Anan's Gaza roots and guns

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

There are dimensions to Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb that often are obscured by the tall buildings he champions, by the "open for business" mantra he recites, by the seeming lack of passion he has for social issues that spur so many in Oak Park.

And then he'll put pen to paper and connect a local issue to his upbringing in Gaza, "the war zone that I grew up in." 

This week in our Viewpoints section, Abu-Taleb explains why he is one of 250 American mayors who have signed on to demands that the U.S. Senate act on the modest gun control legislation already passed by the House. (River Forest Village President Cathy Adduci is the only other neighboring mayor to sign.)

The passage of any gun control measures would be the first legislative action of this mass-shooting-infused century. A remarkable failure of will by our bought-and-paid-for elected leaders. 

Abu-Taleb, though, goes well beyond support for background checks. In vivid prose, he compares the brutalized bodies in an El Paso Walmart and on the streets of the nightlife neighborhood of Dayton to his early years watching the bloody occupation of Gaza. He calls for banning the semi-automatic and automatic firearms that end lives by the dozens in just minutes. 

The contrast this immigrant draws is between the darkness of occupied Gaza and the stilted aspirations of America. "Here, in the greatest country on Earth, a country of laws and civility, no one needs weapons of war to protect themselves, their family, their assets," Abu-Taleb writes. 

The fury for action is building. The stinging perspective that Abu-Taleb brings is a powerful spur to more action.

The Lake Theatre marquee: After backing the repeated sprouting of high-rises in and around downtown Oak Park, this would be an odd time to get all nostalgic about the historic marquee of the local movie house.

But the proposal by Classic Cinemas, the outstanding owner of the Lake Theatre, to replace the three sides of the current marquee — where the names of the movies go up letter by letter, where Val gets a shout out on her death — with, effectively, video boards is a bit of a chest flutter. 

Yep, I'm George Bailey running down the main street of Bedford Falls past the movie theater showing The Bells of St. Mary's. Some Bedford Falls kid got paid 50 cents an hour to hang those letters! Or perhaps it was some guy on the movie crew.

I've seen the wraparound video boards at Classic Cinemas' York Theater in Elmhurst. More often an ad for having your kids birthday party at the York than a preview of coming attractions.

That said, I've been around long enough to recall that Willis and Shirley Johnson saved The Lake from extinction in the early 1980s when it was down to showing third-run films in a single giant auditorium with balky air conditioning. Now it's a seven-screen showplace and if their son Chris thinks it is worth investing $200,000 of the family's money into flashing jumbotrons, then I guess I'll get to like it. 

Quickly: The Turano Bread headquarters on Roosevelt Road has suddenly leapt out of the ground. Pre-made two-story chunks of wall are going up like an erector set. ... The White Sox opening in Chicago on March 26 is insane. But I'll be there. Also insane. 

Contact:
Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

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Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: August 14th, 2019 1:05 PM

Always love it when a guy from Berwyn talks about the passion he has for social issues in Oak Park. It is one of the dimensions of this paper that are so hypocritical.

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