Saturday, February 11, 2006

Blackjacks, gaps, bears, rats

DEFENSE ... Crime rate is down in Oak Park, except for assaults, thanks in part to increased locking of doors. Is there an equivalent for anti-head-knocking? Probably not, but wouldn’t it be cool? There could be village-sponsored classes in use of the blackjack, for instance, widely publicized for deterrence’s sake.

Classes would teach how to pick the right size and heft, where to conceal it, how to wield it: A quick swipe here (think credit card at Dominick’s), a roundhouse swing there (think Paul Konerko), or a mere brandishing, showing it to the head-knocker (think tank parade in Red Square).

It’s legal if you can prove self-defense—you’d need witnesses—because it’s not illegal. Look it up.

TWO GAPS THERE ARE ... The Gap I like is the one where I get dashing $8 pullover shirts that are warm and cozy, long-lasting, and in my view stylish. The one I don’t like is the one between black and white kids in schools, which by the way is being approached the wrong way, as if white’s all right and blacks are stepping back.

The black parent with a sixth-grader reading at first-grade level has a problem—whether whites have the same problem or not—is my point. Better to concentrate on the thing to be done, whatever it takes. It’s not a race but a quest, to be pursued even if it’s you by yourself on a desert island.

Comparisons are odious, as Sir John Fortescue said so well 600-plus years ago, and as did many after him, including Marlowe, Donne, Cervantes in translation, Goldsmith, Burke, and Shakespeare, who played with the expression, having Dogberry in "Much Ado about Nothing" observe that comparisons are "odorous."

The thing to do is go all Martin Luther Kingly color-blind and save race-discussion therapy sessions for village hall or the library. School is for solving learning problems, not social problems.

GO TEAM GO ... My lucrative Wednesday Journal contract forbids me to name the Other Paper in this column, much less to praise it. But it recently offered a gem which I cannot ignore, in an article about That Building on Lake Street. Said building got its name when it changed hands some time back and went to the owner of the Baltimore (now Indianapolis) Colts, who called it the Colt Building!

I am amazed that this hasn’t come up in debate about restoring or destroying it. Preservationists should consider jettisoning that name in favor of Charger or Forty-Niner or—that’s it, Bear! Would developers be so cavalier about the matter if it were the Bear building they were condemning to the wrecking ball? I don’t think so.

One family has to be glad of the name change, however. It was once the Goldberg Building, for leaseholder Sol H. Goldberg, whose descendants are spared the indignity of the present discussion, not least of them "The Goldbergs," of radio and television fame. And don’t tell me they are fictional. I heard them on radio when I was home sick from school, with my own two ears.

PROFESSIONAL SECRETS ... All I did was say nice going about his recent column on gay games, and Oak Park writer Byron Lanning told me a lot about his working methods in an e-mail. In fact, he pretty much spilled the beans:

"I couldn’t have done it without my research staff of learned pigs, my prose coach of several hundred chimpanzees randomly banging on Hermes 3000 typewriters in my basement, and my copy editor Edward, a white labratory rat with a genetically altered brain," he said.

I’m getting me one of them rats.

-- Jim Bowman in Wednesday Journal of OP&RF, 2/1/06


Update, from Inside Report, 2/7/06:

It’s the infamous ‘seniority memory gap’

Viewpoints columnist Jim Bowman alluded to the $8 shirts he buys at The Gap (as in the clothing store) last week in his column as an intro to comments on The Gap (as in the minority student achievement gap). Worked very nicely only [he remembered] (post-deadline) that he buys his $8 shirts next door at Old Navy, which may be more accurate, but doesn’t work nearly so well in a column. "I swear I didn’t fudge for the sake of phrasing," Bowman said in an e-mail last week, blowing the whistle on himself. He even signed off "Abashed on Ontario." Well, we believe him, mostly because we’ve been victimized by a Gap (as in the "senior moment" variety) or two ourselves lately.

The upshot is, don’t go to The Gap looking for cheap shirts.

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