Suitcase Junket delivers bone-rattling sounds at Grounds for Thought

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The suitcases for musical act The Suitcase Junket are mostly empty. Matt Lorenz, the sole human member of the ensemble, doesn’t need that much luggage to haul his personal belongings. He does share the stage with two old suitcases. A large one that he beats with a pedal operated by his right heel serves as his bass. Another smaller valise props up an old gas can which he strikes with another pedal with a baby shoe attached. Lorenz told the audience at Grounds for Thought Friday night that he’d worn that baby shoe, and his sister had as well. Sharing this familial detail is intended to make the device less creepy. Doesn’t really though. The creepy and the wistful, the otherworldly and mundane, meet in the music of The Suitcase Junket. Among the other members of the band (as Lorenz thinks of them) are a circular saw blade, a bones and bottle caps shaker, a hi-hat cymbal. He plays a guitar that he found on the river bank. It was moldy, he said. No good reason to throw out a guitar. He’s fitted out his musical set up with rescues from the junk shop and dump. And they repay his devotion though during one number Lorenz said his guitar acts up sometimes just to remind him it was “garbage.” Still that acting up, the odd, incidental vibrations and buzzes, all contribute to the “Swamp Yankee” textures of The Suitcase Junket. Lorenz is just as resourceful with his voice, he growls, even croons, on occasion. He does a version of Tibetan throat singing, where he manipulates his voice so tones split to create an eerie, whistling sound. Lorenz also plays a mean mouth trumpet. All this goes into the performance of songs that often have longing at their heart. Old blues about modern relationships. He can rock out like a blues rock band, or be tender. “Wherever I wake up I’ll call my home,” he sings with gentle ambiguity. Will that strange place be his home, or will he call home from that place? The uncertainty adds to the sadness. Then there’s his “Frankenstein lullaby” to a bone which he wants to give wings. Snatching a title from a Buddy Bolden setlist, he makes the existential blues question his own: “If You Don’t Like My Potatoes Why Do You Dig So Deep?” Lorenz fills in the spaces of his songs with anecdotes and observations as amusing as the songs. He talked about how he imagined as a toddler that he…

Drivers needed for wheels on the bus to go round

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Wanted: Adults with good driving records willing to work odd hours and cart around 60 kids at a time. Applicants with nerves of steel and eyes in the back of their heads would be preferred. Like other school districts around the region, Bowling Green is looking for bus drivers, specifically substitute bus drivers. Carlton Schooley, director of the district’s transportation department, made a pitch for more drivers during Tuesday’s board of education meeting. He eased into his presentation with the sing-song version of “The Wheels on the Bus.” But Schooley pointed out that unlike the bus in the children’s song, his buses go beyond just the town. “They also go around the district,” which stretches miles out on rural roads. The bus drivers are more than just chauffeurs for students, Schooley explained. “School bus drivers are the first people in the morning that students see” and the last school officials to return them home at the end of the day. His presentation, called “So you want to be a bus driver,” explained the process to become a driver. The district currently has 20 regular drivers, and eight substitutes. But that is just not enough. “We’re always looking for drivers,” BG Superintendent Francis Scruci said. But the job does have some downsides. Drivers work split shifts, transporting students a couple hours in the morning and a couple hours in the afternoon. And the passengers aren’t always the best behaved. “It really is a trying job,” Schooley said, explaining the drivers must keep their attention on the road, while maintaining order on the bus. “You have 60 kids behind you and no eyes in the back of your head.” Anyone interested in the job may submit an electronic application. Driving histories and background checks will be investigated. Then prospective drivers take a 15-hour class which covers topics from driving safety, to handling blood-borne pathogens, to rending First Aid. Applicants learn how to best handle behavioral issues. “You need to know what you’re going to do before it occurs,” Schooley said. Prospective drivers learn to inspect parts of the bus, like tires, lights and electrical circuits. They learn maneuvers for pulling onto highways, crossing railroad tracks, unloading students, and pulling over for emergencies. Applicants then take four written tests, including questions on mountain driving, “though that’s not critical here,” Schooley said. The final training includes riding with a seasoned driver, then taking over the wheel themselves. Also at Tuesday’s meeting, board member Ed Whipple praised Scruci for his “judicious” decisions on…

