Fame is not fair. The names of bank robbers of the 1930s, for instance, still roll off our tongues: John Dillinger; Bonnie & Clyde; Pretty Boy Floyd. Crude thugs in souped-up Packards bursting into small town banks, waving guns and fleeing with a couple hundred dollars. Still they are immortal.
An endless flood of books pours into the paper. They pool in canvas-sided mail carts before being diverted into a windowless room where they linger, the literary version of an algae-covered retention pond. A few seep onto my desk, so I feel duty bound to flip each volume open and sample a few lines. That’s usually enough. Most can then be cast aside without another thought. But there are rare exceptions.
Comic strips never really die. Charlie Brown is forever about to kick the football that Lucy is helpfully teeing up for him. Dagwood eternally gazes in rapt anticipation at a sandwich a foot high. Krazy Kat swoons in expectation of his daily brick to the head.
When we lived in the city, my wife and I would load our two small boys into a big double stroller I called “the bus” and roll on over to the Lincoln Park Zoo to see our friend Adelor, the lion. He would welcome us with a low reverberating roar that you’d feel vibrating your sternum. That was in the late 1990s.
Criminals are stupid. Not all of them, of course. I suppose there must a few Prof. Moriarty masterminds out there, living quietly in splendor in Monaco, having pulled off whatever heists they managed to get away with, unapprehended.
Clint Eastwood’s new movie “J. Edgar” opens Wednesday, and anyone who saw its star, Leonardo DiCaprio, deliver his touching portrayal of the deeply weird Howard Hughes in “The Aviator” a few years back will be looking forward to what he does with another deeply strange figure in American history: J. Edgar Hoover.
“One hasn’t got time,” the great American philosopher Frank Sinatra once sang, “for the waiting game.” He was referring to girls, but that applies equally to restaurants. Thus I avoid all hot new eateries — who wants to stand packed with the fashionable for an hour, waiting to spend $400 on spoonfuls of foam and shot glasses of soup?