Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Found Poetry -- Tony Norman in the Post-Gazette

I'm always a bit skeptical of local columnists, and I should admit that I've found Norman's columns facile in the past. That said, his column today, about black on black violence in Pittsburgh, was profoundly affecting. Excerpt:

The preacher is experienced at pointing fingers at the callousness of society. He blames gangsta rap for leading so many young men astray with the lure of empty glamour, sex and violence. He blames the schools for being broken down warehouses of the spirit. He blames white politicians for not creating enough jobs for idle black youth. He blames political corruption, drug dealers and the complacency of the black middle class for everything else.

Over time, the names of the dearly departed -- especially those of African derivation that suggest a connection to a continent they've never seen -- begin to blur in the preacher's sermons. It's hard to tap a vein of genuine emotion when you're called upon to stand over a different body every month. How do you find words of comfort where there are none?
* * * *

As a preacher, all he can do is shake his head and sip coffee from the Styrofoam cup offered to him. He learned long ago that it's never polite to point out self-deception when folks are grieving at funeral receptions. Grieve and do nothing -- that's what people prefer to do.

It's not a problem with which I'm terribly familiar as it occurs in Pittsburgh. One of my ongoing complaints with this city is the degree of social and political segregation -- something wholly alien to me after a childhood spent in a north Jersey suburb. This column, however, is terribly evocative and pointed. I strongly recommend it -- not just for my Pittsburgh readership, but for everyone.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are skeptical of local writers, get a load of this guy - best teacher I ever had. He is a writer with a true and genuine purpose:

If you ever wish to have your worlds collide (writer/lawyer) give him a call. He always needs volunteers.

PS I met Tony Norman, and found him to be a great storyteller. If you ever get the chance ask him for an abridged version of his history at the Post Gazette (including the letter that his wife wrote in response to one of his editorials and the NIN concert where his career as a music reviewer ended.)

5:35 PM  
Blogger Moon said...

Hey Ano --

Thanks for the tip. Unfortunately, in virtue of my current super-secret employment, I'm ethically precluded from doing any advocacy work. That may change soon, however (and really should change some time in the next couple of years), at which time I'll be looking for worthy pro bono opportunities. I've bookmarked the Innocence Institute page for future reference.

7:21 PM  

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