Aug 122013

Yet another Creatives for Common Sense position paper

Everybody loves a good parade. With their endless public dioramas of who-knows-what processing down the line, parades are open-access patchwork showcases of our livesand we love them for it.

Taiwanese American Association of Central Kentucky parademembers awaittheir place in line at the Fourth of July Parade, Lexington, KY. Photo by Danny Mayer.

Taiwanese American Association of Central Kentucky parademembers awaittheir place in line at the Fourth of July Parade, Lexington, KY. Photo by Danny Mayer.

Big bands march. Young Republicans, old Democrats, ethnic societies, and the proletariat hike. Beauty queens, fire and police brigades, pug clubs, bikers and boxers, equestrians, the occasional unicycle, and Jerry Moody ride. And the rest of us cheer, standing firm in loose rows upon sidewalks, under building facades, along friends porches, evincing a rag-tag patchwork spectacle of our own, because somewhere in the procession of strange happy fellows travelling together in packs with their banners, and probably at several points, we see ourselves–or we see reflections of our neighbors, our mascots, our dreams, and ideals.

We Creatives for Common Sense (CfCS) call upon Fayette Urban County Government to build upon this common love of the public procession and to create a positive parade environment by dividing the county into eight designated Parade Eruption Zones (PEZ). Each PEZ should be criss-crossed by a series of parade routes that showcase county neighbourhoods, parks, and commercial zones appearing within it, with each zone anchored by a PEZ Station, a central public space into which various parades may choose to culminate. (In keeping with Commonwealth practice, PEZ Stations by law must lie within one hour amble of all able-bodied residents residing therein, or within two hours horse trot for individuals located far out on the rural PEZ). Continue reading »

Aug 122013

Orphan, high school dropout, soldier, union man, artist, great-grandfather turns 95

NoC World News

Portrait of the artist as an old man. Photo by Julie Mayer.

Portrait of the artist as an old man. Photo by Julie Mayer.

This August, Thomas Joseph Tom Lazare will celebrate his 95th birthday. Born unto the town of Darby, Pennsylvania, a poor suburb of South Philly, Tom was orphaned at the age of eleven after his neer do well father, a French Jew, skipped town when he was two and, nearly a decade later, his mother, Agnes, a sickly Catholic woman who had raised Tom by helping run a boarding house in an undesirable Delaware County neighbourhood, died of tuberculosis.

He was adopted by the O’Donnell family, a sprawling Irish Catholic clan of marginally employed elevator-lift operators who, even at the heights of the Roaring Twenties, were experiencing hard times. After struggling his way through a rigid Catholic school education, Tom dropped out of school after the eighth grade to take a full-time job. What had begun as a way to support his budding interest in tobacco had grown by age fifteen into full-time work, the salary at times supporting, along with his tobacco habit, the entire unemployed ODonnell family. Continue reading »

Aug 112013

The leek: a satirical take

By Horace Heller Hedley, IV

The evolving story of widespread NSA surveillance on ordinary Americans has taken a surprising turn. Dozens of citizens are reporting mysterious, helpful messages from an unidentified sender, popularly dubbed “the NSAngel.” In each case, the messages have appeared without warning on the screens of users, with no earmarks of a known program, and no trace of a sender’s address. They invariably pertain to events in the recipient’s recent life, and are polite and helpful in tone. Often the mysterious sender shows knowledge that indicates extraordinary access to information. All these factors point to a rogue, do-gooder element of the NSA that has so far escaped supervisory sanction. Continue reading »

Aug 112013

 The Cleveland case, part 2

By Beth Connors-Manke

Editor’s note: in part one of her essay, Beth began examining the ways Ariel Castro, the Cleveland man who recently pleaded guilty to imprisoning and raping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight, represents structures of thought that are shocking yet familiar in our culture. Here, she looks more closely at the ways privatization threatens individuals and the public sphere.

Unless something very unexpected happens, we’ll probably see relatively little of any of them again. The picture will fade; whatever pattern was momentarily illuminated for us will fall back into disparate pieces; we won’t be able to see how any of this works.

