Archive for Sunday, September 2, 2001

Traffic presents challenges as school begins again

September 2, 2001


I read in this paper about efforts to slow down drivers on West Harvard Road. For years I've waited to see whether the powers-that-be will do anything about the speeders between Ninth Street and Sixth streets on Lawrence Avenue. Boy, do they shoot along, far beyond the 25-mile-per-hour posted speed limit, especially now that the Kansas University students are back in their sleek black cars. How they like the way the street curves just about where our yard is.

And, while I'm on the subject, will someone in the traffic department explain the logic of the two green lights at Sixth and Lawrence, neither light providing for a left turn. You drive west on Sixth. You get to that intersection, and the traffic comes pouring in from the west. Finally, as the two green lights change, you can make a left turn, if, that is, you're in the first car. And you always have to turn as the light is turning red. One car.

(I see similar intersections with a left-turn green light. Now that Sixth Street has become another Iowa, don't the big boys know that Lawrence Avenue traffic has become incredible?)

OK, some rambling. On vacation a year ago we read that Walter Matthau died. This year, on our vacation, Jack Lemmon died, almost exactly a year later. Most of us have liked Jack Lemmon since he made those movies with Judy Holliday almost 50 years ago. The other night I played a fragment of a TV show that had Lemmon co-starring with George C. Scott on "Inherit the Wind," Lemmon in the part Spencer Tracy played in the movie. I have another old tape of Lemmon as the Georgia lawyer defending Leo Frank, accused of murdering a young girl around 1912 or '13. Jack was heavy in those parts, but we'll remember him especially in "Some Like It Hot," especially that final scene. Lemmon: "I can't marry you. I'm a boy!" Joe E. Brown: "Well, nobody's perfect."

Next item: it's hard to think of recent cases more loathsome than the one involving Robert Courtney, the Kansas City pharmacist. (I know: He hasn't been convicted.) The word "evil" still has meaning, even if you aren't religious.

Autumn is coming, and schools are back in session. And I read about all the Internet stuff, and wonder whether schools still believe in books. Books are gone from some libraries, like the one in the school where I taught. Wonder what happened to all those books I donated over the years? Probably on the Internet.

Our grandson is playing football, the roughest sport since the age of lions and Christians in the Colosseum. Speaking of lions, and bears, do you really have to keep them around as pets?

Big basketball blow. We bought tickets for the Utah Jazz-Philadelphia Sixers game in October at KU. Now both Danny Manning and Jacque Vaughn are going to play elsewhere. We're left with Ostertag.

I wish I dared tell you all the George "Dubya" Bush jokes I've heard. But not here in Republican country, as I've known since 1952, when the Kansan editors came out for Adlai Stevenson. And, our governor may help us get Jim Ryun as our congressman if we live west of Iowa.

I seldom agree with George Will, but twice lately I've agreed with him. He said that some academic departments in the land are more injurious to education than the athletic departments. Then he uttered politically incorrect things about the mess in the "Holy Land." (I do quote "Holy.") Isn't it obvious that the Palestinians won't be content until every Israeli is driven out?

Will TV weather forecasters quit saying hot, dry days are "gorgeous" as our lawns burn up?

Well, Tiger Woods won a match. I was tired of sports pages that emphasized the Tiger even as he was far out of first place.

About 40 years ago Newton Minow called television the "vast wasteland." Look at it today. There's a "race" show that's about to try to do what "Survivor" did. And can anybody over 30 get a job in a "situation comedy"? Well, there is the father of "Frasier."

A plug for KANU, which will be celebrating its 50th birthday a year from now. Maybe you never listen to radio, but you ought to give KANU a try. KANU has had a fine history, and I suggest that you try 91.5 once in a while. Free advertising.

I've been reading a fascinating detective novel in which the author has Lewis Carroll of "Alice in Wonderland" and Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes solving a murder in London in 1886. These historical reconstructions, phony as they are, can still be great fun.

Calder Pickett is a professor emeritus of journalism at Kansas University. His column appears Sundays in the Journal-World.

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