Commentary

This is all commentaries on WVPE including Friday's Michiana Chronicles Feature and occasional one-time contributors.

Andrew Kreider

It was twenty-five years ago.  Pastor Duane Beck of Belmont Mennonite Church had just done a funeral for a young man in the neighborhood who had died from a gunshot wound.  At the service, Pastor Duane told the young man’s friends: If you would like to do something to bring meaning and change from this death, then I’ll help you organize yourselves.  Out of that offer, a local movement began – it was entirely youth led, and it called itself Drop Your Guns.  Over the next number of months, DYG organized themselves into a hopeful force in Elkhart.  They spoke to local businesses, to churches,

Heather Curlee-Novak

What in the world is going on in the world?

Michiana Chronicles: Listening

Jun 11, 2020
(AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

It’s 2 am and I wake from the depths of my dreams. I am startled awake and I listen. Is there someone else awake? Did I hear something outside? I sit. I listen. The silence slowly fills with subtle anxieties of my day. Did a bill get paid, are my kids doing well, did I remember to turn off the basement lights? After the mundane anxieties are exhausted, I think about my life. Twenty years ago I should have sold my belongings and traveled the country selling scarves. I should have taken the time to read Moby Dick. I should have learned my geography, studied my history.

Michiana Chronicles: My Online Social Hour

Jun 4, 2020
Olivier Douliery / AFP via Getty Images

In this strange new world, it can be challenging to maintain a social life. Some people want to be relieved of social pressures, but many of us feel isolated. Along come the French with a solution: the virtual apéro, the coronavirus-internet version of the traditional late-afternoon social drink at a café. After reading about this trend, I emailed a Parisian friend to ask her about it. "Yes," she said. "My friends and I do this. We have a drink. We talk. Sometimes we have dance parties.

Jeanette Saddler-Taylor

“Once you’ve bought a novel in your pajamas, there’s no turning back.” So says a character in the novel “The Overstory,” as he drives a forklift in a fulfillment center. Well, in this time of social distancing, that ship sailed weeks ago. Sadly, sitting on the couch, in front of the television, sometimes, well often, in my pajamas, things have been ordered that amaze me.

Monday, June 8, 2020 at 9 PM

Popular public radio hosts, past and present, read short eulogies to just some of the tens of thousands lost to the coronavirus pandemic in the United States in the months of March, April and May, 2020.Produced by public radio veteran producer Paul Ingles and featuring the voices of Susan Stamberg, Noah Adams, Liane Hansen, Maria Martin, Al Letson, Neal Conan, Glynn Washington and others.

Michiana Chronicles: COVID-19 Stress Dream

May 21, 2020
Ken Smith

These days, the dogs that pass by out there on the sidewalk look trim and happy. They’re getting a lot of exercise with their work-from-home humans. They sniff out little mysteries and tag bushes and never glance up to ask their masters, “Why are you home so much? Why so many walks?” The dogs are not having bad dreams. Two neighborhood friends who are both biologists walk by wearing sleek, face-fitting masks. I could call from the door to ask how their dreams are going, but I don’t have to. These two know exactly how microorganisms like to boogie.

Ken Smith

Here’s another one from the English Major files: Synecdoche. Think like a Greek so the spelling doesn’t bedevil you. A synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent the whole. “Hands” is the classic example, as in “all hands on deck” (in which the presumption is that bodies are still attached).

Sid Shroyer

I miss my retired teacher friends. We meet once a month for breakfast to tell war stories, solve the problems of the world, and revel in our good fortune at having gotten out alive. We met last on March 6, right before the pandemic began to hit home.

Two months later, someone who looks like my wife, but with longer hair, flips channels between The Price is Right and the governor of New York. Andrew Cuomo seems like maybe he’d be a good teacher. Drew Carey, not so much.

I try to stay calm.

Maybe that’s a mistake.        

