A lion, lost.

I was saddened to read, early Saturday morning, of the death of Vartan Gregorian. You’ve probably never heard of him. I hadn’t, before I met his son, Vahe, and later the man himself, during my year in Ann Arbor. Vahe, a sportswriter then in St. Louis and now in Kansas City, was in my Knight-Wallace Fellowship class. Vartan was invited to be one of our seminar speakers later that year.

Like I said: Never heard of him, but then, I was a Midwestern girl. He was president of the Carnegie Corp., and about as big a cheese as you could be in New York City, as we were all soon to learn.

Vartan served as president or provost at several universities, but his real claim to fame, and the centerpiece of his NYT obit linked above, was that he saved the New York Public Library from near ruin. He had his work cut out for him:

The underpaid, overworked staff was demoralized. The beautiful Gottesman Exhibition Hall had been partitioned into cubicles for personnel and accounting. Tarnished chandeliers and lighting fixtures were missing bulbs. In the trustees’ board room, threadbare curtains fell apart at the touch. Outside, the imperious marble lions, Patience and Fortitude, and the portals they guarded, were dirt-streaked. Bryant Park in the back was infested with drug dealers and pimps and unsafe after dark.

But the main problems were not even visible. The library faced a $50 million deficit and had no political clout. Its constituencies were scholars, children and citizens who liked to read. The city had cut back so hard that the main branch was closed on Thursdays, and some branches were open only eight hours a week.

To Dr. Gregorian, the challenge was irresistible. The library was, like him, a victim of insult and humiliation. The problem, as he saw it, was that the institution, headquartered in the magnificent Carrère and Hastings Beaux-Arts pile dedicated by President William Howard Taft in 1911, had come to be seen by New York City’s leaders, and even its citizens, as a dispensable frivolity.

He seemed a dubious savior: a short, pudgy scholar who had spent his entire professional life in academic circles. On the day he met the board, he was a half-hour late, and the trustees were talking about selling prized collections, cutting hours of service and closing some branches. He asked only for time, and offered in return a new vision.

It so happened that 1980-ish is when I started receiving the Columbus Dispatch fashion editor’s copies of Women’s Wear Daily, and I remember that new vision appearing in its society columns: The Literary Lions, a huge fundraising effort led by business titans, socialites like Brooke Astor and Vartan, which coincided with the city’s comeback and the flood of financial-industry money rolling in from Wall Street. What better, what nobler cause than libraries and literacy? People like Jackie Onassis and Isaac Bashevis Singer jumped on board, along with…pretty much everybody.

It was a huge success. The grand institution was saved. By the time he spoke to our group in Ann Arbor, he’d long since moved on. The night he visited, Wallace House was at standing room only, with many of the guests other university administrators who’d worked with him at one of his previous posts — Brown, Penn, University of Texas. The atmosphere was like a low-key Bruce Springsteen concert prelude. I soon learned why.

He spoke that night about his stewardship of the committee that chose the 9/11 memorial in lower Manhattan. (This was 2004, and I believe Maya Lin’s design had recently been revealed to the public.) As you can imagine, every macher in New York wanted to be on that committee, and the ones who were selected all had their own ideas about how it should do its work and what the winning design should look like. Vartan talked about how he tamed these mustangs, hitched them to his wagon and got them pulling in one direction as a team.

Wallace House seminars were officially off the record, and we were discouraged from even taking personal notes. If I had a recording of that talk, I could sell it as a MBA-level class in effective management. I can’t even recall individual details now, but how he made them all responsible for the entire group’s success, kept them from leaking to the media to their advantage, and even showing up to every meeting so that their work could proceed smoothly and quickly? Was genius, like watching someone work a complicated math proof in 30 seconds. And he did it all through charm and ego-stroking and flattery; I doubt he had enough strong-arm in his personality to lift a coffee cup, but he could levitate it and make it dance in the air through the focus of his attention.

I got a glimpse of that part later. We had the chance to ask questions, and I posed an overlong and convoluted one. I’d recently read a scathing critique of the Oklahoma City bombing memorial in the New York Observer, and the writer made the case that its biggest flaw was: Too Soon. Tragedies need time to understand, particularly those with political elements, and in its rush to honor those who died in the Murrah building that day, the designers had left out the Why of it all.

