Category Archives: Columbia University

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“But suppose god is black. What if we go to heaven and we, all our lives, have treated the Negro as an inferior, and god is there, and we look up and he is not white? What then is our response?” — Robert F. Kennedy

SUPPOSE THEY GAVE A WAR AND NOBODY WON

When all is said and done, the US hasn’t suffered a devastating loss of human life in the Afghan debacle.

Yes, 2000 of our soldiers have been killed. The loss of one life in war is a tragedy. But, jeez, we’ve been in that hell-hole for 11 years now, trying to convince the populace at gunpoint that the Culture of McDonald’s is preferable to that of We’ll-Stone-You-If-You’re-A-Woman-And-Even-Think-About-Sex.

That’s about 182 deaths per year. 182 too many. But we’re not talking about a generation being decimated.

In case this little detail escaped your attention, I might point out that some 20,000 Afghan civilians have been blown to bits or otherwise killed in the war.

This Means War

Details, details. Here’s another one: The bad guys we went into Afghanistan to pound the crap out of in November, 2001, are still hanging in there. Yup, you remember the Taliban, don’t you? Those fellows who frown on music and dancing and cheering at soccer matches and women in general? Oh, and the guys who let Osama bin Laden camp out in their backyard while he and his boys planned their terror attacks?

Yeah, that Taliban. They’re in negotiations as we speak to be allowed back into everyday political life in Afghanistan.

Some war.

LESSON NUMBER ONE: TELL THE TRUTH

Writer Kristin Rawls at the progressive advocacy site AlterNet debunks the five main misconceptions or outright lies that the benighted portion of the populace of this holy land believe about teachers and public education.

I’ll let Rawls do the arguing. Here, though, are the five lies:

  1. Unions are undermining the quality of education in America
  2. Your student’s teacher has an easy and over-compensated job
  3. If your child doesn’t get picked in a charter school lottery, he or she is doomed
  4. Your child will automatically be better off if your school district adopts a “school choice” assignment plan
  5. Your student’s teacher sees your constructive involvement in your child’s education as an annoyance

Eek!

I never cared much for school but the tens of thousands of dollars I’ve spent on hundreds of hours of shrinks have narrowed the possible reasons for my distaste for the childhood classroom down to a manageable few dozen.

Still, I’ve always believed public education is perhaps the single most admirable contribution to human society that this nation has ever made.

THESE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Think back to 50 years ago today.

A young man named James Meredith had decided he wanted to enroll at the University of Mississippi. He’d already attended another university and had compiled a good academic record.

Meredith Then

Many people, though, were aligned against his acceptance to the institution. The forces lined up against him included Gov. Ross Barnett. The governor ruled that Meredith would not be accepted to Ole Miss.

Meredith, of course, was black. Mississippi, of course, was Mississippi.

Barnett was pressured by the federal government to allow Meredith to enroll. The governor didn’t have a leg to stand on; the Supreme Court had ruled that segregation at public supported schools was unconstitutional seven years earlier.

So, Barnett grudgingly allowed Meredith to go to school in the state’s university. The immediate result? A bloody campus riot by white students and Ku Klux Klan ringers.

Here’s a list of forces called out to quell the rioting and ensure Meredith’s safety as he attended classes:

  • 500 US Marshals
  • The 70th Army Engineer Combat battalion
  • Units from the 503rd Military Police Battalion
  • The federalized Mississippi Army National Guard
  • Officers from the US Border Patrol

This fighting force was in place even before Meredith attended his first day of classes at the University of Mississippi. Still, Meredith was harassed and shunned.

By college students, I might remind you.

US Marshals Escort Meredith To Class

The experience was so traumatic that Meredith felt compelled to leave Ole Miss. He eventually received his undergraduate degree from the University of Ibadan.

Which is in Nigeria. Which, in case you haven’t made the connection, is not the United States of America.

As time went by, Meredith earned a law degree from Columbia University in New York City.

He remained active in the civil rights fight after attending college. In fact, he led a voter registration march back in Mississippi in 1966. A white man shotgunned him in the back for his efforts. Meredith, fortunately, survived the murder attempt.

Meredith, Moments After Being Shotgunned

James Meredith attended his first class at the University of Mississippi 50 years ago today.

Sometimes it’s good to look at the glass as half full. October 1st, 1962 was a long, long time ago.

