“Well, the future for me is already a thing of the past.” — Bob Dylan
A PEEK INTO THE FUTURE
When I was a kid I would have this scifi-like fantasy that I’d been transported into the past, say, into my mother’s Little Sicily neighborhood on the Near West Side of Chicago or my father’s Polish enclave on the Northwest Side.
There, I’d be celebrated as The Kid from the Future, the one who knew all the answers, whom other kids and even adults would visit to learn about the wonders of the Space Age 1970s.
“Aw sure,” I’d say casually as my wide eyed audience would hang on my every word, “we sent guys to the moon. Nothin’ to it. We saw it on TV.”
Or, “Everybody has a refrigerator and air conditioning, right in their homes. And our cars are low and sleek.”
This little conceit presaged “Back to the Future” by fifteen years or so. Only, unlike Marty McFly, I didn’t have to hide my true origins. I’d be a big shot. Newspaper reporters would flock around me, grilling me about events to come.
“Be prepared,” I’d warn dolefully, “there’s a horrifying world war on the way.” Reporters and kids alike would glance at each other in apprehension. I’d calm them. “But we survived it,” I’d say, as if I had experienced its horrors myself.
So play along with me. Let’s pretend we’re the people from the future. We find ourselves in Bloomington in the year 1973. It’s January. It’s drizzly and the temperatures are hovering in the high 40s. We’re sitting at a table in a new little vegetarian diner called The Tao, surrounded by locals. They have a ton of questions.
The political science professor asks, “What’s going to happen with all this Watergate business?”
The campus ROTC officer asks, “Now that President Nixon has ordered a halt to offensive action in Vietnam does that mean the war is over?”
Newly-appointed Hoosiers football coach Lee Corso stops by. He asks, “Does George Foreman have a chance against Joe Frazier?”
A woman wearing a blue “ERA Now!” button asks, “What will the Supreme Court rule in the Roe v. Wade case?”
A soft-spoken philosophy major wearing long hair and a tie-dyed T-shirt asks, “Have the people of 2012 achieved a state of higher consciousness?”
We, of course, have all the answers. “Nixon’s going to resign in a year and a half,” we say. People’s jaws drop.
We continue. “Sorry to say, the war’s going to go on for a couple of more years.” The folks in our audience shake their heads.
“Put your dough on Foreman,” we advise the coach. He says, “Not so fast, my friend!” and points out that Frazier is a 3:1 favorite. “Trust us,” we assure him.
We turn to the woman wearing the blue button. She shifts in her seat excitedly.
“The Court,” we say, “will rule in favor of Roe.”
The woman thrusts her fists in the air, throws her head back, and shouts “Yes!”
The semi-circle of people around us begins to talk among themselves. The woman is giddy. So is Lee Corso. The ROTC officer speculates that with two more years of fighting, maybe — just maybe — the United States can pull out a victory in Southeast Asia. We haven’t the heart to set him straight.
“What else can you tell us,” someone asks.
“Let’s see. Oh, Ronald Reagan will be elected president in 1980.”
“Ronald Reagan?” the political science professor says, shocked.
“Yep. Not only that, he’ll be reelected in one of the greatest landslides in history. And get this: we’ll re-fight the Vietnam War in the ‘Rambo’ movies and we’ll win!”
Our National Do-Over
The young woman’s shoulders slump. “You’ve got to be kidding,” she says.
On the other hand, the ROTC officer’s mood improves considerably.
“Cheer up,” the political science professor says to the young woman, “Nixon’s going to quit.”
We interrupt him. Nixon, we reveal, will transform himself into an elder statesman. He’ll write books about world affairs. When he dies, his successors in the White House, both Republican and Democrat, will eulogize him.
“That’s odd,” the political science professor observes. “The future looks awfully baffling.” He turns again toward the young woman. “Still, at least the divisive issue of abortion will be settled. You’ve won.”
