Monthly Archives: December 2006

Walking, jumping, visioning [?]

A WALK IN THE PARK:

I think I was a hate-crime victim. Guy called me a white faggot as I walked through Scoville Park in the gloaming a few weeks ago. I didn’t stop. He and his friends were irritated at my NOT stopping. They were desperate for my attention, and I refused it. This was my offense, and so I got victimized. Or was I?

All the guy did was toss out a “white faggot” to an unassuming white fellow trying hard to mind his own business. I had passed them earlier. One was jawing at another, three or four others stood chatting each other up. It’s a free country, I thought, go ahead and jaw. I got a few steps past them and heard, “Hi, brother.” Who, me? I’m not a brother, I thought — except to an octogenarian in Gurnee and a septuagenarian in Arlington, VA — and kept walking.

Again the call: “Brother.” I’ll bet it’s me, I mused. But out of 40-year-old misty memory came a guy yelling, “Hey, you with the collar!” in an open field at 13th and Loomis on a midsummer night in 1966, as helmeted police gathered all down Roosevelt Road. The caller had me cold, I wore the clerical collar. I ignored his cry for attention. Twenty-something and intent on mischief, he had an audience of five or six teen-aged boys, to whom he would have given a lesson in how to deal with the likes of me. No, thanks, I muttered, continuing my way towards the Baptist church at the other end of the project, where do-gooders were gathering ineffectually.

Ignoring this Scoville Park greeting came easy, therefore. But my response rankled, and when I returned 15 minutes later heading the other way, I was accused incontinently of being “a snob” who “wouldn’t talk” to them. I was “Sherlock Holmes” in my floppy hat (heh). I was told to commit an indecent if not impossible act. These were truly disgruntled youth. Later on Lake Street, I ran into them again. This time they tossed the N-word at a fellow African American, who was also told to commit an indecent if not impossible act. Now I ask you, were we all victims of hate crimes?.

JUMPING TO CONCLUSION:

You hear a lot about the school achievement gap, but what about the basketball gap? White kids can’t jump, but so what? So they don’t suit up or if they do, they warm the bench. That’s what happens to the American dream in a dog-eat-dog society. Look, white kids are grossly underrepresented on basketball teams not just in Oak Park and River Forest but nationally. I say enough. Let’s train our sights on this gap too. And nuts to this can’t-jump stuff, which is transparently racist. It’s environment, folks. How many white fathers shoot hoops with their sons?

THROUGH A PRISM DARKLY:

The Oak Park District 97 strategic plan draft calls schools “the educational prism through which students realize meaning and purpose in their lives.” It says they are “to guarantee that each student achieves optimal intellectual growth while developing socially, emotionally and physically.” That’s all?

How about the prism through which students realize how to read, write, and do long division, not to mention shut up when teacher is talking and otherwise cooperate for the more or less common good? And who says schools are a prism in the first place? In what respect are they “a transparent optical element with flat, polished surfaces that refract light, the exact angles between whose surfaces depend on the application”? Beats me.

As for “realizing” — learning? achieving? both, splitting the difference? — the meaning and purpose in life, oh my. Are these schools or houses of worship? And there’s a guarantee of optimal growth? Listen to that carnival barker. Maybe we would all pay more attention to a plan that made more sense. Or did not belabor the obvious, favoring “a culture of inclusion that respects and promotes diversity.” This deftly undercuts the powerful exclusion and uniformity lobby, but it’s also grand language impossible to disagree with, reeking of groupthink and lack of imagination, cobbled together in meetings. The good news is, it’s a draft. So hello Baby, give us rewrite.

Beware what they imply

This ain’t from a Chicago newspaper, and it’s a longer excerpt than I usually fall prey to, but it’s quite good about the importance of party affiliation as way to cut through “superficial campaign positioning” when judging national security issues, and it’s beautiful in identifying B. Obama as our decade’s Jimmy Carter:

Hillary has been posing as a foreign policy moderate for some time now.  Obama is apparently as left as left can be, yet he covers this stance with soothing moderate rhetoric.  In a way, Obama is the new Carter.  Carter won, despite his relative obscurity and inexperience, because he was the breath of fresh air needed by a country exhausted by Watergate.  Carter’s religious convictions and seeming moderation were emotional balm for a traumatized nation.  It never occurred to anyone that Carter’s foreign policy might make the first serious break from America’s Cold War toughness.  Best keep all this in mind when listening to Clinton and Obama.  They’ll jump through campaign hoops to prove their toughness.  But in the end, we’ll get a Jimmy Carter foreign policy from either one of them.

Thus Stanley Kurtz in “NRO Corner.”

Columnist on wry

Neil Steinberg’s wife heard him on the radio.

“You sounded good — very cheerful,” she said.

“I was just feigning cheerfulness,” I admitted.

“Well, feign it when you get home, too,” she said.

It works for me, she said.

OP’s industry, found at last!

Nickel Real Estate is moving into the double or triple storefront space where once was Logos Books — and long ago in the 30s a place called The Shop, where OPRF-ers hung out wearing saddle shoes.  The father of a high-schooler in those days might warn against “Shop boys.” One did, anyhow. Seeing the Nickel sign in the window provided the shock of recognition for an OP-watcher: Of course! Retail out, real estate in! It’s as simple as that.

