Essays on 9/11
- Close Call -- Ken Smith
- The Way of Fist and Foot, and Heart -- April Lidinsky
- Sacrifice and Solidarity -- Joe Chaney
- The Tube and Terrorism -- Louise Collins
- Questions about Terrorism -- Joe Chaney
- New York, 9/11, and Those Images -- Jonathan Nashel
- Where Are You From? -- Louise Collins
- Watching the Firefighters -- Ken Smith
- The World Trade Center and the Meaning of Patriotism -- Jonathan Nashel
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About the series
Michiana Chronicles is a series of radio essays by Jonathan Nashel, Louise Collins, Joe Chaney, Jeanette Saddler Taylor, Jeff Nixa, April Lidinsky, Ken Smith, Heather Curlee Novak, David James, and Elizabeth Van Jacob.
Michiana is the region of north-central Indiana and southern Michigan roughly centered on South Bend, Indiana.
Michiana Chronicles airs on Fridays at 7:35 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on WVPE (88.1 FM), the home of public radio in Elkhart / South Bend, Indiana.
Our Very Own UFO -- We were fairly good kids, I suppose, more or less, but the country had gone UFO crazy and that brought out the crazy in us too. In government labs out west, there either were or were not alien bodies floating in formaldehyde. Silvery saucers darted across American skies and bony, big-eyed faces in the windows scanned our puny human accomplishments down below, or they didn’t. But one thing was certain: our fellow citizens fretted about it on the news and, even better, screamed and ran arms flailing through the streets fleeing for their lives on Saturdays in the TV movies. We were a nation that could really throw itself into hysteria, and my neighbor Jack and I thought this was great. We wanted a piece of that action. With the help of a dime store helium balloon we planned to be the first ten-year-old boys in America to drive their hometown into UFO terror. By Ken Smith.
A Sucker for Space -- I’m a sucker for . . . space. Not closet space, not personal space, outer space. Pitch-black dome awash with stars. Boiling suns, pock-marked moonscapes, astronauts lightly tethered and floating outside Erector-set homes. Outer space. Every day I check the NASA website and the newest pictures from Mars. I love the idea that Earth’s people are reaching out, exploring the solar system and beyond. By David James.
Memorizing Shakespeare -- The scene was a classroom in an old brick Catholic boys school. At the podium, Father D., dressed in black, his white wavy hair combed straight back, introducing the final section of “Macbeth.” Women scream somewhere in the castle; Lady Macbeth, no longer able to stomach her own corruption, has taken her life. A messenger tells Macbeth the news. Having "supp'd full" of his own horrors, he can hardly attend to his wife's death. His words are heart-rending and hopeless. By Ken Smith.
A Christmas Gift -- It actually was the night before Christmas and the two boys were running out of both time and money. With just a few dollars in their pockets, they walked the length of the shopping center, looking into any number of stores, but they couldn’t find a present for their grandmother. They had never imagined that they might fail. After all, on the morning after Thanksgiving Santa’s helicopter landed in the parking lot of this shopping center to start the holiday season. Elvis Presley’s Rolls Royce had been displayed there, with 16 coats of gold paint flecked with real gold and leather seats in the back and a little bar you could see from the other side of the velvet rope. This shopping center had everything. Surely there was a present for their grandmother. By Ken Smith.
Outsiders, In -- It may not be seasonably appropriate, but I cannot get that Pepper Spray Cop out of my mind. What is it about that stolid guy that stuck so fast in the public imagination? Was it his Kevlar-cool, his flat-line affect, as he methodically shook the mixing marble in his pepper can and strolled down the row of earnestly Occupying college students, training the toxic spray right in their faces at a distance we reserve for loved ones and dental hygienists? That juxtaposition – the intimate proximity and neutral brutality, the arm stretched out not to touch but to maim – will stand for many of us a low mark on the barometer of compassion. I have my book-slam ugly moments, sure, but I’d never unhook from humanity enough to do that. By April Lidinsky.
Useful to Be Useless -- Is it better to be useful or useless? I can’t decide, and that’s a problem. I have the age-old drive to “do something” with my life. I feel compelled to be practical, to pursue realistic goals, and to turn my skills toward earning money or helping people. Those goals allow me to justify my existence. But I also feel the strong tug of uselessness. I enjoy creating for no purpose and thinking for its own sake. I could be a happy lay-about. But always that other drive to please people, to fill my resume, to prove my worth, to show my team spirit – that residual sociability keeps me from wandering away entirely. By Joe Chaney.
Good Eaters -- Reflections on the topic of food, brought about, no doubt, by this time of harvest and Thanksgiving, led to my reading Thomas Keneally’s recent book, “Three Famines.” In it, he gives a general overview of the physical and mental processes of starvation – pretty horrifying and unimaginable from where we sit – then writes specifically about the three hunger-events. Ireland in the 1840’s, Bengal in the 1940’s and Ethiopia in the 1980’s are the “three famines” of the title. Although seemingly unrelated as to world-area and time period, there is a striking commonality and it’s not the traditional “act-of-God” explanation. “Acts of God:” droughts, floods, etc. often begin the privations, but the human hand exacerbates the problems into a cataclysm. By Jeanette Saddler Taylor.
The Excellence of the Long Distance Runner -- Consider cross country, the sport of choice for our family’s young athlete. That’s a 5000 meter feat of speed and endurance. At practice each day the teams run even farther, so on Saturdays they’re ready to race each other hard for 20 or 25 minutes. Near the end of the course they speed up because that’s the kind of people they have become, and they don’t stop until they have travelled the length of 54 football fields. By Ken Smith.
Bacon Before Husband -- Do you have a daily list? I don’t mean tasks for work or chores for home, I mean a Happy List. I have a Happy List running through my head most of the time. This list tends to be fickle and definitely changes with my mood. It is rare that something gets crossed off of it but I get immense satisfaction from my list just the same. My list makes friends laugh and strangers think I am...stranger. By Heather Curlee Novak.
“A feminist walks into a fraternal lodge …” -- Today’s story begins like a joke: What happens when a feminist walks into a fraternal lodge? The answer isn’t very funny, and it isn’t really about me -- it’s about who runs for office, and who doesn’t. But, yes, in this scenario I am the feminist cheerfully walking into the fraternal lodge, of the kind gently lampooned in The Flintstones as the Royal Order of the Water Buffaloes. By April Lidinsky.
South Bend Spring -- Would I ever think I’d find myself parting from one group of young adults yesterday, and then actually tearing downtown to join another? My knee-jerk reaction would normally be to slip into my hidey-hole on the third floor of Wiekamp Hall on the IU campus, or to run home—only three blocks—to read in solitude and eat Raman noodles. The first group—my first-ever class of college freshman English students—seem bemused at my political positions and ready to describe me as “professor,” but as a hopeless product of another day and time. By David James.
Call Me Bartman -- It’s that time of year when we wait in expectation of another World Series victory by the New York Yankees or the Philadelphia Phillies, while recalling (or trying to forget) another lost season in the sad history of the Chicago Cubs. Anyway, that’s the way Cubs fans talk about it. I don’t see it that way. In my view, the Cubs are the greatest team in the history of sports, and I wouldn’t change a thing about them. By Joe Chaney.
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