In Boston, Van Nuys, Calif., and Kansas City, Mo., ... the U.S. Postal Service has removed clocks and other "non-user-friendly items" such as bulletin boards and calendars from 30 lobbies.... This is not about keeping customers from watching their lives tick away while buying stamps, says Postal Service spokesperson Sandra Harding. "Clocks look bureaucratic," she says. "They are not an imperative part of the post-office experience."
An Inclusive Litany
Frank Georgi wants to build a theme park recreating East German totalitarianism, complete with May Day parades, an Erich Honecker look-alike, secret police, and closed-circuit TV sets showing old propaganda movies. Visitors could apply to leave, but at the risk of ostracism and petty harassment.
In one, a tenant who is renting an apartment for $400, but which is actually worth $1,200, takes in a roommate who is eager to pay the fair market rent of $600 a month. The official tenant is then able to pocket the $200 difference, despite a law that allows tenants only a ten percent increase on the rent they can charge. The roommate has no incentive to report the primary tenant, since the roommate also has a great deal on an apartment. In many cases the roommate does not know how much the tenant is paying, and how much windfall profit is involved.
In another scheme, the roommate manages to pay the landlord directly with his own check, perhaps after convincing the primary tenant to withhold rent for some reason. If the landlord makes the mistake of cashing the roommate's check, rather than that of the primary tenant, the roommate legally becomes the tenant in residence and is entitled to a new lease in his name upon renewal.
In another, the tenant maintains a voter's registration card and driver's license, along with perhaps a credit card or two, at the address of the rent-controlled apartment, while moving elsewhere. This is sufficient compliance with the vague primary residence law, and usually enough to frustrate any private investigator that the landlord hires.
In another, a tenant who was otherwise planning to move out of the apartment demands a large fee from the landlord for doing so.
In another, a tenant in a building that is about to convert to co-op status refuses to buy the apartment from the landlord, instead preferring to continue his advantageous position of paying less than market rent. Another approach is to buy the apartment at the bargain basement prices the law requires of landlords, then turn around and sell it at an immense profit.
In another, a prospective tenant of a professional suite (which, along with other commercial property, are not subject to rent controls) installs a bed or sleep couch and starts living there. Even if the Certificate of Occupancy and the lease calls for professional use only, and even if the residency was achieved through deception, the apartment automatically becomes rent-regulated due to the severe housing shortage in New York, a predictable result of rent control laws.
- Jack Vaughn, copy and slot editor, The Sacramento Bee:
- When we had the Mexican Chiapas uprising, readers objected to the phrase peasant uprising or peasant rebellion. So we banned peasant, changing it to rural or another more specific word. The thought was that (a) peasant is a word that has a pejorative meaning as well as a literal one and that (b) it's not very specific....
- Pamela Dugan, copy desk chief, The San Diego Union-Tribune:
- Our official style is still to use American Indian, but we'll allow Native American when a person prefers it. We make allowances for people's stated preferences with, for example, Hispanic or Latino and black or African American, and American Indian and Native American seem to be in that category.
- Kimberly Travis, copy editor, Endless Vacation magazine:
- We've changed Native American to American Indian. We wanted to be accurate and correct and still get to the point.
- Caesar Andrews, executive editor, Rockland Journal-News (West Nyack, N.Y.):
- We're trying to clarify Hispanic and make the distinction that as a Hispanic you can be black or white. That does not always come across clearly in population and demographic-type stories. Where it's appropriate, we don't presume that there's a black and a white and a Hispanic. We're in the process of figuring out how to deal with this issue and do it in an accurate sense that is not too convoluted.
- Charlotte Wiggers, managing editor, Essence:
- We had been capping black and lowercasing white, and now we are uppercasing white as well. If you do it for one, you need to do it for the other.
- Peter Jeffrey, copy chief, Working Woman:
- Over the past years we have formalized what had already been a tendency to blend African-American with our use of black. We use African-American on first reference and black thereafter, so as to acknowledge African-American without replacing black. We felt that African-American was gaining currency and had a lot of etymological legitimacy, but since it's rather long and it can be awkward when used exclusively, we decided to mix the two forms.
- Bill Fink, copy desk chief, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
- We never used to allow the term African American, for most of the usual arguments. Now we have an informal policy of using black and African American pretty much interchangeably. We usually go with what the source that's covered prefers.
