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The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania • Page 53
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The Philadelphia Inquirer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania • Page 53

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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'V nil fi Art-now and future-lures visitors to the city "To say the visit was a success would be an understatement, but I was so proud to be an American showing foreigners my country, for no one could leave and say there was no culture in America thanks to Philadelphia." And thanks to you, too, sir. By CREED C. BLACK Editor of The Inquirer Herewith some non-political notes on the Philadelphia scene which piled up during the election campaign: First, a belated but hearty cheer to the National Park Service for its restoration of the Second Bank of Management Philadelphia's fourth largest firm, for its recent sponsorship of a televised concert by the Philadelphia orches-' tra. It was the first time the orchestra had made a live TV appearance from the Academy of Music in almost three years, and the performance was later retelecast over the 246 stations of the Public Broadcasting Service. IU arranged for the telecasts in connection with the firm's SOth anniversary, even though no commercial credits were carried, i "We felt the telecasts would be a more worthwhile endeavor than a number of other ways in which major corporations like ours conventionally celebrate such occasions as their first half-century," explained Edgar Sheldon, IU's manager of information services. Well, Happy Birthday, IU, and thanks for setting a fine example in boosting the city's cultural institutions. the United States. If the Park Service had done nothing but restore and reopen this magnificent example of Greek revival architecture, it would have done a great service to the city and the Bicentennial celebration. But the addition of a gallery of hundreds of original portraits of Revo This seems to be turning into an arts column, so let me recommend the piece elsewhere on this page by Tony Auth, our gifted editorial cartoonist, on the Claes Oldenburg scuplture proposed for Centre Square. An art work which looks like a 40-foot clothes pin, regardless of what it is, is bound to be controversial. But so, I recall from my days in Chicago, was an even larger abstract steel structure by Pablo Picasso which was erected in the new Civic Center plaza there. It has since become not just a mammoth conversation piece but a tourist attraction and a Chicago landmarkt My own uneducated guess is that the Oldenburg work would do the same for Philadelphia. Bicentennial Research Institute, which is located in Dallas. It advised that I had been selected to appear in the Institute's "Library of Human Resources" and explained why: "The expressed aim of the institute is to recognize and methodically classify those persons or groups of persons who have through significant and meritorous achievement as individuals or through their endea- vors in areas particularly relevant to the growth of our nation distinguished them- selves from the general populace." I blushed as I read that, of course, but figured that my family would never believe it. Then came the good news that for only $15 I could obtain "a beautiful parchment certificate, prsonalized with your name, which documents this distinction." Gee, fellas, thanks. But then there's the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration, which can always be counted on to bring me down out of the clouds. Back in the days when this federal agency was still known as the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission, it started addressing its mail to me as "Creed C. Clack, Editor and Chief" of The Inquirer. I gently suggested once, when the acting director and his top public affairs aide visited my office, that this might be corrected. They assured me it would be, but though the name of the agency and its management have changed, Editor and Chief Clack lives on. It's one of the' reasons I've never had a lot of confidence in Washington's Bicen operation. Another belated cheer to IU International Creed C. Black lutionary figures makes the bank an even greater attraction. In contrast to the public squabbling that has marked many other Bicentennial activities, the Park Service has been quietly making great progress in preparing for 1976. The Second Bank restoration is only one of a number of major projects underway. And if my highly favorable impression of Hobart Cawood, the superintendent of Independence National Historical Park, is correct, they'll all be ready when the Bicen visitors descend on our town. If those of us who live here sometimes have a tendency to take the orchestra and other Philadelphia attractions for granted, outsiders are still impressed. 