HOT SHEET: Drake Jethro’s trims hours, Trump honors Dan Gable, and horse skeleton chicanery

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020

From the desk of Daniel P. Finney, sergeant of the watch, Drake Neighborhood Station.

ITEM ONE: Terrible news from the bar at Jethro’s on Forest Avenue near Drake University: The restaurant is closing on Mondays and Tuesdays for at least six weeks. Insiders tell the typist the restaurant has a steady flow of regulars — including this ol’ Paragraph Stacker — but has struggled to lure students from the nearby campus during the pandemic. With reduced capacity due to COVID-19 social distancing protocols, all restaurants and public gathering spaces are feeling the pinch. Jethro’s owner Bruce Gerleman, a Des Moines businessman and restauranteur, considers the Drake Jethro’s, his first in a chain of seven barbecue joints around the metro, his personal favorite. He’s spoken to the typist of his loyalty to the neighborhood. Of course, all businesses, no matter how altruistic, face the reality of the bottom line. Jethro’s will keep regular hours Wednesday through Sunday. Let’s hope the shortened week is a temporary taking of the knee during exceptional circumstances and not the beginning of the end at Drake Jethro’s.

ITEM TWO: Whenever possible, drink cold beverages over lots of ice in a glass. Pause before you sip to recall our not-too-distant ancestors lapped water from streams. Now we have uncounted flavors of water and ice on demand. What a time to be alive.

ITEM THREE: President Donald Trump plans to award Dan Gable, perhaps the greatest wrestler of all time, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed upon citizens, writes Cody Goodwin, the Des Moines Register’s superstar wrestling writer. Whatever one thinks of Trump, it’s a tremendous honor for arguably the finest athlete and coach Iowa ever produced. As a campaign strategy, it isn’t shabby either. Polls have shown Trump dead even or slightly leading in Iowa. Showing some love to a living Iowa legend can’t hurt.

ITEM FOUR: Dedicated to the great state of Florida in all its weirdness: The UPI reports Florida officials seized a package from Hungary containing a full horse skeleton. So for those of you planning on getting a Hungarian horse skeleton for Halloween, remember you need a special agricultural permit.

ITEM FIVE: New Comics Wednesday recommendations:

  • Iron Man 2020: Robot Revolution TPB — The idea of a future with a morally ambiguous Iron Man mercenary first came to be in 1984 created by Tom DeFalco and Herb Trimpe. Now it really is 2020 and things are far worse than Iron Man 2020’s creators envisioned.
  • Rorschach No. 1 — in another case of what’s old is new again, Rorschach, the most interesting characters of the magnificent 1986 Watchman series gets a three-issue DC Black Series run by comics’ best current writer, Tom King.

ITEM LAST: The stress mounts and continues to build as we approach holidays reduced and fall celebrations cancelled by the coronavirus, the most uncivil election in modern memory, an economy on the verge of collapse, joblessness, an impotent Congress and a harmful executive branch. Just remember: You can’t fix it all. All you can do is your best and even then, sometimes you’ll stumble. Take a moment to remind yourself that you are the only one of you in the whole world, a child of God worthy of love, dignity and respect. Then take 10 deep breaths and find one person you love and remind them, too.

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. Daniel P. Finney is controlling transmission.

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John Wayne: Iowa’s cultural icon or a ‘rotten SOB?’

Some California Democrats want Orange County to strip John Wayne’s name off their airport because of some racist and homophobic things he said in an interview.

Wayne, of course, was born Marion Robert Morrison in Winterset in 1907. He became one of the most successful actors in history. He died in 1979 at age 72.

The damning Wayne quotes come from a 1971 Playboy interview. Wayne supported white supremacy, referred to gay men as perverts and a common homophobic slur and demeaned Native Americans.

I read the interview text. No context has been stripped. Racist thoughts came out of his mouth the way bullets came out of his six-shooter in his Westerns.

It’s ugly and sad.

I don’t know what the fine people of Orange County should do about their airport name.

I suggest they not pick a person.

Who could live up to the scrutiny?

We’re all sinners and these days there’s a concentrated effort to make sure every sin is paid even posthumously.

Thank God the Duke didn’t have Twitter.

I wondered if the flap over the airport would affect the John Wayne Birthplace and Museum in Winterset. I called Brian Downes, the former Chicago Tribune reporter who is executive director of the attraction.

“We’ve been packed lately,” Downes said. “I don’t know how many for sure we had, but they were backed up out the door.”

Wayne has kept his drawing power in ways other Iowa legends haven’t. Cleveland Indians legend Bob Feller died in 2010 and the museum in his native Van Meter soon followed.

The museum is now Van Meter’s city hall with a large exhibit honoring “the heater from Van Meter.”

Wayne, however, died 41 years ago. People still keep coming to see the screen legend’s birthplace.

What to do with the legacy of Wayne provides an interesting challenge for Iowans.

I grew up in Winterset. The main street through town was named in his honor when I was a kid. I watched Wayne Westerns with my dad.

“The Quiet Man” is my favorite romantic movie. “True Grit” and “Rio Bravo” are as good a way to winnow away a lazy Saturday afternoon as I can muster.

Wayne made good art.

Well, sort of.

As fiction, they’re harmless, but I worry too many people think John Wayne Westerns are in any way a historically accurate portrayal of how the Western United States was “settled.”

They’re not. And one could make a strong argument that so many movies, both by Wayne and scores of other Westerns, have badly mislead Americans about the history of this nation, especially atrocities against natives.

Wayne certainly held no empathy for Native Americans.

“I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from the Indians,” Wayne said in the infamous Playboy interview. “Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.”

Phew. It gets harder and harder to like this guy every quote I read.

The dictum of this era is that I should renounce Wayne, maybe burn a photo of him and post the video to Instagram to prove how sensitive I am.

But I never watched a John Wayne movie because of what the Duke thought about politics, race or history. I did not take my idea of what it is to be a man from his characters, either.

I watched them to be entertained. That I am entertained by those movies may rankle some people, but I generally believe what I do with my own time is my own damn business.

As for Wayne, don’t look for Winterset to burn down his birthplace and topple the nice bronze statue out front of the museum.

The birthplace is a private not-for-profit outfit. They’re not a public entity and as such not subject to the whims of cultural waves. Wayne’s association with Winterset will be preserved.

Some people will think this is a bad idea, that Wayne should be loathed rather than adored.

But that is the short-sighted nature of things these days. Everything is a dichotomy. Sinners and saints. Good or evil. Hero or villain.

But that all-or-nothing approach is not human nature.

Wayne once said, “Each of us is a mixture of some good and some not so good qualities. In considering one’s fellow man it’s important to remember the good things…

We should refrain from making judgments just because a fella happens to be a dirty, rotten son of a bitch.”

I condemn Wayne’s comments in the Playboy article. They’re indefensible.

But I believe people are more than one thing. I believe a person can create art and say terrible things. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both owned slaves, yet without their guiding hands, we would not be here to debate the propriety of honoring them.

Like most things, it’s all a matter of perspective. The Bible offers some stern guidance on the matter of idolatry.

Maybe we should look at Wayne less as a cultural hero or icon of manliness and simply see him as a man.

All men have the capacity to be good and rotten SOBs.

Cut loose and cashiered by corporate media, lone paragraph stacker Daniel P. Finney makes his way telling stories about his city, state and nation. No more metrics or Google trends, he writes stories about people and life ignored by the oligarchy.

ParagraphStacker.com is free, reader-supported media. Please consider donating to help me cover personal expenses as I launch this new venture continuing the journalism you’ve demanded. Visit paypal.me/paragraphstacker.