May 1, 2012
In 1893 Frederick Jackson Turner declared that the American frontier was closed forever; well, today the whole bloody globe seems closed. Over 550 souls have scaled Everest and now there are high altitude choppers to help as they blog their way to the top – oh Hilary and Tenzing where art thou?
Ad Age reports that Penn State has retained Edelman PR for one year at a monthly fee of $208.000 — that’s the right numbers of zeroes. The University of Illinois has paid Jascula Terman $40,000 to provide guidance to the now fired president on what to say to the media during a weeklong consultation. Are they crazy?
Now that Roosevelt University has constructed a $123,000,000 building on Wabash, where is it going to find students with fee increases pending? College tuition has gotten out of hand in our democracy.
Speaking of higher education we attended the graduation ceremony of the 2012 class of Adrian College. in southwestern Michigan. The town of Adrian, 21,000 population, was founded in 1826 by one Addison Comstock whose wife named it after Hadrian her favorite Roman emperor.
Around 300 graduates received degrees each to deafening roars, hoo hahs, hooting, shrieks, horns, whistles and every conceivable amount of noise makers by friends and family. Ahem. Alors. Mon Dieu!
The girl grads, or many of them, donned red, pink, gold or jet black stilettos, made ever more perilously high by added platforms. (We wore penny loafers under our black gown). Very Venetian Renaissance puttanesca. Attracting a male still seen as the ticket to success since spikes suggest vulnerability and symbolic submission.
Deemed an honorary doctor of humane letters by the college the commencement speaker was none other than old white bucks himself ancient crooner, face-lifted Tea Partier Pat Boone. After a very few words of encouragement for the grads of this 150 year old school (which he said was in Indiana) he quickly reverted to a resume of his illustrious career and his special relationship with God.
We learned he was as popular as Elvis; could have made a movie with Marilyn Monroe but refused because it was about an illicit affair; owned the Oakland Oaks (who dey?); had the FIRST network television series; is a faithful husband of 58 years, with four daughters and thousands of grandchildren.
Funny but we recall a couple of books about his physical abuse of his daughters well into their late teenage years. En tout cas, the Obedience Freak gave a longggggggggggggg Holy Roller gospel speech about his love of Jesus. Rather an insult to anyone not a fundamentalist Christian, Church of Christ member or alum of Pepperdine, that weird college in Malibu.
Best thing about living in the Midwest: the drive back along Route 12 , the old Chicago Road from Detroit to Chicago, 40 miles to Quincy, all huge granaries dotting the flat horizon, a reminder of America’s rural roots. Granaries, Guns and God. Lenawee County has 1,600 farms more than any other county in Michigan and the largest acreage and yield in the state of wheat, corn, soybeans. We saw plenty of well tended livestock and sheep galore on the flat green landscape. Farmers are concerned with the upcoming Farm Bill.
The towns, from main streets to frame houses, were sadly derelict with boarded up storefronts, antique shop after antique shop with rusted farm equipment on the lawn. But a definite must visit charm if you want to see America of a hundred years ago.
Driving back through Indiana we stopped by Nappanee which was pretty devoid of Amish (saw just one horse and buggy there) but had plenty of relics of the Age of Optimism, the early 20th century when the stone banks were erected. Tomb like eerie silence and empty spotless streets on a Monday morning.
Since it was 40 miles to Shipshewana where we should have gone in the first place we settled for the Amish community of Renstown a couple of miles away. Women mowing lawns with those old manual monsters, men riding bikes in the rain with black stocking caps, bicycles and more bicycles, another lone horse and buggy.
The one local eaterie The Snack Den had a few seats in the back of a store with sweet cherry pie and very odd chili served by an unsmiling (no smiles around here) chunky lass in a prayer cap and long dress and no nonsense wait- your- turn ways. Worth a trip to stock up on preserves, pickles, breads and local cheese for a fraction of the cost as our farmer’s markets.
Amish Acres a historic landmarked farm complex was closed and we felt for a brief moment like the Griswolds at Wally World. Then got one better sight: Amish children playing softball outside of a one room schoolhouse. The girls in colorful ankle length skirts, trying to scoot around in them under the stern gaze of an elder.
The Amish taboos are: divorce, intermarriage, gays (called homosexuals). It is patriarchal,(yoicks!) manual -labor loving, obsessed with obedience like our “doctor of humane letters” and practice wholesale shunning if you do the Wrong Thing …. a dire reminder of how harsh life was in White God Fearing Man’s America. No wonder no one smiles. Today there are 150,000 Amish mainly in Pennsylvania and Indiana.
