Editor’s note: This post is Part 15 of “Celebrating the People of Bloomington,” a special retrospective revisiting some of the stories Bloom has published since its inception in 2006. The details in these stories have not been changed since they were originally written, but we have provided updates when possible. Each story highlights an individual who contributed to making Bloomington a compassionate, diverse, and creative community. For more stories from “Celebrating the People of Bloomington,” click here.
Kenny Aronoff: Famous Drummer
Drummer Kenny Aronoff has played with a genre-surfing who’s-who of popular music: Bob Dylan, Ray Charles, George Jones, The Buddy Rich Big Band, B.B. King, and John Mellencamp, to scratch the surface. Now he can add Al Pacino to the list. Pacino stars in an upcoming movie, Danny Collins, about a middle-aged singer who reinvigorates his career, and Aronoff was his character’s drummer. “You can see why he’s the best,” Aronoff says of Pacino. “He loves to perform. He’s just a great guy.”
Though he moved away in 2010, Aronoff still considers Bloomington home. He came in 1972 to study percussion at Indiana University, and credits his IU training for being able to work across styles. “You’ve got to be able to read music and write music and get the charts ready,” he says.
Marcia Veldman: Food Activist
After earning an Indiana University bachelor’s degree in 1986, Marcia Veldman moved to Los Angeles. “There were days you weren’t supposed to breathe,” she says. “It opened my eyes to our need to take care of our small planet.” Veldman worked with school children as an environmentalist, returning to Bloomington for summers to work with the Parks and Recreation Department. She moved back here permanently in 1995 and became the Farmers’ Market coordinator the following year. “I’ve always felt connected to this community,” she says.
Veldman’s food-activism work with Hoosier Hills Food Bank, where she helped establish the Meal Share food rescue program and the Plant-a-Row for the Hungry project, contributed to her earning Bloomington’s Woman of the Year award for 2013.
George Walker: Radio Host
On a whim, George Walker auditioned for a volunteer position reading news on the radio. He thought the experience would help prepare him for the teaching job he planned to get once he’d completed his master’s degree in English at Indiana University. “They said that I was okay [on news] but that I sounded like a classical music announcer,” Walker says. Generations of Bloomington listeners have agreed; Walker has been the morning host on WFIU-FM since 1977.
Walker is more than his voice, however. A programming director for WFIU, he also reviews stage shows and operas. Though he trained in classical guitar, he also fronted a bluegrass band called the Jordan River Ramblers.
Jordan Hulls Looks Back
When Jordan Hulls arrived on the campus of Indiana University as a freshman in 2009, IU men’s basketball had reached the depths of its existence. A program known for on-court excellence, IU had won only six games the previous season. Hulls, a Bloomington High School South grad and Indiana Mr. Basketball, wanted to see the program restored to greatness. “We were sick of losing,” Hulls recalls.
In just four seasons, Hulls, the coaching staff, and his teammates—including 2010 arrivals Will Sheehey and Victor Oladipo—took the program from despair to glory, winning the Big Ten championship and twice making it to the Sweet 16.
“Just getting those two guys [Sheehey and Oladipo] … completely changed our program around,” Hulls says. “That was a really good moment.”
Ellen Wu: New Book Explores Asian Stereotypes
Ellen Wu, a native Hoosier whose parents emigrated from China, grew up in an era when Asians were often viewed as the “model minority”—well- assimilated, upwardly mobile, and exemplars of traditional family values. But during World War II, Wu says, Asians were seen as a “yellow peril” and faced harsher restrictions than other immigrants. An assistant professor of history at Indiana University, Wu made this transformation a central topic of her new book, The Color of Success: Asian Americans and the Origins of the Model Minority.
Wu’s analysis considers the creation of the “model minority” in the context of the black freedom movement. Like all stereotypes, she says, it’s a damaging image. “It perpetuates the idea that Asians are forever foreigners,” Wu says. “It says not only are they different from whites, but they’re also different from other minorities.”
Mac Fleming: Army Photographer Recorded Allied Victory in WWII
Mac Fleming, 94, now describes himself as “just an amateur photographer having fun.” But back in March and April of 1945, Fleming was Sergeant Mac Fleming of the United States Army Signal Corps, whose job was to photograph the collapse of Hitler’s Third Reich.
On April 26, 1945, Fleming stood on the banks of the Elbe River south of Berlin, where GIs linked up with
Soviet troops and cut the German army in two. Fleming’s still images and motion pictures of handshakes and vodka toasts were released simultaneously in Washington, London, and Moscow.
Indiana University archivists are keen to preserve thousands of other Fleming images, like those of the Army storming across the famed Ludendorff railroad bridge at Remagen, the last remaining passage across the Rhine.