Letters to the Editor

Letter: Keep it crazy

March 2, 2014


To the editor:

Most days I prefer something a little more bland than a “Naked Lunch,” but I do like the “crazies.” For decades, the author of the Saturday Column has enriched my appreciation of our population with colorful descriptors, e.g., “mossback, lard butt, frequent negative vocal critic, back slider, small minority, anti, smarty, martyr, professional gadfly, KU type, dedicated highly vocal naysayer.” Many of these, I’m told, fit me to a tea.

These folks, along with its bright denizens, eccentric professors, young folks with strange body art and piercings, profuse advocates of peculiar causes, keepers of eclectic shops, imaginative restaurateurs, and its unique history, vibrant downtown, diverse and tolerant population, homes both historic and funky, progressive university, and basketball, are the life blood of River City.

Sadly, Thomas Frank’s (author of “What’s the Matter with Kansas?”) description of Johnson County as a “happy, humming confusion of freeways and malls and identical cul-de-sacs and pretentious European street names … and oversized houses constructed to one of four designs” has increasingly come to describe Lawrence.

But, despite the best efforts of the George Follanbee Babbitt crowd to turn us into West Lenexa, Lawrence still retains much of its magnetic quirkiness. That attraction  has surely never been fueled by the proliferation of strip malls, retail chains, fast-food franchises, ticky-tacky “McMansions” and willy-nilly sprawl. You can find those most anywhere.

Here’s for keeping Lawrence crazy — Saturday Column and all.


4 years, 3 months ago

I agree! Lawrence is a wonderful place and should be kept "crazy." I used to ride my bike around to pay my bills each month. I'm not sure I would want to do that now--place is getting too big.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 3 months ago

Nice Sinclair Lewis allusion, Jerry. Apparently the Kansas City Star/Times of the day declared that their fair town to our east was the model for the town Zenith where Babbitt is set, so your West Lenexa reference is not far off, no?

Phil Minkin 4 years, 3 months ago

As I posted earlier: "It was the "crazies" who started the petition drive and had a vote on our downtown that stopped a mall allowing for a downtown that is vibrant and the envy of other cities. It was the "crazies" who spent time and money fixing up old houses in declining neighborhoods and turning them into show places. It was "crazies" who raised money and had the vision to save the of depot in N. Lawrence so now we have a visitors center. Many of those same "crazies" have worked tirelessly to save the train station in E. Lawrence. One of the first smoking bans, a human rights ordinance, a preservation ordinance were all the work of "crazies". Having the art center in a downtown location and preserving the Carnegie Building was the work of "crazies". Long live the "crazies" who continue to make Lawrence a unique and wonderful place to live."

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 3 months ago

Great letter, you described why I like to live in Lawrence. I was out and about on the bus yesterday and the passengers were discussing that very thing. So, the "crazies" are not just the rich elite that some seem to think, but anyone who is creative and likes to improvise.

Thanks for the comment Phil, you are right on the mark.

Scott Burkhart 4 years, 3 months ago

It was also the "crazies" that gave us the Riverfront Mall and the Tanger Outlet Mall. The "crazies" were also most of the group that ran up the cost of the Hwy 10 bypass that cost the taxpayers millions of dollars in legal fees and additional construction costs. I love the Lawrence community for its diversity and divergence of thought. It's not always a great thing to be a "crazy." Just sometimes.

Phil Minkin 4 years, 3 months ago

Those who thought The Riverfront Mall or Tanger were crazy, but not the "crazies" that Dolph referred to. They were the same ones who thought destroying downtown to build a mall was a good idea.

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