ACLU of Indiana, Nick Crews, file lawsuit re: Obama signs

Dateline: Mon 15 Sep 2008

Friend Nick Crews and his wife Crystal Crews were none too happy to receive a letter from Plainfield, where they reside, advising them that their Obama sign in the front yard had to come down until 30 days in advance of the election.

The town has an ordinance prohibiting political signs being in front yards during that time period, Crews learned. The family had Obama sign up since the primary.

The issue seemed to strike at the heart of free speech, they reasoned.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana agrees. Together, Crews and the rights organization have filed a lawsuit challenging Plainfield's law.

Jonathan Swain of the Obama campaign said he understands Hancock County also has such an ordinance in Greenfield.

This lawsuit has legs. It will be fascinating to see what develops. How can it be legal for Marion County -- and Putnam County for that matter -- to allow signs, and Hancock and Hendricks County to disallow them?

Makes no damn sense. Bad law.

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The quarry: adieu

Dateline: Mon 15 Sep 2008

Every time one makes a move, daughter Elizabeth reminded me yesterday, it is the equivalent of a fire: the loss, the chaos. Mainly, it's the loss. One loses items in the packing, never to turn up again.

But all that is lost this time, really, is the place -- 90 acres of woods, meadows and water, high bluffs, deep pits, deer, coons, coyotes, fish, frogs and fowl. One never really owned them anyhow, so how can they possibly truly be lost?

In this wretched real estate market -- I've seen so many foreclosures in Indy I think that's all that is left of the city -- we've been lucky enough. It only took two years to move this property.

The go-to agent we finally contracted with, the one who got the job done, told us at the beginning of the transaction: "I want to put a sign up -- DO NOT COME TO PUTNAM COUNTY. STAY OUT." She'd seen her share of "move-in's" (that's what we would always be here, move-in's) who quickly tired of rural life. They were then desperate to unload their land, to get back to the city, where there were no deer in the yard and CVS really is right around the corner instead of a 12-minute drive.

Oh, hell. That was never my problem. I did, however, buy the American dream, ala Scarlett O'Hara: the land will make you free, give you bliss, be the only real meaning in your life.

Not so. Many people write books about their successful country rebirths. They end up growing lavender, or raising goats, or opening a green camp -- they find fortune and enough fame to qualify for one magazine article or, if they are really talented, a memoir.

I intend to write the true story: eight years in the wilderness. It was a lot of fun and a hell of a ride, but it was not paradise, and it was not a cure-all.

In the meantime, back to the fire.

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Dateline: Fri 12 Sep 2008

The comic strip "For Better or For Worse," did run in the Sunday Star, and in fact the last one ran there on Sunday Aug. 31 -- the summary of every character's life at the culmination of Elizabeth and Anthony's wedding.

I missed this episode due to using the funny papers as packing material for the great trek from Putnam County back to Marion County.

Also, the strip is still carried by other newspapers. Even better, you can read it online at the official "For Better or For Worse" website:

THANKS to the alert reader who pointed out my error. For some reason, the Sunday strip faded from memory -- cartoonist Lynn Johnston always used that space for an anecdotal message rather than carry on the week's story line. In other words, duh.

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'For Better or For Worse'

Dateline: Fri 12 Sep 2008

Let's be honest. Some of us read the paper with anticipation of the dessert at the end: the comic strips.

Goodness knows, the pickings are slim there these days -- lots of low-fat and unsatisfying offerings -- but many, especially women, enjoyed Lynn Johnston's long-running family-saga series, 'For Better or For Worse.'

So it was with great surprise that in the first week of September, with character Elizabeth's wedding in full swing and Grandpa Jim clinging to life, the strip vanished from the Star. Did anyone else read any notice of its demise in our daily newspaper? I did a search, and I could find nothing.

If you're curious -- in other words, if you're a "Lifetime Movie Network" estrogen theater type person -- here's the backstory.

The strip wound up Sunday with a splashy, colorful finale and a neat summary of each character's life. I'll spare you the gory details, but if you're interested, there's a link at the bottom. Of course, Star readers never saw that strip, since the paper does not carry the Sunday version -- too expensive, no doubt.

After research, I found that, as I'd read before, Johnston had in fact planned to end her strip on Aug. 31 and fade into blissful retirement: travel with her dentist husband, etc. But then life turned ugly, her husband found a younger woman and left her, and she decided to keep working. Her new strip -- not carried by the Star -- shows main character Elly as a young mom trying to cope with two rascally kids and an indifferent hubby. Seems as if Johnston has a little bit of anger poking thru.

Anyhow, the main point -- the strip was well loved, even tho, God knows, it was sappy and in many ways out of touch. Still, how many comics deal with both the death of a dog and grandparents? Some of us liked it, and many of us were curious about what the heck happened.

The Star should have carried a story explaining all this in its features section. It would have been nice.

But the Washington Post did. Here's the link, which will also lead you to the cartoon finale.,0,2345637.story

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Jekel out at the Star

Dateline: Wed 10 Sep 2008

Thanks to a reader who keeps her eye on Gannettblog, we know that longtime community newspaper boss Tom Jekel was laid off or let go from the Star Tuesday.

Jekel came to Indy from Lansing, Mich., before Gannett came to town. He ran the Topics and Noblesville Ledger newspapers.

His official title at the time of his departure was general manager for community newspapers, which, considering how the bureaus are no longer the money-making machine they started out to be, made him expendable.

Best of luck to Jekel. He's in his mid to late 50s, so, as one friend suggested, let's hope he got a nice parting package.

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