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Opinion & Columns

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The Old College Try

When I taught first grade—before the Earth cooled, in 1969—I instructed 90 6-year-olds to read and write, add and subtract. Along the way, they also learned to cut with scissors and refrain from bonking each other on the head with their science books. In return, I learned to buckle boots, make tissue-paper flowers,  and achieve some sort of primordial order on the playground.

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Free Walking Tour Not Just for Tourists

Have you heard about Indy’s connection to Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island? How about the reason the eye of Monument Circle was once called the “mud doughnut?” No? Then clear a couple of hours on your schedule some Friday or Saturday and join the free walking tour offered by Indiana Landmarks, the largest statewide historic-preservation group in the country.

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Bright (New) Lights, Big City

Say what you will about the time it’s taking to update the Soldiers & Sailors Monument and its surroundings (and everyone has), but the changes will be lovely once complete.

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Full Circle

Dear Mayor Ballard,

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Flood Zone

Once a month, my wife and I visit our public library to read the magazines we are too cheap to buy. The stories are predictable—the same actors and actresses are still in rehab, Congress is still inept, and the western U.S. will run out of water in the next few years. While the problems of Hollywood and Congress are beyond my ability to solve, the solution for the water shortage can be found in my basement, which floods on a regular basis.

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Downtown Is Even More Dangerous for Birds

The dangers of visiting downtown Indianapolis have caused a lot of public hand-wringing lately. Turns out the perils are even greater for birds than they are for people.   According to the Amos W. Butler Audubon Soci

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Tree’s Company

I take the trees in my yard personally. To me, they are not merely organic beings, but friends. I celebrate them, chart my life’s progress through them, bond with them. If I didn’t sound crazy enough already, I’d say they complete me.

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Outfits of Rage

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been wearing clothes. I feel about them the same way I feel about many items and persons of long association—a grudging acceptance of their necessity with the scantest appreciation for their virtues.

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Why We Celebrate the Fourth of July

 

“I can’t tell you how many people walk up to them, touch them, and just bow their heads,” says Greg Hess, an Indianapolis firefighter who was part of Indiana Task Force 1—a FEMA search and rescue team that joined the recovery efforts 16 hours after the two towers came down in 2001. “You don’t really get it until you actually see them,”

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For Once, a Pleasant Noise on the Circle

As the Circle Citizen ambled around the Monument during lunch today, she noticed a sidewalk sign advertising a free organ recital inside Christ Church Cathedral. “Free” being one of her favorite words, she stopped inside the chapel—by far the oldest building on the Circle. And it embarrassed her a little that she had never visited this spectacular landmark.   The first chords of Bach’s “Prelude and Fugue in E Minor, BMV 548” w

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Where Did All the Flash Mobs Go?

Go figure. Just when Indy was getting some flash-mob momentum (both the IMA and Butler dance students, pictured, busted hot moves on the Monument’s steps last year), the city’s best stage for these impromptu performances went dark for the whole season. With the Monument closed for repairs, the exhibitionists have been going elsewhere to spring song-and-dance numbers on the masses. In case you missed it, an unidentified group performed “Do-Re-Mi” in Circle Centre on January 3; members of the Dead Unicorn Society stood still for a freeze mob in the airport on April 2; the Indianapolis Opera made dramatic use of the City Market mezzanine on May 4; and the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir powered through “Carmina Burana” at the airport on May 28.

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A Heap of Trouble

I grew up on the south edge of my hometown, through the woods and over the railroad tracks from Joe Johnson’s farm. I knew little about Joe Johnson, whether he was married or had children, except that he drove a gray pickup and had a ravine in his woodlot filled with rusted farm implements, lard cans, worn tires, sagging bed springs, the odd toilet or two, and the everyday detritus humanity leaves scattered in its wake.

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Bed, Bath, and Beyond

It was late on a Thursday evening in Austin, Texas, and, anticipating a pre-dawn flight home the next morning, I was eager to settle into my hotel room, watch Grey’s Anatomy, and call it a night. The desk clerk at the airport Embassy Suites handed over my key, and I made my way to my assigned room at the end of the hallway. Trouble was, the room was not a suite—at the Embassy Suites! Instead, it occupied an awkward corner, with no separate sitting area, and featured an old-fashioned tube TV situated at an odd angle to the bed. If you can’t even score a suite at an all-suite hotel, you’ve encountered some pretty bad luck, as travel accommodations go.

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Up on the Roof

Rooftop envy is now in season on the Circle. You can’t tell it from the street, but several low-rise buildings boast decks that employees can use. Maybe you’ve never even considered the concept, because Indy isn’t one of those overcrowded cities where the use-every-inch lifestyle prevails. Most of our rooftops are forgotten tar-ritory.

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Signs of Decline

I was stopped at a traffic light not long ago and noticed, off to my right in front of a strip mall, a person dressed as the Statue of Liberty standing in the rain. In the past year, I’ve seen three Statues of Liberty, two Uncle Sams, and one Little Caesar. The weather in each instance was unpleasant, either boiling hot, rainy, or bitterly cold. But there they stood, beside the road, waving to passersby, directing potential customers to a place of business.

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