A marquee-less future could be better

It’s been a while, and news just keeps piling up in Kitsap. So, unable to keep my mind on one simple — or, for that matter, one complicated — thing, I’m taking a brief little run at a few disparate items.

-- I liked the Port Orchard downtown marquee look. I’ve said that many times before here. And I will hate to see it go, if it does. But I’m sure that just beneath the defensively positive chatter Chamber of Commerce types everywhere tend to blather, many folks, who like myself, like the marquee look, are hoping the new infusion of private investment will revitalize Port Orchard’s cute but far-from-busy downtown shopping area.

All good things, including, evidently, distinctive small-town architecture, eventually come to an end.

But it will be a good death if the downtown is sparked into new life by an infusion of new money and new buildings.

What will be worse than sad is if, after all these once-again raised hopes, nothing happens.

Time will tell, I guess.

-- I’ve covered cops and courts for most of my journalism career. When I started out, in sports, I couldn’t wait to get back on the city desk.

I was always fascinated by crime and criminals. And I’m not alone. Crime coverage sells big-time.

But after covering more than 100 murders, countless rape and child molestation cases, and even some very acrimonious divorces that turned into assault charges, I’ve pretty much reached my saturation point.

One reason I’m fed up is that I realized finally, better late than never, that criminals aren’t more interesting than average folks. They’re usually just more selfish and venal.

For example, take the case of Larry Mann, the local man who gives grandfathers everywhere a bad name.

After recently plea-bargaining down a second-degree child assault charge, Mann, who admitted beating his adopted grandchildren, and tying them up with zip ties, blamed his wife, who is also charged.

He blamed his wife.

I can’t help but remember when I was a wee nipper back in Ohio, getting busted by my parents for helping trash an old neighborhood curmudgeon’s house on Damage Night, the evening before Halloween.

“But Ron Carter told me to do it,” I said, my puny 12-year-old body quaking.

My father got even angrier and had to be restrained by my mother from administering some severe corporeal punishment.

“You blame your friend,” he said. “It isn’t bad enough you do it, but then you try and blame your friend?”

My father, an old-school type, was more disgusted by my reaction to the charge of trashing the Boulders’ house than the crime itself.

I understood then why he was disgusted by me. And I understand why I’m disgusted by Larry Mann.

Bad enough to allegedly hogtie your grandchildren with plastic zipties, feed the little tykes ice cubes and beat ’em, but then to try and blame the little woman?

Larry got eight months in his plea bargain when what he should have gotten was tied in a jail cell, with zip ties, and then turned over to 10 or 12 abused children who have never really recovered from the horrors some alleged coward like Larry administered to his grandkids.

Some folks are simply low-lifes, pure and simple. His wife has her own day in court and I am not saying she’s better.

But c’mon, “She made me do it,” doesn’t fly here.

-- I write some fiction and have published short stories, and poetry, in a variety of so-called “little” and literary magazines around the country. I’ve also written five novels, had an agent for three of them, but despite that agenting, none of them sold.

I still write fiction and I still have a lot of stories and poems published in small magazines that pay a pittance, or give me a year’s free subsciption to their rag.

I’m not complaining, though. I love to write fiction; it’s a world apart from journalism and, I believe, offers the opportunity to get closer to the truth in some ways than journalism, where we are held to factual standards that often ignore a deeper reality.

I write kinda serious fiction and don’t read romance novels. But that said, I can’t pass up the chance to take my hat off to Port Orchard author Debbie Macomber, who recently won a Quill Award in New York City for her novel “44 Cranberry Point.”

I’ve talked to ladies who do read romance novels and they sing Macomber’s praises to the stars you can’t see right now because of the rain and low clouds.

All I can say is any writer good enough to win a national award, in whatever category, has my sincerest compliments.

And Macomber supports herself by the fruits of her pen. This is the dream of about half the reporters and a fifth of the teachers I’ve known over the years I’ve written stories and columns for newspapers, and poetry and short fiction for the allegedly more discerning readers of “The Ball State Forum,” “Clifton Magazine,” and “The Christian Science Monitor,” to name three places that have taken more than one piece of my stuff over the years.

Good on You, Debbie.

Dennis Wilken is a former Port Orchard Independent reporter.

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