Commentary

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

Sid Shroyer

Every time you turn around there’s another 50-year anniversary story that you’re gonna hear, the moon landing, Woodstock, and just ahead, the last Beatle recording: Abbey Road.

Abbey Road is one of only three records for which I remember exactly, the time and the place, where I heard it for the first time. 

Michiana Chronicles: Hundred Dollar Pasta

Aug 16, 2019
Andrew Kreider

I just ate the most expensive meal of the year.

It all started back in May.  One Saturday, in a fit of yard care, I decided it was time to dig up our old vegetable patch.  The raised bed had not been tended in several years and it had come to resemble a giant chia pet put on railroad ties.  The last time I tried to address the issue, I was surprised to discover a family of rabbits living under an abandoned squash plant.  Suitably sobered, I left them to do what rabbits do.

Heather Curlee-Novak

Many of us have a bit of vanity and as we age and wrinkles show up we either give up and go with it (which I think is healthiest) or we start buying those $200 neck crèmes and trying botox.  At my solid age of…‘marvelous’ …I am grateful to be a good ugly.  I say good ugly because my face has had a Bell’s Palsy adventure I do not wish upon any of you.  Being uglier has taught me many things I’d like to share.

Fred Kaufman/AP Photo

Friendship is one of life’s great gifts. Last weekend I drove to Cincinnati to see my best friend, Dan, who has had heart trouble for several years. I’ve known him for all of my adult life. We met in college during my first semester. I was seventeen—young enough that he knows me by my childhood name, Joey, as if he’d been a neighborhood kid. Our memories are intertwined. We share a long history of personal references. Although I’d had a few close childhood friends, Dan was the first person who shared perfectly my enthusiasm for literature and art.

Jeanette Saddler-Taylor

Mostly, people hate change. Sure, there is the occasional insurrectionist who wants to overthrow the existing government, but generally, the bulk of people just go along, thinking something along the lines of “Better the Devil that I know.”

Thus, it is with great interest, and maybe a little skepticism, that we on my block are looking at the coming of the “new house.” It’s not enough that our little enclave is currently undergoing the gutting/renovation of one of the existing homes on the block, but now this, on the previously vacant corner lot.

Michiana Chronicles: We Are The Cavalry

Jul 19, 2019

To our west, behind the white spot-lighted spire of the wide brick school building, an even wider sunset had concluded. For the passerby on the sidewalk, most everything about our house must have looked dark. The big maple in the front yard, the flower bed, the pale blue of the house’s front wall had all faded to shades of green-gray and blue-black. To one side of the dark red door, a square of window light, and in a small room bright with yellow walls, three people sat at a table talking. What was the conversation?

April Lidinsky

I’m a sucker for making a glorious mess, so when I had the chance to volunteer at St. Patrick’s Park’s “Good Clean Dirty Fun” event, I jumped right in. This was part of the summertime Family Passports to Play program in our area — and more events are coming up.

Sid Shroyer

“I couldn’t sleep,” Judy told me one morning last week. “I think it’s because I saw a headline that says insomnia can kill you.”

Wow. Pretty good. Put that on the Spirit of the Age brand t-shirts. The joke’s on us. Funny. Really funny.

(Maybe you just gave up trying to go back to sleep)  Again, she said,  “I couldn’t sleep because I saw a headline that says insomnia can kill you.”

Andrew Kreider


Michiana Chronicles: The Porch Swing At The Lake

Jun 14, 2019
Mindaugas Kulbis/AP Photo

It is early morning at the lake. All but the fishermen are still asleep inside the house. I am sitting on the porch swing. It is long and wooden and white, with a red floral cushion. A nudge from my foot prompts the swing to move slowly. There is just the slightest squeak as it goes back and forth: nothing annoying, a gentle sound. I like it.

Jeanette Saddler-Taylor

When you were a child, do you remember any place that you saw in your big ol’ geography book that captured your imagination? Other than those cowboys with the bolas, the section on Brazil held little interest for me, so I surreptitiously paged back to look again at the post and lintel standing stones in England, the pictures of olive trees in Greece and the lone little picture of Lhasa in Tibet. These were the places that I wanted to know more about and maybe even see.

The two of us were at the Multiplex, seated in Theater 11, row G, halfway up the dark bank of padded chairs, swaddled by surround-sound, digging into our snuck-in Toffifay, and preparing to see a comedy about two studious nerds who, having declined on principle the debauchery of the American movie version of high school, finally notice that good behavior has gotten them exactly nothing, eg., Harvard or Yale, that the debauched high school kids around them didn’t also get.

April Lidinsky

If you had to draw a map of your community, what would it look like? Or, a map of your life?  Maps are descriptive, impressionistic, and interpretive.  As cartographers from time immemorial have known: You can’t draw all the things.  So, what would you draw, in an atlas of What Matters to You? Maybe, you’d draw a map of your favorite dog walks, or one of special places to drink coffee or cocktails? Or, maybe an atlas of turning-point moments in your life that shimmer in your heart’s memory.

Sid Shroyer

From the group photo taken at the end of our tour, it’s hard to tell the Americans from the Germans, in the parking lot before we got on the bus and they went back to work.     

Andrew Kreider

It’s a rainy Sunday, and I have dragged my adult daughter to an origami class. It is, after all, her birthday; and in our family, we really know how to celebrate.

We have signed up for the beginner class, titled: Family Fun.  Accordingly, we find ourselves seated at a low table with several mothers and an array of squirming seven-to-ten-year-olds.  I feel vaguely unqualified for what we are about to undergo.  One mother looks at me suspiciously, but I just smile back.