So I asked Vartan about Too Soon, but said that lower Manhattan real estate was some of the most valuable in the world, and was the goal to get an appropriate memorial up while they still could, or something like that. I don’t recall his response (probably “yes”), but I do remember afterward, when we were introduced and he said, “That was such a smart question! Why aren’t you working for the New York Times?” He had that gift, so vital in a fundraiser, of making the person you’re talking to feel like a) the focus of 100 percent of your attention; and b) the most interesting person in the world. And to somehow do it without a whiff of ass-kissing or sucking-up or smarminess. He just liked you so much! Thought you were great!

His late wife, Clare, called him “the one-man swarm,” someone who could pay a call at any Upper East Side apartment and leave with a check worthy of transport in an armored car. No wonder he saved the library. No wonder he boosted the endowments of all his academic employers. No wonder he appeared so often in Bill Cunningham’s Evening Hours column that after we met, I started looking for him there. I thought of him as the Silver Goatee of Merriment.

Anyway, because of my belief that personalities are always more interesting with a little shadow in the picture, I should also say that Vahe, Vartan’s son, said his upbringing wasn’t always easy, that as the American son of an Armenian immigrant, they had profound differences as he grew up. I’m sure that as a PhD who wrote books and spoke seven languages, it probably drove Vartan crazy to have a son who played football and read Spider-Man comics. But by the time I met them, they seemed to be on the best of terms. In his later years, with the Carnegie Corp., Vartan mostly gave money away, and often took his family with him to faraway destinations to watch the check-passing and do a little sightseeing after.

One such trip was to a town in South Africa, where Vartan was endowing, what else, a library. The rest of the family arrived jet-lagged and slept through the ceremony, all except for Vahe’s wife, Cindy, who was a witness. She told me the town made a big fuss, and the fuss included a band with high-stepping dancers, or majorettes, or something, and how delighted Vartan was to see it all. He would have been around 80 by this point, a man who’d stood in the Oval Office to receive the Medal of Freedom, whose Rolodex and life experiences included literally everybody who was anybody all over the United States, and he was thrilled by a band in a dusty town in South Africa.

That, I’m telling you, is how to live your life. Condolences to his family, and all who knew him. The hole he leaves in the world is immense.

Postscript: If I’d had a chance to meet him in recent years, I’d ask him about Donald Trump. Trump’s rise coincided with the Literary Lions, and I’m sure that social-climbing piece of crap got his foot in the door of a few of those dinners. I bet he had some stories. I hope he told them to someone before he left us.

Posted at 7:42 am in Current events |

58 responses to “A lion, lost.”

  1. Connie said on April 17, 2021 at 8:01 am

    Of course I know who he was. He has his own chapter in any history of American public libraries,

    I will also note that I have had breakfast in the trustee’s board room mentioned in the obit. It was part of a behind the scenes early morning tour for Michigan alumni at ALA. While seeing rare and historic stuff was cool the best part was seeing the stacks under Bryant Park.

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  2. del said on April 17, 2021 at 8:09 am

    What a magnificent post. Vartan was right. Thanks.

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  3. alex said on April 17, 2021 at 8:39 am

    Beautiful tribute, and as the son of an immigrant who arrived speaking barely any English, the obit had a special resonance, especially the part about the plane ticket and how Gregorian remembered it as a make or break moment. My dad had a similar story about a Greyhound bus ticket and I’ll have to ask him to recount it. I forget whether it was from Ellis Island to his first destination, a teacher’s college in West Virginia where he’d been given a scholarship, or from West Virginia to IU Law School, where four years later he’d been given an interview.

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  4. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 17, 2021 at 9:50 am

    Also, Robert D. McFadden is an artist.

    Belated birthday blessings to Sherri & Jeff B., and best of fortune to the powerlifting today, too.

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  5. Suzanne said on April 17, 2021 at 11:59 am

    That obituary is wonderful! What a guy and what a perfect cause he found in the NYPL. I have always had such admiration for people like him who seem able to utterly embrace life, all of life, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the sublime. I wish I was that way but often feel like life has to drag me kicking and screaming through it.

