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An Architectural Marvel is up for trashing in Chicago…

I am deeply upset with my alma mater, Northwestern University, as they attempt to tear down a particularly special architectural classic from the 70s. This  preservation battle has been building for months in Chicago on the fate of the old Prentice Women’s Hospital, a concrete, cloverleaf structure from 1975 by Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg.  Famous architects and designers like Frank Gehry, Jeanne Gang, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have signed petitions entreating Northwestern, who owns the building, not to tear it down, pleading for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to give it landmark status.

The university says it needs new biomedical research facilities and that Prentice is too small, old and quirky to adapt. A new building would bring to the city millions of investment dollars, create jobs and save lives – that’s Northwestern’s argument.

So here is a suggestion: Build a research tower on top of Prentice. The architect Jeanne Gang has a proposal for a new research tower on top of the hospital:

Why save Prentice? There are  Chicagoans that hate it. Concrete buildings from the ’70s are becoming  unpopular outside architectural circles, although it’s spreading, and rightly so. Great late-Modernist buildings, innovative and ruggedly beautiful, deserve respect and careful custody. Prentice is a good example.

Architect Goldberg, who died in 1997, used a pioneering form of computer modeling to engineer a tour de force: an open, seven-story maternity ward inside the cloverleaf shell, cantilevered 45 feet from the supporting core.

Great buildings have often survived the wrecking ball by being added to, incorporated into larger structures or updated for a new era — in Rome and Istanbul, New York and Chicago.

 

 

How about a foreign policy statement from Mitt…

That video from the secret fundraiser is sure providing tons of revelations of the presidential talents of Mitt Romney – or the fact that there are no such talents present.

Here is a statement that gives us a real view of how he sees tyhe middle east:

“If I were Iran – a crazed fanatic, I’d say let’s get a little fissile material to Hezbollah, have them carry it to Chicago, and then if anything goes wrong, or America starts acting up, we’ll just say, “Guess what? Unless you stand down, why, we’re going to let off a dirty bomb. I mean this is where we have – where America could be held up and blackmailed by Iran, by the mullahs, by crazy people. So we don’t have any option but to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon.”

– Mitt Romney

Hey… I’ll bet he’ll start another war if he gets the chance. Let’s not give it to him.

Back from Milwaukee and once again trying to get over my broken bones…

 

It was a wonderful wedding, watching my son and his bride having the time of their lives, but a painful one for me. I spent most of my time looking for places to sit and keep my left side from interacting with the world… and I almost got away with it.

There was one accident, however: after taking wedding pictures of family and bridal party on the Oriental Theater’s stage, I missed a step coming back into the audience area and fell hard, re-injuring my cracked collar bone and shoulder blade. Several nice wedding party members helped me get back on my feet, but I returned to West Virginia more in pain than when I left. Believe me, the 18 hour train rides (switch in Chicago… if it weren’t for the redcap service I never would have been able to change trains… were incredibly unpleasant and I got no sleep on the overnight run.

Bob and the Fat Man

One great thing about the wedding was I got to see my cousin, Bob Barsale, who, since he lives in Chicago, I have not seen much of in the past 25 years. Growing up, Bob was the closest thing I had to a brother and he (and his wife Suzie and daughter SueSue) mean a great deal to me. Since he occasionally reads me on Facebook, I send my best wishes out to him.

OK… now I have to get back onto my life, my string of Doctor’s appointments and more. I hope you all have a nice day. I home Buddy and Rachel are enjoying their mini-Honeymoon at Lake Geneva. I hope all the family and friends I saw got home OK.

 

My son is now a married man and I am a tired old fat guy…

 

Morning after… I’m sitting in the lounge at the Milwaukee Hilton catching up on e-mail and my blog while my wife and my daughters go over to Buddy’s house (or should I say Will’s? No, I can’t get used to that… he’s been Buddy to me since the day he was born) for a brunch (I can’t deal with the stairs up to Bud’s house after my bone-breaking accident… and I had an extra fall yesterday walking down some narrow stairs at the Oriental Theater during wedding pictures time… so I’m staying here until they get back.)

This afternoon at 3:00 we catch the first of two trains… this one to Chicago and the next to Martinsburg, WV. We’ll be traveling for next 20 or so hours. What fun.

During Buddy and Rachel’s wedding reception last evening we had a brief rainfall… and, in a sign that I see as good luck for the married couple… it was followed by a Rainbow. What are the odds of that happening? This was magic!

