Support Your Daily Source of Principled Conservatism

Last month, the editors of The American Conservative announced that without a significant increase in financial resources, this bastion of reasoned thought on the Right would go under. Happily, they announced that, having enjoyed most generous responses from their readership, TAC will survive, although now as a monthly, rather than bi-weekly publication.

Recently, John Schwenkler’s Upturned Earth, always one of my favorites, moved to the magazine’s Website, joining Dr. Larison’s Eunomia and @TAC. The word on the street is that, within the next couple of weeks, they’ll be further expanding the magazine’s online presence, thus providing even more of a supplement to the excellent fare they proffer on paper.

If you don’t read the aforementioned Weblogs, then make a point of doing so. Bookmark The American Conservative, consider subscribing to the magazine (which, I note, is the only magazine to which I subscribe that I make a point of reading cover-to-cover within a few days, rather than allowing issues to pile up: Suck it, The New Yorker!), and, if you can afford it, consider making a donation beyond the subscription rate (which I intend to do if, ya know, I ever have a source of income again!).

Seriously, folks, support and enjoy this magazine. Any organ that can print articles suggesting that Carter wasn’t all bad, that Reagan wasn’t all good, and that Norman Mailer could have done wonders as mayor of NYC (written by Mailer’s youngest son); interview Mailer and Ralph Nader without selling out or using the interviews as excuses to trash these folks; and still legitimately pass as conservative is surely worth reading! Methinks that Burke and Kirk would agree. Röpke, too!

Being Home.

Ah, rural Indiana! Fresh air; crystal-clear, star-filled skies; people who, rather puzzlingly, think highly of me. Not even forty-eight hours home, I heard that Ray’s Super Foods “needs” for me to return. For reasons best left unpublished, I cannot return to that place, as important as it is to me (See below, natch.); however, I wish to offer reflections thereupon and, thus, reflections upon living in a real place. Call it my very brief, spur-of-the-moment (a couple of years ago) Front Porch Republic-esque thoughts on North Judson, Indiana. This was initially part of my Facebook profile when I first returned to Ray’s Super Foods, as night manager, during my hiatus from academia.

***

In 1902, Joseph Dolezal and Joseph Sindelar, two Bohemian immigrants, both members of Ss. Cyril & Methodius Roman Catholic parish in North Judson, IN, partnered to enter the general merchandise and grocery business. Naming the store after themselves, they called their business Two Joes, Inc. Eventually Mr. Dolezal bought out Mr. Sindelar’s share and became sole proprietor of the business. After his death in the 1940s, his wife Blanche assumed ownership and three of their sons took over day-to-day operations. After Blanche passed away, son Cyril became the owner of the store.

In the 1970s, a young meatcutter by the name of Ray Okeley hired on at Two Joes. He became a fixture and for thirty years his dedication to his trade forged for the store a strong base of customers who settled for nothing less than Ray’s work.

In 1992, Cyril passed away and his wife Alice became sole owner of the store; along with her son Kenny, she ran the business until 1997, when, after ninety-five years in the grocery business, the Dolezal family sold Two Joes to Raymond J. Wajda, then of Lansing, IL. He renamed the store Ray’s Super Foods, and to this day continues to run the store. He has become a very active community leader, volunteering as a Little League coach and board member and giving generously both his time and his money to various causes.

On the morning of 27 June 2006, one week to the day before his sixtieth birthday, Ray Okeley succumbed to cancer that had, unbeknownst to him, infiltrated many of his organs. He passed away in front of his house, in his wife’s arms, as he prepared to leave for work.

Joseph Dolezal, an incredibly civic-minded individual who dedicated himself not only to his business, but to his family, his church, and his community, was my great-grandfather. I am the last descendant of Joseph and Blanche Dolezal to work at 324 Lane St. Over time Ray Okeley became a good friend of mine, about as close to me as any fifty-nine-year-old coworker could ever be to a twenty-two-year-old college grad. I hope now that people understand why, even though I have a degree from the University of Notre Dame, I continue to work for $8.50/hr in a small small-town grocery store.

“It just seems the smaller the town, the bigger the turnout,” he said later.

“The first casualty of war is not truth — that expires during diplomacy — but the country.” -that sagacious Upstater, Bill Kauffman.

Nothing better evinces this than Chris Jones’ “The Things That Carried Him”, from the May 2008 issue of Esquire, to which I again direct you.

And This Is How I Say “Good-bye.”

Over the last few months, I have been dreadfully remiss in my attending to this Weblog; on a couple of occasions, I attempted, rather vainly, to light the fire under my posterior, as it were. But nothing. Not for lack of interest, rest assured; I simply haven’t had the time and energy. People far busier than (Schwenkler has a wife and kid, and another on the way, is finishing up a dissertation, and was doing the whole find-a-job thing (He’s heading to Maryland in January; I’m disappointed that I’ll be back in Indiana well before he’s here.), and he still, with the assistance of the wonderfully bright J.L. Wall, maintains Upturned Earth!) are sating their readers’ demand for worth-the-while output, and I’m not even reading and commenting on others’ posts with the frequency and, sometimes cogency, with which I did in the past.