There’s even a statue of Meredith on the Ole Miss campus.

He’s pushing 80 now and lives with his wife in Jackson, Mississippi. He’s got a new book coming out, “A Mission from God: A Memoir and Challenge for America.”

Meredith Now

The only events listings you need in Bloomington.

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Brought to you by The Electron Pencil: Bloomington Arts, Culture, Politics, and Hot Air. Daily.

FAIR ◗ Monroe County Fairgrounds, Commercial Building West29th Annual American Red Cross Book Fair, +100,000 used books, CDs, DVDs, games, maps, sheet music, etc.; 9am-7pm, through October 2nd

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center, outside WFHB StudiosPublic participation in creating a ten-foot sculpture called “The Messenger,” Rain or shine; 9am-5pm

STUDIO TOUR ◗ Brown County, various locationsThe Backroads of Brown County Studio Tour, free, self-guided tour of 16 local artists’ & craftspersons’ studios; 10am-5pm, through October

BENEFIT ◗ Bloomington Convention CenterDinner & award ceremony for Stone Belt; 6-8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, NashvilleDawn Hiatt; 6-8:30pm

VARIETY ◗ Cafe DjangoBloomington Short List, ten-minute acts, hosted by Marta Jasicki; 7pm

MUSIC & POETRY ◗ Boxcar BooksMeg Waldron; 7pm

CLASS ◗ Monroe County Public Library — “On the Brink of Destruction: The Cuban Missile Crisis 50 Years Out,” presented by IU Lifelong Learning; 7-8:30pm

MUSIC ◗ Max’s PlaceSocial Justice; 7:30pm

MUSIC ◗ IU Musical Arts CenterLatin Jazz Ensemble, the Aaron Bannerman Group, Tom Walsh & Michael Spiro, directors; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The Player’s PubSongwriter Showcase: Ryan Brewer, Chad Mills, Chris Wolf; 8pm

MUSIC ◗ The BluebirdKrewella; 9pm

ONGOING:

ART ◗ IU Art MuseumExhibits:

  • “New Acquisitions,” David Hockney; through October 21st
  • “Paragons of Filial Piety,” by Utagawa Kuniyoshi; through December 31st
  • “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers,” by Julia Margaret, Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan; through December 31st
  • French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century;” through December 31st
  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Pop-art by Joe Tilson; through December 31st
  • Workers of the World, Unite!” through December 31st

ART ◗ Ivy Tech Waldron CenterExhibits:

  • What It Means to Be Human,” by Michele Heather Pollock; through September 29th
  • Land and Water,” by Ruth Kelly; through September 29th

ART ◗ IU SoFA Grunwald GalleryExhibit:

  • “Samenwerken,” Interdisciplinary collaborative multi-media works; through October 11th

ART ◗ IU Kinsey Institute GalleryExhibits opening September 28th:

  • A Place Aside: Artists and Their Partners;” through December 20th
  • Gender Expressions;” through December 20th

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibit:

  • “CUBAmistad” photos

ART ◗ IU Mathers Museum of World CulturesExhibits:

  • “¡Cuba Si! Posters from the Revolution: 1960s and 1970s”
  • “From the Big Bang to the World Wide Web: The Origins of Everything”
  • “Thoughts, Things, and Theories… What Is Culture?”
  • “Picturing Archaeology”
  • “Personal Accents: Accessories from Around the World”
  • “Blended Harmonies: Music and Religion in Nepal”
  • “The Day in Its Color: A Hoosier Photographer’s Journey through Mid-century America”
  • “TOYing with Ideas”
  • “Living Heritage: Performing Arts of Southeast Asia”
  • “On a Wing and a Prayer”

BOOKS ◗ IU Lilly LibraryExhibit:

  • Outsiders and Others:Arkham House, Weird Fiction, and the Legacy of HP Lovecraft;” through November 1st
  • A World of Puzzles,” selections form the Slocum Puzzle Collection

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Soup’s OnExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Culture: “CUBAmistad photos; through October

ART ◗ Boxcar BooksExhibit:

  • Celebration of Cuban Art & Film: Papercuts by Ned Powell; through September

PHOTOGRAPHY ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • Bloomington: Then and Now,” presented by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th

ARTIFACTS ◗ Monroe County History CenterExhibit:

  • “Doctors and Dentists: A Look into the Monroe County Medical professions

The Electron Pencil. Go there. Read. Like. Share.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“All politics is local.” — Thomas P. (Tip) O’Neill

HAIL TO THE CHIEF

Admit it, the first time you heard or read the words Mitch Daniels and president this morning, your heart skipped a beat.

