Jack Mabley's Web Log

Monday, March 21, 2005

cleaning up

With help from partner Burt....well, he did it all....this site is now cleaner and non repetitive. Thanks to a friend
to the gentleman at the senior center for your interest and suggestions.

My intent, as I have said previously, is to retire. I haven't found anyone yet who believes me, not even my wife, who wishes I would. I guess the answer is if I am retired what the heck am I doing right now in the Daily Herald office pecking away at hyundai (the computer, not the automobile).

My watchword and guide in my old age is "patience." It works wonders most of the time, and especially in traffic.I will go through these good senior years smelling the roses and trying to minimize the scratches from the thorns.

I also avoid eye contact with or the finger to wild drivers. They may be drunk, or hung over, or just plain ugly. They may be mentally unbalanced and have an automatic rifle on the seat. Only about one in 10 is this way, but that means I am going to pass or be passed by 10 or 15 of them driving to and from the office.

"Peace," as Garroway used to say. Still a nice objective.

Monday, December 13, 2004

where have I been

Thanks for asking. I've been floundering around waiting for my partner Burt to get back and show me all the things I'm doing wrong.
For some who have wondered, I'm in my 90th year, in excellent health physically, blessed with good genes, and as forgetful as any old goat my age.
I'm legally retired. That means the pay check has stopped. It also means that the social security payments have begun. Inasmuch as I've been in SS since it was created, and have been putting into it for some 60 years, I have a pretty good hunk
However I am continuing my regular routine of three days a week in the office, and writing for the blog instead of for print in the Daily Herald.

Friday, October 29, 2004

An Election Prediction

Oct. 29. I am now 89 years and three days old, and feeling cockier than usual. I am blessed with good health. My newspaper column is fini, and I have evolved into this blog as an outlet for my opinions.
I’m still mobile, but it is slow going because my wheels are worn out after 85 years of usage. Sports have taken a toll, especially tennis, my principal sport. Tennis is sudden fast stops and turns. I still play, but my strategy is to get a fast partner and say "Yours" or "You take it."
I again thank Bush senior for commenting that he forgets things he should remember and remembers things best forgotten.
I’ve never hesitated to make predictions. They don’t jeopardize my reputation because my reputation is being wrong more than right. On that note, I predict that Kerry’s margin of victory will be substantial. And he’ll carry a flock of Democrats into public offices with him.
And Barack Obama will be the first person of color to become President.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

October 12

If I ruled the universe, I’d be tempted to destroy all cell phones. In fact I might get rid of computers and the Internet. I’m trying to avoid the "good old days" cliches, but the fact remains it was more fun when the pace was slower. Today the pace seems to be magnifying exponentially. But quietly.
I’m pecking this on my computer in a newsroom with a dozen or so fellow workers who are clicking out their articles. No shouting. No raised voices. Only friendly "Good mornings" and cheerful "Hi’s." The atmosphere is what you’d probably find in an efficient insurance office.
My friendships in this quiet newsroom mean a great deal to me.
But I miss the old fashioned raucous news room where the noise level resembled the Chicago Board of Trade trading pits.
Today it’s more efficient. Fewer errors. I even have a device in this machine which sends up a red underline when it thinks I have misspelled a word. Well, I won a spelling bee in the 8th grade and I’ve been a good speller ever since and I’m right more times than I’m wrong, spellcheck or not.

Friday, October 08, 2004

A Stern Warning

I like to visit the zoo every now and then to watch the snakes, which look slimy and menacing, but are harmless in their confinement.
In the same sense, once in a while I tune in the sultan of vulgarity, Howard Stern, who looks slimy and menacing….that is menacing to children. I’d call Stern’s stuff sophomoric, but that would insult sophomores. I’d call it childish, but second-grade kids are savvy enough to find stuff on the Internet that makes Stern look like a P-TA meeting.
Stern’s concept of hot stuff on his current show is to persuade a pre-tested model to remove her blouse, which produces a studio full cackles and giggles followed by Stern’s asking the model to turn around to show her backside.
Stern is a happy, fulfilled man today because he will be going on satellite delivery of his program, which means he will not be monitored by the federal government, which has fined stations carrying his obscenity millions of dollars.
So Stern will test new depths of vulgarity and obscenity. Maybe the saddest aspect is that viewers will be asked to pay $12.95 to see his trash. You can see far worse on the Internet for nothing, but he’ll collect from the naïve and uninformed.
Ever the optimist, I look toward the day when young Americans recognize the shallowness and mediocrity of Howard Stern and consign him to the dump heap of early 21st century cultural freaks.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Farewell politically correct (or incorrect)

"Politically correct" or "incorrect" have become so overused that their meaning has been diluted to little or nothing. It's time to relegate this phrase into cliche heaven (or hell).