Gas line work shifts over to BG east side

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News As the west side of Bowling Green heals from the gas line replacement project that ripped up streets and sidewalks, Columbia Gas is preparing the east side for its turn. “We break some eggs to make this cake,” Columbia Gas representative Chris Kozak told Bowling Green City Council on Tuesday evening. “It’s a mess.” It’s not pretty, it’s not simple, but it necessary, Kozak said. He showed council the type of gas pipes currently snaking through the city’s east side. The cast iron pipes, many which predate World War II, have outlived their usefulness. He then showed council the plastic pipes buried in the west side of the city – and soon to be on the east side. The plastic pipes are expected to have a lifespan of 70 to 100 years, and be flexible when the ground freezes around them. “The plastic will move with the ground,” he said. The plastic piping also allows for increases in pressure if needed in the future. Kozak explained that the gas line replacements in Bowling Green are part of a broader 25-year program started by Columbia Gas in 2008 to replace the most troublesome cast iron lines. The total investment is pegged at $2 billion. The west side project in Bowling Green affected 930 customers, replacing 37,000 feet of lines, and costing $4.1 million. The east side project will affect 365 customers, replacing 10,000 feet at a cost of $1.8 million. Columbia Gas officials hope to have the east side project completed by the end of 2016. Kozak conceded that the west side project was the focus of several complaints by residents. He added that his company learned from that project, and intends to do better on the east side. “We need to work better with the city,” he said. This time around, the gas company will have a full-time person available for city residents to contact with concerns. Though some areas of grass and concrete have not been restored on the west side, Kozak said Columbia Gas is committed to fixing those areas. “We want to leave the area we touched as good or better than we found it,” he said. A public meeting was held with east side residents last week to explain the project. Kozak said citizens will be notified with door tags as the work nears their neighborhoods.

BGSU student composers offer opera in a nutshell

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent Media If you want to know how daunting writing an opera is, just ask Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Jennifer Higdon. Speaking last October as the guest composer at the New Music and Art Festival at Bowling Green State University, she said writing her first opera “Cold Mountain” was an all-consuming project that occupied her full time 28 months. With casting and orchestra and staging, an opera is a massive undertaking beyond what a young composer can wrangle. BGSU has an answer though. For several years it has invited student composers to submit proposals to write micro-operas, 20 minutes or less. They use small casts and just a few instrumentalists, and can be staged in a recital hall. Four micro-operas will make their debuts Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall in Moore Musical Arts Center. Admission is free. On the program will be: * Respectable Woman by Kristi Fullerton with libretto by Jennifer Creswell who directs and Evan Mecarello, conductor. * Sensations by Robert Hosier, Ellen Scholl, director and Maria Mercedes Diaz-Garcia, conductor. * Black Earth by Jacob Sandridge, Jeanne Bruggeman-Kurp, director and Robert Ragoonanan, conductor. * The Lighthouse by Dalen Wuest, Hillary LaBonte, director, and Santiago Serrano, conductor. Writing an opera, said Hosier, “is the kind of thing I’d considered before. I actually started writing one but the forces required for a full opera, for one thing … I couldn’t get ahold of them. And it’s a lot to write for.” So he set aside the project aside. Then late last spring semester the call went out from the College of Music to composers to submit proposals for micro-operas. “This seemed more feasible,” Hosier said. So after his proposal was accepted in June he spent the summer composing Sensations based on his own short story. Fullerton drew on the talents of a fellow singer for her libretto. Jennifer Cresswell, who directed the Toledo Opera’s Opera on Wheels program, had experience writing librettos for children’s opera. Together they settled on a story “Respectable Woman” by 19th century southern writer Kate Chopin. Cresswell said the story proved more an inspiration than a strict blueprint. They gave the tale of a woman tempted to stray from her marriage a contemporary twist, reflecting modern attitudes. Fullerton said she became aware of the BGSU micro-opera project when she auditioned for the graduate program. As a vocalist as well as composer she was interested in writing for voice and this gave her a prime opportunity. The micro-operas also provide experience…