The last five months of my life have been so completely permeated by the absurd, the baffling, the crazy, and the distressing that I simply have not been able to maintain Nathancontramundi. For this, I am sorry. However, I return to Indiana in two weeks. With a minor operation, with pain-in-the-rear enjoying-life restrictions to follow for a few weeks, on my radar, I eagerly anticipate redoubling my efforts here, and elsewhere online, and slowly catching up on the piles of books through which I should love to make my way. For now, please, sit tight, and don’t lose any more hope than you doubtless have. Enjoy, below, how I say good-bye to whatever little readership The Terrapin Times has — and, equally, if not more so, to my beloved staffers.

*****

“Reflections on the Revolution in College Park: A Bittersweet Farewell”

As the quaint cliché goes, home is where the heart is. At the foundation of conservatism, I have come to realize, lies a love of place — not of just any place, but of the place(s) where we have roots, ties, and responsibilities. And so, as my career as a Terrapin nears its end, I prepare to load the Camry for one final tour down I-70, readying myself to take the most conservative action I have in a long time: On 27 May, I return to the fertile soils of northern Indiana — where my roots run deep — that have nurtured me these twenty-five-plus years.

I am going home.

For how long I shall reside there I know not, and how far from North Judson, a sleepy hamlet of some two-thousand people (Not a stoplight in town!), I eventually wander remains a mystery (though I cannot envision myself straying more than a couple hundred miles at most). Until I “figure out my life” yet again, in my parents’ home, built more than a century ago, in part by a great-grandfather, just a few blocks from the grocery store that he co-founded, which remained in the family from 1902 until 1997, shall I abide.

Doubtless, whenever possible, to my grandfather’s farm, on which my father grew up, and on which Grandpa Joe was born ninety-five years ago, I shall venture, whether to mow the lawns; to find some excuse to start up the decades-old John Deere 4020 or to swing an axe (an action the salutary benefits whereof are, I submit, incomparable); or to hear, with absolute glee, the same tales wherewith Grandpa has regaled me time and again: stories of my ancestors, of my hometown, of life in a simpler, saner time — and of the homemade box kite, with dynamite attached, with which Great-Uncle Frank managed to startle the residents of town, about two miles southeast of the farm, into believing that the Führer had ordered the Luftwaffe across the Atlantic and into the Midwest in the mid-1930s.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I await the end of May with bated breath. Much of my academic experience here has failed to satiate my esurient intellect; the perpetual enslavement to my car that suburbia impels exasperates me to no end; and pestiferous, sometimes unequivocally loathsome, roommates and, in a couple of instances, students, have grayed multifarious hairs atop my head.

Nevertheless, to claim that I have no regrets about leaving the Old Line State would be to lie. I have made some good friends, occasionally learned a thing or two, and truly enjoyed the brews at Franklin’s. More than anything, I shall miss The Terrapin Times: the satisfaction of producing a newspaper; the strange sense of achievement found in one final read over the paper at four-thirty in the morning; the opportunity to publish seldom-heard voices on a campus devoid of respectable media; and the wonderful friendships that I have developed whilst superintending this tendentious tabloid.

The year has gone less smoothly than I had hoped. Beset with limited finances and minimal newspaper-management experience (particularly at the university level), we published fewer issues than I had planned, and began to do so later than I should have preferred. Despite sincere intentions to the contrary, we failed to develop advertising connections and to increase our paltry list of subscribers. In my opening editor’s letter, in the October issue, I outlined numerous goals I hoped to achieve and features that I wanted to instill in this publication. My successes have fallen discouragingly short of the mark.

Nonetheless, I rejoice!

Over the course of this year, we quadrupled the number issues of the Times published over the previous two years and more than quintupled the number of pages that have comprised these print editions. Though it has been a tedious venture, and only recently has featured posts not written by me, our Weblog finally has something of a presence in the right-wing virtual world. Last year, infrequent meetings were poorly attended; this year, genuine camaraderie has developed amongst staffers and our weekly meetings have proven to be wonderfully convivial events, dedicated as much to joking, story-telling, and ranting as to newspaper business. Finally, ably assisted by dedicated editors and supported by a wonderful group of writers, I have managed to leave the paper with leadership already in place, with a small reserve of funds to go toward beginning the new academic year smoothly.

Had we printed three, rather than only two, issues this semester, making the transition would have been easier, but, having worked with next year’s leaders to prepare this final edition under my watch, I remain quite hopeful for the future of the paper and, thus, for the state of intellectual and political conversation on a campus so utterly devoid of it that certain students felt protesting the continuation of a benign benediction at commencement to be a sensible course of action — until a rainstorm revealed their lack of any real principles.

And so, without further ado, I retreat from the corral, giving way to incoming editor-in-chief Zach Rubin and incoming publisher Sarah E. Martin, and ride into the sunset.

Farewell, Maryland, my Maryland. Go Terps!

And remember, Sic Semper Tyrannis!