Wednesday, February 1, 2017


“Lean into my shoulders
Wearing an old man’s coat
Couple more badges and a ten-cent stamp.”
         Ryley Walker, “(You can find me at) The Roundabout”

Chicago guitar virtuoso Ryley Walker is opening for Los Lobos at the Tivoli Theater in a couple weeks.  What a great lineup.  Like the YES classic “Roundabout,” Walker’s lyrics deal with the natural world but in a humorous and less serious way.  Here’s a sample:
You cry like you’ve never seen water
Come to think of it
I think my dad wanted a daughter.
Each Saturday, coming back from Inman’s, where James bowls, I go through three roundabouts with ease after just one initial misstep.  It’s hard to believe so many people complained when Valparaiso first started constructing them.  Driving to the New Jersey shore a half-century ago, there were numerous circles, as we called them then.  In New Zealand Toni and I discovered that they went counter-clockwise since motorists drove on the left side of the road.
 photo by Samuel A. Love

Samuel A. Love and Corey Hagelberg were looking through poetry volumes in IUN’s Calumet Regional Archives for a grant project, and Steve McShane pulled out IUN literary magazines, including issues of Potpourri from the late Sixties.  In one was this poem by Glenn Halberstadt, brother of my friends Jef and Charlie, titled “Chosen”::
The sun felt no coolness when the wholesome appendage dried;
And the soil, busy with elves,
Had time only to know that its lashes, restored,
Feared a wrong-headed frost,

Men, waiting in taverns,
Toying with ice,
Or preparing their fossils in the necks of maples,
Were proud that the wind saw fit
To praise the evening’s uncompromised shadow. 
Terry Lukas self-portrait

In Potpourri were photos by Doc Terry Lukas (who for years helped lay out Steel Shavings issues), an essay on art by Diane Kubiak (now Diane Chary, wife of my old colleague Fred), a short screenplay by Walter Brown (an English instructor for 40 years), and articles by Don Maroc (brother of fellow book club member Rich Maroc).  In “Three Ring Nemesis” Maroc wrote of a young kid working for the circus arriving in town in exchange for a matinee ticket.  After hauling endless gallons of water for the elephants and uncounted boards for the bleachers, the kid squeezed into the crowd and fell asleep during the entire three-hour show.

Don Maroc, a Marine Corps veteran, was president of IUN’s Humanist Society, a sponsor of Potpourri.  Jim Gordon recalled: “The issues we raised made some administrators nervous.  We reacted to their nervousness and pushed them a little more.”  A subsequent Humanist Society president, Ed Zivich, went on to become a distinguished labor historian.  Paul Kern and I wrote in “Educating the Calumet Region: A History of Indiana University Northwest”:
 Zivich brought to campus famed folk singer and political radical Pete Seeger and controversial historian Staughton Lynd, who had made a trip to North Vietnam.  Denied tenure at Yale, Lynd came to the Calumet Region to turn his attention to labor issues and briefly taught part-time at IUN.  To promote discussion of arts and politics the Humanist Society organized panels to discuss such things as abortion, the Vietnam War, and the John Birch Society, which had gained notoriety on the lunatic fringe of the anti-communist movement.

The editor of Potpourri’s Spring 1968 issue was Donna Samardzija - related to major league pitcher Jeff Samardzija, maybe?  In the Spring 1969 Potpourri is Michael Goodson’s poem “Father of My Father,” which contains these lines:
There were times when green fields and wheat fields
were once the carpet of the world,
But they gave way to man’s new idea of beauty and progress:
Giants of concrete and steel pierce the heights
as they stand their grotesque vigil
over the arm of man’s domain
                    . . .
One cannot see the sky through man’s progress:
The ashes of the devil’s inferno linger
  in the thick congestion that is man’s sky,
And poison that spring from the loins of
man’s indifference
coat the waters of the land and kill
  the growth of desire;
The soul of man is a very shallow soul.

I suggested Sam and Corey peruse John Sheehan’s poetry books “Elsewhere, Indiana” and “Leaving Gary”:  In the latter appears this moving eulogy:
I hadn’t thought to go to the funeral
or even the wake
of Johnny B.
I hadn’t really known him
that well
he’d only attended two classes
back in September
then skipped the rest of the year
but his friends are my friends
they call me brother
they call me cool

and then I remembered
three Junes ago
in the cottage “portable”
where I taught then
he and a couple of others
stopped by to chat
while I was marking papers
and Johnny
though he couldn’t possible pass
he’d skipped most of that year too
wrote me a page
on his day’s
bicycling around
bugging teachers and guards
being chased there to here

well he didn’t bug me
though his friends often did
in their friendly way
the ones who came to class
so I slipped into the funeral home
to pay my respects
to a sixteen year old adult
wearing shades in the coffin
the Brotherhood emblem
“Sworn to Fun”
draped overhead
to the end
that came too soon
shot dead
by a brother
of a different hood.