    The story of how the NYPL’s building had been neglected and trashed reminded me of a library I worked in back in the early 1980s. It had been built in the early 1900s, not a Carnegie library but similar in looks. It had a beautiful intricate brass railing on the stairs leading to the 2nd floor that had been painted black, every inch of it. I don’t know if it was ever restored.

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  6. basset said on April 17, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    Been watching the royal funeral on BBC streaming and a little of CBS… often the BBC announcers would just be quiet and let the scene play out, compared to CBS’ talking pretty much constantly.

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  7. David C said on April 17, 2021 at 1:22 pm

    My uncle’s partner was a librarian at the Main Branch when they lived in NYC. They moved to Connecticut in the 90s so he was probably there during the worst times. Dean could keep you in stitches all night with his library stories. It’s such a shame that we let public institutions go to rack and ruin and that it sometimes takes one person with vision to do the job we all should be ding.

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  8. alex said on April 17, 2021 at 2:37 pm

    As Connie could probably tell you, Fort Wayne had a renowned library director overseeing one of the best operations in the country. He retired. He was replaced by an autocratic outsider who was utterly insensitive to the community, the staff and the collections. She’s no longer here but she was here long enough to commit some considerable damage. Believing that print media were a thing of the past and new media the wave of the future, she got rid of millions of books. She also got rid of anyone who didn’t suck up to her, which unfortunately was pretty much everyone. If she suspected employees of sharing war stories outside of work (or worse, leaking to the media) it was a fireable offense. Good riddance but way too late.

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  9. Jeff Borden said on April 17, 2021 at 5:24 pm

    Hey folks,

    Thanks for the birthday wishes. I celebrated by freezing my toukis off at Wrigley Field watching the Cubs gag vs. the Braves, but made up my favorite dinner as a ceremonial treat: N.Y. strip steak on the Weber grill, my special mushrooms cooked with butter, garlic and white wine, a baked potato and grilled asparagus basted with Italian dressing.

    Special thanks to those of you who chipped in on the charity I’m sponsoring for my birthday: the National Suicide Prevention Helpline. My brilliant nephew committed suicide three years ago in Berkeley, Calif. and I’ve been pushing this ever since. If you have a presence on Facebook, you can find me through the search. I use a photo of Cosmo rather than my own face as an avatar. Any amount would be very welcome.

    Let’s hope we can emerge from plague mode soon, but the soaring numbers make me nervous.

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  10. Julie Robinson said on April 17, 2021 at 10:15 pm

    A tremendous tribute to a tremendous person, who I’d never heard of either. We spent a couple of delightful hours wandering through that old pile two years ago and I hope to visit it again. Of course, I love all libraries anyway, but I feel we owe him an immense debt.

    We’ve been going nonstop with addition plans and moving tasks, opening accounts at the credit union, wading through mountains of paperwork, etc etc. This is why you need to make your retirement move before you get too old, and lack the mental and physical energy for the never-ending series of tasks. Of course, we have double duty handling all of it for Mom too.

    And for those complaining about their homeowners insurance, our premium just went up $550.

    When I have more time I’ll have to tell you about our voice controlled lights, and how our son schooled us on refrigerator organization. And the ducks in our pool.

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  11. LAMary said on April 18, 2021 at 12:40 am

    My homeowners insurance was cancelled three years ago. I had to get a more expensive policy because I live in an area considered prone to fires. The big companies like all state, farmers etc bailed out. All over the state it’s hard to get insurance and when you do it’s pricey.

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  12. Sherri said on April 18, 2021 at 1:14 am

    Thanks for the birthday wishes.

    My powerlifting meet went really well. I was 9 for 9, successful on all three attempts of each of squat, bench, and deadlift. My largest lift for each was 120 kg/264.6 lbs on squat, 70kg/154.3 lbs bench, and 125 kg/275.6 lbs on deadlift, for a total of 315 kg/694.5 lbs. For my age and gender and weight class, that is a national qualifying total, which has been a goal of mine.

    Then I reffed the afternoon session. Now I’m pooped!

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  13. ROGirl said on April 18, 2021 at 6:10 am

    I read an article in the New Yorker many years ago about Gregorian and his work on the NYPL.

