Yeah, but can he ride a bike?

May 28, 2006 by barbara

by barbara miller

Full disclosure: I am not the official poster woman for Al Gore in 2008. But I could get that way with very little prodding.

I am sick nigh unto death of variations of the following reaction to the possibility of Al Gore running for the presidency again:

"But hes so BORRRRR-ing."

Hello? What are we after here? A leader of the free world or an entertainer?

Give us someone with both local and global expertise and great instincts. Heck, any instincts! Someone who does not necessarily press for English as this nation's only language, but who can at least speak it. Someone with a limited number of colleagues headed for the slammer.

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Open letter to an LA Times columner

May 25, 2006 by barbara

by barbara miller

Dear Jonah Goldberg:

You will notice that I salute you with the generic colon vs. the personal comma, thereby distancing you with one keystroke. A small but satisfying thing.

I just read your snarky little piece about Al Gore in Thursday's LA Times.

In one short screed, you offended people who think, people who are environmentally responsible, and France. Trifecta! And that's just for starters.

Lets review some of your targets du jour:

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On the Other Hand . . .

May 23, 2006 by susan

by susan
I confess to being oddly neutral, or dispassionate when it comes to the Twins stadium. Neither side lobbied me hard enough to get me to care, tell the truth. I could see both sides I guess is more like it. And I also confess that I remember those thrilling years when the Twinkies were good and we went to the World Series. Literally went, as in, me and my family took in those heart-stopping, ear-splitting final games. In fact I was hired to help arrange a very primitive photo developing scheme for Sports Illustrated and the NYTimes that involved my son and his friends, some on the field, some in the exit ramps, some on bikes, carrying cannisters of film after every three innings down to the Pillsbury building where an old Black's Photo shop, pioneers in instant processing, stayed open late to develop the pics, and then the boys rode them back to the dome where the editors, housed in a trailer in the parking lot, could see what sorts of shots they were getting so they could plan the late night as well as the next day's edition. Though in the second series, I believe it was, they were experimenting with electronic transmitting of photos, a slow laborious deal which we all found miraculous. That was then.
But it was exciting and the whole town caught the fever and so I always have had a soft spot for what a good team in a beautiful stadium (or even an ugly one) can do. But so could good schools, libraries that stay open, research dollars for the U, more trees, etc. And yeah, I still don't get why private individuals get this sort of a public financing deal, especially when CEO's are making a g'zillion dollars more than ever before and the working stiff can no longer afford a ticket to a game. I do get why the library does, as well as the Walker, Guthrie et al, cause they're NON-profit, and in some cases even free to the public, whereas the filthy lucre the sports teams rake in . . . well, at that my romance for the deal kind of fizzles. And yet, when the new park opens am I going to want to check it out? You betcha. After all, I helped pay for it.

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Heckuva new library

May 23, 2006 by susan

On another note, I went to the library opening the other night, and though there's not enough money to operate the joint, it was quite beautiful. And the good people of this town, the petty burghers, were out in full force, self-congratulatory and why not? It's a lovely deal to celebrate a place for books instead of say, football, even if no one reads anymore, other than Somali immigrants and we're not letting any more of them in, that's for sure. It does seem a bit of odd timing, a temple to books -- but also with a g'zillion wireless computer terminals, which tells the tale.
Still, I was moved by all of it, and the way they had the Gay Men's Choir sing, which was by lining them along the tiers of the three balconies, at one end, with the rest of us looking on, and to see these guys in all shapes and sizes, as normal or nerdy as anyone can be, holding hands on their final number, well, it made me cry. It was reminiscent of the civil rights movement to me and how idiotic it is to treat these guys differently, the separate-but-not- quite-equal and no-marriage-for-you thing.
Libraries have pretty much always been egalitarian portals to information and delight, thanks largely to Andrew Carnegie, who scattered pretty little libraries all over this country like apple seeds, and had the words, "Free to All" carved over the door of his own Pittsburgh library. This one's a beaut, soaring spaces filled with books and computers and imagination. And though not open long enough hours, it is still free to all. Every one of us.

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Gone, but not forgotten?

May 20, 2006 by barbara

Did you know that Lew Anderson died this week? I just found out.

Think Howdy Doody. Think Mr. Bluster, Chief Thunderthud, Princess Summerfall Winterspring, Flub-a-Dub, Dilly Dally and Buffalo Bob. Most of all, think Clarabell Clown.

Yes, its true. Anderson, who was the last man to play Clarabell (after Bob Keeshan, no less), has gone to that final horn toot roundup under The Really Big Top. Kids everywhere are safe now from seltzer bottle spray.

Actually, theyve been safe for a long time. Howdy Doody left TV in 1960 after a pretty amazing 12-year run. But that silly show was part and parcel of my childhood. The era of huge TV sets with tiny little screens. Everything was broadcast in black and white. No room for gray in the early 1950s. Apparently color showed up in about 1955, but who knew?

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