University police chief unconcerned about concealed carry

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News University Police Chief Monica Moll is unconcerned about the prospect of allowing concealed carry of weapons on campus. Speaking to the faculty Senate at Bowling Green State University, she said the scenarios posited by both sides of the debate are unlikely to occur. A disgruntled student intent of wreaking havoc will get a weapon and won’t bother with getting a concealed carry permit. Given a resident must be 21 to get one, most students are ineligible anyway. So she doubts there would be a dramatic increase in weapons on campus. On the other side, having an armed citizen with a weapon stop an active shooter is unlikely. While civilians with weapons have intervened in some situations, that’s not likely to happen in an active shooter situation where even a highly trained police officer can find it difficult to deliver the kill shot to a moving target among innocent bystanders. “For me it’s not going to be the end of the world either way,” the police chief said. House Bill 48, which is now awaiting consideration in the State Senate loosens concealed carry regulations on campuses and other settings. If it were passed, any change would have to be approved by the university trustees, and Moll expressed doubt that the trustees would take such an action. Moll addressed the senate about the evolving strategies for handling active shooter situations. She prefaced her remarks by saying though such incidents have dominated the news of late, they are still highly unlikely. Tornadoes are more of a threat to BGSU. Still she spoke about how police now handle such a crisis. Gone are the days when the job of local police was to secure the perimeter of the crime scene and call in a SWAT team which could take an hour to arrive. Meanwhile the killing would continue. Most such incidents are over within minutes. Now police go in singly or in pairs to locate and take out the perpetrator. The advice to those caught up in such a situation has changed. No longer are people advised to lock the doors and hide. Now they are urged to escape if possible, and if be prepared to fight back necessary. All this is spelled out in ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) Training. Unfortunately all these insights come from experience. Still an active shooter is not at the top of the list of what Moll worries about. Alcohol use, sexual violence and mental health issues top her list. The first two concerns are closely related,…

BG bleacher costs come in high

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News The estimated cost for new bleachers at the Bowling Green High School football stadium was nothing to cheer about Tuesday evening. Replacement of the aging, rusting bleachers could cost as much as $610,845, according to Kent Buehrer, of Buehrer Group, which is in charge of the project. The estimate came in higher than projections made in the fall, which topped out at $500,000. Buehrer told the BG board of education that he would try to reduce the final price tag. But if it can’t be trimmed, the project will eat up the district’s entire 1.2-mill permanent improvement levy revenue for the year, according to district treasurer Rhonda Melchi. A section of the 50-year-old bleachers had to be closed off last fall after it was noticed that the steel scaffolding beneath the seats was rusting. To get through the remainder of the football season, the district put temporary bleachers up on the north end of the field. “We don’t want anyone to get injured,” school board president Paul Walker said. The new bleachers will cover the same approximate footprint of the existing seating, Buehrer said. However, building codes for restrooms at the facility are much more extensive than when it was first built. He described the current restrooms as “fairly minimal.” Buehrer said he is working with the county building inspection department to see if the new restrooms, planned next to the wrestling building, can avoid some of the stringent requirements. According to Buehrer, the visitor bleachers on the east will have seating for 750. The home seating on the west will have seating for 2,000, with the length stretching from the current 210 feet to 235 feet. “That adds some expenses,” he said. The press box will remain the same. Initially, the district planned to spend about $165 per bleacher seat. That amount has grown a bit, with the estimates at: $357,495 for the home side, $129,750 for the visitors side, and close to $100,000 for the restrooms. Buehrer told the board he hopes to have plans for the project done next week. He will report back to the board in February. Some of the old bleachers will remain in place for the track season this spring, while some of the bleachers will be demolished in April. The plan is to have the new bleachers completed by Aug. 12, a couple weeks prior to the school’s first football game.