    Had my second shot yesterday. So far only some mild soreness in my arm. The vaccine site is on the campus of a hospital that is filled to capacity with Covid patients (separate building, separate entrance). My workplace has been open (manufacturing) and more people have been diagnosed in the last few weeks.

    The kitty condolences were appreciated. Her health hadn’t been good, but it was going downhill pretty significantly. I took her to the vet twice last year and I didn’t want to put her through that again.

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  14. Deborah said on April 18, 2021 at 8:43 am

    I love old central libraries in cities, St. Louis has a beautiful one that they renovated a few years back and is still a library, some designer friends of ours worked on that. Chicago has a spectacular one on Michigan Ave, no longer a library, a cultural center now. If you visit Chicago it’s a must see, the tile work is incredible on the ceilings, domes and floors. Des Moines has a lovely one that is now the Norman E. Borlaug World Food Prize Laureates Center, as I’ve said here before I worked on that renovation project. There are many, many more, lots I’ve never been inside.

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  15. Mark P said on April 18, 2021 at 9:21 am

    Our old library was the Carnegie Library, one of 2509 endowed by Carnegie. That’s a legacy.

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  16. Deborah said on April 18, 2021 at 10:04 am

    The center of the small town in Illinois where my husband grew up has a beautiful Carnegie library and at some point about 20 years ago they wanted to tear it down. My husband joined along with a bunch of people not to do that and they were successful, it’s vacant still, so who knows how long it will stand. That town has been decimated over the years, the loss of a shoe factory and the Walmart didn’t help. An interstate goes by it and there’s an exit, if it weren’t for that it would be more of a ghost town than it is.

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  17. Jeff Borden said on April 18, 2021 at 11:46 am


    The Chicago Cultural Center was almost demolished by the first Mayor Daley, who wanted to allow developers to build on the site. His wife laid down the law to hizzoner, saving an architectural glory. The building contains one of the largest Tiffany skylights ever built.

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  18. Connie said on April 18, 2021 at 12:02 pm

    I am a huge fan of Carnegie libraries, have visited many of the Indiana ones, and have expanded and renovated one of them, which is still my favorite of the five library buildings I built. I came to that library right after the community rose in opposition to a plan to build a modern library building in the parking lot and tear down the Carnegie.

    You can see a quick shot of that Carnegie at the 59 second point in this Mellencamp video.


    Allen County folk, I don’t know your new Director, but the library she comes from has an outstanding reputation fwiw. I visited it a few times on a couple of my Paducah trips, they had a very cool sort of Japanese garden/perfomance space outside.

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  19. Connie said on April 18, 2021 at 12:16 pm

    Another excellent Was interview. https://www.metrotimes.com/city-slang/archives/2021/04/16/legendary-detroit-producer-don-was-prepares-for-a-gig-of-a-lifetime-and-launches-wdet-series-with-ann-delisi

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  20. Deborah said on April 18, 2021 at 12:38 pm

    Well, I was wrong, the library in my husband’s home town is still operating as a library https://www.litchfieldpubliclibrary.org/about-us/librarypic1.jpg/view

    Edit: I was wrong again, while they have a photo of the old library, it’s empty and the info is about the new one. Confusing.

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  21. Deborah said on April 18, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    Here’s the St. Louis one https://www.slpl.org/central-library-tours/

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  22. Suzanne said on April 18, 2021 at 1:50 pm

    I randomly know several people who work(ed) at the Allen Co Public Library. I didn’t hear one good word about the director that replaced the legendary Jeff Krull from any of them. She seemed to be universally despised.

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  23. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 18, 2021 at 2:42 pm

    Many of you have probably seen this before, but it’s a place I’ve only visited in my dreams, having been torn down in 1955: the Cincinnati Public Library downtown which was built into a retired opera house.


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  24. Dave said on April 18, 2021 at 2:52 pm

    My hometown, we were always taught, was the smallest town in the United States to get a Carnegie library, the town was too small so they told the Carnegie folks the population of the township (Violet) instead of the population of the town. Nobody from Carnegie checked and they got their library. Today, the building still stands and is the local museum. I also remember that the old folks who were still around when I was a child were very proud of that library and how they got it.


    All I know is that I got a library card there when I was about eight or nine years old, the qualifier was that you had to be in the third grade. Our class walked down to the library and were given a tour and were able to sign up for library cards. I’ve never been without a library card since.