Elly and I had breakfast this morning with my cousin Bob, his wife Suzie and his daughter SueSue and her boyfriend. They’re driving back to Chicago later. It was nice seeing them
The lovely young woman who works this waiting lounge just brought me some ice water… they are so pleasant here…and I think I’ll take a little nap if i can get away with it. Once we head out for the train I’ll have no Wi-Fi again until we get home tomorrow, so I can’t do much more on the blog.

Be good to each other.

 

Today we leave (via Amtrack) for Wisconsin… Changing trains in Chicago.

 

OK. We’re in the middle of packing and getting ready to take off for Milwaukee. I’m getting clothes together and my pills and other medications, my computer and everything else I need to get to Buddy’s wedding. The dogs have been put in a nearby kennel for their “dog vacation,” and I miss them already.

The pain from my broken bones has gotten so much better that I think I will get through this trip okay. We have arranged for wheelchair transport at the railroad stations, one where we change trains in Chicago and the when we get into Milwaukee, so I should be able to get around with luggage.

Let me warn my regular readers at Under The LobsterScope that I may be missing some posts as we travel. The railroad stations already list that they don’t have Wi-Fi and I’m not sure what the situation will be at the hotel.  I will try to get at least one post a day out, preferably with pictures. This should have many interesting scenes worth showing on the blog.

We will be on the road from this evening until Tuesday morning after which will be back in West Virginia and ready to start my regular schedule. I hope everyone has a nice weekend.

 

Join science experts like the Unabomber if you believe in Global Warming…

Who? What? Ted Kaczynski? And other billboards with Charles Manson and Fidel Castro. Coming soon are billboards featuring Osama bin Laden and James J. Lee (who took hostages inside the headquarters of the Discovery Channel in 2010).

What nutjobs are responsible for this terrific promotional campaign showing us how science proves there is no Global Warming? Why, The Heartland Institute, a 28-year-old organization whose mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems.

And, of course, to create the kind of stimulating, educational pieces like these billboards.

Heartland also produces books and brochures with titles like Climate Change Weekly: New York Times Misrepresents Global Warming Surveys and EPA Official Says Goal Is to ‘Crucify’ Oil and Natural Gas Companies, all of which seem to be written by noted scientist James M. Taylor, J.D. Senior Fellow and Managing Editor, Environment and Climate News.  (J.D. is that a scientific degree or a law degree?) Their Science Director is Dr. Jay Lehr, author of recent articles like Nuclear Fears Trumping Reality in Wake of Fukushima and An Open Letter to the Oil and Gas Industry: The Ethical Case for Fracking. Hmmm, support of Nuclear Industry and Hydrofracturing (Fracking).

Needless to say, given their support of corporations over individual citizens, my guess is that they will be advising Romney and the Republicans.

Help!

A History of May Day

MAY DAY – THE INTERNATIONAL LABOR DAY – THE HISTORY

May 1st, International Workers’ Day, commemorates the historic struggle of working people throughout the world, and is recognized in most countries. The United States of America and Canada are among the exceptions. This despite the fact that the holiday began in the 1880s in the USA, linked to the battle for the eight-hour day, and the Chicago anarchists.

The struggle for the eight-hour day began in the 1860s. In 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions of the United States and Canada, organized in 1881 (and changing its name in 1886 to American Federation of Labor ) passed a resolution which asserted that “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s work from and after May 1, 1886, and that we recommend to labor organizations throughout this district that they so direct their laws as to conform to this resolution”. The following year the Federation repeated the declaration that an eight-hour system was to go into effect on May 1, 1886. With workers being forced to work ten, twelve, and fourteen hours a day, support for the eight-hour movement grew rapidly. In the months prior to May 1, 1886, thousands of workers, organized and unorganized, members of the organization Knights of Labor and of the federation, were drawn into the struggle. Chicago was the main center of the agitation for a shorter day. The anarchists were in the forefront of the Central Labor Union of Chicago, which consisted of 22 unions in 1886, among them the seven largest in the city.

During the Railroad strikes of 1877, the workers had been violently attacked by the police and the United States Army. A similar tactic of state terrorism was prepared by the bureaucracy to fight the eight-hour movement. The police and National Guard were increased in size and received new and powerful weapons financed by local business leaders. Chicago’s Commercial Club purchased a $2000 machine gun for the Illinois National Guard to be used against strikers. Nevertheless, by May 1st, the movement had already won gains for many Chicago workers. But on May 3, 1886, police fired into a crowd of strikers at the McCormick Harvester Machine Company, killing at least one striker, seriously wounding five or six others, and injuring an undetermined number. Anarchists called for a mass meeting the next day in Haymarket Square to protest the brutality.

