Friday, November 11, 2016

Last Dance

“I saw a beggar leaning on his wooden crutch
He said to me, ‘you must not ask for so much’
And a pretty woman leaning in her darkened door
She cried to me, ‘hey, why not ask for more?’
Oh, like a bird on the wire
Like a drunk in a midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.”
         “Bird on a Wire,” Leonard Cohen
Singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen is dead at age 82.  When he ended his 387-date “Grand Tour” three years ago in Auckland, New Zealand, his final encore was the Drifters’ “Save the Last Dance for Me.”  Despite being virtually bedridden, he spent his final months making the album “You Want It Darker,” featuring such songs as “Leaving the Table” (“I don’t need a lover no no no, the wretched beast is tame”), and “Steer Your Way” (“Steer your heart past the truth you believed in yesterday, such as fundamental goodness and the wisdom of the way”).  The second verse of the title song goes:
There's a lover in the story
But the story's still the same
There's a lullaby for suffering
And a paradox to blame
But it's written in the scriptures
And it's not some idle claim
You want it darker
We kill the flame
They're lining up the prisoners
And the guards are taking aim
I struggled with some demons
They were middle class and tame
I didn't know I had permission to murder and to maim
You want it darker

Hineni, hineni
I'm ready, my lord

“Hineni” is Hebrew for “Here I am,” as in the Bible, when Abraham stated his readiness for whatever came next.  Cohen was a seeker best known for his song “Hallelujah,” who once said, “There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”  Robert Blaszkiewicz wrote, “Like Bowie, he released a brilliant album, and then he’s gone.”  Others the music world lost in 2016 include Buckwheat Zydeco, Glenn Frey, Merle Haggard, Paul Kantner, Maurice White, Fred Hellerman of the Weavers, and Lonnie Mack. Thanks to Omar and Henry Farag, I once saw Lonnie Mack on a “House Rockin’ Blues” bill with Albert King, Bobby “Blue” Bland, and B. B. King.  In 1971 Mack recorded Bob Dylan’s “The Man in Me” on the album “The Hills of Indiana.”
above, Fred Kellerman on right; below, Lonnie Mack in Rising Sun, Indiana
I first took special notice of Leonard Cohen around 1980 when my oldest friend Terry Jenkins took out his guitar and played one of his songs, “Suzanne Takes You Down.”  I had to coax into doing it, and he made fun of himself for not doing the Canadian bard justice.    
Melissa Bollmann sent this latest update on her dad’s condition: Here we are at session 4 out of 6 and things are going great. Chemo fog finds him reheating coffee in the cabinets instead of the microwave. So far, so good!” Daughter Lorraine Sharaf responded: “Oh shoot — what is my excuse for using the cabinet to warm up my tea?  I am so impressed with your continued cheerfulness, despite the yuckies, and your wit. Proud to be your daughter!!!  Love, Rainy.”
P-T photo below by Javonte Anderson
The FBI has raided the offices of Lake County sheriff John Buncich and also appeared at his home.  Marc Chase of NWI Times wrote:
Sources within county government said investigators were looking into rumors of bribery involving towing vendors and police, and were looking for towing contracts and campaign finance reports.
A source within county government said 38 federal and state agents were inside the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. Another source said all employees in the sheriff’s office building were ordered to leave.
Federal agents then fanned out to the Lake County Voter Registration and Election offices, where campaign finance records are kept, and the Lake County E-911 offices, which keeps records of police radio communications, to serve subpoenas for documents.
Buncich’s campaign finance reports indicate he received more than $9,000 in contributions in 2014 and 2015 from several towing and auto firms in Crown Point, Gary, Highland, Hobart, Merrillville, St. John and Whiting.

It’s perfectly OK for corporations to spend hundreds of millions to put climate-change deniers in public office but not for towing companies to show their appreciation for business coming their way by donating to a county official’s campaign war chest. I’m no fan of Buncich’s, but shouldn’t the FBI have better things to do than conduct raids on elected officials on what is probably at worst penny-ante malfeasance.