    As far as I know, neither of my parents ever had a library card, they certainly never had one in Pickerington and the small southern Ohio towns they came from had no libraries. I do remember going on a bookmobile with my paternal grandmother that stopped almost in front of their house in Scioto County.

    Looking back through nn.c history a few days ago, I was stunned to discover that Moe left this realm nine years ago already.

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  25. basset said on April 18, 2021 at 4:22 pm

    We had a bookmobile in our little town down in Martin County, don’t remember where it came from. The closest Carnegie library was in the next county about ten miles away.

    Another interesting conversation with Mr. Was can be found in Texas Monthly’s “One by Willie” podcasts, where musicians and songwriters analyze Willie Nelson songs at length. He describes, among other stories, how they nailed “Across the Borderline” on the first take.

    I’d also recommend Rodney Crowell’s insights on “Bloody Mary Morning” Roseanne Cash’s on “Night Life,” and Robert Earl Keen’s on “Mr. Record Man” and going to Willie’s picnic, but after hearing Wynonna and Steve Earle I have even less interest in ever meeting either of em in person.

    https://www.texasmonthly.com/tag/one-by-willie/ or just search em on Apple.

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  26. Deborah said on April 18, 2021 at 5:11 pm

    I’m pretty sure I got my first library card when I was in the second grade, before that we would go to the library with my parents every Friday afternoon and my mom would check out children’s books for us. If we really fell in love with a particular book my mother would write out the text longhand on paper and read them to us that way after the books had to be returned. We had no money to buy books. When we moved to a house in a different part of the city my dad would still drive us back to the little library we loved in the old neighborhood. Eventually we started going to a closer branch library but we never got attached to it as much as that first one. I can remember every nook and cranny of the old one to this day, but I can barely remember anything of the later one.

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  27. Julie Robinson said on April 18, 2021 at 9:19 pm

    We lived between two small towns and were outside the library tax districts, so we bought subscriptions to both libraries. This was necessary because you could only have five items checked out at a time. Mother remembered taking day trips where we stopped at the library on the way out, finished our books in the car, and stopped again on the way home. Is it any wonder they offered her a job?

    We went over to our niece’s for dinner tonight, which sounds unremarkable, but it was our first social outing of any kind since last March. Both families are 100% vaccinated, so we didn’t hug, but we also didn’t mask. It was just sooooo nice and normal feeling.

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  28. deni menken said on April 18, 2021 at 10:37 pm

    Deborah, tell your husband we stopped for lunch at the Ariston on Thursday as we returned from our first true foray out of Illinois in twenty-one months. Was not aware of the library or we would have toured the town.

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  29. Dexter Friend said on April 19, 2021 at 1:58 am

    I have had library cards in every town I lived in but of course I know nothing about the big cheeses who manage them or well, nothing about libraries. Too bad some transportation guru couldn’t have saved New York’s Penn Station, although, after years of being a pigeon haven, the newly opened Senator Patrick Moynihan Depot in the same building is a fabulous achievement.
    I remember the late , great, columnist for The Chicago Tribune , Bill Granger, always being mad because Chicago libraries all closed on Sundays.

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  30. Deborah said on April 19, 2021 at 4:58 am

    Deni, we’ve eaten at the Ariston many times, did you have pie? I don’t know if they still do but they used to have great pies. We used to live in St. Louis so only 50 miles from Litchfield and my husband had an uncle and a cousin still living there. You didn’t miss much by not touring, not much to see except the library. My husband and I designed a little playground there for another uncle (uncle J).

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  31. Suzanne said on April 19, 2021 at 7:03 am

    We attended a funeral visitation yesterday. It was quite large and while we waited in line outdoors, we and most others were unmasked, since we were outdoors & there was a lovely breeze. When we entered the building, much to my dismay, very few people donned masks. Very few.
    We also had to listen to the woman in front of us tell her friend that surely she noticed that nobody died of flu this winter or heart attacks because, of course, hospitals get extra money for COVID deaths so they just put COVID on every dead person’s death certificate.
    This will never be over.