1 Edward J. Piszek, president of Mrs. Paul's Kitchens, sends along a letter from someone he met abroad earlier this year. His correspondent recalled conducting a State Department tour for 500 representatives of 37 foreign countries attending a conference in the United States. "The highlight of the tour," he wrote Mr. Piszek, "was Philadelphia. The day began with sightseeing in the historic sections of the city and a visit to the Fairmount Park area and then a visit to that magnificent gallery with dinner on the terrace overlooking the city. It ended with a magnificent concert by Roberta Peters in Robin Hood Dell. What sense does it make, though, to try to beautify the city by requiring developers to adorn their buildings with works of art while at the same time permitting street vendors to turn the shopping district into a tawdry bazaar? The Chamber of Commerce has again called on City Council "to clean up the frightful mess" and has even offered to support the establishment of a central market area for'the vendors who are now cluttering up sidewalks and streets throughout center city. That's a sensible solution to the problem and one the Council should act on before we get into the Christmas shopping season. We have a city to be proud of, ladies and gentlemen of the Council. Let's clean it up. tS The fast-buck artists are also busy in connection with the Bicen, and I suppose we'll just have to learn to live with them. A recent mail, for example, brought me a letter from something called the American Oldenburg's clothespin an artist's view Flailing the nonconformists Americans love a scandal ilk JfYulaticlplna inquirer, BACKGROUND AND OPINION; Sunday, Nov. 10, 1974 7-D Happy sculpture In defense of that clothespin By TONY AUTH Editorial Cartoonist When is a clothespin not a clothespin? A baby sees a clothespin for the first time. It is a shape, a form. It's a piece of sculpture, if you will. It has no utilitarian purpose. Babies aren't very practical, but they are pretty clever about wonderment and happiness. The clothespin exists to fascinate and to please. It is a beautiful shape and nothing more. Claes Oldenburg is a great and imaginative modern artist who under- stands beauty and believes babies and other people who can be free of purely practical concerns have the right idea about utilitarian things, and happiness. Oldenburg now proposes to erect a 40-foot clothespin in Center Square, Philadelphia. Many people are ap- ByELSAGOSS Of the Editorial Board Now that the Rachel Fitler and Wilbur Mills stories are yesterday's news, maybe we ought to wonder why we were interested in them at all. Everybody loves a scandal that's splashed all over the front pages, It's a way of reassuring yourself that someone else is doing something worse than you are. It's a way of indulging in gossip in a socially acceptable form. It's a way of living vicariously through the exploits of others. But it's also a way of punishing those who flout our conventions and make us look dull and commonplace in comparison. In other words, Americans have a love-hate relationship with the idea of nonconformity. On the one hand, we lionize those who dare to be different. We make movie goddesses of them, watch them avidly on our favorite talk shows, buy magazines which feature them in cover stories and bring them instant notoriety by curiosity to learn more about them. But on the other and more vicious hand, we demand that every intimate detail of their personal lives be revealed, hound them until they lose the last shreds of dignity, and, if all else fails, hold them up to scorn and ridicule. There were few recent pictures more pitiful than those of Ms. Fitler, looking tired and old and bewildered at the storm raging around her. There were few pictures more mocking than those of Mr. Mills, hidden behind sun glasses and being dragged away from the photographers by his wife. But it's a cinch that neither party will soon forget that they offended us all by their extraordinary actions. And that's the lesson of our fascination with being titillated. We thrive on it, but can't forgive those who don't choose to live as we feel we must. Twenty some years ago, Americans turned their backs on Ingrid Bergman for bearing an illegitimate child. Fifteen years ago, we turned our backs palled. They see the clothespin only as a lowly utilitarian object, at best not fit to dignify a new center city building, at worst, another joke on Philadelphia. Anyway, some ask, If you've got to have a clothespin, why 40 feet high? An eight-foot one wouldn't be as bad a joke. But the eight-footers are missing the. point. The radical change in scale helps adults, with our capacities for wonderment and happiness deadened by practicality, to see again the shape for what it is, denuded of its utility. Of course, most of us are not babies, and a 40-foot form shaped like a clothespin is, after all, a 40-foot clothespin. What does that trigger in your subconscious? Memories of sunny days those are the only ones you can hang out the wash. Fresh smelling sheets, cleanliness, order. A 40-foot clothespin will make the people of and coming to Philadelphia happy. Old carp or dandelion salad on Elizabeth Taylor for breaking up-, the Debbie Reynolds-Eddie Fisher household. Ten years ago, we fumed at her, again for snaring Richard Button; away from Sybil. Five years ago, we hated Mia Farrow first for marrying Frank Sinatra, then for leaving him to meditate In India and lastly for having twins out of wedlock. i. And still we punish Jacqueline Onas- sis for her remarriage by following every move, dogging