May 22

The year was 1961; do not enter business with Willie’s wife

We haven’t read any old newspapers recently. Let’s go back 61 years, to northwest Alabama. This is The Florence Herald, which we have examined here from time-to-time in the past. Some of my family would have read this paper. Indeed, there’s a brief mention of my great-great grandfather here in a legal notice. And some of the family names appear in some of the local correspondence. But let’s look at the really fun stuff from the weekly, which was published on Thursday, May 18, 1961.

There’s a fair amount to get through over your second coffee. Let’s dive in. This is the lead local story, in a paper that was helping its community celebrate the centennial of the Civil War.

The Reynolds Metals Company, founded in Kentucky in 1919, was a big, big deal. They originally supplied the wrappers for cigarette and candy companies and in the 1920s took over Eskimo Pies because of the foil. They were growing quickly, and in a few more years a few more acquisitions the original U.S. Foil Company became Reynolds. They moved HQ to New York, and then to Richmond. Soon they were mining bauxite, and they opened the plant mentioned here in 1941.

Just before the United States entered the war, R.S. Reynolds ramped up production. He was in aluminum, after all, and he saw a need. Now the second largest producer of basic aluminum in the U.S., Reynolds was key in aircraft production, among other things. A lot of that was rolled out right there. They kept growing after the war, indeed they snatched up six government defense plants that were up for disposal. Reynolds later expanded into non aluminum products such as plastics and precious metals, introducing Reynolds Plastic Wrap in 1982. Odds are you’ve got some of their product in your kitchen cabinets.

The company took out a full page ad in this same issue of The Florence Herald thanking their employees and the community. “Surely the only thing which can surpass our first 20 years at Listerhill will be our next 20 years,” was the last line over R.S. Reynolds’ name. Indeed, they put 37 more years into the area.

When they sold to Wise Metals in 1998-99, there were 1,600 people working at the plant. A global concern picked up Wise in 2015, it was an eight-figure deal. The company is still in operation there, still employing more than 1,200. They recycle and make aluminum cans.

I don’t know if you noticed that story about “Viet Nam” that was set just below the Reynolds piece, and the English standalone photo It’s 1961, and there’s so much patriotic optimism in that story.

Below the fold on the front page …

So it is an interesting time in local and national politics. I shared with you one of the bullet points from Harold S. May’s front page column.


May wrote in this same format every week. I looked ahead. “What has Mr. Average Citizen done to deserve it? All of us will suffer alike,” wrote the columnist in the next issue. The columnist — who had served on the Florence Housing Authority and was the chairman of the local board of education — made another, terrible convoluted mention two weeks out, until, finally, he moved back to his local observations and recycled bon mots.

“The wife with plenty of hose sense never becomes a nag,” was one of the lines just above the condemnation above.

It’s a fascinating column in its own way, if you can overlook the regrettable parts.

Finally, according to the search function, he ran this same ad the next three weeks. And then, apparently, never again. There’s a story behind this.

Sadly, we’ll never know it.

Apr 22

A totally professional day

I edited a podcast today, and spent time in two different television studios for three different shows. At the end of the day I set up a Disney movie for students. In between, I watched these shows. And, now, you can too!

This is the news show from last night I mentioned. The interview with the new provost is there. It’s an interesting moment to have the provost in-studio.

They talked a lot about bike racing on What’s Up Weekly, because the Little 500 races are coming up next week. Very exciting stuff for campus.

I gotta tell ya, IU Fanshop, now in just its third episode, is growing on me. It’s a show about fans, and as they start to really lean into this, they’re going to find some great stuff going forward. This is fun.

You know what else is fun, photos of people at varying depths below sea level!

Yes, we’re wrapping up the photos today. But I’ll round out the week with more diving stuff, somehow. (We’ve already planned our next two trips, and I’m only a bit sad that neither of them involve diving. Yet.)

Anyway, on to the photos!

Gymnasts, man.

Sometimes I float to one side, sometimes I float behind people. Occasionally I float above them.

That is, of course and without fail, the moment they decide to look for you.

Everything is a-OK on the bottom of the sea.

And sometimes people float above you, too.

Selfie time at a safety stop.

This is probably another safety stop, a designed part of the dive, during the ascent, where you’re allowing your body the opportunity to expand a bit more of the nitrogen that builds up under pressure. This is a planned and good feature. And, clearly, carefully done.

I wonder what she’s looking at here.

Best fish in the sea!

And, also, me.

Yes, I all but blinked during my own selfie. I was on vacation.

Feb 22

Let me eat all the cake

After hours cake in an after-hours newsroom. I passed through the campus paper’s office as they were wrapping up the 155th birthday celebration of the IDS. Think of that, a student newspaper for 155 years! I have a reprint of the original front page, and, today, I had the last piece of cake.

Didn’t taste a day over 135 years old.

Also this week we learned that one of the writers of that august publication was a finalist for a prestigious national Hearst Award, continuing a 12-year consecutive streak of having a finalist or winner from IU. Also, the current editor-in-chief of the paper was named the photojournalist of the year by the Indiana News Photographers Association.

Furthermore, we learned that a podcast two of our interns worked on are nominated for an NAACP Image Award this weekend.

Other students were raising money for a high school newsroom this week. Game design students saw the video game debut at Steam’s Next Fest, and still more game design students rolled out their game for sale this week.

The TV crowd just kept producing television. Eight shows this week, and here’s the seventh of them, now.

Taken altogether, it was a pretty good week for people who are anxiously eyeing spring break.

And next week gets really busy.

(I’m anxiously eyeing spring break, too. And next weekend.)