We don’t want no stinkin’ stores that sell things. We want real estate offices to manage and sell our REAL PROPERTY. Some villages and cities make things, so do we. We make houses and landscapes — and schools and parks and library to go with them. It’s one big conspiracy to elevate property value. The better the parks and schools and library (and cops and firemen and garbage collectors), the more incentive to make big houses and condos that sell for lots of money which in turn generate taxes. Why didn’t I think of that?!

(By the way, Nickel can’t be found via Web. Strange.)

From his parents do we know him?

Clarence Page asks if we know Obama’s middle name, gives it, says now we know.  OK, but do we know he’s the son of two Ph.D.’s?  Now we do.  The Hussein middle name is easily dismissed.  So what?  Lots of people have it.  But two Ph.D.’s for parents?  Not only rare but instantly controversial.  Do we really want so academically infected a person to rule us? 

Besides, his hot-seller book is brainless, to go by Dick Morris’s account of it:

In reading Senator Barack Obama’s #1 bestseller, The Audacity of Hope, one begins to wonder whether he is another cynical politician or just a helplessly naïve neophyte.

Morris, a Clinton specialist from a ‘way back, excerpts with alarming aim:

Sometimes he sounds downright juvenile. Consider this missive, which opens chapter five: “One thing about being a U.S. Senator – you fly a lot.” Brilliant! It gets worse: “Most of the time I fly … in coach, hoping for an aisle or window seat” (But not always.) “ … there are times when … I fly on a private jet.” Then, “the flying experience is a good deal different.” Wow.

Obama’s first book got a rave from the Time Mag cover-story writer-cum-sycophant — it “may be the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician.”  Give him credit for the “may be.”  Otherwise, just gasp.

Or accept it.  In the Time writer’s account, Obama does come to life.  Ditto in lawyer-novelist Scott Turow’s Salon story.  The more recent book is the one that made him the big money, however.  And helped his candidacy.  Bad books do that.  He has all that education to live down.  The American people get suspicious.  Ever since Woodie Wilson the Princeton president. 

Can we imagine ourselves electing another in his image?  Dems give us Gore and Kerry, Repubs give us GW, whom I vastly prefer.  But the son of two Ph.D.’s?  That’s the thing to learn about the Big O.  See how that flies once he’s on the hustings full-time.

Trouble, I got trouble

It troubles me that a certain sentiment “troubles” Dawn Turner Trice in today’s Chi Trib.  Her issue is Bill Cosby talking up hard work and perseverance to school parents when he recently settled a sexual harrassment suit.  She is troubled by people’s paying it no attention because they like Cosby’s message.

She’s come a long way since January, 2001, when she gave considerable ink to a similar view about Rev. Jesse Jackson, exposed as a philanderer and father of an illegitimate child.  Rev. J. had “taken a jump [actually several, over many months] and left a package,” realizing concerns voiced by an A.M.E. pastor in Iowa City about a handsome visitor who was giving his pretty daughters some attention in the summer of ‘63.

Not a problem, according to one of Trice’s sources in a Tribune piece.

“You deal with this the same way you deal with Bill Clinton,” [Lorn Foster, an American politics professor at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.] said. “You teach fallibility.”

In that respect, Foster said, almost every newsmaker in the 20th Century has had indiscretions and public failings.

“Really, if you use that criteria for not teaching Jackson . . .  how do you teach Franklin Delano Roosevelt? How do you teach JFK?” Foster said.

Trice was not troubled by this, but she is by Cosby-excusing.  Almost six years have elapsed, and that may be why.  Who knows?  In any case, my being troubled at her being troubled has less to do with Cosby vs. Jackson — middle-class values vs. victimhood in rebellion — than with a writer trying to disguise her feelings.

You can condemn someone faintly but tellingly.  That is, you can be troubled when you’re actually pissed off, or should be, based on the data you present.  In which case as a writer, you’re in trouble.

========================================

Later, from Nancy from Lake Bluff:

Where was Dawn Turner Trice during all of Bill Clinton’s transgressions?  I suppose she agreed with what Clinton stood for, so all else was forgiven.
She was confusing as hell about Clinton and other private-lives revelations in June, 2004, when she felt “conflicted” about what matters, picking and choosing as to what would make her vote this or that way.  This girl drives you nuts with her self-analysis, telling us how she feels all the time.  What is this, a sleepover confab or a newspaper column?
 
Otherwise, nothing on the record.

In the tank

Let’s hear it for Gurnee neighbors of Chi Bears DT Tank Johnson for calling the cops about his pit bulls, pot smoking, and gunfire.  Ditto for Gurnee and other N. Suburban cops who knocked down his front door to get the loaded guns, etc. and rescue the two kids from accidentally getting plugged. 

Bad cess to Tank for failing to adapt to new surroundings, i.e. middle-class, law-abiding, orderly behavior as practiced in crispy-clean ‘burb as opposed to gun-totin’ SW U.S., where he came from and pot-smoking friends of which he has too many.