Not So Fast
“Um, hold on a second there, Professor,” we say. “The abortion issue not only won’t be settled, it’ll be hanging over the country like never before. States will curtail access to abortions. Candidates will run on planks of little more than rolling back Roe v. Wade. In fact, as we left 2012 to come visit you here in 1973, the State of Indiana is fighting with the federal government over abortion. Governor Mitch Daniels and Republican legislators want to cut off Medicaid payments for low income women’s abortions. The feds say the state can’t do that but Indiana’s Attorney General Greg Zoeller has promised to fight for the cut off.
“In fact,” we add, “if states like Mississippi have their way, abortion will be outlawed, period.”
“But I thought you said the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Roe,” the young woman says, plaintively.
“Um, uh…, well, yeah,” we say. Then we shrug.
The people forming the semicircle around contemplate all this for a moment. Finally, the soft-spoken philosophy major breaks the silence. “You haven’t answered my question,” he says. “Have the people of 2012 achieved a state of higher consciousness?”
You and I glance at each other. Someone’s got to break the news to him. “Well kid,” I say at last, “you really don’t want to know.”
Electron Pencil event listings: Music, art, movies, lectures, parties, receptions, games, benefits, plays, meetings, fairs, conspiracies, rituals, etc.
◗ People’s Park — Lunch Concert Series, Scott Frye, acoustic country blues; 11:30am
◗ Lower Cascades Park, Sycamore Shelter — Bloomington Serious Mac Users Group annual picnic; 5:30-8:30pm
◗ The Venue Fine Art & Gifts — The Art & Poetry of Shana Ritter; 6pm
◗ Jake’s Nightclub — Karaoke; 6pm
◗ Muddy Boots Cafe, Nashville — Ken Wilson; 6-8:30pm
◗ IU Ford-Crawford Hall — Summer Music Series, The Steve Houghton Trio; 7pm
◗ IU Auer Hall — Summer Music Series, Chamber music by the Cecilia String Quartet; 8pm
Cecilia String Quartet
◗ The Root Cellar at Farm Bloomington — Team trivia; 8pm
◗ The Player’s Pub — Blues Jam hosted by King Bee & the Stingers; 8pm
◗ The Bluebird — Bloomington’s Got Talent, hosted by Leo Cook; 9pm
◗ Ivy Tech Waldron Center — Exhibits:
- John D. Shearer, “I’m Too Young For This @#!%”; through July 30th
- Claire Swallow, ‘Memoir”; through July 28th
- Dale Gardner, “Time Machine”; through July 28th
- Sarah Wain, “That Takes the Cake”; through July 28th
- Jessica Lucas & Alex Straiker, “Life Under the Lens — The Art of Microscopy”; through July 28th
◗ IU Art Museum — Exhibits:
- Qiao Xiaoguang, “Urban Landscape: A Selection of Papercuts” ; through August 12th
- “A Tribute to William Zimmerman,” wildlife artist; through September 9th
- Willi Baumeister, “Baumeister in Print”; through September 9th
- Annibale and Agostino Carracci, “The Bolognese School”; through September 16th
- “Contemporary Explorations: Paintings by Contemporary Native American Artists”; through October 14th
- David Hockney, “New Acquisitions”; through October 21st
- Utagawa Kuniyoshi, “Paragons of Filial Piety”; through fall semester 2012
- Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, & Harry Callahan, “Intimate Models: Photographs of Husbands, Wives, and Lovers”; through December 31st
- “French Printmaking in the Seventeenth Century”; through December 31st
◗ IU SoFA Grunwald Gallery — Exhibits:
- Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show; through July 21st
- Bloomington Photography Club Annual Exhibition; July 27th through August 3rd
◗ IU Kinsey Institute Gallery — “Ephemeral Ink: Selections of Tattoo Art from the Kinsey Institute Collection”; through September 21st
◗ IU Lilly Library — Exhibit, “Translating the Canon: Building Special Collections in the 21st Century”; through September 1st
◗ IU Mathers Museum of World Cultures — Closed for semester break
◗ Monroe County History Center — Exhibits:
- “What Is Your Quilting Story?”; through July 31st
- Photo exhibit, “Bloomington: Then and Now” by Bloomington Fading; through October 27th