Once you caught your breath and realized he’s only going to become the big boss at Purdue University after his gubernatorial term concludes, you might have thought, Good, now we won’t have to worry about him running for Prez of the USA in 2016.

Ladies And Gentlemen, The President Of…

Not so fast, kiddies.

I direct you to your history books. A fellow named Dwight Eisenhower took the gig as president of Columbia University after he’d helped whack the Nazis in World War II. He held the job for a year, during which it was clear he was far more interested in using the post as a platform to position himself as a statesman than he was in running the university. Next thing people knew, he was being dragged into the 1952 Republican National Convention, saying Aw, shucks, and running for the White House.

Part of Ike’s reasoning for taking the Columbia job was, as he put it, to advance the cause of education in a democracy.

Follow me here, now. Mitch Daniels has taken his lumps as the governor who oversaw massive budget cuts for Indiana schools. Daniels’ rep as a benefactor of public schooling was shot all to hell.

Now, mirabile dictu, he’s going to lead one of the state’s two most high profile educational institutions after he leaves Indianapolis.

Sounds to me like a very nice strategy for a guy who wants to repair his image. In fact, he might hope to become known as a respected educator by the year 2016.

PLAYTIME

Click.

SMILE FOR BRIAN

Happy 70th birthday to Brian Wilson.

Brian Wilson

The leader of the Beach Boys was one of the musical geniuses of 20th Century America. The BB album “Pet Sounds” has been lauded as one of the five best discs in the history of the rock era.

The harmonies he arranged throughout the Beach Boys’ run verged on the spiritual at times.

If the very idea of Beach Boys’ music makes you smirk, I suggest you give some of their cuts a listen once again. Try to hear them as music rather than as cheesy cultural artifacts of the 60s. You’ll be surprised.

More Than This

THE CONSCIENCE OF A NATION

The Bloomington City Council is thinking of making a statement about a policy that’s anything but local once again.

Our elected municipal leaders want to make sure the world knows they disapprove of the US Supreme Court Citizens United ruling that essentially gave corporations and big organizations the same free speech rights as individuals. You know, the corporate personhood idea that the Reagan/Bush/Bush court so lovingly bestowed upon us.

Some Of Our Best Friends Are Corporations

It reminds me of the letter the council sent to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer a couple of years ago when she was fixing to sign that state’s draconian immigration bill.

My guess is Gov. Brewer tossed the letter into the circular file.

I mean, honestly, did our councilors really hope that Brewer might read the letter, take her glasses off, stare out her office window, and muse on the moral implications of the bill? Did they expect her to whisper to herself, “Golly gee, these people really make sense”?

Now That I Think About It…

Now the Council wants to proclaim itself in favor of a constitutional amendment to un-declare corporations as people.

My only hope is they didn’t spend too much time debating the point.

(And, just to clarify my position, the Citizens United decision was among the dumbest-assed things the US Supreme Court has done in decades.)

GOD ONLY KNOWS

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“That isn’t writing at all; it’s typing.” — Truman Capote on Jack Kerouac‘s work

ZOMBIE MORNING

A courtly hat-tip to the one of the demi-bosses over at Soma Coffee, Lindsay Taylor.

She turned me on last Sunday to the fabulous Zombies disc, “Odessey and Oracle” (sic). I immediately ordered it online and it came in the mail yesterday.

The Loved One and I listened to it in part on the way to my Sunday morning headquarters.

Do yourself a favor and get it. Trust me.

LOVE KILLS

I was re-reading a part of David Halberstam‘s indispensable history of the 1950s entitled, appropriately enough, “The Fifties.”

One of its chapters covers the Beats, natch. Halberstam tells the story of how Allen Ginsberg met a fellow named Lucien Carr in his dorm room at Columbia University. Ginsberg immediately fell in with other Columbia students and hangers-on like William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, and the rest. Carr was acknowledged as the untitled leader of the gang, then referred to as the Libertine Circle, that eventually became the Beats.

