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The folly patrol


Not too many years ago, I learned to my inexplicable delight that the word “disgruntled” has an opposite, although it took “gruntled” nearly 250 more years to enter the language. Use it; it’s a fine word.

I’m not feeling gruntled this week. Surprise. And, with apologies to the great bluesman and one-time Detroit assembly line cog John Lee Hooker, who was referring to “the boogie” when he said it, “I got it in me, and it got to get out.”

Gone fishin’

Before getting to the point, I should say that as an avid fisherman and defender of the Great Lakes, I visited the Belle Isle Aquarium whenever it was near, even after it began to show clear signs of neglect.

Just like the city that owns it, Belle Isle has been awash in trash for a long time now. Every time it’s held out as one of the city’s “jewels” to be defended at any cost — and against all reason — from jewel “thieves,” I wonder how much would be different if it were actually treated as a gem by the city and visitors alike.

Simply put, people in significant numbers stopped visiting the island and the aquarium because there was little inviting about either. While those who protest its closing point to a sharp rise in attendance, that’s only happened since the mothballing was announced. And they’re not enough to sustain the quaint but badly outdated facility (to see just how out of date, visit those in New Orleans or Chicago).

And there’s this: If Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick manages to set personal political ambition and considerations aside and do his job, much bigger oxen are going to be gored than the Belle Isle Aquarium, with vastly more enraged reaction. The goal is to save the city. If the mayor manages to pull that off, he doesn’t have to worry about re-election.

The politics of cowardice

When exactly did our institutions begin to suffer fools so gladly?

A Connecticut elementary school recently buckled to the demands of some goofball parents who said the use of red ink in grading papers is too “stressful” for their pampered little geniuses. So the school administration told teachers to switch to another color. Purple is leading for now.

Cripes. More and more kids can’t read or write, and are badly served by public education and the governments that fund it. But this bunch, and no doubt others, bitch about the color of the ink covering those same kids’ papers.

Red is a clear sign that something’s wrong. Maybe if the Kilpatrick administration issued its press releases in red, people would begin to get a clear picture of just how bad the budget situation is, put some weight behind solutions and muffle the shrill who care only about their special little piece of the bigger picture.

Scatology 101

There seem to be a lot of scat stories hitting the wire lately, and I have a theory as to why.

In Toronto last week, cops were hauling in a drunk driver when he jammed a big handful of his own dooky into his mouth as part of a master plan to beat the breath test. It didn’t work.

Now word comes that on tax day, for the third year in a row, a Web-based outfit called Poop for Peace is calling on us all to meditate on an end to war while carrying out one of the undeniable, nonpartisan “commonalities that bind us.”

These are only Number One and Number Two of many such stories lately, and I wonder whether, after being spoon-fed so much of the stuff by politicians high and low, by advertisers, TV and movie producers and others, we’ve actually developed a taste for it.

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