The meeting proceeded without incident, and by the time the last speaker was on the platform, the rainy gathering was already breaking up, with only about two hundred people remaining. It was then a police column of 180 men marched into the square and ordered the meeting to disperse. At the end of the meeting a bomb was thrown at the police, killing one instantly, six others died later. About seventy police officers were wounded. Police responded by firing into the crowd. How many civilians were wounded or killed from police bullits never was ascertained exactly. Although it was never determined who threw the bomb, the incident was used as an excuse to attack anarchists and the labor movement in general. Police ransacked the homes and offices of suspected radicals, and hundreds were arrested without charge. A reign of police terror swept over Chicago. Staging “raids” in the working-class districts, the police rounded up all known anarchists and other socialists. “Make the raids first and look up the law afterward!” publicly counseled the state’s attorney.

Anarchists in particular were harassed, and eight of Chicago’s most active were charged with conspiracy to murder in connection with the Haymarket bombing. A kangaroo court found all eight guilty, despite a lack of evidence connecting any of them to the bomb-thrower, and they were sentenced to die. In October 9, 1886, the weekly journal Knights of Labor published in Chicago, carried on page 1 the following announcement: “Next week we begin the publication of the lives of the anarchists advertised in another column.”

The advertisement, carried on page 14, read: “The story of the anarchists, told by themselves; Parsons, Spies, Fielden, Schwab, Fischer, Lingg, Engle, Neebe. The only true history of the men who claim that they are condemned to suffer death for exercising the right of Free Speech: Their association with Labor, Socialistic and Anarchistic Societies, their views as to the aims and objects of these organizations, and how they expect to accomplish them; also their connection with the Chicago Haymarket Affair. Each man is the author of his own story, which will appear only in the “Knights of Labor” during the next three months, – the great labor paper of the United States, a 16-page weekly paper, containing all the latest foreign and domestic labor news of the day, stories, household hints, etc. A co-operative paper owned and controlled by members of the Knights of Labor, and furnished for the small sum of $1.00 per annum. Adress all communications to Knights of Labor Publishing Company, 163 Washington St., Chicago, Ill.” Later this journal and the paper Alarm published the autobiographies of the Haymarket men.

Albert Parsons, August Spies, Adolf Fischer and George Engel were hanged on November 11, 1887. Louis Lingg committed suicide in prison. The authorities turned over the bodies to friends for burial, and one of the largest funeral processions in Chicago history was held. It was estimated that between 150,000 to 500,000 persons lined the route taken by the funeral cortege of the Haymarket martyrs. A monument to the executed men was unveiled June 25, 1893 at Waldheim Cemetery in Chicago. The remaining three, Samuel Fielden, Oscar Neebe and Michael Schwab, were finally pardoned in 1893.

On June 26, 1893, the governor of Illinois, John Peter Altgeld, issued the pardon message in which he made it clear that he was not granting the pardon because he believed that the men had suffered enough, but because they were innocent of the crime for which they had been tried, and that they and the hanged men had been the victims of hysteria, packed juries and a biased judge.

– Thanks to the Anarchists International Information Center

Getting ready to go on the air at WSHC…

It’s about ten after seven and I’m warming up the board for John Case’s  Tuesday morning show (we go on at 7:30). John is spending a couple of days in DC and I’m covering today and tomorrow… so I’ll be here until 9:00 AM.

If you want to listen, we’re at 89.7 FM in Shepherdstown, WV, but our signal doesn’t go very far… we are really meant to cover Shepherd University and the Town… but people all over the country listen to us at http://www.897wshc.edu. We know that because we get calls from New York, Montreal, Chicago and other places (like DC).


Anyway, I’ll get back to the blog when I get home… right after I walk the dogs.

Earthquake.

West to Chicago, and down south as well. New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC and Baltimore closed their airports until things could be straightened out.

And I didn’t feel it!

When it hit I was driving up the long, bumpy dirt road to the Folly which always has the feeling that the earth is moving when you bump along on it. But when I pulled into the Folly, Bradley and Carol had just come out of their house which had been shaking for a few seconds and Ben Snyder, who was working at the shops, felt it as he put together Carnival stuff.

The news says it was a 5.9 on the Richter scale (other reports say 5.8) and they are expecting smaller aftershocks over the next few weeks, perhaps at a 4.8 on the scale.

We are apparently over something called the Virginia Fault. It is about 4.5 miles down and is in the midst of the shale deposits that run up through the Appalachians, so any quake reverberates up and down the geographic mass.

The last time we had a quake of this magnitude here was in the 1890’s… and we had a much smaller one in 2010.