Having that rubbernecking lunch or dinner at now Oprah-less RL may have cost you more than you realize. The Illinois Attorney General’s office announced that customers at RL may have had their credit, debit or ATM information stolen. “There were a group of rogue employees who conspired to steal consumers’ bank and credit card information,” said the Attorney General’s office.
Now that Facebook has taken over Instagram brace yourself for a plethora of clichéd vintage look photographs. Hey we thought there was an anti-trust law in this country.
On Jim Kinney’s Facebook page we note that he celebrated with “His Royal Highness The Prince Edward” (right here in the Windy City), Her Majesty’s 86th birthday. Edward was unaccompanied by his wife Sophie who attends parties in New York and Palm Beach with him. Remember: when she was taped offering royal beezneees to a fake Sheik and she was more than candid about the “old dear”, the Queen and others in the Firm. The Mail cried out: “Her indiscretion will provide ammunition for those who support the eradication of the ‘fringe’ Royals.”
Apparently not so after the success of middle class Kate, afeared of making a single false step. She is just insecure enough to be good at her job but looks alarmingly anorexic topped off with that massive head of hair. She’ll never be a roaring mouse like her late wild mother-in-law.
Saw the absurd film based on Neil Botham’s book on Diana’s death….never to be solved any more than the JFK assassination. Her story is most interesting as the psychology of a frustrated narcissist who pursued revenge, the pathology of which belongs in clinical psych books.
Local columnists here remind us time and time again of the single Chicago Royal Moment when in the 1970s Princess Margaret Rose commented that the “Irish are Pigs”. The English Speaking Union apparently chose to ignore her tart comment though most probably have more Irish than English blood in their veins.
Our family escaped the persecution of William of Orange in 1694 and fled to America so it strikes us as risible that others still tug a forelock and swoon with excitement when an HRH around. Perhaps it is because as Virginia Woolf noted that “their lives are writ inordinately large”….even today when they are just tourist attracting puppets.
Nothing is more beautiful than the Chicago Botanic Gardens in early spring. We were lucky to have had a fresh, cool, sunnyish day to revisit the English and Japanese gardens, to see all the continuing renovations on the land, and the annual Antiques & Garden Fair. Best sight: the Anne Loucks Gallery, well worth a trip to Glencoe.
April in Paris. Here’s a jolly photo of banker extraordinaire Gail Freeman, now living in New York, and travel mate Jonathon Wells at the Ritz in Paris on Easter Sunday. They popped over the Channel from London for a few days.
We hear that the construction related defects that plague Elm Tower 1155 N.Dearborn have resulted in litigation between JDL Development and the Condo Board. Which is why we have happily rented forever and intend to do so until the last rent check of life.
King Juan Carlos of Spain recently apologized for killing an elephant on yet another innane “safari “—this one in Botswana. African leaders must put a stop to this slaughter now. Set the king back 58 thou for one ele, may he rest in peace.
A propos of this sad subject, have you read Hemingway’s Boat about the erstwhile safari buff’s macho madness as in shooting sharks with Tommy (machine) guns in Bimini? Well today you couldn’t do that since 90% of the masters of the deep are gone forever old Sport.
There’s a vast new restaurant Bakersfield in Westmont, named for yes, that California town. Contemporary fresh fare that needs a bit more attention since the Oak Brook crowd demanding sophisticates. Zocalo in River North — the usual Mexican food but the mole bland, the service slow, the place deafeningly loud and the margaritas good though believe there was table not kosher salt on the rim.
Trees as tax credits : Astor Street from Banks to Goethe was shut down for a couple of days with towering cranes and scores of trucks and gardeners from the Lake Bluff company that brought lorry loads of large trees to the tippy top of 1301 Astor one of the residences of the Neil Bluhm’s.
Receive constant reports of Mayor Rahm sightings in the men’s locker room at the East Bank Club. He is a focused, unsmiling and diligent worker outer who avoids eye contact with other perspirers.
From the Land of Tiny Pleasures. Water Tower – preteen girls in packs, junky shops catering to them, pretzel stores and………where will it all end? The best thing is the Mezzanine and the redone food court – salad bar buffet extensive and alluring though of course we never relish partaking. Shudder.
Rich Cohen on Kick Ass Ditka’s Runaway Beach Club “resort” in Orlando side splittingly funny review in The Atlantic – no beach, no club, no restaurant, set in a strip mall, with cleaning ladies and desk staff wearing #89 jerseys, and no sign of Da Coach.
Academics Enthralled by Occupy Wall Street notes the NYTimes apparently a growth industry for university types who love to talk about what others are actually DOING, while making cushy careers out of dissent in the Groves of Academe, an insular and remote reservation with little interaction outside the green walled gates.