Wonderful and well-deserved tributes have been written this past week to Lawrence (Larry) "Bo" Connor.
The dignified, gentle, witty, and kindly former city editor and managing editor of the Indianapolis Star, who died Feb. 28 at age 88, was remembered by Dan Carpenter as loving, unpretentious and resilient when it came to work, and then choosing "the better part" ("Boss of all Bosses"), and by John Krull as a member of the "old school" school of journalism. Both recollections are published by Forefront via the Indianapolis Business Journal. Forefront is an IBJ venture promoting "stimulating commentary" from Hoosier "thought leaders."
Here are the links, first to former Indy Star columnist Carpenter and secondly to former News columnist Krull:
My own impression of Bo mirrors what Krull and Carpenter have written. I'll share just one short anecdote which speaks volumes to me of the man's value system and character.
I was hired in February 1978 by the Star as a copy editor. I worked part-time, two or three nights a week. With two little boys at home, I chose to put my writing career on the back burner. Still, printer's ink is in the blood, and I was always hungry to dig into a good story. Being in the newsroom was my drug.
That spring, ads began appearing in the Star's classified section for a new abortion services provider in Indianapolis. The clinic was located not far from my neighborhood, on Meridian Street just south of 38th.
Something about these ads -- if nothing else, the brassy trumpeting of abortion services by way of relentless advertising in the local newspaper -- struck me as unsavory. It was a pure hunch; I felt there was something possibly crooked or at least untoward about the services.
Strictly speaking, I did not work for Bo. I was not a reporter. My boss was Frank Widner, copy desk chief. But I typed up my observations about this clinic and sent them in a memo to Bo. I asked him if it would be OK if I checked out the facility. We met briefly and discussed my plan. He was cautious. but he gave me a green light.
To cut to the chase: I was never able to get anything solid on that clinic. In truth, I did not try too awfully hard; I was, after all, working part time because I had a family who came first.
That fall, in November, the Chicago Sun-Times published a series of prize-winning iinvestigative stories on profiteering abortion clinics in that city run by the same people who owned the clinic in Indy. My instinct had been correct. What struck me about this whole experience was not the story that got away, but that the editor had said yes.
Maybe this seems like a trifling anecdote. After all, it goes nowhere; no prizes were won, no story ever even saw the light of day.
But that's not the part that has stayed with me. Bo trusted people in the newsroom. His own standards and integrity were so high that it seemed to me he extended his value system to others. Sometimes his trust worked out beautifully -- after all, he was part of the team at the Star that won the Pulitzer for a series on police corruption, published in 1974. Other times, because this is real life, nothing came of his trust....except, of course, that he won loyalty from his staff. Many of us respected and loved him simply because he gave his faith in us so willingly.
Oh, for God's sake. People, leave those churches alone.
Brian Howey's "Howey Politics Indiana" reported Feb. 14 that Carmel's Sen. Mike Delph, who had a hissy fit and then some over HJR-3 dropping its second sentence which banned civil unions, is blaming the Evangelical churches in his district for not supporting his antiquated cause.
Reports Howey, speaking of the senator's overactive tweets: "He (Delph) also took aim at churches in Carmel, tweeting at one point: 'My biggest criticism is with the Evangelical Church: Grace CC, E91, College Park, Northview, etc....you should all be ashamed!"
Sorry, but this is the same bullshit argument that Indianapolis Star columnist Erika Smith used when she flagged black church pastors for being against gay marriage or civil unions.
Delph, who is older and should know better, needs to understand that humility and love of "the other" are central to Jesus' teaching. Even if that message is lost on him, he should understand that he's not God and he can't dictate to those pastors and their congregations.
My experience with responsible religious groups and leaders in this community is that they take their mission seriously. Since we have freedom to practice religion in this country, it seems awfully high and mighty for someone -- anyone -- to tell churches which side they are supposed to be on.
If you don't recognize the names of the churches Delph targets, I do -- Grace Community Church, East 91st Street Christian Church, College Park Church and Northview Church, all strong Evangelical places of worship in Carmel.
Those churches do a lot of good in Carmel and beyond. I'm not here to do PR for them.
But I am here to say that Mike Delph has got an awfully big head of steam if he thinks he can, and should, boss them around. Thinking of my own church here, the Church of Rome, it's not like these churches have broken laws. One assumes they are simply following their conscience and not getting on the anti-gay/anti-civil unions, cause. Or maybe they are simply prayerfully, humbly quiet.
Freedom to practice religion -- it's a biggie in the Constitution, First Amendment.
Leave the churches alone.
Page 2 of the Indianapolis Star is devoted to photos by staff; each time a photo appears, the photographer gets a cameo "Photo by" with her/his image and Twitter tracker.
I like the feature -- lots of good photos of daily local life.
But at the top, the feature is heraleded as "AN INDY MOMENT presented by Roberts robertscamera.com.
Roberts is a camera store catering to shooters and a big player in Sunday's ad section. Obviously, the implication is that Roberts Camera bought this space.
It might be good to be straight about the arrangement. Next to the shooter's image, perhaps a brief sentence or two explaining the relationship between Roberts and the Star? Even magazines use the term "Advertisement" when they're going this direction. That is implied, but it is not clear.
Am I missing something?
Where is the Purdue University follow-up on motive?
Here's the mix: two young men, both teaching assistants at a tier-one engineering college, one dead, the other in jail, and our former governor president of the university -- quite a bomb in the making.
So why has no intrepid journalist trekked up to Purdue and done the legwork?
One source speculates that Purdue Univeristy's president Mitch Daniels is putting the kabosh on further reporting.
The story, so far, is that Michael Boldt, 21, is dead, shot inside the electrical engineering building Jan. 22, and Cody Cousins, 23, also a student, is in jail, charged in the crime.
Why? What happened?
Reporters should not wait around for the police and prosecutors to deliver their side of it on a press conference plate; someone should get an account and publish it. But there's nothing in any daily in Indiana, including the Purdue University Expoonent. Strange, very strange.
Time for some digging.
The 94-year-old bookish sports writer with a degree from Harvard who worked at the New Yorker for years has an excellent essay in the New Yorker, Feb. 17 & 24 issue.
He writes about intimacy, love, venery, his various physical impairments, his late beloved wife, dogs, music, scotch and the art of writing with so much grace and vigor that I have to share just two small portions.
The first is actually from an interview with him published last May, "Bronx Banter presents The Stacks," in which he talks about (among many subjects) the influence of Ernest Hemingway on writing students at Harvard when he was there.
Needless to say, Henmingway's blunt, direct style was huge.
Every one of us, he says, was writing like Hemingway (or trying to).
"I still remember the first sentence of one of my classmate's stories...'Ernie stank of squirrel guts.'"
Secondly, his joke from the New Yorker..because, he says, "I count on jokes, even jokes about death":
Teacher: Good morning, class. This is the first day of school and we're going to introduce ourselves. I'll call on you, one by one, and you can tell your name and maybe what your dad or your mom does for a living. You, please, over at this end.
Small boy: My name is Irving and my father is a mechanic.
Teacher: A mechanic! Thank you, Irving. Next?
Small girl: My name is Emma and my mom is a lawyer.
Teacher: How nice for you, Emma. Next?
Second small boy: MY name is Luke and my dad is dead.
Teacher: Oh, Luke, how sad for you, We're all very sorry about that, aren't we, class? Luke do you think you could tell us what your dad did before he died?
Luke: (seizes his throat): He went, 'Ngungghhh!'
Very popular with 4th graders, says Angell.
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