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    Friday, November 10, 2006

    Love your neighbor, don't trust your neighbor

    For 25 years, Arlington County resident Peter Jones carefully tended a lace leaf Japanese maple tree growing in a black container in his back yard. Jones imagined the day that the tree, bought as a seedling, would outgrow its bin, finally old enough to shade a tract of empty land somewhere and able to spread its roots.


    Last week, the tree found its home. It was planted with great pomp, complete with public officials and photo opportunities, outside the six-month-old Walter Reed Recreation Center in South Arlington, becoming the focal point on a slight knoll near a new playground. But yesterday morning, all that remained of the tree was a hole about two feet deep and a trail of rust-colored leaves and mulch leading to the parking lot.

    And this from good old Chuck E. Cheese... I have had many a pitcher of beer
    there while watching my little ones. Now it seems scrappy older ones are
    causing the guards to start carrying guns.

    A Milwaukee alderman wants to shut down a south side Chuck E. Cheese's, the family-themed pizza joint better known for its arcade games and jungle gyms than its armed guards.


    "I feel that that Chuck E. Cheese's is a threat to the health, safety and welfare of the community," said 14th District Ald. Tony Zielinski. "In fact, a police officer I talked to said it could be just a matter of time until a shooting takes place."

    Police were called to the restaurant chain's 2701 S. Chase Ave. location 18 times in June and July on calls ranging from theft and car burglaries to a fight involving 40 people that took 11 officers and three police sergeants to defuse.

    On Oct. 6 at the Bay View location, an argument that broke out between two teenagers over an arcade basketball game ended in a melee with nearly 20 people involved. The two women who called police that day agree the location is a trouble spot.

    "Oh, my God, I'll never go back there again," said Veronica Grady, who was about to sing "Happy Birthday" to her 9-year-old daughter when the fight erupted. "They were throwing pans at each other, napkin holders, everything."

    Kimberly Jones was at her nephew's party the day of the fight. She hadn't been to that location in four years, and she said she'll steer clear of it in the future.

    Sometimes the clock hands move too slowly to see the change. And then it is
    old people telling about how things "used to be". Damn right. You have to spend
    a few years to get a little perspective.

    40 years ago, rural folks left a note on their kitchen table telling anyone
    who came by where they had gone, and when they'd be back. Now, if they even go
    to a funeral that is mentioned in the paper, they must have a neighbor babysit
    the place because untrustworthy folks scan the Obituaries and rob the house
    while people attend the wake.

    As we know, it has slowly descended again to the Wild Wild West out

    To meet your neighbor, much less love your neighbor, requires some courage
    and some risk to body and wealth. Still, that's what we are called to do.

    Yet there's no command to trust your neighbor, so be wise like a fox.


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