BG may use modular classrooms at Conneaut

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Bowling Green Board of Education heard Tuesday evening about three places students sit – in school buses, on stadium bleachers, and maybe in modular classrooms. The board learned from Superintendent Francis Scruci that classroom space will most likely be in short supply next school year at Conneaut Elementary. For that reason, the district may have to consider putting a modular unit on site, possibly for the entire fifth grade. “It’s certainly not something anyone wants to hear,” Scruci said. “We do have some shortages in terms of square footage.” However, he added that modular units have improved over the years since schools first started using them to make up for inadequate classroom space. The modular unit is just one building issue facing the school district. Scruci told the school board that the buildings report from the Ohio School Facilities Commission is expected later this month. To explain the report, and the possible solutions for the district, Scruci plans to hold a workshop for the public in Febrary. The district will need to decide whether to renovate or replace facilities, he said. “The most important thing is, what does our community want to support?” One of the report’s recommendations is that the district replace Conneaut Elementary School which was built in the early 1950s, Scruci said. But citizen input must be gathered, so any solution is specifically tailored to Bowling Green, he added. “So the community feels like it has a say.” According to Scruci, the cost to renovate Conneaut has been estimated by the state at about $9.6 million. The cost to replace it was estimated at about $12 million. He explained that when the renovation costs are more than 66 percent of the replacement costs, the state considers replacement to be more fiscally sensible. Another option the district may discuss is consolidating all the elementary schools on the campus already used for the middle and high schools. “What does this community want,” he said, after the meeting. In the meantime, Scruci said the district will likely lease a modular for Conneaut, which has an approximate enrollment of 500 students. (Stories on the school buses and stadium bleachers will appear later this week.)

BG to study if city office, green space would fit on downtown parcel

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Before any trees are planted, sidewalks poured or gazebo erected, Bowling Green officials want one question put to rest. Is there enough room for a new city building and an outdoor community gathering space to coexist on the same grassy square?Council President Michael Aspacher asked that the city consult with a design professional to determine if the site is large enough for both a building and town square large enough to satisfy the community’s needs. Aspacher said at Tuesday’s council meeting that now is the time to “pause briefly” to make the determination before moving ahead. He referenced a community meeting last week on the green space which previously was home to the city’s junior high school, at the corner of West Wooster and South Church streets. While the meeting was productive, there are questions remaining, Aspacher said. Council member Bruce Jeffers agreed. “It seems like a reasonable approach,” he said, suggesting that some building schematics could help clarify questions. However, city resident Margaret Montague reminded council about a comment made at last week’s public meeting about trying to squeeze both the building and town square into one corner. The result could be “a big building with a big front yard,” she said, quoting from council member Robert McOmber. McOmber repeated those sentiments Tuesday evening. “I would be quite surprised,” if the space was big enough for both. “I think most people in town want it to be green space, no matter what,” McOmber said. Council member Sandy Rowland agreed that she would prefer to see the space remain green. She reminded of other options available for a city building such as the site formerly used for the school central administration building. “Personally, I would like to see an existing building used to save our taxpayers millions of dollars.” Rowland said several community members have made it “crystal clear” that they would like the West Wooster space to remain green. Another resident voiced her opinion that the city should move its offices into the existing Huntington Bank Building. “It would be a whole lot cheaper than building from the ground up,” she said. Resident Bill Herald suggested that council consider reconvening the committee making recommendations on the site. Aspacher said the purpose for the design work is to answer remaining questions about the best use of the site. “I just think that’s going to provide to us some clarity,” he said. “It’s important for us to be deliberate and consider all the possibilities.”

