Saint Paul Police Chief Harrington told the story as the featured speaker for the Fort Road Federation Annual Meeting. Two police officers went to a house where a concerned neighbors called about a woman at the front door shouting something in Hmong. Not knowing what was up, they proceeded carefully as she kept shouting the same thing, earnestly, over and over. The were nearly to the door when another officer drove up, one who heard the call and knew that his Hmong heritage could be useful in that neighborhood. He knew what was going on at once. “She’s yelling ‘gun’!” he called to the officers, who immediately took cover. The man with the weapon inside later killed himself, but quick action saved the lives of two cops that day.
We live in a time when just about every national institution is experiencing difficulties or is right out failing. There are many reasons why this is happening, but much of it boils down to two basic forces: dramatic over-reaching and the influence of the Internet. I’ll leave the hubris of our financial sector to Shakespeare, since he made a living out of depicting it well, but the Internet is the opportunity and challenge of our time. There’s little doubt it will redefine what “media” is, and along with that the bits and pieces of a culture which are delivered by a medium.
You’re at a game, crammed into the seats like everyone else. It could be any of the big sports, but you can predict it especially easily when it’s hockey. At the first break in the action the wailing guitars crank up in a way that bring the image of a hand rolling the knob over hard. You sing along, or rather shout along, to the only word that goes along with it – “Hey!” Yes, it’s Rock & Roll (Part 2) by Gary Glitter, but neither you nor nearly anyone knows that. What you do know is that this is one of those songs that is part of a good time at the game, all as part of the price of admission.
Literature is important to a culture. Before something becomes literature, however, it has to be published. That means it’s subject to all the constraints of the publishing industry, which is… (wait for it) an industry. It has to make money. Fine arts rarely make money, at least in the short term, meaning that the industry always has something else to focus on. That’s been accentuated lately by a general decline in publishing profitability. This is not a good time for literature.
They were walking down Flagler Street in Miami like they might any other day, nothing more than two men that appeared to be strangers. The fact that one was Black and one was Latino would give them little reason to acknowledge each other at all, unless one wanted to start a fight. This was just 5 years after the bitter McDuffie Riot that filled the city with acrid, chocking smoke for three days. But on this day, they shared a quick high-five as they walked past each other, an audible smack of comradeship that split the tension of a big city day. The reason for this was simple: the Miami Dolphins were in the playoffs, and both men were proudly wearing their white, aqua and orange shirts with Dan Marino’s 13 on the back.