Probably "spin" should join the junk heap too. Don't all of us "spin" to make facts or opinions more compatible with our own philosophies?

Plain up-front "truth" is in short supply in our governments. Our society would benefit with the use of "truth squads" by individuals or news organizations. The Daily Herald carried an Associated Press story after the recent debate which separated facts from spin.

The New York Times does this routinely with all candidates, including Nader, who I think comes out as the cleanest.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Thank You, Mr. President.
President George Herbert Walker Bush endeared himself to me the other day when he told an interviewer that his memory is getting selective in his old age (early 70s). He forgets things he should remember, and remembers things that could be well forgotten.
I have a few years on this Bush, and I can advise him it gets a little bit worse each year. It’s no big deal, It’s normal. It doesn’t mean you’re getting Alzheimer’s.
Recently I adopted that word as a personal slogan….motto….icon….whatever you want to call it. I use that word in all situations and circumstances. At home, at work, and especially on the road.
I’ve mentioned before that if you drive five miles you’re likely to have a close encounter with about a thousand cars going your direction or in oncoming lanes. Eight hundred cars will be driven by normal humans, 100 drivers will tend to be erratic and dangerous at times, and the remaining 100 can be maniacal and armed and dangerous.
Avoid eye contact except when a wave of the hand acknowledges a courteous act.
President White?
Every politician is running for President. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is no exception. First he has to become governor. Barack Obama already has the U.S. Senate chair.
The Illinois secretary of state has an enormous political asset in his office’s control over drivers’ licenses.
We gaffers have to renew our licenses every year, so I was out at the Deerfield office last week going through the somewhat stressful renewal process.
The place was crowded with a few seniors and dozens of teenagers getting their first licenses.
I passed the road test without much trouble. But it seemed so ironic to me that I was being tested by a very capable and articulate generation X lady . In six decades I’ve driven several million miles with one accident. A driver jumped the center strip and totaled my car. Her insurer insisted on giving me $3,000 for my promise not to sue. That was a good deal for me, because he didn’t know I wasn’t going to sue. I am an advocate of mediation or binding arbitration.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


Does the Illinois Republican Party Suffer a Death Wish?
I still can’t adjust to the idea that Illinois Republicans will be asked to send Alan Keyes, an itinerant entertainer who lives in a million dollar home in Maryland, to represent our state in Congress. He can go back to Maryland and charge $6,000, give or take a thousand, for one of his speeches.
There is a good chance that Keyes will received a record low number of votes, and his opponent, Barack Obama, a record high.
Obama is a long-shot to become our first black president. Well, not so long a shot. Fifty-fifty?
America’s Mayor??????
Rudy Guiliani responded to the 9/11 disaster with leadership and direction, just as almost any American mayor would have responded to similar circumstances.
Guiliani is an enthusiastic supporter of Bush’s run for re-election. He glows as his backers hail him as "America’s mayor."
He’s not this American’s mayor. He’s an ambitious pol with his eyes set on succeeding George Bush to the presidency.

This is Garrison Keillor????
Keilor is the Minnesotan who broadcast his gentle observations on life in Lake Wobegon, where all the children are better than average.
I though Keillor was apolitical. Boy, was I wrong. This is his salute to Bush in the magazine "In These Times."
"How did the party of Lincoln and liberty transmogrify into the party of Newt Gingrich’s evil spawn and their etch-a-sketch president, a dull and rigid man, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk?"

