Schutze Finally Reads Crume on Christmas, and His Heart Grows Three Sizes, But Only This Day

Categories: Get Off My Lawn

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This morning I finally read the late Paul Crume's 1967 newspaper column about angels, reprinted in today's Dallas Morning News, according to their annual custom. When I told my wife I had never read it before, she reacted with shock, dismay, disenchantment -- the usual.

She's a Dallas native. She probably thinks reading Crume's column about angels every year is required by law. I'm not asking.

I never read it before because I have a major bias against local newspaper columnists from back in the day. I was a kid coming up when most of them were sinking into their final stages of all-too-public dotage. I think of them as a bunch of narcissistic old hacks, knowing full well that kids coming up in the business today must think the same of me. What goes around, you know.

Crume's column is beautifully written. It's superb, with just the right legacy of 1940s noire, a splash of erudition and a good touch for the '60s. It's not a mud-bath of religiosity, which is what I had feared.

His point is that angels are emanations of a sensed but unseen probability binding us together and watching over us in a lonely universe. I could explain the same thing with quantum mechanics, if I could understand quantum mechanics.

I must admit something. I have my own version of angels.

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Via.
Paul Crume
In my part of Dallas, close to downtown in a nicely renovated slum, we share the streets with people from beyond the far margins of society -- the extraordinaries.

They appear before us like moving silhouettes on a puppet stage, on bicycles and on foot, sometimes with burdens, sometimes not, but always in costume, apparitions from a brilliant Salvador Dali universe.

Some of them appear every day at a given moment, then disappear for days, weeks or forever. Do they float up into the sky? Or die in the alleys?

One of the first I saw when we moved into the neighborhood was Pocahantas -- known by that name to all of my neighbors, none of whom had ever spoken to her, because she never spoke. She was slender, early middle-aged, attractive, always clad in fringed and beaded reproduction buckskins, with a single long black braid all the way down her back.

She walked the alleys and was Pocahantas. That was it.

Another extraordinary was the white mariachi, a mature, somewhat pudgy fellow dressed in a huge bangled mariachi sombrero and way-too-tight trajes. He strode down the sidewalks with proud flair.

Mr. Debonair, sometimes known as Fake Englishman, wore a bowler hat and carried an umbrella that he flipped around like a drum major's baton.

There were several on heavily modified old bicycles often towing handmade wagons. The one I remember best was World War II Bomber Pilot, who wore a leather helmet, goggles and a sheepskin-lined leather bomber jacket even in the blazing heat of summer.

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Sculpture by Robert Borson © 2000
I am using the past tense. Few of them are still around. Is it our fault? As the neighborhood has become more respectable, have we have somehow pushed them back from our borders? Or is somebody medicating it all out of them now? Are they happier now, no longer being extraordinary?

All I know is that the humdrum of our own lives is interrupted less often by one of these bright shining anomalies -- apparitions to remind us that what we think of as reality is only a picture frame we hold up to the multiverse to keep from getting dizzy.

Their appearances now are all the more valuable for being rare. They are gifts from the beyond, reminders that this prison we call real life is only that, a jail from which escape is possible and judging by appearances quite colorful. But who are they really? What are they?

So several years ago -- days before Christmas -- I'm by myself at the pancake house. I look up from my booth, and there on the other side of the restaurant, too far away from me to hear words, I see Mr. Debonair and World War II Bomber Pilot sharing a booth.

And I mean chatting up a storm. Laughing at each other's jokes, gesticulating, watching each other's eyes and interrupting as if finishing each other's sentences. Talk-talk-talk, laugh-laugh-laugh.

So they knew each other. They shared a language and a universe. They loved each other, at least long enough to eat pancakes together.

I remembered that moment today when I read Crume's column saying angels are real. The extraordinaries are my angels. Their universe is my universe, or could be. Maybe that comes after the narcissistic hack stage. I need to get work on my costume right away.

I plan to be the kind that sets fires. Sorry in advance.

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29 comments
Willie
Willie

oh, Jim, who's the black woman with gravity-defying 44FFFFFFF's yanked up to her chin?  She always wears tight stretchy pants, too.  I've seen her walking around the area for years.

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

I re-read it every year. It IS required by law in Dallas, Jim.

Thank you--and to R W, for the work you all do to shine a light on Dallas' best and worst features and people.

Jim Suhler
Jim Suhler

Good column, Robert. Thanks. I remember this column from my childhood.

Bmarvel
Bmarvel

Gorgeous, generous, piece.

Martha McSweeney
Martha McSweeney

Thanks for a wonderful column.  I'm cutting it out, putting it with my yellowed, brittle copy of Crum's column and it, too, will become part of my Christmas ritual.  I fled Dallas, North Oak Cliff to be specific, because I saw no hope of overcoming the ostentation and pretention I perceived was Dallas.  You and Mr Wilonsky give me hope.  Thanks again and a wonderous and joyful new year to you both 

Urbandweller203
Urbandweller203

I want to add my holiday greeting  to the posters of DO, including Phelps during this holiday season. This was my first experience posting and I look forwards to 2012 in reading all the serious and funny comments, especially the "one liners". Most of all, DO has the best journalism ever and I want to send a holiday greeting to all the hard working and fearless people who delivers great news. Merry Christmas and Have a Happy and Safe New Year!!

