, that bears their name and Minnetrista gardens.  In 1937 Daniel Chester French's bronze statue “Beneficence” was unveiled on the Ball State campus. Five limestone columns representing the Ball brothers, truly pillars of the community.
Ball State students have nicknamed the statue “Benny,” and according to campus lore, if a couple kiss under "Beneficence" with closed eyes and hear Benny's wings flap, then they are truly in love. Another myth has it that Benny cries tears of blood when a virgin graduates from Ball State.   
 Jimbo, Toni and Oz in Paul Kaczoha's garage

Paul and Jean Kaczoha’s annual picnic afforded an opportunity to chat with Sue and Mike Olszanski, Ed and Monica Johnston, and Alice Bush accompanied by son Mike Applehans.  All Bernie Sanders supporters they are now for Hillary Clinton, now cleared of criminal charges by the FBI.   We all hope she will choose Elizabeth Warren as her running mate.  Lamenting all the free TV air time Trump gets, I used Sarah Palin’s pejorative phrase “lamestream media” but not in the way she intended.  Oz still works for IUN’s Labor Studies program, and Ed Johnston, a retired union organizer, delivers noontime Meals on Wheels.  Alice claims to have cut down on her USWA work but is in charge of planning an upcoming steelworkers picnic.  Paul was busy grilling meat for hours – chicken, ribs, burgers, brats, and hot dogs -  and insisted that guests take plentiful amounts of food home with them.

At Miller Market Sunday for a taco, my favorite vender was nowhere in sight. WTF?  In weeks past it did a brisk business. Two people that I didn’t immediately recognize greeted me by name.  One, I think, was a daughter of Meg Demakis and the other cross-dressing BobKat in male mode.

With the Cubs getting swept by the Mets in a one-sided contest, I watched several old “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episodes buoyed by the news that Larry David has agreed to a ninth season.  In one of them Larry calls an effeminate married guy a pussy when he drops out of a poker hand, and the guy subsequently quite his job and starts dating guys. 

“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” (2015) is about hyper-sexed Minnie (Bel Powley), growing up in Seventies San Francisco, who has an affair with Monroe,  her mother’s immature boyfriend.  Based on a novel by Phoebe Gloeckner, it features poignant performances by Alexander Skarsgard as Monroe and Kristen Wiig as a dysfunctional aging hippie who, at a concert, tells Minnie that if anyone asks, we’re sisters.  The film is shockingly candid but not smarmy, and I recommended it to Gaard Logan, who lived a counter-culture lifestyle in S.F. in the mid-1970s.  My favorite scene: Minnie and a girlfriend dancing on a bed to an Iggy Pop song and licking a poster of the punk idol's crotch.  The heavy in the film is stepfather Pascal, a university professor (who else?) who had claimed it was unnatural when five year-old Minnie snuggled with her mom.  Pascal bankrolled Minnie attending a progressive "hippie" school, but she was an indifferent student, passing notes to a guy she subsequently introduced to sexual pleasures while a black instructor was explaining the gay implications of "Catcher in the Rye."
 suffragette martyr Emily Davison

More somber was “Suffragette” (2015), about English feminists whose disruptive actions drew attention to the oppression of women.  Meryl Streep has a cameo role as militant feminist Emmeline Pankhurst.  The film focused on working class women who risked marriage, children, livelihood, even their lives,  for their beliefs.  Laundress Maud Watts, a composite of several working-class suffragettes, is force-fed in prison and present when Emily Davison jumps in front of King George V’s horse at the 1913 Elsom Derby.  Davison’s funeral attracted thousands and played a key role in the triumph of women’s suffrage.
 Becca and James singing with East Chicago choir at Unity concert

Becca’s fourteenth birthday on July 4 featured a cookout and fireworks at Dave and Angie’s.  I thought Becca was going on 15 since she was so mature and only a grade behind 16 year-old James.   Last summer in croquet both T. Wade and Dave had it in for me after I won three straight games, but I resisted the urge to send them when I had the chance and played what my son labeled a "cerebral game" while they were doing their best to send the other's ball into the street.   I had just a single wicket to complete before becoming poison only to have Robert Blaszkiewicz knock my ball into the post, eliminating me. In the next contest I pulled a similar trick on Brady Wade and survived until only Robert and I were left.  My effort to knock him out came an inch short due to a tuft of crabgrass, and he easily dispatched me.  Back at the condo, I observed neighbors on each side of us sending fireworks off into the sky as if dueling with one another.
July 4th in Michigan; Lanes in Wyoming; Lorraine, Missy and Marianne in Traverse City

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