Friday, November 18, 2016

Comings and Goings

“Amidst the worldly comings and goings, observe how endings become beginnings,” Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu
 photo by Jim Spicer
Thousands of sandhill cranes are making their biannual stop at the shallow marshes of Jasper-Pulaski Game Reserve on their way from Canada to Florida.  Property manager Jim Bergens described their courtship duet and dance:
  A lot of people will see them pick up a glob of dirt or a clump of grass and then throw it up over their shoulder. That’s part of their courtship display. And then they bow and call. The unison call – when the male and female call together in unison – they’re normally facing each other and their heads and necks are up.
NWI Times reporter Heather Augustyn wrote:
The sandhill crane is akin to the heron, only larger. With a 7-foot wingspan and a height of 31 to 47 inches, this long-legged bird not only makes a call with a strangely prehistoric sound, but it also has prehistoric roots since almost identical fossils of the sandhill crane have been traced back about 10 million years.
The moon currently is closer to the Earth than at any time since 1948 and a perfect backdrop for sandhill cranes in flight.
Shannon Pontney Patel and daughter Harper 
My friend Pat Conley passed away.  After retiring from a career in sales management, he audited several IUN history classes, including two of mine.  He became buddies with my favorite student Shannon Pontney and invited both of us to his lakefront home in Miller for Gary Air Show parties.  A great conversationalist, he was a regular at Flamingo’s Pizza.  Pat graduated from Hammond Tech and IU, once was a triple-A baseball player, and coached Little League in Munster for many years. I called his wife Danna to offer condolences, and she said that he had been under hospice care and died peacefully.  The obituary, probably written by Danna, stated:
  After moving to Miller Beach, Pat enjoyed the dunes, sunsets, sailing and the beauty of Lake Michigan. In addition to getting together with family and friends, he attended many cultural and art events in the area. Pat had an eagerness to learn and was always ready for the next adventure that life had to offer. During his retirement years, Pat traveled throughout the States, South America and Europe.

IUN departments are advertising their Spring offerings on bulletin boards, and, in the case of the French department with sidewalk chalk messages.  Peter Aglinskas posted information aboutas Music class on the “Soundscape of Pulp Fiction.” Jonathan Briggs is offering a course on the French Revolution.  Cara Lewis will be teaching an American Literature topics course entitled, “The Lives of the Artists: Bohemians and Beats, 1850-1970.”  Among the authors cited are Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Willa Cather, and Allen Ginsberg. Like my deceased pal Pat Conley, I like to audit classes and hear that Cara Lewis is an excellent teacher.
 Chesterton H.S. "Godspell" cast; Becca, lower right
Both James and Becca appeared in plays this weekend, James in Portage High School’s “E/R” and Becca in Chesterton’s “Godspell.”  Numerous relatives are coming in for the performances and staying at the condo, including Phil and Delia from Grand Rapids and Beth from Carmel. Friday at Portage we ran into Phil and Dave’s former teacher Bill Bodnar, who taught a Saturday Speech class at IUN and designed the E/R poster.  James played middle-aged heart attack victim Burton Surath who was a riot protesting that he was too busy to submit to tests and later dies on stage.  In the program’s “about the cast” section, which includes lines uttered by the various actors, is this blurb abut James:
He has performed at a variety of theaters, including Memorial Opera House.  James enjoys reading, taking walks, playing video games, and surfing the internet.  He practices piano at the Premier Performance in Chesterton.  “I can afford the treatment.  I just can’t afford the time.”         
below, James with Angie

Conceived and co-written by Dr. Ronald Berman as a satire on a Chicago Emergency Room, the characters include a bag lady, a drunk, a guy high on drugs, a stab victim, a pregnant teenager, and an Indian doctor wearing a turban whose best line is, “Don’t swami me, you dirtball.”  First performed by Chicago’s Organic Theater Company, E/R in 1984-85 aired as a TV sitcom starring Elliott Gould and George Clooney.
 Sheriff John Buncich; P-T photo by Kyle Telechan
The federal government has indicted Lake County sheriff John Buncich and Chief Deputy Tim Downs, as well as Portage mayor James Snyder, on public corruption charges.  U.S. Attorney David Capp claims they took bribes from auto body shops in exchange for hiring the company to tow disabled vehicles. Buncich, the current Lake County Democratic Party chairman, served two terms as sheriff beginning in 1994 and again beginning in 2011 after Roy Dominguez served in that office for eight years. While the indictments were not totally unexpected, given that the FBI seized documents last week from government offices, it still is somewhat of a shock.  According to Diane Pathieu of ABC “Eyewitness news” in Chicago:
    The officials are accused of taking money from local towing companies in exchange for contracts. Buncich is alleged to have corruptly solicited, demanded and received over $25,000 in cash and $7,000 in checks in exchange for favorable actions by Buncich regarding the towing contracts.
     Snyder is alleged to have corruptly solicited and received two checks totaling $12,000 in exchange for a towing contract in the City of Portage. Authorities said Snyder also corruptly solicited and agreed to accept a bank check in the amount of $13,000 in connection with Portage Board of Works contracts and other considerations.
     “To those others out there in law enforcement or in elected positions who have been engaging in conduct similar to that announced today regarding towing contracts. You know who you are and we know currently who some of them are and we are coming after you,” said David Capp, U.S. Attorney, Northern District of Indiana.

Librarian Tim Sutherland and SPEA professor Ellen Szarleta received a grant involving a lecture series.  I suggested reviving Glen Park Conversation, which Garrett Cope organized for many years, attracting neighborhood residents to interact with featured speakers, including police chiefs, city council members, and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.  I spoke to the group several times, once on a program with tattoo artist Roy Boy Cooper.  Former Emerson H.S. grad and Hammond Noll history teacher John Trafny, who has written on Glen Park, would be an excellent guest, as would IUN administrative assistant Mary Lee.
above, the late "Roy Boy" Cooper; below, photo by Joseph Dits

Conversation at bowling generally consists of sports and innocuous bantering, but both Bob Sheid and Bob Robinson had seen me in the “Shifting Sands” documentary by Lee Botts and Pat Wisniewski about efforts to preserve the Indiana dunes and wanted to talk about it.  I told Frank Vitalone that I saw him listed in a Post-Trib section honoring top bowlers of the week. He pointed to the Hobart Lanes board where his name and 634 series appeared as the top senior score of the week. The Engineers took five of seven points from the Pin Heads, who, like us, formerly competed in the Cressmoor Lanes Sheet and Tin League.  We won game one by 51 pins and lost the second by 40.  Going into the final frame of game three, the score was all even.  Three of us marked, while two opponents left impossible splits. Lefty Dick Maloney, our anchor, left a 4-7, and his second ball nearly went into the gutter before breaking just enough to pick up both pins. When Duke Caminsky struck out to finish with a 235, Dick needed just a six-count on his final ball and picked up eight pins.

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