Warm up your ear drums this weekend

  If you love music then you’ll have your love to keep you warm this coming weekend. Several performances are scheduled that will beat the ear drums to a variety of beats. On Thursday and Friday the Bowling Green State University Jazz Program will host bassist Robert Hurst. A master of all media, he has Emmy, Grammys and even an Oscar nod on his resume. He first emerged on the scene as he helped set the pace for early Wynton Marsalis groups. Since then he’s played with Barbra Streisand, Yo Y o Ma and Sir Paul McCartney as well a host of jazz luminaries. He joinied Brandford Marsalis as a member of band for Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He now teaches at the University of Michigan. He’ll share the lessons of his career with students in master classes rehearsals and a concert with the university’s Lab Band I directed by Jeff Halsey Thursday at 8 Kobacker Hall. Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 on the day of the concert. On Friday Grounds for Thought, 174 S. Main St. Bowling Green, will host The Suitcase Junket, the one-man band of Matt Lorenz, musician, sculptor and writer. That Lorenz hails from Amherst in Massachusetts’ Pioneer Valley is telling. His music is full of ghosts revived in Lorenz’ dark, rough voice, that nonetheless is very much of our time. His work is a kind of spectral scholarship. At, he explains what he means by “Giving Life to Dead Things for 25 Years.” “I see it as an overriding theme in most of the work that I do. When writing songs it is the words that are dead before they are sung into life. The strings of an instrument without a pulse await the fingers to give them voice. A tune tells you how it’s going to be played or written. And when making music in a room the air and walls themselves absorb the sound and change it; responding and reflecting.” While Lorenz touches on ancient sounds, music of the moment will get its chance to shine this weekend as well. Friday doctoral students in contemporary music will travel north to the Toledo Museum of Art for the third Ear | Eye: Listening and Looking: Contemporary Music and Art. Musicians will perform works in the museum’s Wolfe Gallery for contemporary art at 7 p.m. The idea is to find connections between the art work and the compositions, and even when they are not precise, they can be illuminating. Also student composers will premiere a…

Trombone takes center stage at BGSU

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Trombone takes the spotlight in two upcoming Bowling Green State University recitals. Sunday at 3 p.m. Brass from Bowling Green State University will be presented in the Great Gallery of the Toledo Museum of Arts as part of the museum’s Sundayconcert series. The concert features trombonists William Mathis, chair of BGSU’s Department of Music Performance, and Garth Simmons, principal trombone with the Toledo Symphony and adjunct professor at BGSU. The trombonists will open the program going slide to slide on Cindy McTee’s Fanfare for Trombone in two parts. Mathis with pianist Cole Burger will perform Sonata for Trombone and Piano by James M. Stephenson. Simmons will close the program with “Arrows of Time” by Richard Peaslee  with pianist Robert Satterlee. Also on the museum program will be the Graduate Brass Quintet performing the classic brass Quintet No. 3 by Victor Ewald. Members of the quintet are: Jonathan Britt and Christina Komosinski, trumpets, Lucas Dickow, horn, Drew Wolgemuth, trombone, and Diego Flores, tuba. On Wednesday as part of the Faculty Artists Series Mathis and Simmons will reprise their duo and solo pieces in a recital with Burger and Satterlee at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall in the Moore Musical rts Center. Mathis will also perform electro-acoustic piece “Can You Crack It?” by Benjamin Taylor, who did his graduate study at Bowling Green State University. Simmons will also perform Fantasy for Trombone and Piano in E Major by Sigismond Stojowski. The concert is free as are all Faculty Artist Series events.

More than just black and white

Diana Patton was keenly aware as a child that she did not fit neatly into the race boxes for being white or black. She was reminded of this daily as she was followed home from school by girls taunting that she state her race. “Are you white or are you black,” the girls would demand. Patton, whose mother was black and father was white, would later realize that her racial identity couldn’t be defined by some Census Bureau box. Patton was the keynote speaker at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. program on Friday hosted by the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission at the Wood County District Public Library. The speaker, who was vice president and general counsel for the Toledo Fair Housing Center, is working to finish her book called, “Inspiration in My Shoes.” She earned her law degree at the University of Toledo, where she also ran track. Patton’s mother, the grandchild of a sharecropper, married a white man in 1958. Her father was disowned by his family for his decision, she said. Her “momma” was pregnant with her sixth child, Patton, in 1968 when King was assassinated. “It was as if a bomb went off,” Patton said her mother must have been thinking as she brought another biracial child into the violent “haze over America.” Patton spent part of her younger years hiding her blended identity. In college, she “decided to be black” and denied her father’s heritage. But it was in college that she followed the path of her “momma,” falling in love and later marrying a white man. “Marinate on that for a moment,” she said. Patton urged her audience to hold onto their history but “get to working” on creating their own legacy. She shares the same lesson with her children that her momma taught her. “I’m telling them, we gonna work to transcend race.” The lessons of King are important to cling to in the wake of so many black men being gunned down in America, she said. His words encourage us to do better, be better. “We like to preach the words of Martin Luther King,” she said. “But we don’t want to live them.” Patton told her audience that no matter what career paths they choose, they can be dedicated fighters for the noble cause of civil rights. “It will enrich your spirit as nothing else can,” she said. “Make a career of humanity.” “Get busy serving others,” Patton said. And about that color box. Don’t let it define your life. “Do you like the skin…