Burroughs, Carr, & Ginsberg (1953)

A dramatic episode in Carr’s life brings to mind one of the biggest news stories in Bloomington in years — the stabbing death of IU English professor Don Belton.

The Belton story broke a mere three months after T-Lo and I arrived in Bloomington. He may or may not have had sex with some kid who was a former Marine and had served in Iraq. The kid went to Belton’s house one morning, stabbed him repeatedly with his hunting knife, and allowed him to bleed to death on his kitchen floor.

The kid was convicted of murder in short order, despite claiming that he was driven to a murderous rage only after Belton had made sexual overtures to him.

Don Belton & Michael Griffin

When Lucien Carr was a teen, he was involved in a similar manner with a man who was 14 years older than he was.

This fellow, David Kammerer, was the leader of a youth group that Carr had belonged to isn St. Louis, where he was raised. Apparently, Kammerer fell head over heels for the tender teen. Carr’ mother moved him to a number of private prep schools in New England to get him away from Kammerer but the man followed the youngster to each new locale.

After high school, Carr enrolled at the University of Chicago and Kammerer again moved to be nearer him.

Carr attempted suicide by sticking his head in an oven while at Chicago. He told school officials it was an act of “art.” He told his mother he wanted to kill himself because Kammerer was driving him batty. Carr was committed to the psych ward at Cook County Hospital for a few weeks after the incident.

Carr’s mother transferred him to Columbia in New York City. Kammerer followed.

Carr swore up and down to his new Columbia chums that he’d never had sex with Kammerer but some historians suspect otherwise.

Jack Kerouac And Lucien Carr

In any case, Kammerer became a fringe member of the Libertine Circle. He and Carr often hung around together but, just as often, Carr would freeze the man out.

Anyway, one night in August, 1944, Carr and Jack Kerouac got drunk together in the Libertines’ hangout, The West End. Kerouac left the place and ran into Kammerer on the street. Kammerer asked where he could find Carr and Kerouac directed him to The West End.

Kammerer and Carr went for a walk and wound up in a park near 115th Street and the Hudson River. The two lolled there for a while and, according to Carr later, Kammerer came on to him. A scuffle ensued, Carr pulled his Boy Scout knife, and stabbed Kammerer to death.

Carr bound Kammerer’s body, weighted it with rocks, and dumped the corpse into the river. He buried Kammerer’s glasses in the park.

Carr immediately went to William Burroughs’ apartment and told him what had happened. Carr even brought a blood-soaked pack of Kammerer’s cigarettes as proof. Burroughs disposed of the pack and advised Carr to go to the police. Carr didn’t care much for that idea.

Instead, Carr went to Kerouac’s place the next morning and told him about the killing. Kerouac and he went out and dumped Carr’s Boy Scout knife down a subway grating. Then the two went to the movies and the Museum of Modern Art.

Finally, Carr went home and told his mother about the slaying. She brought him to the New York DA to confess. The cops fished Kammerer’s body out of the river and found the dead man’s glasses. Carr was charged with second degree murder.

Newspaper coverage at first tended to be hostile to the wealthy college boy killer. Then, his story of fighting off the advances of the older homosexual before resorting to homicidal violence touched the sympathies of a homophobic public. One newspaper termed the incident an “honor” killing.

Carr eventually copped to a manslaughter plea and served a mere two years in the juvenile section of the Elmira state prison.

A Monroe County jury last spring hung a murder conviction on Michael Griffin for the killing of Don Belton. Griffin is now serving a 45 to 65-year sentence in state prison.

Things change — or do they?

Men still kill men for the “sin” of homosexuality but at least we’re putting those killers away for a good long time now.

SKY KING

Hey, don’t forget about today’s solar eclipse. We may be able to see the moon’s disc cover a small part of the sun’s from our vantage point in South Central Indiana, although our sky won’t be darkened to any appreciable extent as it will be in the southwestern United States.

But you can follow its progress on a number of websites.

Sky & Telescope Viewing Map For Today’s Eclipse

This particular eclipse is classified as annular, meaning because of the particular points in their orbits at the moment of totality, the moon’s disc is smaller than the sun’s. Ergo, a dramatic circle of the brilliant sun’s orb will surround the moon.

How cool.

An Annular Eclipse

Oh, and don’t forget, the planet Venus will transit the sun’s disc in two and a half weeks. It’s another rare sky spectacular. I’ll remind you about it as we get nearer the date.

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