Most of us who remember how deliciously cool the ’60s were now look old enough to be in a painting hanging on the wall of some dusty library.And if you do recall the rollicking ’60s, you definitely know how incomprehensibly horrid the ’70s were. That decade, with its disco drivel, pathetic male fashion and inane hair, was more energy-sapping than slowly bleeding to death.The only good thing I can say about the ’70s is that it was a time before smoking and drinking were capital offenses. And it was a time when I actually had time to play a little golf. Nowadays the only time I score a birdie is when my car clips a grounded robin.Which brings me to Will Ferrell, a guy who keeps bringing the dreaded ’70s flickering back to life in the movies. Which makes me want to strangle him with a leisure suit. I think Ferrell is a funny guy. But I’ve seen him over visit the ’70s time machine.Indeed, I would much rather straighten out my sock drawer, grout my tub or discuss the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas with an atheist than see “Semi-Pro” in which Ferrell plays a ’70s pop star whose passion is being the owner, coach and player of the Flint Tropics, a pro basketball team that never will be confused with the Los Angeles Lakers.And you thought ’70s pop stars were all into drugs, sex and plaid jackets.
Wyomissing School District has a problem that may have even perplexed Solomon.Its aging West Reading Elementary School is bursting at the seams. Its pupils apparently don’t have enough elbow room to practice their penmanship. And the district’s efforts to find a location for a new school has run into so many detours you would think PennDOT was driving the search. Earlier proposals that would have taken about 20 homes next to the school at 421 Chestnut St. were about as popular as George W. Bush.The folks running the district are educated people and they now have come up with a couple new options.Both would take over the apartment building that was the former West Reading High School and four other properties in the 400 block of Franklin Street. One would renovate the apartment building and connect it to the elementary school at a cost of $27.8 million. The other would raze the apartment building and build a new school on the site at a cost of $31.9 million.Many of the residents in Wyomissing, if not West Reading, are filthy rich so the cost of either proposal doesn’t have too many wallets in the district screaming in protest.Still, why uproot residents from their homes? After all, having homeless people in the district, even if it’s West Reading, would tarnish by extension Wyomissing’s upscale image. Since Solomon isn’t so smart now that he’s long dead, thank God that Zeke still is alive to offer a couple of highly intelligent solutions.Why not level The Stone House on Parkside Drive South and build a new elementary school there? Granted, The Stone House is a Wyomissing landmark. But what’s more important, style or substance? If the district doesn’t soon find room for its kids at the West Reading Elementary School, they’re either going to suffocate or grow up dumber than fire hydrants. Because nobody can learn when they’re deprived of oxygen. And if losing The Stone House looks as if it may trigger an insurrection in the lovely, landscaped streets of Wyomissing, district officials simply should take over one of those massive mansions on Reading Boulevard. They probably could fit a new elementary and a new high school into one of those big babies with roofs big enough for a Boeing 747 jumbo jet to land on. And it’s unlikely the occupants of said house would be so put out they’d have to move to Cotton Street in Reading.Then again, if either of my enlightened proposals fails to fly, the only remaining option for Wyomissing would be to get out of the business of public education. Residents thus would be spared paying property taxes. Of course, the residents with school-age children would spend a small fortune on gas having their family chauffeurs drive the kids back and forth to Lancaster Country Day School.
One of the symptoms of our decadence as a society is our obsession with silly world records. This Guinness guy is the lout who really has dummied down our culture.For example, take a gander at that 134-pound monstrosity that just broke the Guinness world record for the largest commercially available hamburger.You just know that vegetarians find this wanton excess to be particularly loathsome. As for meat lovers, this Big, Big, Big, Big Boy burger is bad news for the carotid arteries.Of course, I’d pay money to watch some big-bellied moron inhale the entire 134-pounder. I would love to see if his stomach came apart before my very eyes. Or if he came down with Mad Cow disease seconds after his last big gulp.And if somebody could eat that hamburger in one sitting, he undoubtedly would be worshipped as a deity in some circles of indigestion.
Technically I guess a 19-year-old is a man. But he’s still a kid to me.Devon Lonon no longer is a 19-year-old. He is a dead man. Or a dead kid. He checked out of this world Sunday night after he was shot twice in the head at close range at 12th and Muhlenberg streets.None of us wants to die. Especially at 19. Especially in a pool of blood at 12th and Muhlenberg streets. How tragic. How sad.It was the first homicide in the county this year. But over the span of time, his fatal shooting was playing rehashed chords.While the hurt and loss are still new and hot to the touch for friends and relatives of Lonon, we’ve been down this road around here too many times in the past. Young men blown away on the streets by bad dudes with hearts shaped like revolvers.So much for the allure of the streets. If you gotta go, it’s better to die in your bed at 80 than to die on cold asphalt at 19.Police don’t know the motive for the slaying, but the execution style of the hit makes it pretty apparent the young man didn’t die in a dispute over SAT scores.
I didn’t watch the Academy Awards Sunday night because I was busy tuning my lawn mower. After all, spring is only about six months away — temperature-wise.Actually, I blew off the Oscars because I haven’t seen any of the nominated movies. I eventually will catch most of them at home, but lately I have been avoiding movie theaters.Why?Because many movie patrons are about as mature as 4-year-olds. And more rude than a prison guard cranky with psoriasis. It’s hard to enjoy a movie when you want to punch out half the people sitting behind you and in front of you. And set fire to the other half. The latter option, of course, is not a good thing. Fires and theaters aren’t a good mix.Granted, I did read about the Oscars today and found out that Americans can’t act anymore. We no longer have any Americans who are heavyweight champions, even though there are about 12 of them. And now we have no Americans who are reigning Academy Awards winners as actors. Will it ever end? Next thing you know, Detroit will let Japanese automakers strip their gears. Oops, that already happened? What’s next? Will all hot dogs be processed in India? Anyway, all four acting prizes last night went to Europeans: Frenchwoman Marion Cotillard, best actress for “La Vie En Rose”; Spaniard Javier Bardem, supporting actor for “No Country”; and Brits Daniel Day-Lewis and Tilda Swinton, he for best actor for “There Will Be Blood” and she for supporting actress for “Michael Clayton.”At least an American film won best movie. Then again, I guess “No Country for Old Men” means I should soon go into exile in Peru or somewhere desolate now that I’m on the fat side of 50.
Mister Postman, oh yeah deliver the letter, the sooner the better You may have noticed that it’s snowing out there this Friday morning, and supposedly sleet or freezing rain is on the way. Oh, well. At least you won’t have to apply any sun block today.The weather, of course, won’t prevent your postman from delivering your mail. You know the refrain: “Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds.” Unless, of course, you have a motor route and you haven’t cleared enough of a runway to land a small jet on leading up to your mailbox. For the most part, postal workers do a great job. I say this for two reasons. One, my father was a lifelong postal worker who related everything in life to how things were done at the post office. Why I never became a mail carrier remains one of the great mysteries of the 20th century. Two, I don’t want any postal workers out there going all postal on me.But, truth be told, sometimes the postal boys drop the ball, er, letter.For instance, you may have noticed the piece in today’s Eagle. It took a letter 56 years to get from Germany to Wyomissing. Hell, it could have gotten here faster had somebody glued it to the back of a turtle who walked from Germany to the Atlantic Ocean, swam across the pond, and then slow-footed it from Atlantic City to Wyomissing. The letter arrived in Wyomissing Thursday. Since the cost of stamps has gone up about 104,672 percent since 1952, it apparently arrived postage due.Postal officials say they don’t know how the letter got lost or where it has been for 56 years.Probably stuck to the bottom of some mailbag.
The Oley Valley School Board punted on starting a district football program Wednesday.What’s wrong with these guys?Don’t they know that the rest of America devours football like so much barbecued steak?Don’t they know that a high school without a football team is hollowed out, like a big fruit shorn of its ripe interior?Don’t they know that life without football is uncivil, if not downright depressing?Don’t they know that fielding a football team doesn’t have to be more difficult than opening a contrary bottle of imported beer with your teeth?Football or Latin Club? Football or Chess Club? Football or academics? Unless one is a hard-line purist who eats his morning bacon only from the right side of the plate, it’s a snap decision. It’s football. After all, a school district without a football program is left lunging for a trace of presence like a hunting dog with a bad nose. The Oley folks should relate to that. The place is full of pickup trucks and hunting rifles.A school district with so many farmers should be in pigskin heaven. Oley has plenty of full-blown, corn-fed guys to play football. Big guys like that shouldn’t have to be stuck playing the piccolo.
The wheels of justice already turn so slowly you could time them with a sundial. Throw in folks interpreting Spanish for non-English-speaking people, and some trials in our state have a shelf life longer than the geezers Willard Scott loves.Then again, if we need interpreters for Spanish, what about such languages as Polish, Pennsylvania Dutch, Icelandic, Japanese, Swahili, Gaelic and whatever?In plain English, everybody has equal rights.
City and county leaders should have lit up cigars the size of oboes Thursday when they rolled out plans for the $1 billion Riverview at Reading proposal for 2,000 apartments and condos and a waterfront park.Needless to say, if this mega scenario ever sees the cold light of day, it would mean an epic sea change for south Reading. Of course, our town is populated with cynics who feel any grand plan is shakier than the lead singer in a rumba band. Fellow blogger Al Walentis, for one, is getting perpetual chills and heart palpitations over just who is going to pony up the big bucks for the project.Well, I’ve got a hunch that the Baltimore-based Giannasca Development Group LLC will have enough Scotch tape and paper clips at its disposal to piece this busy bit of tapestry together.The Giannasca father-and-son team will find a way to pick up the tab. In fact, the mere thought of them turning vinegar into champagne has created an intoxicating buzz that presages dazzling things to come for our town.Then again, don’t pray for rain. We don’t need another imperfect storm around here washing Reading’s renaissance down the drain. While I am in a kind of rapture over this, I do have a concern that the proposed waterfront park would include the city’s main sewage pumping station at the foot of Sixth Street. According to the mayor, the station likely will go underground with the park built above it. Sewers and riverfront parks would seem to be an odder couple than John McCain and Mitt Romney.But I’m trying to think positive. So I’ll stow a lot of air freshener on my boat when I cruise the revamped Schuylkill and replay Neil Young’s “Down by the River” in my mind’s eye.
I know Roger Clemens defiantly told Congress Wednesday that he never took performance-enhancing drugs, that sheer hard work and not steroids or human growth hormone made him the only power pitcher in the history of baseball to excel past his prime.He might as well used the same flaming emotion to tell the grandstanding congressmen that the tooth fairy sprinkled magic dust on his right arm to keep him from losing his fastball. Come on, now. Do you really believe that Brian McNamee, his personal trainer, injected HGH into Clemens’ wife and his best friend and fellow pitcher Andy Pettite but NOT Clemens?Clemens’ credibility, like a Harry Kalas-described home run, is out of here. His testimony yesterday was merely a futile gesture as his reputation travels the lonely road to ruin.As for Congress, those folks need to get out of the sports business and get back to more serious matters like affordable health care for non-millionaires and pumping some roids into the economy. Baseball, meanwhile, needs to get past its steroids era, which has become like wallpaper — clingy, messy and annoying.