Wednesday, August 3, 2016


“A politician wouldn’t dream of being allowed to call a columnist the things a columnist is allowed to call a politician.” Max Lerner
Max Lerner (1902-1992), a liberal columnist for the New York Post during the 1950s and 1960s who ended up on President Richard M. Nixon’s “Enemies List,” obviously wouldn’t have imagined that a demagogue like Donald Trump could emerge as a major party Presidential candidate.  Lerner became more conservative with age and was mocked in a 1966 song by Phil Ochs entitled “Love Me, I’m a Liberal” that pokes fun at hypocrites who talk a good game but shrink from acting on their beliefs.  One verse goes:
Yes, I read New Republic and Nation
I've learned to take every view
You know, I've memorized Lerner and Golden
I feel like I'm almost a Jew
Harry Golden (1902-1981) was a liberal Jewish-American columnist, humorist, and editor who bravely opposed racial segregation while living in Charlotte, North Carolina, and initially supported the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)  but denounced the group when it embraced Black Power and became critical of Israel.

For several years I was a columnist for the Post-Trib, contributing articles on the history of Gary that formed the basis for the book “City of the Century” (1978).  When Robert Blaszkiewicz was with the NWI Times, we discussed converting excerpts of my blog into a weekly column or linking it to the newspaper’s website. I’m just as happy that the project fell through, as it might have required that I censor myself instead of being able to fly under the radar, relatively speaking.   Still I get a charge upon discovering that one of my blogs has attracted many more readers than normal.
 Anne Balay and Marilu Fanning at Flamingo's

Jerry Davich’s excellent article on Anne Balay appeared in the Post-Trib, with a notice on the front page and taking up fully half of page 2.  Here’s how it begins:
  The note, written on yellow legal paper, is posted in a bathroom at the TA Travel Centers of America truck stop in Lake Station. “Dear truckers, I'm writing a book about trucking, based on your stories,” it begins.
“If you're here overnight or for a reset, I would love to talk to you,” the note states. “I especially want to hear from gay people, transgender folks, immigrants or other people who don't fit the trucker stereotype. Text me and we'll pick a time to talk. I couldn't do it without your stories.”
The note is written by Anne Balay, a former professor at Indiana University Northwest in Gary who authored the 2014 book, “Steel Closets: Voices of Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Steelworkers.” Balay, who is gay, currently teaches as an assistant professor at Haverford College in Pennsylvania.
She returned to Northwest Indiana this summer to conduct research for her next book, tentatively titled, “Invisible Hulks: American truck drivers tell stories of technology, surveillance and sex.” And she can possibly use your help to find more truckers to talk with.
Also in the Post-Trib is a SALT column by Jeff Manes on Louis Karubas (above), owner of the century-old Grand LaSalle Hotel in Hammond.  In the 1920s, Karubus stated, bootleggers owned the building and installed hidden stairways and doors to elude FBI agents.  Now the hotel is home mainly to monthly renters who pay $620 if they want a refrigerator and bathroom or $500 if they are content to use a hall bathroom.  In his eighties Karubas is looking to retire and believes the ground floor, once a restaurant, could be converted to a brewery.  Manes concluded: The reserved and gentle Louis Karubas has served his time at the Grand LaSalle Hotel. I think he has a great idea as far as someone making a microbrewery out of the old gal. If the LaSalle really was a woman, I believe she'd be a bawdy and buxom blonde like Mae West.”

On Facebook Jeff Manes wrote:
  The roller coaster life of Jeff Manes. Today, I drove directly from Whiting where I interviewed an extremely interesting man of Slovakian descent to the very classy Oak Grove Christian Retirement Vllage in DeMotte. The people in charge asked me if I would read some of my stories. Sure. As an attempt to break the ice, I told those elderly folks, mostly of Dutch persuasion, that I wanted to die in my sleep like my great-uncle Luigi DeBartolo, not kicking and screaming like the four passengers in his automobile. I think I really mesmerized them with that one. You could hear crickets chirping in the background.
Angella Kamminga Pierce responded: “Oh, hon, I could have told you the Dutch in DeMotte have no sense of humor. Them's my northern peeps. I am straight from DeMotte Dutch stock. Well, half of me, anyway. I thank the good lord every day that the other half of my DNA is southern and funny as all get out.”
 Post-Tribune photo by Joe Purchek

Post-Trib columnist David Rutter turned his wrath on governmental officials who for decades turned a blind eye to East Chicago residents living in the West Calumet Housing Complex, built over 40 years ago on contaminated land once owned by DuPont and Atlantic Richfield where lead had been smelted and arsenic seeped underground.  Rutter lays blame mainly at the feet of IDEM (Indiana Department of Environmental Management) administrators, who, he charges, seemed most concerned about keeping the data from causing Washington regulatory blowback.”  After the latest tests, the EPA has warned that the toxic land is a health hazard.  The city successfully requested federal funds to relocate the more than thousand people living there.  Rutter concludes:
  This event might become as horrific as the contaminated city water supply that still haunts Flint, Mich., and led last week to criminal charges against six state officials.
Flint created a new problem and hid it.
But the toxic residue that lies beneath the unknowing residents at West Calumet and perhaps a nearby elementary school is no mystery and no surprise.
People knew, but did nothing.
Mayor Anthony Copeland addresses concerned residents; P-T photo by Jim Karczewski
above, Mayor Copeland; below, Bishop Tavis Grant

At the West Calumet Housing Complex community center East Chicago mayor Anthony Copeland told residents that the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) would provide relocation vouchers transferable anywhere in the country. Initially the federal government was planning to remove soil while residents remained, something Copeland called unacceptable.  He told a crowd of over 200, “We have applied the pressure.  We have begged.  We have pleaded.  Then we demanded.”  Bishop Tavis Grant and others asked who would be held responsible for medical expenses for those victims of lead poisoning and other maladies relating to the contaminated soil.

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