history


3
May 18

Now here’s something of a different time

I had lunch with this guy today. It was, as you might imagine, very cool.

Dean Martin died when I was a freshman in college. And I wasn’t yet hip to who or what could bring about a lasting cool. I suppose he was always the guy that played drunk, or did the occasional telethon. He was one of the old guys that ran around with Sinatra and was old. I’m sure I knew he had done movies, but I didn’t know much about the Rat Pack and I certainly didn’t know much of his music. It was too far removed for me to be anything but too far removed myself, I suppose. (“Little Ole Wine Drinker Me” was a Charlie Walker song that Martin covered. It stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for six weeks. It peaked at fifth on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart and was also a hit in Australia that year.)

I really discovered him after college. His music. His cool. His sound. Dean Martin had the best sound of the Rat Pack.

And, man, he was funny. Just look who is on the stage with him here:

There’s a great Christmas-themed Pillsbury Flour spot and a too-artsy for 1975 America Revlon promo in the middle of the video, too.

And even when he was playing a song for laughs he could sing and sing:

I love that song.

One of our hallways at work has a lot of historic photos from the program. This lady is a part of one of the pictures:

She’s a copy editor in the 1940s at the IDS. But she’s given up her seat in the slot for Ernie Pyle, who has returned to Indiana to visit family and friends. And when he was home he was never far from campus, so here he’s back and reading the paper. The front page story that he’s reading is about the Romanian armistice, so she is looking over his shoulder as he reads a late-August, early-September paper from 1944.

I wonder what she was thinking about, sitting there, posing with the great Ernie Pyle in her seat. He’s a legend now, and he was well-venerated then. I wonder where those lamps got off too.

I looked her up. She might have become a school teacher. The woman I found online passed away just a few years ago. But I’m not 100 percent convinced I have the right person.

Tonight I’m hanging out with Allie, The Black Cat:

No better way to wind down an evening.


9
Apr 18

Stuff from after the conference

We were in Nashville over a long weekend at a research conference. It was nice to see friends and do smart-people things. And we stayed with friends who happen to live by the conference location. So we’re going to need them to move around and follow this event around the region. They should do this to the detriment of their own social lives and careers so that they could have the pleasure of hosting us for three or four days each year, and enjoy barbecue and the like, and our delightful company.

So we’ll start sending them some brochures.

Anyway, some extra things I saw over the weekend.

Look! Up in the right corner!

That doesn’t look like a familiar Sears font. A commenter on Flickr notes:

Sears Department Store was located at the southeast corner of Church St and 8th Ave North (the building is still standing) … Remember that agriculture was, for a couple of centuries, The primary source of revenue in and around Nashville. Sears, like Montgomery Wards and others, sold farm supplies and equipment.

Just south on 8th, right behind the main store, was the farm and auto supply store … The “Ghost Sign” you photographed is located across 8th Ave North from where the farm and auto store once was and this sign once had an arrow that pointed across the street. Sears moved to their new brick bldg on Lafayette (Now the Nashville Rescue Mission) in the late 60’s. I suspect this sign was repainted in the 60s just prior to Sears moving, hence it has survived (sans arrow).

That comment is eight years old and, today, it is just a parking lot:

But you can see a picture here, it was a grand old 1930s art deco building. Sears, this Nashville history site tells me, stayed in the building until 1956. A Ben Franklin went in, and then a jewelry store. Eventually it became a building for state offices. That site, in 2014, said the building was still there, but its fate was nigh. And the Google Street view, from 2017, tells the tale:

They paved downtown shopping and put up a parking lot. But The Tennessean put together a photo gallery.

Hey, look, this is where my folks got married!

Union Station in Nashville, Tennessee.

Farmland when we got back on the road:

And I don’t know what these are for …

Some agricultural concern, no doubt.


4
Apr 18

I practiced media things today

Today is the fourth of April. We had more snow flurries today. For much of the day, in fact. If felt like 32 degrees this morning. Because, in April, you should still be using wind chill.

This is silly talk in the face of all of that, I know, but maybe there is hope.

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. That makes today the 50th anniversary of an important newspaper column. We talked about it on the podcast today:

Also today I talked to Raju Narisetti. He’s the CEO of the Gizmodo Media Group, and an IU grad. He’s in town for a campus-wide program and we had him in the studio for an interview today. I’m not sure when that one will get published — it takes some time — but I’ll get to share it eventually.


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.