Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Gray Sky-onara

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 8:06 AM

Race and baseball.

Sex and basketball.

Mystery and money in the strange case of Harper Lee.

I must say, writing about literary matters for SBW was a whole lot more fun than following Indiana politics in my previous job.

Granted, the bar is low there. A colonoscopy without anesthetic would be only marginally less fun than following Indiana politics for a newspaper.

Still, gee, what an interlude it has been, this damnably brief run of the Hoosier state’s only comprehensive arts-and-culture publication.

The merry pageant of music, visual art, theater, etc., etc., and the provocative personalities behind them will share their thoughts a bit later in the week. My “Words” beat will have its hands full trying to do partial justice to the dozens of discoveries a very, very underrated literary scene offered up to me in less than a year and a half’s time.

Race and baseball? It was from Chris Lamb, an IUPUI professor who was writing a book on the subject, that I learned about the Cannon Street All-Stars of Charleston, S.C., who would have been the first all-black team in the Little League World Series if they had not been screwed by Jim Crow.

Shown here, the Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars watch the 1955 Little League World Series from the stands, despite chants from the crowd to "Let them play!" -  - COURTESY LITTLE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL
  • Courtesy Little League International
  • Shown here, the Cannon Street YMCA All-Stars watch the 1955 Little League World Series from the stands, despite chants from the crowd to "Let them play!"
click to enlarge Dick Cady's Breaking Cardinal Rules tells of scandal that rocked the University of Louisville basketball recruiting realm. -  - COURTESY DICK CADY
  • Courtesy Dick Cady
  • Dick Cady's Breaking Cardinal Rules tells of scandal that rocked the University of Louisville basketball recruiting realm.

Sex and basketball? The scandal that still reverberates around the University of Louisville is largely the doing of former Indy newspaperman Dick Cady. He was commissioned to fashion a book out of the story of Katina Powell, who said she furnished strippers and prostitutes to roundball recruits at the behest of a U of L assistant coach. Even Dick Vitale has interrupted his usual TV cheerleading by alluding to that untidiness. Unbelievable, Baby.

If I couldn’t bring a blockbuster audience to our beloved publication with high-profile sports-related sleaze, then how about some soap opera surrounding the revered Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird and his enfeebled creator, who’s since died? Fans who didn’t care for Atticus’s less shiny portrayal in the 2015 novel Go Set a Watchman, as well as those who doubted that book even was the decrepit writer’s idea, got treated to some inside dope from her alma mater, the University of Alabama. Fort Wayne native and distinguished writer Michael Martone, an English professor at UA, confided that few unkind words were likely to come out of there because the school had been courting Ms. Lee for many years in hopes of a fat bequest upon her passing. So, stay tuned on that one.

In 2007 President George W. Bush awarded author Harper Lee with the Medal of Freedom for To Kill a Mockingbird. -  - COURTESY THE WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Courtesy The Wikimedia Commons
  • In 2007 President George W. Bush awarded author Harper Lee with the Medal of Freedom for To Kill a Mockingbird.

A prominent theme of all this: In literature, as in so many other areas, from statesmanship to sensational crimes, there’s always a Hoosier angle.

I was privileged to discuss books by Indy’s Andrew Levy, Sandy Sasso, Frank Thomas and Fran Quigley that I felt added significantly to the world’s lore about Mark Twain, Anne Frank, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Haiti, respectively. A book assembled in Wheeler Mission under the supervision of Ball State professor Lyn Jones is believed to be the nation’s first memoir written by homeless women.

From the left: Darolyn "Lyn" Jones, Memoir Project Director for Writers' Center of Indiana Barbara McLaughlin, volunteer editor Breana Rothrock; Diane Fields; Barbara Shoup, Writers' Center Executive Director Debra Barnes; Jean Arnold preview Where Mercy and Truth Meet. -  - COURTESY THE WRITERS' CENTER OF INDIANA
  • Courtesy the Writers' Center of Indiana
  • From the left: Darolyn "Lyn" Jones, Memoir Project Director for Writers' Center of Indiana Barbara McLaughlin, volunteer editor Breana Rothrock; Diane Fields; Barbara Shoup, Writers' Center Executive Director Debra Barnes; Jean Arnold preview Where Mercy and Truth Meet.

Dropping the level from global to personal, there was the priceless – and potentially dangerous – blogger’s license to take up quirky topics and complaints as the spirit moved me. I could and did seek answers to such questions as:

~ What sorts of makeshift bookmarks do libraries and used bookstores find in their volumes? (A knife, credit card, cheese slice were among the more unusual bookmarks.)

~ Whom would Hoosier writers choose if they could name a street after one of their tribe? (Etheridge Knight the Indy poet placed first.)

~ Has the F word lost its potency from overuse in books and films? (Oh, heck yes.)

Last July, Dan and other former staff who worked at 307 N. Penn, the landmark of local publishing, gathered one last time amid the ruble of their erstwhile employer The Indianapolis Star and News. -  - PHOTO BY JAMI STALL
  • Photo by Jami Stall
  • Last July, Dan and other former staff who worked at 307 N. Penn, the landmark of local publishing, gathered one last time amid the ruble of their erstwhile employer The Indianapolis Star and News.

Delight and instruct is what words ought to do, William Blake told us. Writing about words for the aptly named Sky Blue Window accomplishes all of that for this grizzled veteran of the verbosity business. Seeing the blinds drawn and the glass slam leaves me with a sensation something like the Cannon Street kids must have felt. Their loss was much bigger than them, and our little group’s loss is all of Indy’s, and then some.


SBW will remain live through June 1st, with some additional new content posting each week. It just won't continue to have its Monday-through-Friday daily posts after this Friday.


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About The Author

Dan Carpenter

Dan Carpenter

Bio:
Dan Carpenter is a man of his words: a former columnist for The Indianapolis Star, author of Hard Pieces and Indiana Out Loud and writer of short stories and poetry, including a published collection of poems entitled More Than I Could See. He also blogs for InForefront and writes columns for The StatehouseFile.com... more

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