Sunday, August 31, 2008

Ladish Works doing new Alvin submersible

Reading NY Science Times this week and there was an interesting article about the replacement submersible for Alvin, the long-chugging oceanaut that discovered among many things Titanic.
It has been 40 years since this counrty forged Alvin. We are only talking $50 M or $150 M here, but undersea diving bells sort of peaked back then. But they are trying again.

Cause Alvin, like the old carnival ride Nautilus Jake and I rode in 1995 at Disneyland is long in the tooth and not futuristic.

Very interesting to see how they are going about replacing Alvin, and hoping to better its maximum depth by about 20% [to about 3 miles] so as to be able to cover about 90% of the Earth’s ocean’s bottoms. To go where tremendous pressures press. And lo and behold but the work of the forging is going on at Ladish Works in Cudahay Wisc. I must say after all the great manufacturers that bit the dust since I left Wisconsin in 1972 I am surprised to see Ladish is still at it. So here is my Ladish story.

When I was a ladish we were middle class on the periphery of rich. My father for a while would get Braves tickets from a business associate. [This stopped at some point, as, my father, a credit manger, later told me, the business associate’s business had some issues and my father deemed it inappropriate to take tickets from a fellow, for some time anyway, who might need more credit than he literally qualified for.]

Anyway, the Braves winning the World Series in 1957 was a massive Inflection Point in Wisconsin history. In summer we played baseball in the morning, afternoon and evening. And we imagined we were Braves. We collected the cards..but to be able to see them play.. wow! And the tickets pop cadged were on the first base line by the dugout.

Yes I remember Eddie Matthews, Johnnie Logan, Red Schoendinst, Del Crandall, Hank Aaron, Joe Adcock, Warren Spahn, Lou Burdette, Billy Bruton, Don McMahon .. and on the other side .. Ernie Banks, Bill White, Stan Muscial, Juan Marichal, Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Vada Pinson, Don Drysdale, Duke Snyder.

But what I recall too is Mr. Ladish. Of the same Ladish works of Alivin submersible forementioned. He was a large character. He had season tickets by the Braves dugout there.
He was a millionaire, I supposed. Head of Ladish Works. We’d go by there on our way to the game. In Cudahay. Big sign said ‘Ladish’ – absolutely giganitic rings of forged iron.

Mr. Ladish was out of an old movie. Hot summer day yet he still came to game in a three –piece suit. French blue but three piece. Also straw hat, and, dig this, spats. I took him for a German-American Industrialist.

He sat there every game. He knew the players by name. And he could coherce Manger Fred Haney to have Johnnie Logan come my way. “Jackie is going to be a ballplayer,” Ladish would say, because, of course, that is what I had told him I wanted to do. "Johnnie say 'hi' to Jack."

From the obit pages.
Killer Kawalski - Globe
Killer Kawalski - NYT

Phil Hill dies - NYT
Phil Hill dies - Road & Track

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Sinclair’s Sunnyland Train


Picked up on John Sinclair and his travels site where he recently posted his version of the Sunnyland Blues. It’s largely based on parts of the one Slim and I did. It appeared first in Fattening Frogs for Snakes, his blues poetry opus published in 2002 by the Surregional Press.

John talked to me before he appropriated vast quantities of my piece. We discussed it, and jointly decided it was in the spirit of the blues to steal and borrow. It’s a premise of the blues to work with things that are out there, and adapt them with a new level of abstraction or different perspective. This is apparent in such scholarships as The Blues Line complied by Eric Sackheim [Schirmer Books, 1975] and in such rock albums as the Bob Dylan Time Out of Mind triptych, duly noted here and elsewhere. Sinclair dedicates his “Sunnyland Train” poem to me and Black Mike Henderson. Henderson played with Slim in the ‘70s as I recall.

Sinclair does put his take on the original Sunnyland Blues. He matches my stuff with stuff derived from Robert Palmer’s Deep Blues [Penguin, 1982]. The perspective portrayed becomes more nuanced: it introduces Slim as a figure of slightly suppressed volatility, and danger.

I really didn’t see this side of Sunnyland, and didn’t try to pursue that other phantom Slim. I knew the late Slim, the one that had returned to regular church going. But conversations with friends who knew Sunnyland long before I did confirmed that he had had a violent streak. He could cutcha! Particularly vivid in the mythical pantheon was the story of the band being pulled over in Northern California. Slim drunk, in the back, awoken, had a pistol and was ready to go at the policeman. He’d drink a fifth of whiskey a day back then.

Funny too. That John Sinclair included the work of Robert Palmer in this. I’d been working on the Sunnyland book for about five years when I read Palmer’s book in 1983. No question that Palmer had come across the original Sunnyland before he reduced his drinking and increased his adherence to the Christian life. When I read Palmer’s book I stopped writing the Slim book I’d been working on [a prose narrative bio] and began anew in verse.

Doubly funny. It was Palmer’s book that brought Sinclair back to poetry writing in the 1980s. He saw that the poetry of the blues men’s music was just as vivid in their conversational speech. And triply funny: John and I were both influenced by Investigative Poetry [City Lights, 1976] by Ed Sanders. Makes us blues poetry brothers, I think. But I’m gonna have to cut him, cause he took my poem. Heh-heh-Heh-heh-heh!

Sinclair is a true artist who is out there and grant seed is useful as he continues his studies in blues. Check out his site and consider clicking on the patron paypal link mechanism. In other words, think about donating money to this great working Merican blues poet. He is about to wend his troubadour’s way through England.

Anyhoo, in sequence on this blog runs here an old poem of mine.
The Doctor is in Time - A MoonTravellerHeraldBlogspot Poetry Moment

Also an interview with John.
John Sinclair interview on this site. MoonTravellerHeraldBlogspot Top Hit

Photo above: John Sinclair at Acme Oyster House, New Orleans, 1999.

The Doctor is in Time

For Edward Albee.

The doctor is the receptacle
of the myth.

The doctor found his week-dead wife
In the jarred coffin
On his lawn after the flood.

The apples are getting heavy
He said.
And they are tearing down
The limb.

The doctor slit his wrist
With an electric knife
Cutting Thanksgiving turkey.

In the old pylon pole South
He’d let Bessie Smith
To bleed on the highway

Back when it rained
Five days.

The doctor is the receptacle
Of the myth,
And he is walking lazily
Toward infinity.

-Jack Vaughan

Featured Post

Oppy at Harvard

“The Great golem we have made against our enemies is our culture, our bomb culture-its logic, its faith, its vision.” -- E.I.  Doctorow  ...