Thursday, August 26, 2010

26 AUG 10: 30-Feet-High Heels

When I was young, the backyard at home had the perfect dimensions for a small-scale football field - but a couple of ground rules would get in the way. A telephone line stretched overhead near midfield. Any passes hitting that phone line would NOT qualify for "do-overs" - so Southwestern Bell sometimes was a defender's best friend.

The old homestead came to mind in a strange way Wednesday, after I watched a news report on crime concerns in one Columbus neighborhood. An activist in East Highland told WTVM if you see pairs of shoes hanging from overhead wires, it's a sign of drug activity. Ohhhh - so it doesn't mean someone set a distance record on their morning jog?

The TV report showed one location in East Highland with several pairs of dangling shoes. But I've seen scattered pairs overhead in many parts of Columbus, including one a short walk from my home. When I've seen them, my first question obviously was "why." The second one was "how" -- since it takes a pretty good arm to throw sneakers 30 feet into the air.

A public radio news report several years ago referred to a pair of dangling shoes. A young person interviewed for the story admitted putting them up there -- but as I recall, the girl said she did it merely for fun. I suppose it beats using old shoes as makeshift boxing gloves, in pretend street fights.

So what is the truth about this? The answer is as simple as a search of "urban legend" websites - but the answer there can be complicated. Snopes shows there are several explanations for dangling shoes. They include drug-dealing, fun-seeking children - and even teenage boys (ahem) making love. It's either throw your shoes or toss your underwear....

Snopes even has a military theory behind the high-wire shoes - that soldiers throw boots high in the air when they complete basic training. But if that's true, shouldn't the National Infantry Museum have dozens of boots suspended from the ceiling?

(There's also an explanation involving ranchers leaving boots on fence posts - but that's really more of a rural legend, and this is an urban topic.)

Another website dealing with urban legends quotes police in Arizona, who say there's NO connection between crime and high-wire sneakers. The news of this week may require adjusting that -- because Columbus Police think they found a connection between crime and basketball sneaker contracts.

While electric companies in Arizona may remove several pairs of shoes from power lines each week, that doesn't seem to happen in Columbus. One pair of sneakers hung suspended above Talbotton Road for years, near Jordan High School. Perhaps teachers are waiting for a graduate to come back to town for a ten-year reunion with a guilty conscience.

So I'm sorry to disappoint East Highland crime-fighters - but what you've heard about sneakers over your heads may be incorrect. When it comes to shoes on power lines, there's clearly no sole explanation....

While we're here, let's dispose of a much newer urban legend. Someone is spreading the claim online that the calendar arrangement for this month won't happen again in August for 823 years. WDAK's Morning Show mentioned it Wednesday - apparently without running it past Richard Hyatt, who would have been around the last time it happened.

This claim about the five Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays of August sounded absurd - and indeed it is. Look up a "perpetual calendar" online, click on 2010, then click the "back" arrow on your browser. My calendar showed "visited link" colors for not only 2010, but 2021 and 2027. This month's arrangement will recur then -- in 11 years, not 823. Hopefully the person who started this rumor doesn't prepare taxes.

-> A little piece of bread crust keeps stealing the show at our local poker tournaments. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: A defense attorney in the "Rec-Gate" case accused Columbus city officials Wednesday of attempting to "taint the jury pool." Shaevon Thomas said this after appearing on WFXE-FM "Foxie 105" - and as we all know, a live interview on the top-rated radio station in town cannot possibly taint jurors.

Shaevon Thomas asked why Mayor Jim Wetherington hasn't called a news conference, to praise accused Parks Director Tony Adams about the good things Adams has done for Columbus youth. Thomas may not realize Wetherington is a former police chief - so he wasn't trained to look for law-abiding citizens.

We did an online check, and found the Columbus Parks Department received a proclamation from Mayor Wetherington in April 2008. Admittedly that wasn't a news conference - but it was presented during a Columbus Council meeting, which CCG-TV rebroadcast for a week. Paul Olson can confirm that, because he probably watched the meeting four times.

If Shaevon Thomas really thinks Tuesday's police news conference and mayoral speech will bias a jury against Tony Adams and Herman Porter, he must be new to Columbus. High-profile finger-pointing doesn't work here. All Thomas has to do is call Mark Shelnutt's law office.

Tony Adams's name and picture were still on the Columbus Parks Department website Wednesday night, since he's only suspended and not fired. WTVM reported the department currently is overseen by Assistant City Manager Lisa Goodwin - which seems strange, since Parks and Recreation has an Assistant Director. Has Cammie Currie withdrawn any money from banks lately?

I found one positive note at the Parks and Recreation website. Columbus soon will have a "disc golf" course at Flat Rock Park - something that's long overdue here. I've thrown on a course at Lake Olmstead in Augusta, which offered good exercise and great scenery at no charge. It won't be quite the same in Columbus - since we don't want frisbees hitting whitewater rafters.

SCHEDULED FRIDAY: Fight night at Columbus State.... well, sort of....

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