Ariel Castro, by agreeing to a plea deal of life in prison without parole, seems to be avoiding both the death penalty and the probing glare that would come with a trial. Whether it is his intention or not, he may also be granting Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight the privacy they have asked for—the privacy that they recently affirmed via video is necessary for their recovery. The women’s strong desire to be shielded from public interest was asserted again when family members of Berry and DeJesus presented victim’s statements in court.

Sylvia Colon, DeJesus’s cousin, said, “Today is the last day we want to think or talk about this. These events will not hold a place in our hearts.”

Beth Serrano, Berry’s sister, explained Berry’s wish to shield her daughter: “She [Berry] does not want to talk about these things, she has not talked about them even to me. She does not want others to talk about these things. The main reason she does not want anyone to talk about the things or be forced to talk about these things is because she has a young daughter. She would love to be the person who decides to tell her daughter, when to tell her daughter, how to tell her daughter, certain things.” Serrano’s statement goes on to say that Berry does not want other people to talk or write about what happened.

For the time being, what happened in that house at 2207 Seymour Avenue in Cleveland will remain veiled, cordoned off from public view. What Castro was once keeping from the world, the young women are now asking to be the gatekeepers of. Continue reading »

Aug 112013

Editor’s note: This arrived in our inbox as a letter to the editor from a reader in Versailles.

By Sally M. Bowman

In a jury trial it is the judge’s job to provide neutral legal advice to the jury,beginning with a full explanation of a juror’s rights and responsibilities. But judges rarely “fully inform” jurors of their right to judge the law itself and vote on the verdict according to conscience. Something is definitely wrong when the jurors feel apologetic about their verdict as in the Zimmerman/Martin trial.

So when it’s your turn to serve, be aware: you may and should vote your conscience, you can not be forced to obey a “juror’s oath.” You have the right to “hang” the jury with your vote if you cannot agree with other jurors.

There is so much more to jury nullification, and I encourage everyone to research for yourself, especially if you have jury duty or are going to be tried by jury (make sure the jury is informed about “jury nullification.”) It’s a way we have to get rid of bad laws that the government has taken away from “We the People.”

You can also check FIJA, the Fully Informed Jury Association, who believes that “Liberty and Justice for ALL” won’t return to America until citizens are again fully informed–and using–their power as jurors.

This piece is one of three appearing in our August 2013 print edition under the headline, Still thinking about Trayvon Marin. The others included “Spinning race for ratings” and “Reflections on the Lexington town hall meeting.”

Aug 112013

Kenn Minter’s newest comic landscape

By Evan Barker

The Emerald Yeti is an arresting character. Massive in build and dashing in his Army dress uniform, he dominates the frames of his story with gravity. And yet he’s graceful—bold green fur blurring his humanoid features, meshing strangely with twentieth-century surroundings. The Emerald Yeti is a superhero, or he isn’t. Actually, he is, but this aspect of his life isn’t prominently on display in the first two issues of Tales of the Emerald Yeti, the comic which details the background of an oddly named and compelling character.

The Yeti, Incredo-Lad, Incredo-Lass, Professor Hundscheiße, Super-Ego, and Little Miss Fantastic form the phantasmagoric core lineup of creator Kenn Minter and penciler Clarence Pruitt’s comic universe, slyly twisted and irony-laden—a throwback-cum-update to what the authors term “the Bronze Age comics of the rocking, exploitative days of the 1970s.”


Continue reading »

Aug 112013

By Taylor Riley

Editor’s note: in her previous article, Taylor introduced readers to the Common Good program; here, we meet a Common Good family. 

“Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!”

Waiting for the kids to file from a basement classroom of Common Good, I sit at a table and observe.

Most of the kids are waiting for their parents and guardians to pick them up, but most of them aren’t quite ready to go home.

“Say ‘goodbye’ to Henry. You’ll see him tomorrow,” a tired-sounding mother says to her elementary-aged son as she practically drags him to the door.

Common Good, a non-profit afterschool program founded by John and Laura Gallaher on the northside, proves to be a place where kids want to be day after day.

And who can blame them? Common Good is an equal opportunity place to go for kids—black, white, Latino, large, small. Nobody, the mentors or the other children, really seems to care about the physical attributes.  Continue reading »