Feb 22

Your personal blog experience

One overused word is narrative. Another is polarized. Right behind those two is experience.

Ummm, no.

One of the downsides to the phone experience since we all got portable phones in the 90s has been the hang up experience. You just can’t slam the phone down. You removed the phone from your face and … pressed a button. This disappointing experience has continued into the smartphone era. Even worse, the other person doesn’t get a dial tone experience.

Similarly, I can’t have a satisfying tab-closing experience. I read that and could only role my eyes and press the X to close the screen — which I could not do fast enough.

I do not need a personalized registration experience. I need only to beat the human rush and avoid lines.

Whatever consultant told the comms and coding people to write that needs a new kind of working experience.

I saw this this morning.

Modernist avant-garde is now ubiquitous and contemporary, and today I sat in that spot just long enough to contemplate it. What do you suppose those are made of? They’re too high up in a ludicrously tall room to tell.

What do you suppose the artist’s intention was? There’s no sign I saw that offered an interpretation.

What do you think the artist was thinking about when they got this commission? When they were planning this out? When they watched hoisted to the ludicrously high ceiling?

That’s always the real question, really.

The other, I suppose, is how many people have contemplated these same questions? And other questions? And what answers did they conjure for themselves? It’s all a new thing, so probably not many, and who knows, and wouldn’t it be worrying to know the answer to that last one?

Though, some sort of interactivity would be nice. An artistic suggestion box, if you will. What did you think when you saw this installation of glass and aluminum and nylon string? You could see the artist saying “I’ll take all of this into consideration on my next project,” until they saw the replies they received.

Then they, too, will know about the comments.

Studio night, and it was a good one.

That’ll all be online tomorrow, and I’ll share it here. See you then!

Feb 22

The downhill of Wednesday

Another day hanging out with the great Ernie Pyle. I wonder what he’d say to me today, if he could.

He’d say “I’m almost 122 years old. What do you want from me? And why are you hanging around this statue anyway? Maybe you could go write something.”

The joke is on him. I’m mostly editing today.

I had to give a tour today, actually, and I walked our guest by the little display of Ernie Pyle artifacts, which is when I always say he grew up in a small place about 80 miles to the west. His dad was a tenant farmer there, and the town of Dana was bigger then (population 893) than it is today (population 570).

Then, as now, it’s a sleepy rural community. Today Dana is still a farming community, but maybe also a commuter’s exurb.

If you travel down Maple Street, the one road that the Google Maps car visited in Dana in 2008, you’ll see this.

I did not mention that to our visitor from Chicago, but only because I had to discuss the Roy Howard papers, the Cold War photographs and the paintings from the university’s collection that adorn nearby walls.

A look in the control from this evening’s sports shoots.

They produced two shows tonight, of course. The highlight show, which included segments on the upcoming games, a historic Black Hoosier athlete and this week’s athlete of the week.

They’ve been adding all kinds of elements to that show. And, of course, there’s also the talk show. They discussed Indiana baseball and Indiana softball, which are both kicking off their seasons this week.

Those two shows will be up later this week, and I’ll share them here.

Until then, here’s a look at a few of the other IUSTV shows that they’ve put online in the last day or so. (They keep very busy!)

Here’s the pop culture and campus events show. There’s a subtle little thing in the interview that most people won’t catch, but I was especially proud of, and a new segment that’s just about jokes.

And here’s the news show. I think everything in this episode was done in one take. Easy, casual. Just needs more.

And here’s the film show, which I teased in this space last week.

And that gets us through most of the day, which was an easy 10-hour work day. After the last few works of busyness two 10-hour days in a row doesn’t seem that challenging.

If you find yourself saying things like that “You must ask yourself, ‘Why?’

I will celebrate by reading myself to sleep. Back to reading Kluger. I got this book for Christmas a few years ago. I read most of it last year, but set it down for some reason or another. As I wrote about a third of the way through it …

I’m in the last 50 or so pages now, and we’re actually in the trial. This is an insightful treat. It’s early-18th century colonial America, the printer has published some mean things about a governor and that’s against the rules in a way that seems draconian to modern American sensibilities. But we learn that, even then, the legal system of the day was still wrestling with the philosophical nature of truth. How can you decide what libel is without understanding what truth might be. It’s a narrowly defined world.

Kluger has the records of trial, and he’s quoting the lawyers verbatim. Some of the themes they were wrestling with then are reflective of the arguments being made right now in Sarah Palin’s lawsuit against the New York Times. Whereas today it seems the court is weighing what appears to amount to negligence brought on by deadlines against the legal concept of libel, the judges in the Zenger trial are tasked with trying to decide whether carefully written and coded letters published in a backwater colonial newspaper could cause a king to lose confidence in his government officials.

The way the law was framed and the arguments made in such a way that the king seems was a delicate flower, and that his fragility was to be protected at all times. A convenient political and legal cover of the times, I’m sure. The published letters weren’t about the king, but rather about his appointed governor of New York (who was often appointed just to get him out of London, it seems). And since, as Kluger demonstrates, the governor was slotting judges into this trial in the hopes of getting a desired outcome, maybe the letter writers had a point.

Gov. Cosby had been a military officer of some success, married well, and then worked his way up to being appointed the governor of a small Mediterranean island. A personal gains scandal eventually followed him there, and in New York and New Jersey there were salary issues, and oppression and some land problems. Typical colonial stuff, the things that, just a generation later, led to revolution. So you wonder what became of all of these people’s grandsons.

Oh, the letter writers were some of Zenger’s legal representation.

There’s not a moment of Euro-American history in New York that doesn’t work like this, I’m convinced.