Monday, August 30, 2004

My Anniversary
This week marks the 69th or 65th or 60-somethingth anniversary of Fran’s and my wedding. (To each other). I feel qualified to offer free advice to others who aspire to celebrating a 60 something anniversary.
Two things. First, Rumpole of Old Bailey and "She who must be obeyed." Second, erase from your vocabulary any reference to weight, gain, or loss, avoirdupois, fat, skinny, and any facial expression except happy when you meet someone after 20 years and he or she is 25 pounds heavier.
"Gee, you look great," you must lie.
My wife avoids computers, and I trust that friends who see this will have the decency to not bring this to her attention.
The Power of AUM
This is from my book, "Halas, Hef, the Beatles and Me," which may be found in the bargain bins of book stores.
Lincoln Park, August 26, 1968, the week of the Democratic convention disorders. Jean Genet, the French writer, opens a press conference by saying in French of Allen Ginsberg, poet and guru to the hippies:
"I took very much Nembutal last night to try to forget I am in America."
Ginsberg: "Ten people humming ‘aum’ can calm down one hundred. One hundred people humming ‘aum’ can immobilize an entire downtown Chicago street full of scared humans, uniformed or naked."
Ginsberg sincerely cared for the young protesters and he really believed in the power of aum.
Ginsberg was seated on the lawn in Lincoln Park. In a circle around him, about twelve deep, were seated young men and women participating in the week’s protests.
Ginsberg was humming, or droning, a note, which is spelled "aum", pronounced om. He held the note as long as one breath lasted, took a deep breath, and slid into another note.
Others hummed with him. At curfew the Chicago police began to sweep demonstrators out of the park. Ginsberg stood on a hill humming as intensely as he could while the comrades in the barricades cried "Kill the pigs!"
The police fired tear gas, and unless Ginsberg was up a tree, he was running along with the rest of us toward Clark street.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Do Your Homework, Barack
As much as I admire Barack Obama, he needs some educating on the matter of an airport at Peotone. First, he should be acquainted with a maxim of airports. Airports should be built when airlines ask for them, and NOT to create jobs or for similar political reasons.
"Build it and they will come" does not apply to airports. The prime example is the MidAmerica airport near St. Louis. Illinois built it and nobody came. We’re stuck with spending millions on maintenance
Those Were My Footprints
I lived four houses from the home of Suzanne Degnan when the 6-year-old child was kidnapped and killed in 1946.
I was the first reporter on the scene. That was in the days of muscular journalism and the police didn’t have a spokesman to filter information to the press.
Detectives were in the front of the house interviewing family members. I went around to the back to the window through which the girl was carried or thrown. I asked the cop if it was OK for me to take a look in her bedroom. He shrugged, and I climbed in.
The sill was about six feet above the ground. I pulled myself up and left my fingerprints all over the sill and in the room. Then I backed out and dropped to the soft ground.
Those footprints were a major clue in the investigation. I didn’t know that until weeks, maybe a month or two later when William Heirens confessed to this and two other murders.
I told the detectives those were my footprints….and ducked.
Those were interesting and fun times before the police found yellow streamers to rope off areas and keep and press out of range. They can be thwarted, though, by those incredibly powerful TV cameras which can pinpoint objects nearly a mile away.
I had one advantage over other reporters. The police plain clothes detectives traveled in black Ford sedans, all with the identifying license beginning with 323. I bought a black Ford with a driver’s side spotlight and a 323 license. I could race anywhere at any speed getting to a fire or riot or any breaking story. I tried not to abuse my privilege.
Breakfast With the Whores
I worked the midnight shift at police headquarters . We had a fair share of fires and murders, but most nights nothing much happened. At 4 a.m. we’d pile in a car to go to the cafeteria….I think it was called Powers…..at State and 22d.
The prostitutes were calling it a night at the same time. Maybe they were unionized. Maybe they just had enough of men for one night. Whatever, 4 a.m. was quitting time. It would make interesting reading if I stretched the truth and suggested some interaction with the prostitutes, but we just recognized them with a smile and said, "Hi ladies."
Fun at the Old Police Hdq.
If you happen to be dining as you read this, you’d best skip to the next item.
The Daily News night shift reporter was a likable guy named Sol Pane. Sol always followed an arrival ritual at night, i.e., first stop at the men’s room.
The night shift allows a lot of time for mischief making. One night we decided on a welcome for Sol. We removed the light bulbs in the men’s room, and placed a board on the toilet between the seat and the bowl
Delicacy requires that I let you finish the scenario.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

New Stuff

Tuesday, Aug. 10.
I'm supposed to be retired, but I find myself at my desk in the Daily Herald office three days a week, as always, pounding out rhetoric on my computer. Instead of writing columns, I am updating them, am adding to them and will cook up a new title for my book, "Halas Hef, the Beatles and Me."

Monday, Aug. 9.
Alan Keyes, a person who lives in Maryland, is the Republican choice to run for the U. S. Senate against Barack Obama.. Keyes comes to this race in Illinois as an experienced loser, possessor of a voice that could bring in pigs from the next county, and the generator of sweat - or perspiration - on scale of unprecedented proportions. He seemingly could sweat in a snow storm.
In an interview with Elizabeth Brackett on Channel 11 Keyes was without perspiration. Brackett tried for a meaningful interview but Keyes answered most questions by referring to the U.S. Constitution.
I'll still refer to GOP state chair Judy Baar Topinka's initial reaction to a Keyes candidacy. With a million people in Illinois who could qualify to run for the Senate, why in the world should we endorse some guy who lives in Maryland and probably doesn't know whether Chicago is in Cook County or Sangamon County or Lincoln County. Or is it Springfield that's in Lincoln County. Or is Cairo still the state capitol?
In the race for the U.S. Senate, Keyes may set a record for lowest vote in Illinois history in a contested race.
On the same page, Judy Baar Topinka reached the depths of 180-degree turns when on one day she said there are a million people in Illinois qualified to run for the Senate and no way should we pick somebody from Maryland. The following day she had nothing but praise for this wonderful candidate from Maryland, who would have to establish a home in Illinois if he entered the Senate, which he won't because Obama will bury him in November.