her steps and stooping to buying purported photos of, her sunbathing in the nude on Skorp-, ios. But Ingrid Bergman has made her'. American comeback since the dark years. Elizabeth Taylor remains, the', most popular actress of our time; Mia Farrow was awarded the plum role of the decade as Daisy Buchanan in 'The Great Gatsby." And Jackie, well, we've loved none of her White House successors much, and her 45th birthday last July brought a slew of articles on with Ari." So we still have our to cherish and to chide. We're cohJ tent to sacrifice them on the altar of their sins, as we see them. we live out our proper lives in proper-. ways at proper times and reassure ourselves, when we can, that we ar'i right. The voters had a reason to be apathetic last Tuesday By GEORGE F. WILL WASHINGTON Until American ballots are improved to include a "none of the above" option a place to mark a "yeechh!" vote against all the candidates for a particular office we will not be able to distinguish non-voters who don't give a tinker's dam for politics from non-voters who have a lively interest in politics but cannot abide the choices churned up by the political parties. On Tuesday, as usual, but even more determinedly than usual, a majority of the electorate chose, for some cause today's most overused word is "apathetic." Suppose you offer a diner a choice between an old carp that has been kept a long time in a warm place, and a chef's salad made of dandelions. If the diner decides not to eat, his decision does not mean he is apathetic about food. It does not even mean he is apathetic about the two proffered dishes. An apathetic person lacks strong feelings. The diner would have strong feelings about both dishes, and about the person who served them. The moral of the story is: Many of reason, not to choose between the candidates. The election was a political upheaval in which the relatively few Americans who voted may have been more lethargic than many of the more than 60 percent of the eligible voters who stayed home. Many perhaps most of these non-voters were not "apathetic." As Mark Twain warned, the difference between the right word and almost the right word can be the difference between lightning and lightning bug. This is worth remembering be the non-voters were far from apathetic about the choices they faced Tuesday. Obviously, Republican candidates stimulated the strongest feelings, most of them negative. The party now has suffered its third major thrashing since World War II. This year the Republican Party outdid itself. It contrived to appear "half Harding and half Hoover" a blend of corruption and economic incompetence. Each of the three recent thrashings has affected the Republican Party the way each recent New York City news paper strike has affected the city's newspapers. After each strike, total newspaper readership declined. Break the habit of newspaper reading, even for just a few weeks, and the habit will be permanently weakened. Similarly, party voting is a habit easily weakened. After each recent thrashing the Republican Party has revived, but has always been less robust than before. Thoughtful Republicans would like to believe, but do not believe, that Gerald Ford can stop this downward ratchet process. He was certain someone would shoot him Boston's Kevin White: a decent man caught up in a racial maelstrom; "When the violence started, I didn't know where it would lead, and I didn't stop working at trying to end it long enough to think about that. I had to me myself up each day." Mayor Kevin White people there or tney could give me pne more day to prove I could protect their children." I One more day was a precise descrhjvv tion of Boston's existence and; the angry parents understood that. They' also knew that Kevin White was. not-afraid of the challenges which city faced and that he could best. It was when he left that meeting that he ordered the police to use dogs, helicopters and all the necessary force' to protect the children enroiite school and in school. ur, By exposing himself to the anger and white parents, Mayor White helped to avoid a feeling of defeat' by either side. He was convinced that if-' one side believed it was losing' the? struggle, or that he had joined side against the other, greater would have resulted. i As we walked down the spiral stair, case, the mayor expressed his fear that the city faced a more serious' test when the buses begin to transport' black children into the city's Italian neighborhoods. "They're going to bea's lot tougher to deal with than the Jrish were," he said. Then he looked up the staircase and remarked, "it's got to be the loveliest staircase in the country. k- And Boston has to be the most fortunate city in the country to have.V' man of Kevin White's energy, sincerity I and instincts to lead it across, the, treacherous threshold of desegregating its public schools. stop working at trying to end it long enough to think about that. I had to use myself up each day. At night I had trouble sleeping, but my thoughts were primarily about each day's events and the expectations for the next day." Although he always won the support of at least 90 percent of Boston's black voters, he estimated that only 40 percent of the black community