I’ve gone from shock to outrage that the Russians successfully tampered with our election with nary a word of protest from Republicans.  The Clinton Foundation has raised billions to fight AIDS and malaria in Africa, yet came under vicious attack by a candidate whose own charity is a sham and who hasn’t paid taxes for 20 years.  Republican Congressional leaders who refused to endorse him now hope he’ll be their pawn. We shall see.

Back bowling after three weeks on the DL due to straining rib muscles gardening, I bowled my average despite leaving nearly a dozen ten-pins on good hits (I kid you not).  I picked up about half of them tossing a back-up ball that impressed Melvin Nelson whose ball almost always veers left at the last moment in that situation.  Affable Dave Melvin kept up a line of patter on the adjacent lane, apparently rooting for teammate and foe alike and commiserating when Melvin and I left ten-pins.  Robbie pointed out Tom Cox, who rolled a 278 against the Engineers last Thursday.

John Mutka’s column on the 1945 Cubs drew so much mail that the Post-Trib columnist wrote a follow-up article that included this remembrance by former Valparaiso teacher Judith Hurdle:
  Like you, I took public transportation to games, most memorably in early September, 1950.  A girlfriend and I about to begin eighth grade rode the South Shore, then a bus to Wrigley. That day the Cubs lost to Ewell “The Whip” Blackwell, but what a game. He pitched a no-hitter until the great Phil Cavarretta ruined it in the ninth.  After the game, Carol Ann and I got autographs from Bobby Usher and Blackwell of the Reds. They are in a box somewhere with my scrapbooks.  My favorite Cub was Hank Sauer. I probably admired him because he was an outfielder and the boys in my neighborhood made this lowly girl play right field where I was likely to do the least damage.

When my family moved to Michigan in 1955 right before I started eighth grade, I got picked last in gym class was sent to right field by someone who had never seen me play.  It was quite humiliating since back in Fort Washington my friends knew I was a good player.  When I backtracked and caught a high fly ball, my teammates acted like it was some sort of fluke.
"halfsies" and "right before no more" by Lora Rosberg

At an IUN gallery reception 50 year-old artist Lora Fosberg, whose clever work and pertinent captions I much admired, explained her pieces on display to Corey Hagelberg’s class and others.  Many of the pieces dealt with trees that had been cut down.  Checking out her website, I found ones titled “Ouch” and another reading “Fast trip, long drop.”  Some are brightly colored, but others underline the assault on nature that is nearly certain to intensify with plutocrat Trump in the White house.  The medium Fosberg works with is gouache, which, Ann Fritz informed me, is like watercolor thickened with a binding agent.

Last week when I mentioned during my VU talk on Vivian Carter that that the Spaniels’ version of “Goodnite, Sweetheart” was usually the last song played at high school sock hops in order to give couples a chance to dance cheek to cheek (chest to breast and pelvis to pelvis), someone remarked that at 49er Drive-In signs off with that song at the end of the night.
Stacey Manner Kellogg posted a video of Leonard Cohen (above) singing “Democracy.”  It brought tears to my eyes.  Here’s three verses and the chorus:
It's coming from the sorrow in the street
The holy places where the races meet
From the homicidal bitchin'
That goes down in every kitchen
To determine who will serve and who will eat
From the wells of disappointment
Where the women kneel to pray
For the grace of God in the desert here
And the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the USA

It's coming to America first
The cradle of the best and of the worst
It's here they got the range
And the machinery for change
And it's here they got the spiritual thirst
It's here the family's broken
And it's here the lonely say
That the heart has got to open
In a fundamental way
Democracy is coming to the USA

It's coming from the women and the men
Oh baby, we'll be making love again
We'll be going down so deep
The river's going to weep,
And the mountain's going to shout Amen
It's coming like the tidal flood
Beneath the lunar sway
Imperial, mysterious
In amorous array
Democracy is coming to the USA

Sail on, sail on
O mighty ship of State
To the shores of need
Past the reefs of greed
Through the squalls of hate

Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on
Omar Farag with nieces Lila and Livy at Floyds Knobs Elementary School Veterans Day program

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