Why Airport Bathrooms Suck, Part 5,178

Airport bathrooms are always a chamber of horrors, but I still wonder what kind of sick bastard would stick a wad of gum on a urinal in Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport.

Seriously!  Have you no decency, sir?  Couldn’t you at least show some tiny bit of consideration for fellow travelers with full bladders?

Oh, the humanity!

Needless Work

The Schiller Park rec center parking lot used to have a wide open,  fan-shaped entrance.  It had a welcoming, graceful feel to it, well befitting the rambling, shady feel of the old park itself and the elegant brick houses that surround it.

But a few weeks ago a work crew showed up and ripped it out.  In its place they poured this concrete monstrosity, which blocks the entrance and sticks out like a sore thumb.  They put up a traffic sign and painted direction arrows, too, just in case drivers might not get the idea from the lanes created by the concrete blockade.

Why was this done?  I’m guessing there was an accident or two at the entrance, as a car swung too wide in entering or exiting, and somebody decided that “public safety” required that this ugly, stark roadblock was therefore necessary to protect our hapless populace from the acts of a few inept motorists.  Who knows how much it cost in dollars — but the aesthetic cost is tremendous

I can’t help but think it’s a bit of a metaphor for America writ large these days, with some faceless government functionary deciding that everyday people need to be sternly directed into precise channels of behavior.  The result is predictably hideous.

Hot Pursuit


Walking home tonight, I passed the Ohio Statehouse . . . and this sweet ride.  Two Ohio Highway Patrol officers were checking it out, so I asked if it was a new prototype.  No, they said — it’s the spoils of taking down a drug dealer.  He was driving this souped-up Camaro and carrying drugs when he was stopped and arrested and the car was seized as part of the process.  The OHP decided to turn it into a patrol car and use it for marketing purposes, and tonight it is going to be the subject of a photo shoot.

In Ohio, at least, patrol cars have gotten progressively cooler over the years and have come a long way from the boxy Sheriff Buford T. Passer rigs with the red light on top.  This beauty takes OHP coolness to new heights.

Standing For The Anthem

In our sports-obsessed culture, when a professional athlete declines to stand for the National Anthem and says it is because he is protesting race relations and police brutality, it’s news.  In this instance, Colin Kaepernick’s actions have provoked some fans to burn his San Francisco 49ers jersey and generated reactions from all points on the political spectrum.

tsjcI don’t get the jersey-burning.  Of course, under the First Amendment, Kaepernick has a right to protest and advocate for his position on important issues of the day, period.  We all do.  Although some people increasingly seem hell-bent on punishing and eventually criminalizing free speech, through speech codes and “safe zones” and other contrivances designed to protect our delicate sensibilities from unpopular views — and, of course, quash the expression of those views in the first place — every American still has a right to peacefully express their views on topics like racism.  Kaepernick’s actions aren’t unAmerican; they’re quintessentially American.

And anybody who thinks sports figures should just take their big salaries and keep their mouths shut is kidding himself, too.  Sports have been politicized for as long as I can remember, since at least the 1968 Olympics when John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their fists and bowed their heads during the playing of the National Anthem.  And the NFL itself has become increasingly involved in public issues, with events like breast cancer awareness weeks where the players wear garish pink towels and socks.  Breast cancer is a pretty safe public issue, but it’s a public issue nevertheless.  To the extent there ever was a line between sports and the real world, that line has long since been erased and crossed.

Kaepernick’s gesture shows the power of free speech — which is why the founding fathers were so interested in protecting it.  One player sits during the National Anthem, and it provokes a firestorm. Kaepernick obviously picked the National Anthem because he knows that every sports event starts with its playing and that it is a source of pride to Americans.  Showing disrespect for the Anthem is an effective way of drawing attention to your cause, just like burning a flag was during the campus protests in the 1960s.

Of course, we can wonder whether Kaepernick will just sit during the Anthem, or will go beyond exercising his free speech rights to actually do something to promote better race relations or address police actions.  The San Francisco police have invited him to come to the police academy to open lines of communication and learn about the challenges facing the thin blue line.  I hope he accepts that invitation, and uses the interest his one-man protest has generated to increase understanding and help improve things.  Sitting is one thing, taking meaningful action is quite another.

Storm Damage

IMG_2627Summer is the season for thunderstorms in the Midwest.  Last night a strong series of cells moved through central Ohio, and the high winds did some damage.  In our neighborhood and in Schiller Park some large limbs were knocked down — including the branches that fell against the house pictured above — and I suspect that lightning struck the steeple of St. Mary Catholic Church, because the clock was stopped when I went for my walk this morning.

When the severe weather moves through, you grit your teeth, cross your fingers, and hold your quivering dog who is scared to death of thunder, hoping that no serious damage comes your way.  Last night, we were lucky.

Dirty Harry

The other day Kish and I watched Dirty Harry, the 1971 thriller starring Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan, the .44 magnum-toting cop who eschews political correctness, believes in using maximum force in bringing down criminals, and doesn’t care a bit about breaking the rules to do so.

146909The movie still holds up well, 45 years later.  In many ways, it’s superior to the current Hollywood product, because it doesn’t rely solely on car crashes and shoot-outs to sustain the plot and pace.  There’s a suspense element to it, from the initial scene where the Scorpio killer uses a long-range rifle to shoot and kill a woman on a rooftop swimming pool, to the later scenes where Scorpio tries to carry out his threats to kill others in order to be paid a ransom, to Harry’s long jog around San Francisco to reach different phone booths so he can deliver a ransom before a young girl hostage is killed.  And while Harry obviously is the best cop around, the rest of the police force and the mayor aren’t ridiculous caricatures or light comedic foils — which is standard fare in later cop movies — but competent people who obviously are trying to do their best to deal with a crazed killer.

The writing is good, too.  We all know the famous scene where Harry has a shoot-out with bank robbers while eating a hot dog that ends with him asking a wounded robber who is considering going for his gun “well, punk, do you feel lucky?”  But there are other pieces of crackling dialogue, too, such as the scene where Harry rescues a potential suicide standing on a window ledge by making him so mad that he physically attacks Harry, or the interaction between Scorpio and the guy he pays to beat him up and make his claim of police brutality by Callahan more plausible.

One of the more interesting elements of the film, considered against the ensuing 45 years of action movies that followed it, is that it doesn’t try to answer all of the viewer’s questions.  Sure, he’s probably called Dirty Harry because he does all of the dirty work in the department, but it just might be because he’s got a bit of peeping Tom in him, too. There are no flashback scenes to show us exactly how Harry got the way he is, and no effort to give Scorpio a back story or explain why he has decided to kill random strangers.  He’s just a disturbed lunatic, presented matter-of-factly as an unfortunate reality of modern life.

The fact that some key points are left for the viewer to wonder about is refreshing.  You can imagine people leaving a theater after watching Dirty Harry and actually talking about some of these issues, and others.  How many modern action films that you’ve seen in the past few years could you say that about?

We Are All Clevelanders

IMG_2619This sticker I saw on the back of an SUV in the parking lot at Lowe’s today cracked me up.  Not sure whether this one was developed after the Cavs won the NBA championship a few months ago, but it does show a certain Cleveland pride that was somewhat lacking during the dark days.

Or does it?  The fact that the stick is orange and brown indicates that it is referring to the beleaguered Cleveland Browns.  Given how crappy the Browns have been for years, and are likely to be again this year, is this guy saying that the United States as a whole is down at the Cleveland Browns’ level of suckiness?