Life, however, goes on… and this was much more fun than covering Republicans.

On the 1,515th Valentine’s Day we are looking at a lot less love for working classes…

On the 1,515th Valentine’s Day we are looking at a lot less love for working classes…Obama is getting ready to put in his budget cut proposals and it looks like the folks who are going to be asked to hold their breaths and take the biggest cuts are those of us on the bottom.

This from the Associated Press:

Less than two months after signing tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans into law, President Barack Obama proposed a spending plan to Congress that cuts funding to programs that assist the working poor, help the needy heat their homes, and expand access to graduate-level education, undermining the kind of community-based organizations that helped Obama launch his political career in Chicago.

Now here is what I want to know…since the Tax Cut deal Obama supported and got through is going to give us a $1.6 Trillion deficit, and our Federal Revenues will be greatly reduced because of the cut, what will keep us functioning? Part of the budget proposal swings more responsibility to the States:

“To help employers keep workers on the job, the Budget will encourage States to expand use of short-time compensation… Also known as work-sharing, this voluntary employer program helps firms retain workers by reducing employees’ weekly hours instead of laying them off. Workers with reduced hours receive a partial unemployment check to supplement their reduced paycheck.”


From what I understand, however, the States don’t have a big income source either. I look at West Virginia especially. We are one of 45 States who are not going to make our State Budget this year. Very few of the funds from the Recovery Act are available after August 2011.

I have an idea… let’s bring back some of the taxes on the top 2% of our citizens and write of this problem once and for all. I’m not opposed to taking my cut here as long as those rich types get their incomes cut, too.

Look at it as an Adventure…

I’m not supposed to drive… I’ve had still more medications added to the mountain of pills and ocean of shots that I take already…I have this weird feeling all day that I can’t explain that another seizure is coming…and I can’t seem to develop any kind of regular sleeping schedule. I guess I have to look on life right now as an Adventure.

If I thought forty two years ago when I left Northwestern with my MA and set off into the world to start what became one of at least 10 careers that I would be here in West Virginia like this in 2011 with no sense of where I’m going (except down), I might have reconsidered the whole thing and just stayed in Chicago and pursued the Scenic Artists exam there where I was a ringer. It might not have been a better start, but it probably would have been much easier.

But I’m stuck here with what I have and will try to make something out of it. Looking into Podcasting as a regular thing is becoming very attractive.

Sunday Night Entertainent: Chicago Newscasters Screw Up…

I hope you like this… I got a kick out of it:

Oh well… we all miss the big one at some point.

A Zappadan Morning for America…

… and the sentiment that first drew many of us to Zappa:

Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance   and   What’s the Ugliest Part of Your Body?

In 1968 I did my first real directing piece at a one-act program at Northwestern: a staged piece based on Zappa’s “Lumpy Gravy.” Of course, LG was released at the same time (and from the same recording sessions) as We’re Only In It For The Money”, and the end of that record, just played above, was the conclusion of the theatre piece which, unbelievably to the faculty folks who sat on my grade in the project, got the audience out of their seats to dance with the cast. We later took this production to Chicago’s Kinetic Playground (which Aaron Russo had opened, starting his dramatic rise in the late sixties and throughout the seventies), where it was positioned on the bill between performances by B.B. King and Albert King (were we a triumph among Kings?),  two guys it was a thrill to meet.

Anyways… thanks for the memories.

I needed a laugh at the expense of the Right…

…and who better to turn to than Jackie and Dunlap (in reality, Travis and Jonathan) at Red State Update? If you haven’t seen them before, enjoy:

Quote of the Day

“You can play a great game and still not win. Although I wish that we had come back with better news from Copenhagen, I could not be prouder. … I have no doubt that it was the strongest bid possible and I’m proud that I was able to come in and help make that case in person.”

– President Barack Obama commenting on Chicago losing the Olympics to Rio de Janiero.

Thanks for trying, Mr. President.

Robert Novak Dead at 78

Novak on Meet the PressConservative newspaper columnist and Television gadfly Robert Novak passed away in Chicago at 4:30 a.m., due to a malignant brain tumor, discovered July 27, 2008.

From the Chicago Sun-Times obit:

On May 15, 1963, Novak teamed up with the late Rowland Evans Jr. to create the “Inside Report” political column, which became the must-read syndicated column. Evans tapped Novak, then a 31-year old correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, to help with the workload of a six-day-a-week column.

Evans and Novak were the odd couple: Evans a Philadelphia blue blood and Yale graduate; Novak from Joliet, Ill. who attended the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana campus.

The Right will no doubt miss him. Not sure that I will.