The University of Chicago Magazine
Vintage name games
Do you mean to sit there and tell me that you actually had a photographer named Dry collaborate with (Associate Editor Kimberly) Sweet on the wine article ("The Fruit of His Labor," October/97)? Couldn't you just as well have had "Chicagophile" cartoonist Jessica Abel illustrate that story on Cain Vineyard?
Paul E. Grayson, SB'38 - Silver Spring, Maryland
Wine of astonishment
I couldn't believe my eyes! A lengthy cover story devoted to a relative unknown in the wine industry, sought out because he has an A.B. from Chicago? What about Warren Winiarski, AM'64? He is world famous for his Stag's Leap Wine Cellars and was the first American wine maker to win the gold medal in Paris (1982) and in subsequent years at the International Wine & Spirit Competition. His wines have been served at the White House and on the royal yacht Britannia.
In a new book The Great Wines & Vintages, David Cobbold critiques the whole world of wine but names only three outstanding American wineries, with Stag's Leap included. Not only is Warren Winiarski one of the three leading winemakers in our nation, he even taught at the University of Chicago for ten years (195464) before heading west to become a vintner. Have you ever interviewed him?
Barbara Switalski Lesko, AB'62, AM'65 - Barrington, Rhode Island
In the October/97 Magazine interview with Henry Webber ("Like a Good Neighbor, the U of C is There"), he described the Hyde ParkKenwood community as sharing values of participation, activism, and civic involvement-with the University. Unfortunately, combined cooperation on issues of local interest has often been missing in the past decade, as the University has reverted to a patronizing "them and us" attitude, subtly destroying the neighborhood as an "integrated community of high standards."
For instance, the University has gone back to saying that the special programs it donates will improve the local public schools. The truth is the programs don't do that. In fact, they work against their stated purpose by increasing the perception that the schools don't work. The heyday of community involvement in the local schools was the 1960s and '70s, when many of the faculty and staff sent their own children there, providing the schools with a solid core of middle-class students whose parents knew and cared a lot about education. Today, on my block alone, out of eight families with school-aged children, only one uses the Ray School. The return to using the Lab Schools to recruit faculty and well-to-do two-career families is slowly destroying-while gentrifying-the neighborhood.
A second area of community concern is safety on the streets. Compared to the 1940s and '50s, conditions are golden, but the increased use of U of C buses instead of letting U of C students walk to class means that we lack Jane Jacobs' "presence on the street." It also fails to teach the students how to deal with urban life.
In addition, problems with the local movie theaters would have been greatly helped by a simple measure: not destroying the Ida Noyes gymnasium to build a separate theater on campus.
Separate but equal does not work over time. I hope Mr. Webber can learn to see Hyde ParkKenwood as one community, not a University fiefdom.
Mary Alzina Stone Dale, AM'57 - Chicago
The bloom is off Bloom
Having read John Easton's article "Bloom in Review" (August/97), I felt the urge to express an observation that has probably been made before, but possibly never put in writing.
The Closing of the American Mind, after ten years, has proven itself to be an ephemeral and impotent book. Not only has it not had any lasting impact on the practice or theory of higher education in the United States (or any nation), it is virtually forgotten by the public at large.
Ten years is a sufficient length of time to ask whether any college or university anywhere has made any substantive change directly as a result of Bloom's bestseller. It may not be premature to say that Closing is virtually forgotten by those who are not affiliated with the U of C.
Outside the University of Chicago, today Bloom is almost never quoted, almost never cited, and is a professor whose ideas and opinions have had minimal impact on any sphere of life. I do not mean to imply that Bloom is in disrepute. My point is that his thoughts (on any subject) appear not to outlive Bloom himself.
Anyone who gets excited and carried away by Closing ought to read carefully the critique written by the late Sidney Hook. Hook's intelligent critique appeared in The American Scholar in 1988. It should be required reading for anyone who wants a fair and more detached look at Closing.
Whither the Bloom legacy? So far, The Closing of the American Mind appears destined to end up on the same bookshelf as numerous other such bestsellers: a distant memory, a book unlikely to be reread.
Gautam H. Parikh, AB'84, AM'86 - Rutherford, New Jersey
Bloom as artifact
I read the article on Allan Bloom without rancor, but the letters in your October/97 issue drove me to respond to the uncritical evaluations offered by his students. Bloom's 1987 book failed in many respects to grasp the nature of our academy's crisis: one that cannot be enframed by the canon, but rather by a national reevaluation of pedagogy itself. There are now those who want to turn universities and liberal-arts colleges into the purveyors of vocational training and to make our work fully subordinated to the double-entry account book.
This is the crisis of the "American Mind" and not the racist attack on multiculturalism pioneered by Bloom. Strong words. On page 312 of his book, Bloom compares the 1967 Cornell University Black Power events to Nazi Germany in the 1930s; further, regarding the phenomenon of black students finding solace among themselves, he claims on page 93 that "the movement of the blacks goes counter not only to the rest of society, and tends to put them at odds with it, but also to their own noble claims and traditions in this century." The survivors of Jim Crow, of racist violence, and of dispossession become the Nazis with anti-American values! I, for one, cannot countenance any celebration of Bloom and this sort of inferential racism. His book ought to be treated as a cultural artifact that says something about the failure of our society to come to grips with our altered environment and with the enduring class struggles to reshape the elitist university.