Michiana Chronicles: Learning To Livestream

Apr 30, 2020
Andrew Kreider

Downtown is deserted.  You could imagine tumbleweeds blowing down Main Street past the theater’s façade.  I pull into the truck dock, where another vehicle is already parked.   It’s Derek.  We’ve worked together a couple times before, and we exchange a happy long-distance high five through our car windows.   We are about to begin a dance which will continue all night.  Like kids at a middle school social being cautioned to “leave room for Jesus” for the next three hours we will maintain a distance of six feet from each other at all times.  To this end, I enter the building first and turn of

Heather Curlee-Novak

You know how your parents or grandparents are too…old…to understand technology?  How you can explain it slowly, simply but still no comprende?  They cannot learn this crucial technology fast enough, and they need your help all the time.  Technology matters to our daily lives.   (Especially under quarantine lockdown where the only thing between most of us and a complete psychotic break is a little glowing screen.)  I know not all of the boomer-plus set are lost when it comes to tech…many folks are savvy.  My family runs the gamut from “Me Text You Long Time” with texts so long they should b

Michiana Chronicles: Coronavirus Days

Apr 9, 2020
CDC

Like a lot of people, I’ve spent many hours reading and worrying about the coronavirus. It’s hard to know what more to say about it, but it’s difficult to think about anything else. In looking for the good in all of this, I focus on the way our busy world of getting and spending has ground to a halt. This disaster is also a time out—a forced pause in the headlong rush of modern life.

Joyous greetings! Seems like a strange sentiment in these troubled times, but it also seemed odd when expressed by women in France, Germany, England and yes, the United States as they wrote letters to one another in the mid-1800’s. They communicated and offered support as they labored, sometimes from prisons, for human rights for women, enfranchisement among their issues. So again, “joyous greetings,” because thanks to them, we have the vote.

To all of our WVPE audience members, please know our top priority for all of you right now during these unprecedented times is for you to stay safe and be well. 

To that end, WVPE's staff (along with NPR) has been working tirelessly to provide you with the very best information, facts, and analysis on a local, state and national level.

Life has been upended and so too has our annual spring membership campaign. The campaign is moving forward with online fundraising only, modified to provide the utmost in safety and social distancing.

Michiana Chronicles: Protecting The Scene 2020

Mar 19, 2020
Jake Alexander

The clues are coming from all over the world. You see many of them yourself. When I couldn’t sleep one night, images popped onto my computer screen of Italian green-camo army trucks rolling in convoy toward an iron-gated cemetary that needed help because there were now more caskets than the mortuary staff could handle. A friend in upstate New York started a web page updating neighbors on which businesses in nearby Woodstock are still open and where a person can pull up to the curb for groceries, pizza, bread, even books. Woodstock.

If there was ever a time to hug a scientist, now is that time. But please don’t. Instead, try your favorite “Coronavirus Hello,” which I think is no longer supposed to be a elbow-bump (too close to the sneeze-catching crook of the arm).  So, maybe try some jazz hands, instead.  Hellooooo, you might say from a safe social distance, waggling your fingers winningly, to show gratitude for the humans who are working hard to save our lives, right this very moment. 

When I was 16 and people with whom I agreed burned the flag, and people with whom I disagreed used the flag as a weapon, my dad said to me, “It’s our flag, too.”

If I had a tattoo, that’s what it would say, “It’s our flag, too.”

Andrew Kreider

It’s a good day in our house.  I just received a new 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle in the mail.  It’s a Star Wars one, a happy conglomeration of posters from the first three movies – images large and small of Luke, Leia, Han, Obi-Wan, Darth Vader, the Death Star, the droids, aliens, light sabers, X-wings, Tie fighters, all the good stuff with no pod racing – everything jumbled up in a large pile of cardboard and dust, all the characters looking for their missing parts. This mess is going to take days to sort out.  I can’t wait.

Long ago my Grandmother Lutes said I should be a writer.  I’ll bet some of you have a grandma who said you would be a great writer, too. It is a typical beloved family member thing to say.  I wrote letters by hand in those days (Yup, I am that old). After the dinosaurs died out and we enjoyed the industrial age, I wrote a typed missive of a Christmas Letter to send to everyone including Grandma.

Michiana Chronicles: Birthdays, Snow Leopards, And Dog Groomers

Feb 13, 2020
Heather Miller Moriconi

Have you ever had synchronistic experiences that made you pause and examine life a bit more closely? I recently had several that reminded me of life’s interconnectedness.