Tuesday, Aug. 3
I just finished an interview with a crew from Northeastern Illinois University and Congressman Raum Emanuel. Subject: my experiences in World War II. I say "experiences" because my service, four and a half years in the Navy, weren't very exciting. I didn't serve on any Navy vessel. I spent a couple of years successfully helping defend Iowa City against enemy attack. I asked for combat assignment, and was assigned to duty in Guam and the communications facility - JCA - which handled all communications running the Pacific war.

Monday, Aug. 2
I'm theoretically on vacation, but for a news junky, there is no vacation. There is no escape from compulsion to read three newspapers every day, scan the Wall Street Journal, and read the seven news magazines I subscribe to.
The campaign oratory is tending toward the windbag side. Same stuff, over and over. Might the candidates put in writing what they stand for, hand out copies at all the big rallies, and devote the rallies to singalongs? They can emulate the 2000 Year Old Man's national anthem: "They can all go to hell except Cave 37")

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Mind Blowing

A basic of political intelligence is to get inside the mind of the enemy. Picture what he or she is thinking, planning, vulnerable to, ignorant of, prejudiced toward. Terrorists, organized or free lance, know this. Their heads contain the same tools for reasoning as the rest of us have.
Who would the terrorists rather see in the White House, Bush, who is said to believe God is directing his actions, or Kerry, who advocates working with the UN and NATO and accredited and dependable agencies in the common cause toward peace?
There is widespread speculation that the terrorists will strike at the Republican convention in New York, which has resulted in unprecedented security. I suggest that danger is minimal because it would strengthen Bush and his role as commander in chief in a time of terrorist attack

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

My First Blog

I’ve had no experience with this method of delivering a column, but I understand it is much more personal. So I begin with the first person singular.
I’m given unlimited space. What writing talent I possess is to say as much as possible with as few words as possible, and being sure that every word is the best word for the message.
Now I have to adjust to "let it flow."
I’m still a print writer, but the mechanics of delivery have changed. Access to the Internet is necessary. This column, or blog, or weblog, or whatever you want to call it, will be delivered through this website. Not all Daily Herald readers have computers, but I think most do, and most use the Internet.

The Flavor of Columns
A word about columns. They are the salt and pepper of newspapers.
I have always tried to be informative and provocative and fair. There is a cliché that "doctors bury their mistakes." But a factual error in the column, or a really stupid line of reasoning, is out there for everyone to see. Readers let us know.
The Daily Herald covers the whole spectrum, from how the latest bombing in Iraq affects a family in Naperville down to the week’s menu at local schools. And everything in between.
One can be well informed on state, national, and world affairs by reading the Herald. You can be better informed by adding the Chicago papers and even better informed by adding the New York Times and one or two of the weekly news magazines.
But no medium comes remotely close to the Herald in local coverage. There a journalistic cliché that "all news is local," but that isn’t entirely accurate. What is unchallenged is that you can’t have too much local news. A major reason why the Daily Herald is one of the few newspapers in the U.S. with a growing circulation is that we swamp the competition with our local coverage. We have 28 different local editions.

That’s "laugh out loud" in Weblog talk. No matter what devices circulate my column, I’m always going to cover serious subjects and always work in some fun. Fred Arenas of Arlington Heights and I have become personal friends through the Internet. When he isn’t flying big airliners on charter flights, Fred indulges his voracious appetite for fun and philosophy. Here are some of the most recent he relayed to me:

  • "What would men be without women? Scarce, sir, mighty scarce." — Mark Twain
  •  "I don’t feel old. I don’t feel anything until noon. Then it’s time for my nap." — Bob Hope
  • "My doctor’s advice—if it tastes good, spit it out." — J. H. Hogan
  • "The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending and have the two as close together as possible." — George Burns
  • "I was married by a judge. I should have asked for a jury." — Groucho Marx
  • "What’s the use of happiness? It can’t buy money." — Henny Youngman
  • "Maybe it’s true that life begins at 50. But…everything else starts to wear out, fall out, or spread out." — Unknown.
A Political Observation
Democrat Barack Obama is almost certain to be our next U.S. senator. The political gossip is that whoever serves as sacrificial lamb against Obama will be rewarded with the nomination for governor, where he or she will probably lose.
Illinois is a Democratic state. White House strategists are making it a special target to convert to a Republican state.
All that stands in their way are Sen. Dick Durbin and Gov. Rod Blagojevich and whoever the GOP finds to run against Obama.

One Last Thing
The spellchecker for this blog doesn't recognize the word "blog." It suggests "bloc."