Vijay Prashad, AM'90, PhD'94 - Hartford, Connecticut
Whose letter is it, anyway?
I can understand Edwin Lee's umbrage at portions of Susan Diamond's letter ("Letters," October/97). Her comments, however, reflect more on her than on the Magazine. I appreciate good editing of my spelling, punctuation, grammar, and style. I hope Mr. Lee's comments represent only his confusion of editing with censoring, not Stanford's.
Eugene L. Balter, AB'50, MD'56 - Chicago
Criminals or children?
I recently read the letter from Samuel Livingston, AB'62 ("Letters," August/97), which referred to the article about the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic ("Theory in Practice," June/97). I was saddened and dismayed to see such comments made by a graduate of an institution known for its pursuit of critical thinking and cutting-edge ideas.
I spent this past summer working at a medium-security juvenile prison for boys in southern Illinois. As part of the requirements of my doctoral program in child clinical psychology, I was under the supervision of the one and only psychologist on the staff. I learned over the course of my summer that the youth in this prison were not only human like the rest of us, but that they have something to offer if only we do not abandon them.
It is sad to know that most members of society believe that we should lock up 13-year-old kids for the rest of their lives. If one has taken any developmental psychology classes, it is readily apparent that 13-year-olds are far from adults; it is difficult to justify the belief that they have enduring "criminal" personality traits, especially given the environmental context in which some of these children have been raised.
Yes, I did meet murderers and hard-core criminals this summer, but they did not scare me as much as did learning about the lives they had to lead as children. We as a society have abandoned these kids since the day they were born, and it is up to us to make changes to ensure that more young children are not abandoned. We should take a critical look at ourselves, our society, and our juvenile system, and ask if what we are doing is changing these kids' lives for the better.
I argue that we have a long way to go, and the solution is not to lock these children up for the rest of their lives and criminalize them even further. Meeting these youths and learning about the horror of their lives has changed the way I will think about our juvenile system forever. It is something every tax-paying citizen should experience. I applaud the Mandel Legal Aid Clinic for its continued interest in kids such as these.
Brenda A. Wiens, AB'95 - Carbondale, Illinois
Drumming up the past
The sports enthusiasts among you will know that in September the UCLA Bruins drubbed the nationally ranked Texas Longhorns 66-3 in a football game in Austin. Numerous articles noted that it was the Longhorns' worst defeat since a 68-0 massacre at the hands of the Chicago Maroons in 1904.
If I recall correctly, Big Bertha, the large drum in the UT marching band, was originally owned by the U of C. I wonder if the 1904 game had anything to do with the transfer of it (her?) to Austin.
Gregg L. Michel, AB'88 - Charlottesville, Virginia
Library reunions overdue
The recent Special Libraries Association conference in Seattle was the scene of the first meeting in many years of the U of C Graduate Library School alumni, held as part of the annual cooperative reunions sponsored by the SLA. Such GLS reunions are already planned as part of the SLA conference for the next three years.
A GLS alumnus is needed to host the GLS portion of the cooperative reunion at the 1998 American Library Association conference in Washington, D.C. If you are planning to attend the conference, and you would enjoy talking with many of your old GLS comrades, please contact me at 707/433-9442 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
If GLS graduates belong to other library associations-law librarian, medical librarian, or other professional library/information groups-that sponsor such reunions, I would be happy to tell you how to create a GLS presence at your association's event.
If you're not interested in hosting such an event, but would like to be on a GLS mailing list, please call or e-mail. The GLS alumni have a lot to offer to the profession and to each other. These reunions are a chance to renew friendships and perhaps to rejuvenate the GLS Alumni Association into a strong and viable organization.
Katherine Bertolucci, AM'76 - Healdsburg, California
A scholar and a gentleman
I was saddened by the passing of Mark Ashin, AB'37, AM'38, PhD'50 ("Deaths," October/97). When I was in the College in the early 1950s, I was struggling academically. Mr. Ashin, the instructor in my Hum III class, took the time to meet with me and opened my eyes and my mind to learning at the University of Chicago.
Professor Ashin remembered me when I returned to campus for various functions, and he was generous with his time at our reunions, where he always enhanced them.
He was a fine teacher and a fine person. I hope that his dedication and care are carried on by others in the University.
Richard L. Garcia, AB'53, AB'55, MBA'55 - Chicago
Lesbian/bi soccer team forming
Grinnell College lesbian/bi alumnae are forming a Midwest women's soccer team for the 1998 Gay Games in Amsterdam. The team will bring together current and former varsity soccer players from the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (Beloit, Carleton, Coe, Colorado College, Cornell College, Grinnell, Knox, Lake Forest, Lawrence, Macalester, Ripon, the U of C, and St. Olaf).
This will be a great opportunity for these alumnae to reconnect with their college soccer experience and to build ties with other ACM graduates. Interested women's soccer players should send a letter, including soccer experience and accomplishments, as soon as possible (the Gay Games charge a late fee after December 31, 1997) to Guen Gifford, 22A Crombie Street, Burlington, VT 05401; phone: 802/658-8775; e-mail: email@example.com.
Guen Gifford - Burlington, Vermont
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