School’s Gay Straight Alliance honored for silence that speaks volumes

There was no Woolworth lunch counter serving whites only. No threats by white cloaked figures. No snarling police dogs or spraying fire hoses. These were high school kids right here in Bowling Green, standing up to protest what they recognized as an injustice that had gone unnoticed by many adults. Nearly 250 of them joined the National Day of Silence last year to raise awareness for people who cannot speak for themselves. The silent civil disobedience was organized by the Bowling Green High School Gay Straight Alliance. For that and many other efforts, the alliance was recognized Friday with the Drum Major of Peace Award presented at the annual tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “It feels amazing. I’m so proud of us and the community,” student Lily Krueger said after the program. Krueger recalled the first time she joined in the Day of Silence, when controversial topics were discussed in a class and she had to keep her mouth shut. “It really teaches you what the day is about.” The purpose of the group, advised by teacher Jennifer Dever, is to promote equality and understanding. “We want to make people feel safe,” said Claire Wells-Jensen, a member of the organization. The BGHS Gay Straight Alliance works to fight bullying, create “safe zones” for students needing support, and spur conversations that may lead to more understanding. In presenting the group with the award, Rev. Mary Jane Saunders, who chairs the Bowling Green Human Relations Commission, said it often takes young people to be the moral compasses for the rest of society. Like the four young people breaking the racist rules in 1960 at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina, this student group is standing up for what is right and good and just. “They are committed to making a difference in the world,” Saunders said. It is only through these small groups of committed citizens, do the big changes in the world begin, she said. While King dreamed of the day when people will be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, these students are working toward the day when no one will be judged by their sexual orientation or identities. “With creativity and courage, patience and persistence, this student-led group has changed the culture at their school,” Saunders said. “The school has become a place where all students can safely be their authentic selves.”

PBS puts accent on American story

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News PBS drama fans will hear new accents Sunday night. After “Downton Abbey” with its familiar British turns of phrase, PBS will premier “Mercy Street” with decidedly American tone. Not only is the setting and accent American, but the production is as well. That’s a major move for public broadcasting which has relied on BBC to provide its drama. In May, 2014 when WGTE hosted Rebecca Eaton, executive producer of the “Masterpiece” franchise, she spoke with regret that there would not be an American equivalent of “Masterpiece.” Now a little more than a year and a half later, thanks to corporate support, we have just that. It also addresses another issue Eaton confronted during her visit, a lack of ethnic diversity in BBC’s offerings. I would hope this is not a one-off. The presence of Ridley Scott at the helm as executive producer, is certainly a good sign. Can PBS recruit top American directors for future series? Set in a hospital during the Civil War, “Mercy Street” explores distinctly American themes. The choice of the Civil War is fitting for this effort. If class distinctions are a British obsession, the Civil War and America’s tortured history of racial oppression, is our country’s own obsession. We alternately ignore it and shout at each other about it. People are still dying. At a recent preview screening at the WGTE studio in Toledo, the station screened a special collection of scenes from the first three episodes. Not the best way to assess a show, but enough to give a sense of what lies in store. “Mercy Street” centers on a Union Army hospital in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1862, a propitious time. The hospital, already jammed with the wounded, disfigured, mauled and festering, is about to get much busier as Union commander George McClellan launches his Peninsula Campaign. Just a few miles away in Washington President Lincoln is preparing the Emancipation Proclamation. But those large events seem secondary to the personal affairs of the characters. The hospital is located in a luxury hotel owned by the wealthy Green family. Cathy Kamenca, WGTE’s TV program coordinator, likened them to the Crawleys of “Downton Abbey.” They are privileged and reluctant to give up their status and honor even under the noses of their Yankee occupiers. Their daughters Emma (Hannah James) and Alice (Anna Sophia Robb) question why they haven’t fled into Confederate-controlled territory as most other rebel sympathizers have. Both have beaus fighting for the Confederacy. Papa James (Gary Cole), however, is intent on holding his ground…