Michiana Chronicles: Cathedrals of Ivy

May 3, 2019
François Guyonnet


Indiana Department of Corrections

I, like many Americans, have a relative serving time in prison. Ten years. People like me don’t usually talk about it. I recently visited him. If you’ve watched prison movies, you have some idea of how it feels to go through the security process and finally hear the big metal door close behind you, leaving you on the inside without a key. That’s a faint taste of what the prisoner feels when being locked up for the long haul.

Let’s talk about talking. From early on in our lives, it’s a topic with which we all are fairly conversant, so there must be a lot to say. And maybe that’s the problem. As my friend, Patsy, once said, “You spend two years trying to teach a kid to talk, and the next 18 years, trying to get him to shut up.” As a society, we are pretty verbose, aren’t we?

Michiana Chronicles: Oxalis

Apr 12, 2019
Ken Smith

Forty years ago, on a spring day much like the ones we’ve longed for since December, my college friends Colleen and Jeff packed up their U-Haul and drove off, leaving me standing in their driveway holding their houseplant, an oxalis. I didn’t know that a person could own one potted plant across an entire lifetime. But now, four decades later, that same oxalis has spent the winter in our south-facing upstairs window, waiting like us, for spring, when it can go back outside.

Forest Wallace

I usually paddle around in the medium of metaphor, but not today. Today I’m making an unvarnished argument: If you have the means, buy a megaphone. Then, hand it to people you know whose voices need amplifying. Maybe it’s the turning of the seasons, or the political reminder that no one’s gonna save us but ourselves, but my sap is running fast (whoops, metaphor!) and I’m laser-focused (sorry!) on amplifaction.

Michiana Women Making History: Dorisanne Nielsen

Apr 4, 2019

For Women’s History Month, 88.1 WVPE and Indiana University South Bend’s Women and Gender Studies program has been recognizing Michiana Women Making History.

Dr. Barbara Williams, a South Bend physician and sociologist, conducted several interviews with notable women in the community.

Sid Shroyer

On a windy, wet Wednesday morning in the middle of March, Sara Stewart, the president and executive director of Unity Gardens, is out in the field, at the Main Garden, seven acres of urban farm land, between Prast Boulevard and Ardmore Trail near Honeywell and Beacon Heights, on the west side of
South Bend.

Michiana Women Making History: Kathy Schneider

Mar 28, 2019

For Women’s History Month, 88.1 WVPE and Indiana University South Bend’s Women and Gender Studies program recognizes Michiana Women Making History.

Dr. Barbara Williams, a South Bend physician and sociologist, conducted several interviews with notable women in the community and we’re bringing you samplings of those conversations on Thursdays throughout March at 8:45 AM and 5:45 PM.

Michiana Women Making History: Debra Stanley

Mar 21, 2019

For Women’s History Month, 88.1 WVPE and Indiana University South Bend’s Women and Gender Studies program recognizes Michiana Women Making History.

Dr. Barbara Williams, a South Bend physician and sociologist, conducted several interviews with notable women in the community and we’re bringing you samplings of those conversations on Thursdays throughout March at 8:45 AM and 5:45 PM.

Heather Curlee-Novak

I have always considered myself a B+ pet owner.  I don’t follow the year round flea and tick treatment and I don’t have my dog’s teeth brushed by the vet under sedation.

Women Making History: Debie Coble

Mar 14, 2019

For Women’s History Month, 88.1 WVPE and Indiana University South Bend’s Women and Gender Studies program recognizes Michiana Women Making History.

Dr. Barbara Williams, a South Bend physician and sociologist, conducted several interviews with notable women in the community and we’re bringing you samplings of those conversations on Thursdays throughout March at 8:45 AM and 5:45 PM.

Tristan Savatier / Getty Images

Recently, work took me to Las Vegas, where I lodged at an off-strip hotel with a casino. I was there for a popular culture conference, and I found myself paying attention to the most popular activity in town. The casino, with its roulette wheels and blackjack tables, its keno screens, and its rows and rows of video slot machines, occupied a sprawling first floor. From the front lobby, you moved down to the Starbucks and then on to the gambling floor.

Women Making History: Charlotte Pfeifer

Mar 7, 2019

For Women’s History Month, 88.1 WVPE and Indiana University South Bend’s Women and Gender Studies program recognizes Michiana Women Making History.

Dr. Barbara Williams, a South Bend physician and sociologist, conducted several interviews with notable women in the community and we’ll bring you samplings of those conversations throughout March on Thursday mornings at 8:45 and Thursday afternoons at 5:45.

Maybe you remember Andy Rooney, an essayist and commentator on CBS’s 60 Minutes? There is no way that I can compete with his voluminous eyebrows, but I often feel akin to his grumpiness. He didn’t have that Eeyore kind of hangdog grumpiness. You know, the “I don’t know, but I don’t think that’s right . . . “ style.  Nooo, Rooney had a fire-in-the-belly, I’m-so-irritated kind of grumpiness that almost made his eyebrows flap in the stout wind generated by his ire. That’s my brand too: a fueled grumpiness. The kind that is fierce, judgmental and self-righteous.

Ken Smith

I came across a small, inspiring story this week, and then another, and another. I did not expect this. In our troubled times, with the climate rattling us up and down like a roller coaster we can’t get off, and politics pelting us like bad weather, I don’t often catch the aroma of fresh-baked inspiration. When I do, I slow down to take a look. First I noticed a page-long chapter in a memoir* by James Rebanks, a quiet episode where at the age of 17 he decided not to buy the car he’d been saving for. Interesting!

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