leaders supported him. After the violent attack by whites on black children during the first day of busing, he knew he would have to confront the angry parents of those children if he was going to keep their trust. They met at Boston's Freedom House, about 800 angry black parents whose children had been beaten and frightened that day, and one white mayor who had promised them their children would be safe. The mayor's face was deeply serious as he recalled that emotional confrontation. "There was a time when I was certain some one would pull out one of those Saturday Night Specials (a gun)' and shoot me. I remember one woman 'who sat in the front row and shook her fist at me as she said, 'I trusted you, you white SOB." If the same attack had been made on my children, I would have been angry too, and I tried to make them understand that. "But they wouldn't listen until I told them they had just two choices: they could get their guns and go over into South Boston to fight it out with the reply. "He's done the best he could. He's only one man and he's done his best." At 7 P. M. I found Parkman House, 33 Beacon where Mayor White was hosting the dinner meeting I had been invited to attend. There were nine other guests, and the mayor moved among us with the energy and exuberance of a man who is exhilarated by human discourse. He told us about the wealthy Boston merchant who built Parkman House in 1825 and later was the victim in a murder. The Mayor was obviously proud of his role in saving the historic house from demolition and in raisins private funds to have it restored. Throughout the evening of our discussions he participated without dominating the dialogue. He traded questions and reactions with us on critical issues confronting Boston and the nation but most of all he listened. When the other guests had gone, the mayor and I sat in a small second floor room overlooking the Beacon Street square. There was no change of his openness when we began discussing Boston's 21 days of near chaos, His personal efforts to avoid trouble began in April of this year when it was certain that the busing plan was inevitable. His administration organized coffee klatches in those neighborhoods where strong opposition to the plan was certain. Prerequisite to his attendance was a group of at least 30 parents who By CHARLES W. BOWSER Boston basked in the same bright sun which warmed Philadelphia on Nov. 1, 1974. The taxi cab driver who maneuvered through the traffic leaving Logan International Airport with quick bursts of speed and sudden turns, was a frail black man, and he didn't relax until we were forced to wait in a line of cars heading into Callahan Tunnel beneath the Mystic River. "Things in Boston are still bad," he said in reply to my questions. "There are too many write bigots in this town. I'm afraid to go into some neighborhoods because tney see a cao or car or anything with a black driver, they will pull you out and beat you. Sometimes I carry my gun." He talked about the city's troubles without emotion until he told the story of a black man who had been beaten a week earlier. Six sutures were needed to close a head wound. The white men who attacked him were arrested, but the black victim refused to prosecute them as a gesture of goodwill toward the white community. "I would have sent those hoodlums to jail!" the driver exclaimed. "How could he let them pet away with splitting open his head?" Finally, I asked the question I really wanted answered, "How do you think Mayor Kevin White has handled the situation?" The pause before his answer indicated the consideration he gave to his the busing plan. Admittedly, many of those parents are bigots and he couldn't convince them to accept the court order and they couldn't convince him to disobey it, but he was determined that they would not organize their opposition without at least being forced to consider what was right and decent. He explained that he did not expect the meetings to prevent trouble when the busing plan began, but he wanted to establish lines of communication into the neighborhoods which could be used to help solve whatever problems arose. Thus, when South Boston erupted in violence, he was able to make contact with the parents he had met there and to get many of them to work to maintain calm in the neighborhood. "When the violence started, I didn't kaow where it would lead, and I didn't were opposed to him and opposed to busing. As of the day of our meeting, he had attended 105 such meetings, and the schedule was to continue. The meetings were more than a strategem to avoid a violent crisis; they emanated from Kevin White's bedrock political instincts. "When I was secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, I was the only elected official in the history of the state to visit every city, town and village while I was in office. He worked hard at the coffee klatches, seven days a week, often more than one a day, throughout the heat of summer. It was, and is, his conviction that the only way to deal with the problem of desegregating the schools in its real terms is direct confrontation of the fear, anger and frustration of the parenti who were certain to oppose

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