Gun lobby goes after university faculty for exercising right to petition government

Rabid supporters of the Second Amendment hate nothing so much as people exercising their First Amendment rights to disagree with them. Gun rights is a settled case in their eyes. Never mind that some people would question what allowing Robert Lewis Dear walk around in Colorado Springs with loaded long gun before he attacked a clinic has to do with maintaining a “well regulated militia.” That hair-trigger reaction was evident when faculty members at Bowling Green State University deigned to express their views on pending legislation that directly affects their workplaces and their personal safety. Many of them used their university email accounts to oppose legislation that loosens controls of guns on campus. This is a violation of university policy, writes Chad D. Baus of the Buckeye Firearms Association. * Technically correct, maybe. As a taxpayer I’m not at all concerned that they are using their work emails, after all those are subject to open records laws, so it benefits transparency. In this case it’s a quibble to think a policy overrides citizens’ right to petition their government. Baus is also technically correct that the National Rifle Association is not per se itself “a murderous terrorist organization that is a threat to national security” as Baus reports the rabble-rousing geology professor Jim Evans wrote to State Rep. Tim Brown, of Bowling Green. No the NRA simply throws its big bucks and political muscle against any rational effort to control guns, and in favor of legislation that makes it easier for terrorists, not to mention drug lords, gang bangers, criminals of various stripes, anti-government unregulated militias and, yes, Robert Lewis Dear, to get their hands on firearms. The issue at the center of this is House Bill 48, which passed the House with Brown’s support earlier this fall. The legislation says a university or college can allow those with concealed carry permits to pack weapons while on campus. This may seem a minor change, but gun advocates earlier this year forced Bowling Green City Council to pass legislation to allow guns in parks. I suspect legal action is now in the works to force colleges and universities to take similar action. Firearms everywhere, that’s the call. Baus said after the mass murder in a Charleston church that guns in church were the answer. This is not about the niceties of the regulation, or overheated rhetoric. This is about the gun lobby, which sees its demands as overriding all others including legitimate concerns about public safety, intimidating the opposition. That’s why Jim Evans’ photo is published. That’s…

“American Comandante” is adventure story that still resonates with world events

William Morgan came home to Toledo Sunday afternoon. The American adventurer had run away to join the circus as a child, and ended up dying in front of a firing squad in Cuba. Morgan could have been a character from the imagination of E.L. Doctorow. But as the new American Experience documentary “American Comandante” makes clear he was a real person who played a role in events that shaped our world. His story as a warrior in a revolution turned bad resonates with events we face now. “American Comandante” airs on PBS this week (9 p.m. Tuesday ). WGTE hosted a preview screening Sunday with writer, producer and director Adriana Bosch discussing the program, and among the dignitaries in attendance was Morgan’s widow, Olga Rodriguez Goodwin. The documentary is really a story of war and love. To the extent Morgan could be grounded it was by Olga’s love and the love of his mother back in Toledo.  His body is still buried in Cuba. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur said in her talks with Fidel Castro about repatriating the remains, it was clear the Cuban dictator knows exactly where they are. In giving her blessing to the film — Goodwin saw it for the first time Sunday — she said: “Thank you for bringing William home.” Morgan carried what he learned in Toledo with him. “He grew up in a place where the American Dream was a palpable reality,” Bosch said. That’s where the story starts. The opening scenes are home movie footage of the Ringling Brothers circus visiting Toledo. Shot by Morgan’s father, they feature a young William. (The film is apparently from a trove of film shot by the elder Morgan and in the possession of a family member.) Innocent enough. What boy doesn’t love the circus? But few would run off the next year to join up. He was returned to Toledo where he chaffed at any restrictions. He was expelled from two schools by 14 and then dropped out. He was in the Merchant Marine, and had connections to the Toledo mob. He enlisted in the Army, but that ended badly with him serving time in federal prison. He joined the circus as a fire-eater and married a snake charmer. Morgan was constantly reinventing himself, though he remained a ne’er-do-well. Then he spun a tale to make a connection so he could become a soldier in the revolution to overthrow the regime of Fulgencio Batista. It was in the Escambray Mountains as a member of the Second Front that Morgan found redemption, love and the cause…