Tuesday, May 03, 2011

3 MAY 11: After the Fall

"They finally went after him?!" a man asked inside a Columbus convenience store Monday morning. That man had noticed the front page of the Ledger-Enquirer in my hand, with the headline: "U.S. KILLS BIN-LADEN". Perhaps he was in the Zell Miller corner, and preferred nuclear bomb drops on Afghanistan instead.

I explained to the man that based on President Obama's Sunday night speech, the operation which ended with Usama bin-Laden was in the works for months. The man apparently didn't even know about the big announcement. And this was an African-American man -- which should prove not everyone in that people group stare hypnotically at the President's every word.

The President recalled the national unity of September 2001 in his late-night speech. But it was evident to me Monday that unity in the wake of Usama bin-Laden's death is somewhat lacking. Democrats tended to give President Obama the credit for it. Republicans tended to give the military credit for it. And the Columbus Mayor said nothing, keeping that non-partisan image intact.

The mayor's office released a statement Monday from the Columbus Office of Homeland Security. Director Brad Hicks indicated his staff contacted Fort Benning and the F.B.I. immediately after Sunday night's Presidential address. The statement did NOT reveal how many "woo-hoos" were said during the discussion.

Homeland Security Director Brad Hicks urges you to stay vigilant in watching for hints of possible terrorism in Columbus. Among other things, you're asked to call police about "people drawing or measuring important buildings." Columbus State University art students will display their gallery of Phenix City landmarks sometime this summer.

(Come to think of it, which came first - President Bush with "No Child Left Behind" or Homeland Security officials warning about "No backpacks left behind"?)

Spokespersons at Fort Benning didn't have much to say Monday about security changes. I left a message there -- but I didn't really want to pry into any counter-terror plans. I didn't even plan to ask if soldiers celebrated at lunch, with confetti showers in the mess halls.

I was provoked to call Fort Benning by my next-door neighbor, who made perhaps the strangest claim of the day about Usama bin-Laden. He says bin-Laden once talked about going through basic training at Benning. I certainly don't remember any such statement. Maybe soldiers receiving training in how to shoot a stuffed bin-Laden dummy....

An online search into this claim led to an amazing discovery. A satire website posted an article in 2004, actually alleging Usama bin-Laden went through basic training at Fort Benning -- then was captured alive near Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The author of this satire may have better connections in Pakistan than the C.I.A.

Yes, I know what some of you are saying - I'm breaking my policy today, by making jokes about a death. But let's face it: a lot of people consider the death of Usama bin-Laden a big deal. And the only other good alternative from the news may have been to preview today's "Proclamation Day" agenda at Columbus Council.

But let's clear up some loose ends from this historic news to start the month of May:

+ The Monday Ledger-Enquirer front page clearly was put together "under the gun," with a midnight printing deadline approaching and most of the staff probably sent home for the night. There was only one large story about Usama bin-Laden - but Dr. Paula Walker must be thrilled, because her "five questions" will be saved by thousands of people for decades.

+ People who think President Obama has secured re-election with the big announcement should remember history. Winston Churchill led Britain to victory in World War II - yet within 15 months of that victory, his party was voted out of power and he was no longer Prime Minister. Republicans might have their own code word for this: "Clinton karma."

+ Does the lack of a "flash mob" in Columbus celebrating Usama bin-Laden's death mean we're a more mature city than places like New York and Washington? Or does it simply mean Columbus residents realize the fight against terrorism isn't over - at least not until Scott Ressmeyer brings the last soldier back home on a motorcycle?

-> Why did one Columbus business suddenly suspend regular live poker tournaments? Check what we learned at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: "This is the first I've heard of it." That was the reaction of the President and General Manager of the Knoxville Ice Bears Monday, when we told him about the "barred bear" issue at the new Columbus Ice Rink. Maybe that shouldn't be surprising - as hockey bears are more likely to hibernate in summer than winter.

Mike Murray of the Knoxville Ice Bears noted his team actually two mascots - the original Chilly and a brother named Nippy. Compare that with the tandem at South Commons. The Cottonmouths' Boomer could become a poster child for adoption.

Mike Murray told me he'd contact Jerome Bechard with the Cottonmouths about the supposed Knoxville objections to the Ice Rink mascot. Murray didn't call us back with an update. But he also should talk with the Columbus Civic Center staff, since they're spreading this missing mascot mystery story. If that bear is being put inside one of Lady Gaga's giant eggs....

We promised Monday to take you inside the new Ice Rink. A figure skater had the ice all to herself in the minutes after last Friday's ribbon-cutting. Hopefully she didn't set a bad example for our youth, by doing some "death spirals."

Then it was time for anyone with skates to go gliding along. Pairs were available for rent at the entrance -- but no, I didn't put on any. I'm more into jogging and skating, and I didn't want to twist an ankle before my "anniversary run." Trouble was, the Ice Rink served free snacks in the lobby - which put my waistline at risk instead.

Even a grand-opening cake was available for cutting and chomping. I'm not sure that's appropriate for an ice rink -- since in hockey, icing is a violation.

(The Ice Rink staff did not discriminate, when it came to opening-day food. The items were both hot and cold.)

If you missed last Friday's free food at the Ice Rink, you have my sympathies - because the menu board at the concession stand shows one cheeseburger costs $7.50. You could cross the highway to Lil Kim's Cove, order two cheeseburgers for that price and have change left for a tip. You'd have to ignore the "ice" there, though -- as in the beer selection.

The city government is trying to make money from the Ice Rink in other ways. It's offering birthday party packages, starting at $140. And enjoy the clean boards while you can, because I suspect they'll be filled with ads within a year. Would it really be a good thing for an Ice Rink to have an official chiropractor?

One more item caught my attention at the Ice Rink - a long list of "rink rules and regulations." For one thing, "profanity is prohibited." This should bring a real change to Columbus Cottonmouths practices next season....

Let's see what else we scraped up from the Monday news....

+ A storage building caught fire next to Aquarius Pools on Veterans Parkway. Part of me wonders why Columbus Fire/EMS crews even needed to be called to this....

+ WRBL reported Sunday's "cruising crackdown" in Carver Park led to 14 arrests. Some people were ticketed for driving without their seat belt buckled - and I hope Recorder's Court judges bar those crooks from ever watching the movie "Fast Five."

+ Georgia Governor Nathan Deal celebrated his inauguration at the Cobb Galleria Center. After the recent.... what?! What are you asking? Yes, I know he took office four months ago. But events in January were stopped by a winter storm - and apparently Deal finally was able to pay off those campaign debts.

+ Brookstone High School won the Georgia Class A boys' golf title, on its home course of Green Island Country Club. The medalist was Robert Mize, the son of pro golfer Larry Mize. WTVM noted the Brookstone team also has Carter Mize, who is NOT related. Is it too late for Larry to take the role of godparent?

+ The Atlanta Hawks surprised Chicago 101-93 in the first game of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. OK, that's nice - but I've heard enough ESPN experts to know the Boston-Miami series is the only one that really counts.

+ Instant Message to Ryan's on Manchester Expressway: Thank you. I guess my spring beard is working. I'm not sure I'm old enough to qualify for the senior discount you gave me at dinner the other night.

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