Irony, sexiness, bibbing and gesheft, all in one column

Opinion

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JIM BOWMAN

SECRET TESTIMONY ... Living near West Suburban Hospital is no fun in some respects, what with ambulance sirens, worry about hazardous waste, and now fear of reduction in property values because of planned expansion. But think what it's been like for the sole surviving neighbor from 1914, when the hospital was built, a plucky centenarian for whom life has never been the same.

He has kept his resentment bottled till now, in an exclusive anonymous interview, most of which has to be scrapped for legal reasons. He did offer one soul-searing moment which may be recorded for posterity before he answers the final call, however. "I have had it," he confided, raising a frail but steady hand to his chin. "Up to here!"WINE BIBBERS, RELAX ... It would have been dratted unseemly for neighboring wine merchants to be out of sorts with each other, as might have transpired if the village board had not revised the wine-bar license it issued the other night. Cabernet & Company lives by package sales, and it wasn't easy getting his license. But the fast-tracked (and equally deserving, we're sure) new Abbey bar would have competed in wine-to-go from practically next door.

Cabernet complained to the board in urbane fashion (I saw it on TV). Abbey responded briefly and also urbanely, correctly observing that a wine war would serve no one's interest, and the board changed the ordinance. It's wine by glass or bottle at Abbey, to be consumed on the premises, wine and beer as take-home package at Cabernet. Smiles all around.TRULY IRONICAL ... You hear "irony" and "ironical" tossed around, applied to whatever's unusual, but here's something to chew on: The house on the southwest corner of Euclid & Superior, where reside vigorous public objectors to Alcuin Montessori school across the alley at First United Methodist Church, was the home of Dr. Paul and Kathryn Dunn, co-founders of Alcuin, which had its start in 1961 at Oak Park's old Lowell School, now 100 Forest Place, at Lake & Forest.SHOCK ON AVENUE ... St. Edmund parish can't do that, can it? Put up a big sign saying it supports life? In Oak Park? Peace, OK. We get that. But life? Tacky.MEMO TO ARTS MAVEN ... Oak Park is one sexy village, according to a woman on television who does not live here. Asked how that is so, arts maven Camille Wilson White, actually executive director of the Oak Park Area Arts Council, said, "I can't put it into words." Camille, it takes a whole village. Don't even try.

What's this maven business, you may ask. It's one of those Yiddish words you learn from reading newspapers (means expert) that I have wanted to use for a long time. Other Yiddish words I learned from a better source. My father, a West Sider from birth in 1895, used "macher" (big shot) and "gesheft" (business), for instance. For that reason I revere those words and yearn for the situation where I can ask someone, as he would ask me, "How's the gesheft?"WALKING TO PIPES ... Speaking of languages, Oak Park's Latin-Mass church, Our Lady Immaculate, at Ridgeland and Washington, had an old-fashioned Corpus Christi (Body of Christ) procession some months back. Some 200 of us walked slowly down Ridgeland to the mournful, strains of Emerald Society (Chicago Police Department) bagpipes, stopping a block away in a school doorway for Benediction, in which after hymns?#34;"O Salutaris" and "Tantum Ergo"?#34;the priest raised the host in a gold, lamp-size container called a "monstrance," making the sign of the cross.

Halfway down Elmwood on the return route, the pipers broke into "The Wearin' of the Green" ?#34; "Oh Paddy dear, oh did you hear ... the shamrock's been forbid by law/to grow on Irish ground," thus tapping chauvinism as well as piety. Another benediction at the church's rear door on Washington, and we were back in the church.

Bowman's blogs are linked at www.jimbowman.com.

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