- Darrell Turner, copy editor, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette:
- We no longer use the term the disabled. We now say people with disabilities.
Clarence Notree barely had time to act when a gunman burst into the elementary-school gym. As the bullets flew, the physical-education teacher spread out his arms to shield the children and pushed them out a door to safety. He got shot in the wrist. His school and community lauded Notree as a hero, but the Chicago Board of Education insisted that he wasn't entitled to worker's compensation. They said saving the children's lives was not part of his job.
The Democrats are being blamed more than Republicans because they ran in 1992 saying, "If you elect us we will get all of these things done. We'll have a Democratic White House; we'll have a Democratic Congress; and all of the gridlock you saw in the past will fade away." Instead, they look like the gang who couldn't shoot straight; they couldn't get anything through. Now that's not exactly true, because in fact they've gotten a lot of things through, important things like, uh, uh, I can't think of any right now.
Many companies are quite formal about how to be casual. Southland, for example, put on a "fashion show" with employees modeling what is—and isn't—OK to wear on dress-down day. For further reference, the company has compiled a two-inch-thick binder packed with full-color catalog clippings, each pasted into sections marked "appropriate" and "inappropriate." (A photo of a woman wearing black spandex exercise shorts and a tight-fitting tank top fell into the latter category.)
Determining what is perfectly casual from what is way too casual can be tricky. At Picadilly Cafeterias Inc., of Baton Rouge, La., bluejeans are forbidden, but not black or green jeans. Shorts are prohibited, so why not the culotte-like "skort," an odd cross between shorts and a skirt? "I don't know how to answer that," confesses Scott Bozzell, a vice president who recently held a special meeting with supervisors to clarify the company's casual-dress rules. "I guess the design of skorts itself isn't distasteful."
For workers at conservative companies, the chance to break free from business suits may be just too much to handle. Houston-based American General Corp. tried a Casual Day Pilot Program, but found "the definition of casual was perceived to be broader" than intended, says John Pluhowski, company spokesman.
On dress-down day, employees of the insurance company wore Santa Claus and Easter Bunny outfits, T-shirts advertising booze and tight pants under oversized baggy shirts hanging to the knees. No one was sent home, not even the worker who dressed as a duck.
"If you came as a duck, you went home as a duck, but you were expected not to return as a duck," Mr. Pluhowski says. After a six-month trial, casual day at American General got the ax.
Faced with First Amendment constraints, the university agreed not to prosecute Pavlik. In fact, the only people punished in the incident were the police who arrested the students who destroyed the papers. One officer was suspended, and a follow-up report by the university recommended that the campus police begin keeping race and sex information on their detainees, "to determine if [arrest policy] has an adverse impact on any groups and if the policy is applied in a consistent, non-discriminatory manner."
Defense attorney Eric Sears argued that his client grew up in Beirut amid civil war, violence and an atmosphere of hatred, all of which rendered him temporarily insane. In Baz's case, argued Sears, the violence in Beirut, "besides being constant and random, was often brutal. The house you left in the morning could be rubble that night," he declared in his opening statement at the trial. "Those years inevitably left scars on his personality."
A friend who recently moved to South Deerfield told me that her roommate did something a little odd while they were jogging together. They had jogged into Sunderland and paused by the monumental sycamore tree—one of New England's largest—that grows near the center of town. On an impulse, my friend's roommate embraced the tree and "gave it a big smackeroo."
Could it be that my roommate's friend's affection for the Sunderland sycamore represented a welling up of the ecological (or, more precisely, arboreal) id?
If you surmise that my question is a leading one, you're right on the money. But what it leads to is another, much larger realm of questions. Why does your average passerby think it's weird to kiss trees? Is there in his or her response to the tree-kisser an analogue to homophobia? Why is it forbidden to make love with trees? Are we (if I may coin a phrase) an ecophobic society? And if, with whatever difficulties and setbacks, American society is coming to realize that bisexuality and homosexuality are in and of themselves as healthy as heterosexuality, why do we lag in recognizing the inherent healthiness of erotic, even sexual, connections with nonhuman nature? Why are we so conflicted about—to broach a concept—our natural ecosexuality?