I gave Samuel A. Love, one of my favorite students ever, a rare copy of “Steelworkers Fight Back” (Steel Shavings, volume 30, 2000) that had belonged to Clark Metz.  It’s one of the few missing from Sam’s collection, and he was quite excited.  At the Little Redhawk Café Sam, Corey, and I sat with senior History major Matt Demetrakis, who’s currently taking a seminar with Xi Diana Chen-Lin.  Sam exclaimed that he learned so much from her – all the other History faculty he had some 15-20 years ago have retired.  Sam attended an interfaith tolerance candlelight vigil at Munster town hall.  Organized on a day’s notice in reaction to Trump’s Muslim ban, it attracted an estimated 500 people of many diverse backgrounds.  People hugged strangers.  Aladean Abduljaber told a Times reporter: “We don’t want to be divided by hate.  We are for refugees and the oppressed, against discrimination and anyone who want to divide us.  We worship the same God.”
photos by Kimberly Ann; below, Samuel A. Love on left

At Chesterton Y I mentioned seeing Ed d’Ouville’s name in Barb Walczak’s bridge newsletter, and Alan Yngve told me that Ed’s frequent partner was Daniel T. Simon, who, like Ed, was once in IUN’s Business division and co-authored an article (with Francisco Arturo Rosales) on Mexican immigrant experiences in East Chicago  that Ed Escobar and I used in our book on Latinos in Northwest Indiana “Forging a Community.” I didn’t have many opening hands, but Charlie and I fared well, perhaps because I’m better on defense.  I did play a 3 No Trump contract. There were four Clubs out, but I held the Ace, King, ten.  When I played the Ace, Sally Will laid down the Queen.  I could have finessed husband Rich but instead led out the King and she dropped the Jack.  I went on to make three overtricks, good for top board. On separate hands, Alan Yngve and Chuck Tomes, two of the best players, made game bids but groused that they should have taken one more trick.  That’s the thing about duplicate that keeps one up for hours afterwards, replaying hands.

The other day I stopped to get our mail and put on the brake but neglected to switch into park.  Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the Corolla moving.  It traveled a good ten yards before o managed to hop inside.  Whew!  When we lived on Maple Place, Corey Hagelberg drove his new pickup and parked on our steep driveway.  He put it in park but it descended an inch or two each second and was hallway down before we discovered what was happening.
above, Ethan and beck; below, Zay and Zayion
Last weekend Becca went to a dance with her friend Ethan, a budding rock musician, who she’s now officially dating.  I asked her what dances are currently popular, and she mentioned one made famous on YouTube (132 million hits and counting) by the song “Ju Ju on That Beat” by teen rappers Zay Hilfigerr and Zayion McCall.  I told her that she and Ethan remind me of when I was dating Mary Delp when we were their age and either Vic or her dad would chauffeur us to events.

In “Captain Donald and the Big Black Whale” Ray Smock wrote:
     Donald Trump is obsessed with Barack Obama. Perhaps it is not clear how Trump feels about all black people but there is no question that he so hated Barack Obama that he spent five years trying to discredit President Obama as an illegitimate president, a secret foreign-born black man from Kenya, who did not have a birth certificate to prove he was an American citizen. This Birther Obsession had an unintended consequence and now Donald Trump is president.
     Trump will always remain in Obama’s great shadow. Instead of charting his own course as President, and leaving Obama peacefully at sea, he has spent the early days of his presidency trying to become popular by undoing all things Obama did. He wants bigly to be the Great White Captain who catches and destroys the Great Black Whale and all he stood for.
     Trump’s early executive orders are designed to harpoon the executive orders of Obama. He wants to destroy the Affordable Healthcare Act because that was one of President Obama’s greatest achievements. He claims he was merely following Obama’s lead when he banned immigration from the same seven countries that Obama did. But the reasons and the circumstances were different and, guess what? Obama didn’t make a mess of it. Obama consulted smart people first. Trump’s mighty thrust of the harpoon at immigration missed its mark and led to chaos among his crew. He fired a couple of them, made them walk the plank, and continued to obsess over catching the elusive Great Black Whale.
     Nothing would stand in his way, not the Constitution, not the Law, not the People. He would show the nation and the world that he was Captain Donald and no black whale was better than he.
     We know how the story ended for Captain Ahab and his Moby Dick. Stay tuned for more chapters in Captain Donald’s obsessive quest to conquer the Great Black Whale.

On a lighter note, for the Winter 2017 issue of Ayers Realtors Newsletter Judy Ayers wrote “Love Handles,” which accompanied a recipe for roasted winter vegetables:
’Tis six weeks after Christmas and all through the houses
folks find nothing fits - trousers, sport coats or blouses.
Christmas cookies they nibbled, the eggnog they’d taste
at holiday parties all went to their waist.
When they got on the scales, there arose such a number
a trip to the store was less walk and more lumber.
There were memories of marvelous meals they prepared,
gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared,
wine and rum balls, the bread and the cheese.
The way no one ever said “No thank you, Please.”

It’s happened before, we’ve all heard the tale
of men’s physiques and torsos that now are bulk male.
“Dangerous Curve Ahead” could take on new meaning
if we all don’t start doing our holiday weaning.
Oversized sweaters and sweat pants do wonders
for hiding love handles and bodily blunders.
But summer is coming and we live near the beach.
It’s time to do more than just hear ourselves preach.

So away with the last of the sour cream dips.
Get rid of the fruit cakes, cookies and chips.
All snacks and junk food must be banished.
Till all excess pounds and ounces have vanished.
No truffles, no ice cream - not even a lick.
A splurge from now on is a long celery stick.
No biscuits, brownies, corn bread or pie.
Just munch on a carrot and quietly cry.
And when summer comes ‘round you’ll be glad to be ridden
of the plethora of poundage that couldn’t be hidden.

Although weight watching’s no fun, no laughs, not a riot
a Happy New Year’s more certain with a healthier diet.
Workouts, jogging, sit ups and crunches,
low fat, no fat and salads for lunches.
Get started now, stay focused and ambitious.
And by June or July you’ll be a corpus delicious.

No comments:

Post a Comment