Terry Chea / AP

In American myth, swamps are threatening places whose stagnant waters conceal alligators and snakes, if not slimy monsters like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. In Hollywood westerns, by contrast, the desert represents a hard, honest purity, a moral ground that tests the souls of individuals. In the desert, you can see for miles, everything is clear, but a swamp closes in around you. In southern chain gang escape movies, the swamp is something you fall into and can’t escape. The swamp is a popular image of the unknowable, the mysterious, and the corrupt.

Generally speaking, I go from the general to the particular in these rants, but this time, I would like to begin with the particular. I think that it will become the general though, because that’s the nature of human experience.

For a long time, and for reasons unknown to myself, I have had pity for Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg. Sure, she’s had a privileged life, and doesn’t seem to need pity, but for many years she has been the sole survivor of her nuclear family. It seems a lonely place. The cheese stands alone.

Michiana Chronicles: Flush The Toilet

Jan 23, 2020
Tony Krabill

Flush the toilet.

A vortex of water sucks away whatever waste you deposited there. Clean water rushes in to replace it.

The flush toilet, in my opinion, is one of the greatest inventions ever.

Ken Smith

In shedding season, the hair of our white cat practically glows on the maroon sofa, and the hair of the two black cats forms creepy shadows on the tan rug. If these critters had their way, the living room would never look presentable. Of course there are products that promise to pick up cat hair. We’ve tried the rollers of sticky tape that lift about 10% of the hair with each stroke of the device. We’ve filled many a vacuum cleaner bag primarily with cat hair. Our slipcovers come out of the washer and dryer clean but still flecked with hair.

April Lidinsky

How do we account for the sudden nostalgia for the "roaring" Nineteen Twenties? Maybe “roaring” seems like a welcome relief after years of “persisting.” It’s telling that we hardly know what to call these past two decades. The term “the aughts” never really caught on.  That word is rooted in a linguistic error, anyway, as writer Rebecca Mead has pointed out: “Aught” is a 19th century corruption of the word “naught,” which really means zero. “Aught” properly means “anything,” so the aughts were both nothing and anything, leading to the Twenty Tens … or were they the Twenty Teens?

When I turn the corner at the top of the stairs, there’s Kim, Kim Macon, the Development Director at WVPE, behind her desk and a computer screen, in her dimly lit office.
    

“Hi Kim.”
    

“Hey Sid.”
    

That begins my day at WVPE.
    

I’m not exactly sure what Kim does at the station. It’s my impression that she carries it around on her shoulders.

“Hi Kim.”

“Hey Sid.”

“Kim, I gotta ask ya, what is it, exactly, that you do here at WVPE?”

“I do a little bit of everything,” says Kim.

As I look back at the past twelve months, I realize that 2019 was the year of the bad joke.  In the middle of work, of play, of family changes, of national politics – the one constant for me was that I was always able to count on a bad joke to get me through the bad days.

And when I say bad jokes, at my age what I mean is not smut or sick political burns – no, for me what this means is just good old-fashioned “dad jokes.”  You know the ones – the kind of one-line groaners that you are embarrassed to hear someone tell.  I resort to these all the time. 

Heather Curlee-Novak

So I took a trip this Fall.  I have ventured all over the United States and also went to Cancun as is required for most young people mid winter.  Once, when I was way up north in Michigan for a work assignment, I ventured over the bridge to a Canadian Tim Horton’s. Then I went back across the bridge because it was late and I was tired.  I never had a passport.  I suck at geography.  Even as lovely church missionaries and Doctors without Borders and Peace Corps people head across the ocean to help other people in other countries, I was content here at home in Indiana.

Years ago, a friend of mine had a favorite menu item at a carry-out Chinese restaurant. The proprietors, who barely spoke English, had put their young daughter in charge of the register. The girl noticed that my friend always chose the same dinner. Once when my friend picked up her order, the girl smiled knowingly and said, “You like it!”

Oh Lord help me! There’s no sugar-coating the situation, I’m a blurter! If I hadn’t been quite sure that this is a bad thing, one look at our Dear Leader plunges me into the depths of despair over my situation. This blurting business is not a good thing: raucous laughter, streams of invective and unkind opinions really are best kept internalized.

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