L.A. at Night photos by Camilo Vergara (below, Javier)
Monday, August 22, 2016
“I'm the type of guy that likes to roam around
I'm never in one place, I roam from town to town.”
Dion DiMucci, “The Wanderer
Dion performed his 1961 classic “The Wanderer” a few years ago at a Henry Farag Star Plaza “Oldies” show. A blues album of his had recently been nominated for a Grammy, but he stuck mainly to 50s hits with the Belmonts (“A Teenager in Love,” “I Wonder Why,” “No One Knows”) and as a solo artist (“Lonely Teenager,” “Runaround Sue,” “Abraham, Martin and John”). Touring with Buddy Holly, the Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens in 1959, Dion nearly accepted an invitation to ride on the plane that crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa, killing those teen idols. Once a heroin addict, he currently works with recovering addicts. The 77 year-old still occasionally performs live.
In The Nation magazine were photos by Camilo Vergara of Los Angeles after dark, including a shot of a homeless man named Javier, whom Vergara dubbed “The Wanderer,” writing: “Javier makes $20 a day collecting. His brother wants him to come live with him and get a regular job, but Javier prefers wandering.”
The word “wanderer” can imply aimlessness, a concept foreign to me. For 20 years I took every available opportunity to wander the world speaking overseas to students in Saudi Arabia, Dubrovnik, Kyoto, and Hong Kong and at conferences in Oxford, Rome, Goteborg, Brisbane, Wellington, Pietermaritzburg, Istanbul, and Rio. In the U.S. I delivered papers at such locales as Albuquerque, Anchorage, Birmingham, Baltimore, Snowbird and Youngstown.
Saturday we had lunch at Applebee’s with Dave’s family. My steak salad was inferior to Miller Bakery Café’s but not bad. Afterwards I rooted for Brazil, going for Olympic Gold in the men’s soccer final against Germany, which had humiliated Brazil two years earlier, 7-1, in the World Cub. An injury then had kept Neymar from playing, but the Brazilian star scored on a brilliant free kick. With the game tied 1-1 after extra time, I got James to watch the shootout with me. The first eight players scored; when Brazilian tender Weverton stopped a shot by the fifth German, it came down to Neymar. The tension was palpable. A little stutter step faked out the goalie, and Neymar scored to thunderous applause by the 80,000 Brazilians, followed by plentiful tears from players and spectators alike.
The Society for the Restoration of the Gary Bathing Beach Aquatorium held its annual fundraiser. The current project is to hoist a P-51 Mustang fighter plane used by Tuskegee Airmen during World War II on a 35-foot pole, similar to a smaller glider at the other end of the building. On hand was 97 Tuskegee Airman Robert Martin and George Van Til (at my urging), who has supported The Society since its inception.
First day of Fall semester at IUN was less hectic than usual – no traffic jam, cafeteria not crowded, few people outdoors despite perfect weather. To my chagrin a class I hoped to audit, Music to Film by Peter Aglinskas, was cancelled due to low enrollment. Were Mark McPhail still dean, I’m certain he would have found a way to retain it. Competition from online offerings caused other casualties as well. Chris Young’s topics course on Abraham Lincoln barely survived. Steve McShane’s Indiana History class filled; in fact, Jonathan Briggs said they could have run a second section. Back at Haverford for the beginning of Fall classes Anne Balay, for the time being, has creased her cross-country wanderings in search of interviews with truckers.
Grandson Anthony (with Miranda) starts college at GVSU
First day of Fall semester at IUN seemed less hectic than usual – no traffic jam, cafeteria not crowded, few people outdoors despite perfect weather. To my chagrin a class I wanted to audit, Music to Film by Peter Aglinskas, was cancelled due to low enrollment. Were Mark McPhail still dean, I’m certain he would have found a way to retain it. Competition from online courses caused other casualties as well. Chris Young’s topics course on Abraham Lincoln barely survived. Steve McShane’s Indiana History class filled; in fact, Jonathan Briggs said they could have run a second section.
In Tom Piazza’s “My Cold War” John Delano returns to his childhood roots in a Long Island suburb similar to Levittown. The starter homes built on treeless tracts during the postwar boom look to be worth at least 20 times their original cost. In the backyard the grass where the family pool had been still has a slightly different hue. Suddenly an image appears to him of wading in a circle in the pool with his father and brother Chris until they creating a whirlpool effect.
I lived in three different houses in Easton, PA, before the family moved to Fort Washington in 1950 when I turned. Two were near Lafayette College, and the second had a porch I fell from, scratching my face on a bush. The third had a patio built by Vic and was on a corner lot in a neighborhood with a bunch of horse-chestnut trees. I have not seen them in years but may pay a visit to Easton my next time East.
Alissa swam with sea turtles in Hawaii, like Toni did when cruising on Tom Orr’s sailboat in the Virgin Islands. She and Josh came upon hot lava at Volcanoes National Park. When I was there with Seattle Joe and Tom Dietz a couple years ago, all I saw was lots of steam. Alissa and josh are due back today. Their dog Jerry will freak out when he spots them.
William K. Buckley dropped off “Lover in a Milltown,” published in “Main Street Rag” (1997):
hold me liable
in the burn and
majesty of service.
I watch them
give off what wives
call grace of labor –
the color of oranges,
the sun to Mars.
Chicago floats like OZ,
The John Hancock in a cloud.
At dusk the sky stretches red to Gary
and the flames of gas flues
wave strangely above the ghettos –
where men with broken English drink in bars,
their faces thick with lead dust,
their eyes like lanterns.
The smell of metal
for the children who play at sundown,
who shout like being murdered
by something going on
(their fathers waiting in the clapboard kitchens,
their mothers stewing meat).
At night just above the bogs and wetlands
along the shores of Ogden Dunes.
that red parabola,
that burning halo which keeps me here.
A burn of oaths in furnaces.
I received programs from both ART IN FOCUS in Munster and VOLTS at Valparaiso University listing my November talks on back to back weeks on the subject “Vivian Carter, Vee-Jay Records and the Emergence of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the Post-War Era.” Other ART IN FOCUS speakers include Jeff Manes and maestro Kirk Muspratt. On the VOLTS program are IUN’s medical school director Patrick Bankston, middle school teacher Scott Cvelbar, who will speak on studying African-American history through Blues music and Jerry Davich, who visited the Calumet Regional Archives last week researching political corruption in Lake County.