Lisa Dawn
Lisa Dawn

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brushfires in peoples minds" --Sam Adams

I predict a heated 2012...until the levee breaks to cool things down...

  

Holman
Holman

My Deep Ellum missed the last developer boom.  Good.  But it has come to my attention at the Deep Ellum Foundation - comprised of a few building owners - have submitted to the City a manifesto disguised as a change in ordinance of PD 269 (Deep Ellum) to cut out the renters and maximize asset value should another boom arrive to this city.  I mention this because it has already been filed for change at the City.  It deserves a look by the inhabitants of Deep Ellum, and its impact upon the character and future development of it.  Bottom line:  Any zoning change should not be manipulated by three or four property owners.  They do not speak for the community.

JimS
JimS

This is making me sick. I hope a levee breaks.

Phelps
Phelps

I think that if you stuck with the bathrobe and aviators on a daily basis, that would be a good start.  It carries a strong air of Dudeism, and just a bit of nihilism.  For footwear I would say some really hideous crocs or some sort of animal slippers.

You would really need some sort of accessory to tie it all together.  The shotgun would be perfect but Dallas isn't quite Texas enough for that yet.  Maybe one of those big steel briefcases.

RC
RC

To RW and Jim:You guys are the best. Your teamwork at DO helps to remind all of us, who Dallas was in the past and where Dallas is going in the future.Keep up the good work, and let's all hope for a great 2012.Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays from me and all my aliases here on Unfair Park.

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

this morning, I started the day at Oak Lawn Coffee. I was meeting a young man from Senegal, who served as my volunteer interpreter on an asylum case from West Africa a few years back. He's a great young man. I was early, watching the staff deal with a homeless guy. I confess I was eavesdropping on their conversation. He was a veteran, and talked about the medications he received at the VA clinic. The staff bought his coffee. I was inspired by the season. So, I walked over and said, 'Sounds like you're down on your luck. Can I buy you breakfast?" He lit up. I bought him some oatmeal. He asked, 'can I have a cookie?:" I said sure, what's oatmeal without a cookie. Earlier I heard him reading out loud:Psalm 100 

Know that the LORD is God.    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.When he walked out, I told the staff to put a bag of pastry and fruit, to give to him as he was leaving. It confirms what I believe at the core of my being. I benefited more from this than he did. I've had a warm feeling all day. Him, I think he really liked the cookie. Jim, Robert, and all: Thanks for providing this forum. It's a pleasure to know you. Have a great time over the holiday. blessings and Peace, 

bill 

RTGolden
RTGolden

A Merry Christmas to you Schutze.  To you and Wilonsky and Merlan and all the other writers and posters here on Unfair Park who never fail to frustrate, infuriate, exasperate, entertain, inform, commiserate, and, quite often, humble me, I wish the very best in this end of the year, and good fortune in the coming year.  I'll be here reading and learning and offering my often useless two cents.

Jillyjiller
Jillyjiller

PC for the fifties- Crume seen here blowing down a Lucky.

NewsDog
NewsDog

The fire setting angel of 1500 Marilla Street... that has a nice ring to it.

fred
fred

She has been around for at least 20  years.  We call her Ms. Penn because she resembles an old J. L. Long counselor. Another great East Dallas character was The Captain. He dressed in an old pea coat, had a beard, naval cap and a spiffy cane and was always at the old Lakewood Yacht Club, giving it the proper atmosphere. He died dn the early 90s. I didn't learn his real name until I saw his obit.  He and his brother (who was  a big shot) went to Woodrow.

JimS
JimS

Robert?? ROBERT???!!@@## ROBERT ROBERT ROBERT, ALL I EVER HEAR IS ROBERT.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Well, at least one of your aliases did more than Schutze and I ever could at City Hall. And for that, a hearty mazel tov and happy Christmas.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

Mighty, mighty kind. In six years of doing this -- sheesh -- one of my favorite comments ever. Very, very, very kind. And: to you and yours as well, and to all the Friends of Unfair Park. At least those whose comments are left in all-caps.

Every day 'round here's like Christmas. Or at least the ninth day of Hanukkah.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Mrs. Schutze, put an extra Xanax in Jim's egg nogg.  Looks like he's going to need it.

RC
RC

IF this is the REAL Jim Schutze, you should know by now that we all LOVE yew just as much as RW.

RC
RC

:)

Bill Holston
Bill Holston

gracias. Signing off for the weekend. Have a great holiday, will be listening in tomorrow night. 

JimS
JimS

JUST AS MUCH? What the hell!

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