history


6
Feb 18

A bunch of journalism and storytelling stuff

We turned our eyes north, to Wisconsin, to talk with Green Bay Press-Gazette reporter Jonathan Anderson today. He joined the program to talk about a brand new ruling from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. It has to do with unions and votes and public records, and it could have some long reaching implications.

Yesterday’s story was about a man, his mop and criminal intent. The one before that was about iPhones, and before that we talked gerrymandering. The variety is such a neat thing, I think. Also, these shows are short. The idea is you can listen to this while you’re running an errand. You don’t have to be running a marathon.

This morning Dan Wakefield visited the television studio. We recorded a brief interview with him. Here’s a man who covered the Emmett Till murder trial, had a full journalism career, then wrote two best sellers and then had both of those books turned into movies. How do you get that down into a seven-minute conversation?

Wakefield is one of those journalists you study in school. He always gets asked, and is forever reciting, the lead to one of his stories for the magazine “The Nation.”

The crowds are gone and this Delta town is back to its silent, solid life that is based on cotton and the proposition that a whole race of men was created to pick it. Citizens who drink from the “Whites Only’ fountain in the courthouse breathe much easier now that the two fair-skinned half brothers, ages twenty-four and thirty-six, have been acquitted of the murder of a fourteen-year-old Negro boy. The streets are quiet, Chicago is once more a mythical name, and everyone here “knows his place.”

We should probably send the same amount of time on the themes of insularity, maintaining the status quo, parachute journalism, long memory, the other Others, and irony, which are all found in the last three paragraphs of his story:

It took the twelve jurors an hour and seven minutes to return the ver­dict that would evidently help close the gap between the white and col­ored races in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Tradi­tion, honor, God, and country were preserved in a package deal with the lives of Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam.

Reporters climbed tables and chairs to get a glimpse of the ac­quitted defendants, and the news­paper, magazine, and television cameras were aimed at the smiles of their wives and families in a flash­ing, buzzing finale. Then the agents of the outside world disappeared in a rush to make their deadlines and the stale, cluttered courtroom was finally empty of everything but mashed-out cigarettes, crushed paper cups, and a few of the canvas specta­tor chairs that the American Legion had sold across the street for two dollars each.

The trial week won’t be forgotten here soon, and glimpses of the “foreign” Negroes who don’t till cottonfields but hold positions as lawyers, doctors, and Congressmen have surely left a deep and uncom­fortable mark on the whites of the Delta. But at least for the present, life is good again. Funds are being raised for separate-and-equal school facilities in Tallahatchie County and on Wednesdays at lunchtime four of the five defense attorneys join with the other Rotarians of Sumner in a club song about the glad day “When men are one.”

Wakefield’s interview will be a part of a program next week. I watched two other shows being produced this evening. They’ll make it online at some point this week, I’m sure.


5
Dec 17

And now a few Twitter notes about different mediums

More on Twitter and on Instagram.


6
Nov 17

The beautiful trouble of autumn, Part II

About two weeks ago I wrote:

It seems like that time of year where you try to catalog the changing of the leaves, because they’re pretty, but because you want them to stay.

Well, this is most definitely that week. So let’s do that this week, let’s document autumn. These are all on campus, and in the Old Crescent:

Franklin Hall, where I work:

The Rose Well House:

Used to be the big thing, you’d take your date to the Well House and get a kiss at midnight. The fronts and ornamental stone fixtures from the Old College Building were built into this structure in 1907 and 1908. It’s named after Theodore F. Rose, class of 1875, who chaired the project and paid for it in honor of his graduating class. He was a lawyer, but made his money in natural gas, after which he became one of those people who sits on the board of this and is the president of that, including the university’s board of trustees, over which he presided. He died in 1919, while working toward the university’s centennial. I’ve been reading about him in an alumni magazine of that year, an almost-100-year-old magazine. We’re going to celebrate the bicentennial soon, and I have the good fortune to work with some of the people in that office in a very small way. From the other side of the Well House:

In the background, you can see Maxwell Hall, which is an administration building.

The Richardsonian Romanesque-style building was built in 1890 and later named after Dr. David Maxwell, who is considered the father of the university. He was a physician and a lawmaker, and another president of the university board. We’re surrounded by history in the Old Crescent. And beautiful trees, too.


25
Oct 17

“Have you seen any . . . Martians?”

I produced a podcast today. Actually I just ran the board for it, but some people use those words interchangeably. They shouldn’t — and I’m on a mission to civilize! — but they do. I simply sat behind an Axia console and made sure the levels were consistent and the computer was recording. I did this because the students who normally do it couldn’t join the production today, so I sat with the dean and his two guests from another part of the university:

And they talked about Orson Welles — Indiana University possesses what is believed to be the most extensive collection of Welles performances — and, specifically, the War of the Worlds. You can hear the show here:

And you can find the whole collection here.

After work there was just time enough for a cold evening run:

I’ve found it takes about three-quarters of a mile to run off the initial chill. I’ve found that there’s a particular dip in the path behind the house where the cold air coming off the creek pushes up out of the trees and drops the temperature by about five degrees. And I’ve found that I can run in shorts and a t-shirt, but I’m going to be using gloves a lot.


17
Oct 17

Enjoy some pictures

Back to work today, but we’re kind of dragging after a long weekend. So there’s not a lot going on today, or maybe for much of the week, who knows. So here are some pictures of pictures.

We were out at this hipster restaurant in Louisville on Saturday evening. In the hallway there were several quality prints of old country music acts. Here’s one now:

Merle Haggard knew hard times. He was in and out of jails as a teen and finally a series of prison circumstances convinced him to turn his life around. And then he heard Johnny Cash perform at San Quentin. Haggard returned to music and launched a career that included more than three dozen number one hits. The Working Man passed away just last year.

The restaurant, I’m guessing, was named after him, too.

And here’s Ramona and Grandpa Jones:

They met at WLW, Cincinnati, in the 1940s and were married for 52 years. She was an acclaimed fiddler. He became a legend. They both starred on Hee Haw. Born Ramona Riggins, in Indiana, she remarried after Grandpa died in 1998. She played professionally for more than half a century and passed away in 2015, at 91.

And this is Johnny Cash:

That photo was taken in January 1968, the day he recorded his live record at Folsom Prison. The record was released that May and “At Folsom Prison” was, of course, a huge success and revitalized Cash’s career. It hit number one on the country charts and landed in the top 15 of the national album chart. It climbed to number seven on charts in both Norway and the U.K.