“The stories of the street are mine, the Spanish voices laugh.
The Cadillacs go creeping now through the night and the poison gas . . .
The cities they are broke in half and the middle men are gone.
But let me ask you one more time, O children of the dusk,
All these hunters who are shrieking now, oh do they speak for us?”
Leonard Cohen, “Stories of the Street”
Gary residents are contributing to a “Water for Flint” campaign coordinated by Roger Haywood (above) and sponsored by the Northwest Indiana Urban League. Roger Haywood sent out a plea and offered to pick up any donations of bottled water or money to purchase the items. Haywood is founder of a group called “It’s Gary’s Time” dedicated to rebuilding the city “one home, one block, one community, one life at a time.” His group has been active in boarding up vacant properties. Homeless at 13 and once a drug addict and criminal, Haywood has trained and employed former convicts, helping many to turn their lives around.
The origin of the Flint water tragedy lay in Michigan state officials assigning an incompetent emergency manager to run the bankrupt city. In 2014, to save money, he arranged switching Flint’s water source from the Detroit water system to the polluted Flint River. Within six months things were so bad that General Motors stopped using Flint River water because it was corroding engine parts. Nonetheless, residents keep getting assurances, despite complaints of rashes and hair loss, that their water was safe to drink. After Detroit offered to reconnect Flint to its water system at no cost, Emergency Manager Jerry Ambrose overruled a city council proposal to do just that. As late as September 2015, Republican Governor Rick Snyder, echoing the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, claimed the water was safe and that problems having to do with high lead levels were due to faulty plumbing in individual homes. Finally last month, Snyder declared a state of emergency and apologized for his administration’s negligence, stating: “No citizen of this great state should endure this kind of catastrophe.” At least 10 people have died from a rare form of Legionnaires Disease, and the long-term effects of lead poisoning on children might indeed be cataclysmic. Some have termed what happened an example of environmental racism.
above, Skipper and Hester; below, Nakia Hester with photo of son, by Carmen McCullum
NWI Times photo by Jonathan Miano
On his seventeenth birthday Kasreeyal Hester was inside his car near his home on the 800 block of Burr Street in Gary with a friend and football teammate at Hammond Morton Mark Skipper, 15, when someone shot both of them to death. A police officer discovered them around 8:30 p.m. At a vigil Hester’s friend Ronald Williams told Joyce Russell of the NWI Times: “He wasn’t in the streets. He was trying to get good grades. He was athletic. He was trying to get out of Gary. Things like this make it hard for us to make it out of Gary.”
At Hobart Lanes I bowled a 212, my first 200-game of the year, and a 501 series. The Engineers would have swept except that opponent Gene Clifford rolled a 655 series. The former brick mason and Valpo High School bowling coach said he was related to Chad Clifford, my former student and Crawpuppies’ lead singer, but, oddly enough, on his mother’s side of the family. Clifford opened game two with seven straight strikes; it ended in a tie when lefty Dick Maloney converted a seven-pin for a spare and then again left just the seven-pin on his extra ball.
photo by Rachel Dabertin
After delivering volume 45 of Steel Shavings to Valerie Quadlin at Home Mountain Printing, I drove to Valparaiso University to locate the room where Anne Balay will be speaking next Thursday at VU’s Center for the Arts. While there, I checked out IUN professor Neil Goodman’s sculpture exhibit at Brauer Museum of Art. Entitled “So Small between the Stars, So Large against the Sky: Studies for a Monument,” – the title a line from the Leonard Cohen song “Stories of the Street” – the exhibit featured small abstract structures that are prototypes for major works similar to what Goodman designed for IUN’s “Shadows and Echoes” sculpture garden. According to the program, the title is meant to address “the ambiguity of scale, how at once we are large and small, significant and insignificant.”
IU Hoosiers upset the number 4 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes, remarkable considering that Yogi Ferrell had a poor game, making just two of 12 field goal attempts and dishing out only a handful of assists. I fell asleep but caught the game next day on the Big Ten Network in a format that caught all the action but lasted just one hour, minus timeouts, halftime, and bringing the ball up court. It reminded me of when Toni and I were visiting Pat and Ruth Tyler in Birmingham, England, and watched an NFL game cut down to 45 minutes.
Jeff Manes sent me a transcript of his 2009 SALT column for me to read with him at Portage Library. Because it deals with the publication of my “Retirement Journal” (Steel Shavings, volume 40, 2009) I gave away copies to the first ten people purchasing Jeff’s book and wore the same shirt and tie I had on in the cover photo. Here’s how the interview ends:
Manes: What’s on the cover of "Out to Pasture but Still Kickin’?"
Lane: A photo of me in front of Hawthorn Hall the day I retired.
Manes: Surely a somber shot of you shuffling through IUN’s parking lot for the last time with slumped shoulders, while dragging an ancient attaché case.
Lane: Actually, I’m standing in front of a microphone along with my son’s band Voodoo Chili while covering Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.” And I’m really bringing it. We jammed for [what seemed like] hours. Earlier that day, IUN had a retirement ceremony for me. They gave me a clock, of all things.