Jack Mabley's Web Log

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")