This is the issue here, not repressive gun or drug laws, which often deserve to be the issue.  Adapting to surroundings is the thing: when you move into a neighborhood where people’s accepted ways of doing things are new to you, study these ways and adapt, unless you reject them as incompatible with your mores and moral code.  In that case, either get out or hunker down for a long-haul squabble if not fight to the death. 

Ah, but nobody thinks Tank Johnson was making a statement for gun and drug law reform.  Nobody.  He was just sloppy about running his own household, including, by the way, his not being married to the mother of the two little kids, which says something about his casual approach to a life of orderly behavior. 

He is not a globe-trotting Hollywood star spouting geopolitical opinion and ignoring protocol which most have to undergo in adopting foreign-born kids.  Nothing so vulgar.  He is nothing but a slob with bad habits who doesn’t know how to live — not in Gurnee, anyhow, which he is in process of discovering.  Pray for Tank’s enlightenment in the matter.

Disputed condo development . . .

. . . in 400 block of N. Maple has townhouses next door, on NW corner, Superior. Across the street is a house garishly festooned with anti-war messages, including a banner in German stretching its width. This is Oak Park’s best-known incipient development because it’s too big for neighbors’ taste and they have been complaining and the village board has been discussing.

If the developer were to trade it for the also much-discussed Colt Building on Lake Street a few blocks away, as he is reported in Wed Journal to have said he might, his fame would go off the charts for at least 15 minutes, probably 15 months until he had completed transformation of the Colt into lavish condos with shooting gallery on first floor — just kidding, all you literalists out there.

Do those anti-war signs and banner violate an ordinance somewhere, somehow, by the way? Remember the Greek restaurateur who was given a hard time because he ran Greek letters across his garish awning on OP Ave. across from the Green Line stop? Commercial establishment, yes, but do we want garish signs on residential blocks? Especially one where neighbors have made such a case against a new building with too many units? I don’t know the answer, as one or other trustee has said he doesn’t know the answer to other, less pertinent, conundrums.

As for Trustee M., one who has said he does not know answers, for him I have some characteristically good advice: Go easy on your trademark frontal attack at board meetings or you lose your shock appeal. Getting in the face of the mild-mannered board president, for instant, suffers from the same law of diminishing returns that devalues currency. From respect born of discomfort, other trustees’ response could degenerate to there-he-goes-again. It’s a problem.

As it is for bloggers, who on the formality scale of one to ten come to two or three.  They have no time for vast ideas, only half-vast ones, it seems.  I don’t know the answer.

Disputed OP condo development . . .

. . . in 400 block of N. Maple has townhouses next door, on NW corner, at Superior. Across the street is a house garishly festooned with anti-war messages, including a banner in German stretching its width. This is Oak Park’s best-known incipient development because it’s too big for neighbors’ taste and they have been complaining and the village board has been discussing.

If the developer were to trade it for the also much-discussed Colt Building on Lake Street a few blocks away, as he is reported in Wed Journal to have said he might, his fame would go off the charts for at least 15 minutes, probably 15 months until he had completed transformation of the Colt into lavish condos with shooting gallery on first floor — just kidding, all you literalists out there.

Do those anti-war signs and banner violate an ordinance somewhere, somehow, by the way? Remember the Greek restaurateur who was given a hard time because he ran Greek letters across his garish awning on OP Ave. across from the Green Line stop? Commercial establishment, yes, but do we want garish signs on residential blocks? Especially one where neighbors have made such a case against a new building with too many units? I don’t know the answer, as one or other trustee has said he doesn’t know the answer to other, less pertinent, conundrums.

As for Trustee M., one who has said he does not know answers, for him I have some characteristically good advice: Go easy on your trademark frontal attack at board meetings or you lose your shock appeal. Getting in the face of the mild-mannered board president, for instant, suffers from the same law of diminishing returns that devalues currency. From respect born of discomfort, other trustees’ response could degenerate to there-he-goes-again. It’s a problem.

As it is for bloggers, who on the formality scale of one to ten come to two or three.  They have no time for vast ideas, only half-vast ones, it seems.  I don’t know the answer.

Meddling?

The developer having trouble with the OP village govt in developing an 11–unit condo building on the 400 N. Maple block has OP village govt. pretty well figured out:

“They’re putting a lot of effort into controlling real-estate development,” Allen said, adding that real-estate development goes with the market. “It takes care of its own.” [Italics added]

This is it with markets, which government in general should leave alone.

Meanwhile, Wed. Jnl had the amazing information that Allen has said he was willing to swap his Maple Ave. property for the much-discussed and -debated Colt Building on Lake Street!  It’s one of more than a dozen village-owned properties intended for development by someone, somehow.

“In general,” because the extraordinary does arise, and like the U.S. homeland since 9/11 (somehow not attacked), OP (somehow) has not gone ramshackle like Austin to the east.  Many factors enter into both results, but to speak of OP alone, we may wonder if 1970s-style interference does NOT apply in 2006.

In any case, the board zoning allows Allen’s 11 units, and it’s too late now to stop him without spending too much money.  The village manager and staff think so, and so do I, which with $1.75 will get any one of them downtown on the Green Line.

%d bloggers like this: