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September 22, 1989 - Image 21

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-09-22
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America finds freedom from freedom

Retreat from the outside world at local p

Burning this column is punishable
under penalty of law.
By now, you've probably heard
that 1989 is the Year of Freedom. In
Poland, Hungary, China and several
small Soviet republics which sound
like the settings of Rocky and
Bullwinkle episodes, masses of the
oppressed are breaking the chains of
slavery. By the year 2000, we'll be
using artillery shells for flower pots,
Boris Yeltsin and Mikhail Gorb-
achev will be running neck-and-neck
for the Republican presidential nom-
ination (having lost the more
prestigious Soviet post to Elton
John), and the entire world will be
united by a 50,000-channel cable TV
network - although there will still
be shortages of toilet paper in some
areas.
At least that's the impression one
gets from reading the news lately.
The rest of the world, it seems, has
finally decided that if we're going to
have McDonald's in every nation on
earth, then we might as well have
democracy, too.
The media, of course, have had a
field day with it; finally, a chance to
be the good guys! By the middle of
the summer, Tom Brokaw, after two
weeks of intense Brow Furrowing
exercises, would close every news-
cast by staring warmly in the camera

and telling us, in a tone as assured
and fatherly as the voice-over in the
Muesli commercials, how all of us
should take time out to pray for
those brave souls in Wherever The
Big Story Was Tonight, which we
did, right after taking time out to
pray for the good old days when all
there was on TV was bad news.
Sometime in December, Time
will announce its Man of the Year,
who of course will be The Freedom
Fighter. We'll look at the cover of
the magazine, bearing the photo of
the man staring down the tank in
Beijing (an event which, to
metaphor-starved journalists every-
where, proved the existence of God),
read the table of contents, then go
pop a Lean Cuisine in the mi-
crowave and chuckle condescend-
ingly.
Those poor, backward chumps.
One can hardly blame the rest of
the world for lagging behind
America, of course. I mean, if it
takes you 20 years to get blue jeans
and Beatles records (some Eastern
Bloc countries may not have the
musical car horn until well into the
next century), you can hardly be ex-
pected to keep up on the latest intel-
lectual trends. But while the rest of
the world was making headlines,
America was quietly making the real
political discovery of the 20th

Century:
Freedom is a really, really stupid
idea.
This sounds wrong, I know.
After all, if not for the Bill of
Rights, the secret police would burst
into our living rooms at night and
drag us off to labor camps for com-
plaining about our taxes or watching
forbidden, politically-charged epi-
sodes of "Head of the Class," right?
And aren't there stories in the paper
about people in other countries
dying for the rights we have? Right
here on page one, next to the story
about flag-burning becoming illegal,
and the one about Oliver North
avoiding a jail sentence, and the
one...
Ahem.
It took a long time for America
to wise up about democracy. You
see, it was developed by the Greeks,
and Western civilization is founded
on one principle: The Greeks were
much, much smarter than you or I

could ever dream of being. So the
founders of America, given the
chance to start a government from
scratch, decided, much like a newly-.
wed couple decorating a brand-new
house, to do the place in Early
Athenian. They made a few
speeches, wrote up some documents
guaranteeing the rights of people to
choose their own destiny and way of
life, and then went home so their
slaves could make dinner for them.
The Greeks had slaves, too, so it
was all right.
But the problem with freedom,
people soon discovered, was that it
required too damn much thinking. If
you have to vote for your own lead-
ers, you have to go through the
trouble of finding out where they
stand on abortion (not to mention
where you stand on abortion) and
whether or not the person they're
having an affair with is better look-
ing than the person you're having an
affair with.
Well, all this democracy crap
may have been well and good for a
bunch of nerdy-ass Greek book-
worms who, if they didn't spend all
day sitting around debating things
like this, would have to go out and
get real jobs, most of which at the
time involved either reading chicken
entrails for omens or getting eaten
by Cyclopes. But by the time the

average working Joe figures this all
out for himself, "The Cosby Show"
will have long since been over.
Fortunately, though, our long na-
tional nightmare is finally coming
to an end, starting with major bipar-
tisan advances in the area of Freedom
of Expression. While other nations
needlessly wrack their brains to
make sense of the statement, "I dis-
agree with what you say, but will
defend to the death your right to say
it," we have adopted a much more ef-
ficient slogan: "Shut up."
Thus state funding cuts to the
arts. Thus flag-burning laws. Thus
boycotts.sAll models ofgood old
American efficiency. Why bother
telling an artist you disagree with
her beliefs, when it's so much easier
to ban her works? Why bother argu-
ing with a racist or sexist, possibly
teaching them and their listeners
about the ignorance of their views?
Better to pass a code so the whole
ugly issue never, ever gets men-
tioned again - never mind if it goes
away.
Besides, once we've suckered the'
rest of the world into adopting the
Bill of Rights, we can concentrate
on our real national problems.
Like convincing them to take
this "classic rock" business off our
hands, too...

I

p

KEb
SINCE 1989
4LtMAN NC

OFT tHE
WA LLI

S KETCHPIAD

F.ZINN

By Jon Manheim
The pitfalls of civilized life were
just piling up in my room when I
experienced my epiphany. How
would I finish my thesis? When
would I find a job? What about
medical school?
When my car broke down on
Fuller Road, I knew it was high
time I got back to Nature. As I
stepped out to ascertain the damages,
I thought I could hear faint ethereal
voices calling to me. "Jon. Jon,"
they called. I ignored the voices and
proceeded to hurl my body against
the prostrate vehicle.
The voices persisted. "American
piece of shit !!" I screamed, kicking
a hubcap. I climbed back into the car
for one final turn of the key but de-
cided to pummel the steering wheel
with my head and shriek for a while
instead. I was frustrated. A welt was
beginning to grow on my forehead
when I finally yielded to the entice-
ment of those wispy voices.
For all the aggravation my car
had caused me, it actually resolved to
break down on a rather superior
stretch of road - within walking
distance of both Fuller Park and
Mitchell Field. My quest for Ann
Arbor's ultimate modern natural-
style diversion had begun.
But where to start? I looked to
my trusty auto for a sign and I was
not disappointed. The Playboy
bunny air freshener dangling from
my rearview mirror began rotating
on its string, almost imperceptibly,
until its long ears pointed undeni-
ably toward Mitchell Field. My
housemates say that it must have
been the glare of the dying sun, but I
swear that at this precise moment I
saw the ghostly image of Charlton
Heston appear in my hood ornament
and vanish almost instantaneously in
a technicolor haze. It had to be an
omen.
However, what I found at
Mitchell Field was the kind of salva-
tion that only a Ford Escort could
have led me to. Simply put, the
main problem with Mitchell Field is
that it isn't a park at all. It offers
well kept facilities for those of you
who enjoy the hustle and bustle of
organized team sports. There are
three softball (baseball) diamonds
and two soccer fields.
But I found it rather unnerving to
sit in center field, trying to enjoy a
picnic, while paunchy middle-aged
corporate executives tried to relive
their glory days by trouncing
through my tuna salad after a soft-
ball. Parking is simple, with a large
lot provided for all facility users. But
who was the genius that decided to
use gravel? Small girls with chalk in
hand gaze sadly and longingly into
the pit that might have been an arena
for hopscotch or two-box. And
where are the swings? No swingset
at a recreational facility? Did
Scrooge have anything to do with
the planning commission for this

park?
Fuller Park presents a much
wider array of activities for the viva-
cious nature lover. An Olympic size
pool, four tennis courts, and innu-
merable soccer fields are spread over
a large plot of land that could use a
bit of grooming. An unfinished
wooden jungle gym lay on its side at
the park entrance when my assistant
and I sauntered in. "But where are the
swings?" I thought, as I scanned the
horizon.
Well, don't let the first glance of
Fuller Park fool you. If you follow
the left hand tree line back about 200
feet and then bear left, you'll catch
an eyeful of the glimmering Huron
River, and from there it's just a
short walk over a quaint wooden
bridge to Island Park - a sort of
subsidiary of Fuller.
Island Park, though quite small,
includes all of the features that
Fuller is lacking. There are facilities
for barbecuing as well as a number
of picnic tables and a small, but
welcome, generic field. Ducks
greatly outnumber humans on Island
Park, but they seemed friendly
enough, and it wasn't hard to weave
our way through them on the way to
the gazebo. Island Park also boasts a
genuine Greek-style shelter sort-of-
thing complete with ornate pillars.
Sure, it's cheesy, but it's a great
conversation piece.
Setting my love of prefab clas-
sical architecture aside, however, my
favorite part of Island Park was the
sandy lot that housed both a swing

The Arb offers natural hideaway for folks trying to escap

set and a great jungle gym. The jun-
gle gym was a little worn down but
intricate enough. And although the
swings did not live up to my hopes
(we had hard seats and never had to
wait in my backyard), they were a
welcome diversion.
One word of caution, however:
although it makes for a scenic
escape, its situation on the Huron
River and heavy woods make Island
Park rather susceptible to bugs dur-
ing the humid months. Huge hover-
ing swarms of gnats impeded our
progress through both Fuller Field
WEEKEND/JONATHAN LISS

TYOU WIL.. STAND OUIT LIKE A SoP rwJ.e,
-l

I I

Eight Years ago... September 22, 1981
"WASHINGTON - The Senate, ending an all-male tradition nearly
two centuries old, unanimously confirmed Sandra Day O'Connor as an
associate justice of the Supreme Court on yesterday...
"Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), leader of the most conservative bloc of Senate
Republicans, voted for O'Connor, saying although she wouldn't say so
publicly, he believes she opposes the 1973 high court decision legalizing
most abortions."
Nineteen Years ago... September 22, 1970
"Residents of the 'Tent City' yesterday voiced their concern to stay on
the Diag despite a University order requiring them to move, and rejected
the University offer of a North Campus campsite.
"[The approximately 30 campers and their 80 supporters] said they
would stay on the Diag 'until the University recognizes its responsibility
to the community housing problem."'
Thirty Years ago... September 22, 1959
"Illegally parked bicycles will continue to be impounded by the
University in its campaign to keep the sidewalks and entrances to campus
buildings free from obstruction.
"...a spot check showed 56 bicycles and one motor bike crowding the
entrance to the Undergraduate Library."
Items in the Weekend Almanac are culled from past issues of the Daily on
this date in history. All articles are taken from Daily files which are open
to public perusal in the Daily's library.

The cobra fills its mouth with
venom,
And walks upon its duodenum.
He who attempts to tease the cobra,
Is soon a sadder he, and sobra.
(Ogden Nash)

Diet is "die" with a t'.
Pray: Jesus Listens!
(In response)

Only if you pay
saves.

him, then he

ION#Z PLAY IT ccot.. Mo i'P. wHA.
? A .w wafl
O~rw~w }ilujc.1

;

and Island Park and they got pretty
annoying at times.
The next stop on our park quest
(after my car decided to run again)
was West Park, located on South
Seventh St. For those of you that
missed the annual reggae festival
held over the summer, all I need to
say is "ha, ha." As one good friend
always says, "It's a great place to get
high and watch reggae," and, as
usual when it comes to questions
about the consumption of banned
substances, he was absolutely right.
The Ann Arbor Recreation
Department sponsors concerts in the
bandshell every Wednesday night
during summer. For those of you
that want more out of life than lying
catatonic on a grassy knoll, West
Park offers a track, baseball fields
and tennis courts, as well as an out-
door ice rink in the coming winter
months.
If you're into basketball, there are
a number of parks that can ac-
commodate your caging needs. The
South University Neighborhood
Park on South University and
Walnut (across from the Gamma Phi
Beta/Word of God house) offers a
hoop and a small blacktop court
which are rarely used and are ideal for
a friendly game of one-on-one,
although not really big enough for
much more. There's a children's
play area, but the swings are a little
creaky, and there's also a merry-go-
round. As for me, I swore off those
things after making the mistake of
drinking a quart of orange juice and
eating a bag of popcorn before get-
ting on the tilt-a-whirl at the Orange
County Fair in sixth grade.
Burns Park has three full-sized
basketball courts, if you're looking
to get a real game going. You can
almost always find at least a half
court open and waiting to be played
on. But the- finest aspect of Burns
Park (which is located on Wells and
Baldwin) is that it contains a supe-

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I wish all you religious nuts would
get enough inner peace to stop
writing on the walls and stalls of
this nation.
Life is all a game, and we fell the
hardest.

Page 101

Weekend/September 22. 19$,

Weekend/Septebfpe22,1989

.,

S f

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