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  32. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 19, 2021 at 8:37 am

    And that, Suzanne, is why I’m not in active parish ministry anymore since last August. Three funerals in a row where I was told we’d be taking basic precautions, and then once calling hours started all bets were off, gravesides turned into full indoor services, and three-fourths of those attending not only refusing to wear face coverings, but vocally angry about even any hint of encouraging it. Funeral home staff saying “it’s up to the customer” and the health department telling me “we’re not even trying to push funeral homes to comply.” One I had a long-standing relationship with I confronted directly on the last minute switch in plans just sighed and said to me “Jeff, we put out hand sanitizer everywhere we could, that’s all we can do.”

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  33. Suzanne said on April 19, 2021 at 9:14 am

    Jeff, a close relative of mine who has been in parish ministry since the early 1980s is planning to retire in a year for the same reasons. He’s near retirement age anyway, but has always loved what he does so I assumed he’d work longer. This pandemic year has taken the life out of him because of the people in his pews who absolutely refuse to face the reality of the situation as well as his fellow clergy who wanted to sue nursing homes & hospitals because they were closed to visitors, including clergy, which they saw as an infringement on their religious freedom.

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  34. Julie Robinson said on April 19, 2021 at 9:44 am

    Oh Jeff, I’m so sorry to read that. Our daughter’s church has a lot of conservative members, but she didn’t have those issues. She did zoom funerals exclusively, no visitations, and church has been online. More recently church has been outside, distanced, masked, with no singing allowed. Her Council has backed her up 100%, in fact, they announced the policies, not her, to emphasize they weren’t from her, but the Council.

    Incredibly there have been no Covid deaths in her congregation. Ours had a spreader event among the sound crew, with seven sick and two deaths. I may never go back.

    Not to say it’s been easy. She’s close to burnout herself.

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  35. JodiP said on April 19, 2021 at 10:18 am

    Thank you for sharing the obit, as I also had never heard of Mr. Gregorian.

    Things are so tense here in Minneapolis. National Guard all over downtown and along Lake street where a lot of the property damage occurred last year, so many buildings boarded up. I have been out to the police station in Brooklyn Center where Daunte Wright was killed, once to protest and once on Friday to serve food with a local org that was started by two sisters and some friends last year. The police station is right across a large group of apartments and the kids are so scared. This same group organized care packages for them last week and delivered them.

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  36. brian stouder said on April 19, 2021 at 10:35 am

    I suppose the easy joke is to call the killer a “male Chauvinist pig” – but on second thought, we’ll skip that

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  37. Jenine said on April 19, 2021 at 10:39 am

    @Jefftmmo, thank you for the link to the Cincinnati Public Library photo. That is equal parts beautiful, terrifying and nostalgic.

    If folks haven’t read Susan Orlean’s The Library Book I highly recommend it. The Cincinnati photo makes me wonder about that building’s fire safety.

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  38. brian stouder said on April 19, 2021 at 11:30 am

    My mom went to the library truck when it came each week (I think it was weekly – but maybe it was bi-weekly), and got 6 or 7 books, and returned in the previous week’s supply. Always pop-fiction – but she was a voracious reader nonetheless (And didn’t like many movies, because they always ruined the books they were based on)

    this was before cable/satellite tv; heaven only knows how many books she read, but it would be a very large number

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  39. Dorothy said on April 19, 2021 at 11:34 am

    Jodi did you read about the young photo journalist Mark Vancleave who had a finger broken by a rubber bullet a week ago while covering the protests in Brooklyn Center? Simply horrifying – https://twitter.com/MDVancleave/status/1383514640001363974

    The Wilkinsburg Library (the town where I grew up) was just a magical place to me. The air smelled better in there – the books, I’m sure, were the source. But it felt so wonderful to be in there. I was in first grade when I got my library card. I can see it like it was yesterday. The elastic was shot in one of my knee socks so I kept nervously pulling at it while I was signing my name on the card application. And Pittsburgh had several Carnegie libraries. The biggest one was on the campus of Pitt, and walking past it one day is the only time I saw Mister Rogers in person.

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  40. Julie Robinson said on April 19, 2021 at 11:57 am

    Oh yes, The Library Book is wonderful.

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  41. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 19, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    Jenine, you are so right — if they hadn’t torn it down, it would probably have burned before I could have gotten there!

