David James

Michiana Chronicler

David James (1946-2018)

Michiana Chronicles essayist David James died Saturday, January 20, 2018. He was 71. David was a community activist, IU South Bend adjunct faculty, and nationally awarded musician on the hammered dulcimer. 

David James, a 'king' in local Irish music scene, dies at 71

Michiana Chronicles: One Last Time with David James

My Clueless Youth

Dec 1, 2017

We all “played guns” when I was young. Not a thought was given by any adult that any one of us might be wielding a real gun. We popped away at each other—and the more realistic-sounding the better, sometimes two rolls of caps threaded in the trigger together—and bang-you’re-dead, no YOU’RE-dead-I-got-you-first, tearing down the sidewalk on bikes and karts, going in and out of everybody’s back yard, and no one gave even a thought to the notion that a cop might blow our 7, 8, 9, 10-year-old selves away by accident or misprision.

Headed for Evart

Oct 6, 2017

Last July I sloughed off all my obligations for a long weekend and headed for Evart. Evart, you say. Is that a person? A place? A thing? It is, after all, a noun, so it must be one of these. If you guessed from context that this is a place you’re the winner, but it’s much more. It’s the location of a dulcimer festival, and from all the evidence the largest one in the world; but it’s much more than that even. Lemme tell you about it.

 

Matt Farnsworth

It’s late in the night and a train is hammering down the rails only a block from my home in River Park. Some neighbors are bothered by the locomotive horns blowing for the crossings, but I love them, even when they wake me in the night. That lonely sound puts me in mind of songs I sing—Milwaukee Blues, Midnight Special, 500 Miles, almost like a greeting from the pages of history.

Yes, I know they have been employed as a medicine-a tonic-since time immemorial. Yes, I know they are more nutritious than many of the vegetables I grow. Yes, I know people used to clear away the grass to give them more room to thrive. Yes, I know the poets extol their virtue.

David James

Seven objects- found in a corrugated box on my sun porch, there since 2014 when I moved in.

A copy of my 2007 1099, listing my music income for the year as $3725.00. Ten years ago. Never had the knack o' making money-learned that from my ole man, who died intestate, bankrupt, and drunk, bless his heart. That's  why I had to wait on Social Security for any hope of a mortgage. Realizing I had a time capsule here I started paying attention to the contents. Most were innocuous cash register receipts, but buried in the shambles were:

Good Riddance, 2016

Dec 30, 2016

I get the last Chronicle for 2016. [sings] “Fast away the old year passes,” couldn’t end fast enough for me. It was a leap year, if you’ll recall, and altogether too much “leap” for me. That extra day, I think, was the tipping point; that meant .2739726 per cent more fake news, unkeepable promises, odious posing—did you notice the candidates had their own unique arm, hand and finger gestures? When we were kids we called that “fakey.” Now I call it posturing—same thing only a two-dollar word.

David Gans

1981. The last year of the Wrigley ownership of the Chicago Cubs. The Tribune Company took over, the Cubs finished fifth place, six games behind the Expos in the National League East–as usual. Seventy-three years had passed since they had won a World Series and it was another of those "Wait 'til next year" toasts. 1981. I was driving into Chicago for a New Years Eve gig at the Earl of Old Town with my friends Martin, Bogan, and Armstrong, and the warm-up was Steve Goodman–can you believe it–with Jethro Burns of Homer and Jethro fame; Steve, the ultimate Cub fan.

Bumping Into History

Sep 9, 2016

Away in the southwest of Ireland, south of Listowel, home of the Harp and Lion; south of Tralee; south of the Dingle Peninsula from whence St.

    Big Weeds and Small Weeds

Freedom Summer

May 20, 2016

FREEDOM SUMMER

Spring

Mar 25, 2016

I get to be the first to welcome in spring on behalf of the Michiana Chroniclers. The first sign of spring for me was a couple of weeks ago: Michiana Monologues, produced by the IU South Bend Women’s and Gender Studies Department and Chronicler April Lidinsky.

Making a Deal

Jan 22, 2016

World War II

Dec 4, 2015

Splitting Wood

Oct 16, 2015

Michiana Chronicles Essayist David James talks about splitting wood.

You know, sometimes I think my troubles started when I learned how to read. A good book stops me in my tracks—political ones, such as The Way of the Knife—about the CIA’s secret army; histories, like Vietnam and America; novels, mysteries—I just finished a chronicle of the Gastonia, North Carolina, 1929 textile strike—and a novel that surrounded that experience with the beauty and anguish of the mountains: Call Home the Heart, by Olive Tilford Dargon.

Selma—Movie and March

Jan 16, 2015

Twenty-fifteen is the fiftieth anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march. A person can get a good idea of the issues and the drama of the events down there back then by viewing the movie Selma, in local theaters this week. I’ve studied a lot of civil rights history.

Turkey Tales

Nov 28, 2014

 Starting in 1967 and for many years, a bunch of us who were single and courting and subsequently married folk, gathered for Thanksgiving. We divided the food preparation almost by status, with the host gaining the honor of cooking the turkey, and others the subsidiary fare. I started out making a baked onion casserole. Sound strange? It’s delicious. You take Vidalia onions—very sweet—peel and slice them in half, and put them in a glass baking dish with some “cream-a”: cream of mushroom, chicken, onion, celery, or broccoli soup, thickened with flour and some milk.

Wedding Suit and Silver

Oct 10, 2014

This is a story about a suit, some silver, a photographic history book, an anti-war bust, and a lunch on the dining room table. Here goes:

Literary Ancestors

Aug 15, 2014

My mother’s mother was named Ellen Morden Long. She was born in New York City in 1884, but lived her married life in Syracuse, New York. Ellen Long had a grandfather, my three times great grandfather, named Ralph Morden Long. He was born in 1788 in eastern Pennsylvania, but died on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, not too far from Brantford, where he was taken during the Revolutionary War by his grandmother Ann Durham Morden, who must have been a “loyalist”—on the British side, to flee to Canada.

My Yard is Biting Me

Jun 27, 2014

I dug up still another patch of backyard Friday and Saturday, and the same thing happened as last time. My forearms swelled up. For a couple of days I looked like Popeye the Sailor Man. Right now, although the swelling has receded, “I’m itching like a man on a fuzzy tree,” although the other symptoms associated with that song have not displayed. I guess it could be mosquitos, although I didn’t hear them around my ears or see them alight. This pest is maybe chainsaw-us vexans, its cousin hammerdrill-us vexans, or sneakuponus vexans.

From the Ethereal

May 9, 2014

From the ethereal to the earthereal, the fun never stops. I woke up Monday morning with my arm hanging limp from my shoulder. A little body English would have swung it around in circles like a mean boy with his sister’s rag doll. Lit-tel story. Sunday I played bodhrán—the Irish frame drum—as I describe it, north-end-of-a-south-facing goat—to accompany a glorious choir, the St. Joseph Valley Camerata. I bought a new suit for the occasion! Know when the last time THAT happened? When I got married-1970.