After Thwarted Kidnapping Plans, Whitmer Calls for Unity

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]


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Parting Glances: Sunny side up, Softbaggers!

By |2018-01-16T06:40:00-05:00August 4th, 2005|Opinions|

CHICAGO — The temperature’s 104° F (so says the sweltering North Community Bank sign) on this fourth day of my annual “safari” to America’s Second City.
So far I’ve trekked 50 miles on foot, taken the CTA bus and subway to Belmont/Broadway headhunter’s “savanna” four times, and returned to the hinterland going — and coming — twice by reasonably priced cab “gazelles”. But I’m spending more time than I like in my air-conditioned outpost.
It’s 10 p.m. Cool as a hippo in a mud bed, I’m reading “Center Square: the Paul Lynde Story,” and watching Discovery Channel’s RMS Titanic “live” telecast relaying from 12,500 feet below the Atlantic. Safe on dry land, I’m getting claustrophobia as three scientists — bottled up under 5000 lbs of pressure per square inch — huddle like sardines in an MIR bathysphere.
Ninety-three years after Titanic’s sinking, I — naked, and alone again (naturally) — am witnessing a once-in-a-lifetime remembrance moment, as a bot/camera focuses on an ornate clock — sitting on what’s left of a gilded Strauss Suite mantelpiece — a silent gold sentinel that sadly ticked 1,502 lives away [705 saved].
I sip my ice-cold Evian water. Turn off TV. Fluff my pillow. Slip into oblivion . . .
FRIDAY: Internet slave that I am, I visit Apple store on the Magnificent Mile. After checking out spam tonnage on, I sit outside on sizzling Michigan Avenue, lured there by a jock in black shorts and black formfitting T-shirt. His white chest letters coax me, “Watch me perform. I may show you a trick or two.” [Well, well; just two?] I ask his name. “Scott,” he puffs back, “Dav — id — sonnnn”. His specialty: softbag gymnastics.
I know nothing about softbags [hand, douche, or beaded]. But Scott — 1999 World Champion, Single Freestyle — handsome to boot — proves quite the demonstrator, crunching toes, twisting feet, flipping ankles, acrobatically catching and cuddling his round, two-inch cloth ball. He doesn’t mind when I cry “Point!” when he occasionally misses.
Scott, an Apple “genius” expert, has been softbagging it for 22 years. (His prototypes were ancient Greek athletes playing games with smooth stones by the “wine-dark” Aegean Sea.) NOTE TO SELF: Take lessons. Start Over-65s Softbaggers for Chicago Gay Olympics 2006.
SATURDAY: I’m moving among thousands of tourist ants on Navy Pier, winding from sugary attraction to tarty distraction. With five minutes to go before its departure I hop aboard the lake schooner Windy Two, finding a comfy spot among a surprisingly small crowd.
Once motored into the lake, sails are rigged — butch me: I volunteer — and we glide into sparkling waves, cooled by a mint julep of a breeze. My moment of too-too-utterly bliss is accented by the starboard passing of Windy One returning. She fires a cannon — thud! thud! — in salute. We thud! thud! back. Live is effervescent. Rainbow gas.
SUNDAY: I’m sitting dinner time at a Cheesecake Factory table, nestled in a downstair oasis — sheltered by walls and fountains of cool bubbly water — at the base of the John Hancock building. I look across at skyscraper apartments, ranged 50, 60, 80 stories high. Balcony railings are four feet. I look away, feeling like Jimmy Stewart [or Kim Novak] in “Vertigo”.
At the next table a jolly fat kid — sitting by his plump and preoccupied mom — baits a mentally handicapped pigeon with bread crumbs. In a split second he grabs it — feathers flash, beady eyes scream — then let’s the foolish bird go. Mom absent mindedly shakes her head. Said boy giggles. Cute waiter arrives. I have a 90° urge to — softbag somebody.

About the Author:

Charles Alexander