    Julie, my board gave me 0% support for staying online; I worked hard to create drive-in & FM short distance b’cast worship, which worked through my resignation, but as you hear Suzanne say, it was in the teeth of a startling level of denial, anger, and rejection by a very loud minority which the officers did not want to resist. In fact, if I hadn’t given notice and left after Aug. 15, they would have forced me and worship back indoors before last summer’s end. As it was, they were forced to pause as I left, and the interim was able to stay ‘drive-in’ and the church came up with streaming support (buying the needed technology) which they’d fought for eight years, since the interim was older himself — but they went back inside Palm Sunday and many are still resisting a masks-indoors mandate. Given the layout and HVAC I think it unwise, esp. with the median age there and many health issues in the congregation, but that’s no longer my call. I’m still trying to come to grips with how stupid I was not to see all this coming.

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  42. Julie Robinson said on April 19, 2021 at 1:33 pm

    Never underestimate the potential for cruelty from the people of God to people of God.

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  43. LAMary said on April 19, 2021 at 1:37 pm

    Off topic completely. The attacks on Asian women here are happening more frequently. 2x impeached ex president loves using the China Virus line for applause. Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Cambodian and Chinese women, especially older women, are being spat on, beaten, screamed at. Los Angeles county has the largest Asian community in the country and they’re scared.

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  44. Deborah said on April 19, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    We’re going to a restaurant for an early dinner/late lunch this afternoon, the first time together since maybe February 2020. I’ve been to a few restaurants since then, once in March 2020 with Heather, once eating outside with a friend who came into town in Oct 2020 and once to Stan’s Donus with Icarus a couple of weeks ago. But my husband and I together, this will be the first. We have the option at Robert’s Pizza at Ogden Slip to eat outside but it’ll be 48 degrees and is raining now in Chicago. It’s weird how I feel like this is a huge deal, but I do. A guy is coming to wash the inside of our windows and clean the blinds at 3, so we’re clearing out to give him room. I won’t do that kind of work anymore because after shoveling a bunch of dirt at the cabin in NM, and then after returning to Chicago, I cleaned the blinds and washed windows and ended up having to have spine surgery soon after. It’s probably just me being superstitious but still. Our windows are floor to ceiling and take up 2 full sides of our unit, so it’s a lot of work, glad to have someone else doing it and this guy did it 2 years ago and did a great job. We couldn’t do it last year because of the pandemic, our building wasn’t allowing outside workers to come in except for emergencies. I’m making way more of a big deal about this, but it symbolizes the beginning of returning to normality for me.

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  45. Randy said on April 19, 2021 at 3:02 pm

    Here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, we are approaching the Third Wave, and lockdowns are imminent.

    Thrilled to know that my wife and I (both age 50) can get the first dose today, that was not supposed to happen for several weeks, but our province is finally recognizing that throwing out 1000’s of doses, based on rigid age restrictions, is a bad call.

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  46. Julie Robinson said on April 19, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    We interrupt your regular programming to announce that I am the proud possessor of a Florida driver’s license. Only took 70 minutes and two tries at the eye exam. Off for ice cream.

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  47. JodiP said on April 19, 2021 at 4:39 pm

    Dorothy, I had not heard that about the journalist. A man who was peacefully protesting last year caught one of those bullets and lost an eye.

    Related to this, our MN AG making a disappointing ruling: https://minnesotareformer.com/briefs/ellison-opposes-motion-to-exempt-journalists-from-arrest-during-protests/

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  48. Deborah said on April 19, 2021 at 6:03 pm

    Well shoot, the window and blind cleaning had to be postponed until Thursday, so I’ll have to put off feeling closer to the before times for a few days.

