Men for all seasons

Op-ed gems discovered in the incredible shrinking Other Paper
By PHILLIPE AND JORGE  |  December 3, 2008

Itlooks like the Urinal may not have spell-check or editors anymore, judging from the scant review it appears recent headlines and copy have been given by those writing letters to the editor. And now our old pal, the high-strung uber-yuppie Petey Phipps, is at the helm of projo.com, infuriating some reporters with his practice of rewriting their stuff for the Web.

But one only has to look to the contributors on the op-ed page to find the best and the brightest, often those who least represent the paper's corporate viewpoints. Phillipe + Jorge in particular point to the December 1 edition of the Urinal, which featured pieces by two of our favorite people, Dr. Stanley Aronson, and the deeply missed former director of the RISD Museum, Frank Robinson.

Dr. Aronson's weekly musings on an astonishingly interesting range of topics are one of the paper's must reads, along with Bob Kerr's columns, Political Scene, and the Saturday Bill Reynolds' nuggets, and Aronson's views are sometimes only vaguely related to medicine. (Stanley is what P+J call a "real" doctor, who might actually know what ails you and how to fix it, not some self-important head of a state agency or dot-com start-up with an inflated degree in American Civilization who demands an honorific.) If you have not yet read any of his pieces, keep an eye out for the good doctor every Monday.

While at RISD, Frank Robinson turned hundreds of Philistines into friends of the arts, a trick he is no doubt still performing as director at Cornell's Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. His most recent occasional effort in the Other Paper, "What museums do for humanity," showed he still has his formidable and cultured intellectual fastball.

P+J remember Frank as being incredibly genial, smart as whip, and always up for a bit of fun and a laugh. When P. had a sports commentary on Channel 6 years ago, every spring Frank would allow him to "hang" one of that season's Topps baseball cards on the museum's wall, next to one of the gallery's most famous works, Edouard Manet's Le repos, an 1870 painting of his sister-in-law and colleague, Berthe Morisot, and give a faux comparative critique of the artistic merits of both works. Frank would stand behind the camera laughing, and enjoying the entire ludicrous spectacle.

GETTING AT THE TRUTH
In his most recent "Tilting at Windmills" column in the Washington Monthly, founding editor Charles Peters throws a bouquet to US Senator Jack Reed, suggesting that when it comes to getting the truth about the war in Iraq, president-elect Barack Obama would do well to heed Little Big Man's advice to listen to the junior officers and media people who are on the ground over there, rather than the highest ranking military men in charge.

This is due to the Army bigheads usually being more concerned with pet big-ticket budget items than the problems of the everyday soldiers, such as a lack of body armor. As Peters notes, a junior officer in the battlefield who has just seen one of his men killed for lack of proper protection, or a journalist who witnessed the same, is going to know a lot more about that problem than some tin hat pontificating in a safe haven in the Green Zone.

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