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  49. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 19, 2021 at 9:41 pm

    “He was sometimes accused of being boring.” Though he was also almost Warren Zevon’s father-in-law. “Though Mondale is an adept political operator, his motivations are clearly those of an old-fashioned idealist concerned for the poor and disadvantaged.” — 1974 Almanac of American Politics


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  50. Dexter Friend said on April 20, 2021 at 1:47 am

    Walter Mondale was a bad choice for Jimmy Carter as they clashed on policy. Maybe if Carter had chosen a more compatible running mate he could have beaten that rotten Ronald Reagan. As VP, Mondale was given more responsibility than any VP in history, but many times he had different ideas than the ones he had to speak on to further the Carter agenda. 4 years later Mondale secured his own nomination and I was hoping with all my strength he would depose Reagan, who I absolutely loathed. Trying to beat the popular Reagan, the Democrats tried to garner women’s votes by running Geraldine Ferraro with Mondale. I am not going to research the whole story, but what I recall is that Reagan’s horrible campaign dug up dirt on Ferraro’s husband and some dirty deals, which I guess were true. Mondale took heat for not vetting the Ferraro family and that and the power of the incumbency of Reagan resulted in a landslide , and 4 more years of Reagan. All things pass, and finally Reagan was done after Bush41 was elected. Reagan immediately flew to Japan to collect a $2,000,000 gift from the Japanese government. It was never generally revealed what that was all about. But at least the worst President ever was out of office.

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  51. Jeff Borden said on April 20, 2021 at 10:26 am

    I’m sitting hundreds of miles south of Minneapolis, scared to death that by some stretch a jury will acquit Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd. If that bastard walks, I cannot imagine what will happen here in Chicago and in every other American city. It will get ugly fast.

    Already, we are slaughtering citizens by the bushel and its not even really warm yet. This weekend, a 7-year-old girl was shot six times while she was in a car with her father at a McDonald’s drive through. (He was the target and was hit once.) Two guns fired 45 shots –45 shots!– at the vehicle before the gunmen fled. A toddler who was shot in the head during a road rage incident on Lake Shore Drive last week is doing better, but obviously will need intensive and expensive care for the rest of his life. Photos of him show a chubby little cutie in a Mickey Mouse shirt mugging for the camera.

    What kind of so-called civilized country allows this kind of deadly mayhem every fucking day? How many mass shootings have we had in the past couple of weeks? And before the bodies grow cold in the morgue, the usual assholes are screaming that nothing can be done because it might inconvenience law-abiding gun owners. And, anyways, freedom! We deserve to choke on our own blood.

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  52. Deborah said on April 20, 2021 at 10:34 am

    Me too, Jeff B, I’m terrified that Chauvin will be acquitted, and what that means for Chicago. Stores on Michigan Ave are boarding up again bracing for an onslaught.

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  53. Jim said on April 20, 2021 at 11:40 am

    Just finished watching Generation Columbine. It is well done, and will break your heart.

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  54. Icarus said on April 20, 2021 at 11:48 am

    Suzanne @ 31:

    Conspiracy Logic

    last year: nobody died of flu this winter or heart attacks because, of course, hospitals get extra money for COVID deaths so they just put COVID on every dead person’s death certificate.

    This year: someone who just got the vaccine gets killed in a car accident. The inoculations that caused it.

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  55. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 20, 2021 at 12:37 pm

    Joe Trippi tells a marvelous story in this tweet thread:


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  56. LAMary said on April 20, 2021 at 12:40 pm

    Yeah, the conspiracy garbage is rampant. So much of it is very localized. Mayor Garcetti wants us to get vaccinated so he can take over all the small businesses he shut down for one. I used to point out that the pandemic is worldwide and that small businesses everywhere have suffered. Makes no difference.
    In other news both my sons independently discovered that the local gangs are shaking down homeless people. One son, the one who cleans the LA River, cleaned out an area where a homeless encampment had been. Since he’s done this more than once he noticed that there was more stuff left there than usual. A woman who had been a resident of that encampment came by to see if any of her stuff was still there. She told the cleaning crew that a local gang had demanded “rent” for that space and had chased the residents out. In other words, extortion. My other son said that a lot near his local Trader Joes, which had a homeless encampment, was suddenly emptied and lots of stuff remained. There were gang tags on the nearby wall. Same gang that chased out the encampment by the river. Both sites had a lot of drug paraphenalia left on the ground. Syringes, pipes, all that. Both sites were likely being sold drugs by a gang. Maybe a rival to the extorting gang? It’s all ugly, that’s for sure.

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  57. LAMary said on April 20, 2021 at 2:09 pm

    And there’s this:


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  58. LAMary said on April 20, 2021 at 5:12 pm

    Guilty on all counts. Peace.

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