November 11, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES II • Page 21 “Let me know if the screenplay sells,” Quint said when I shifted employers. “I got an offer out on the car for when we’re both celebrities. Gunmetal grey Benz, nothing cheap and flashy – we’ve got our dignity to stand on.” When I went back a couple of years later, Quint had retired, and the place where we both worked shortly became a large hole in the ground, since replaced by a multi-level shopping mall. The screenplay never got produced, but two big hits of the 1970s looked very much like knock-offs of my main premise, though the Hollywood versions were more patriotic and upbeat than mine because one hero had been in the Air Force in South Korea and the other one had spent the war in school in Switzerland. Their protagonists were heroes of vengeance. Mine was a betrayed psychotic, though exceptionally violent, which is why the failure to turn it into a major motion picture still surprises me at times. But Quint’s words lingered on: Gimme died. Translated into standard Oxford English, that means you are not getting any handouts, so do not even bother to ask. We may have heard this echoing at the polls last week. Why does New Jersey have the highest property taxes in the nation, toll booths on the highways, all those Atlantic City casinos generating revenue – and an $8 billion budget deficit? Can someone have missed the message that gimme died? Every time some study group turns up people who are unhappy about their lot in life, the taxpayers are called to bail them out with huge amounts of money that does not lead to any revenue coming back. Picture how much better the word would be if Quint Dickerson’s slogan were taken as the operating principle of the new United States. “My bank will go bankrupt because we made a lot of loans to people who can’t pay us back and we don’t want to foreclose on property but if you could just gimme a $10 billion bailout...” “Gimme died!” “My auto company is failing because there aren’t enough racists left to boycott Japanese and South Korean cars and mine are no good but if you could just gimme a $10 billion bailout...” “Gimme died!” “The kids in my school don’t like to read, but if you could just gimme $10 million to install an Olympic-sized swimming pool and an X-rated movie theater so they would come to school anyway...” “Gimme died!” “I bet if I got a study to investigate parenting techniques among chinstrap penguins I might found out something useful about how to raise kids in two-parent families in the suburbs again, so if you just gimme $1 million...” “Gimme died!” “My special education program isn’t going to help this kid at all, and he isn’t happy here and would rather be home, but at least the parents will feel like their kid is going to a real school and it only costs five times as much...” “Gimme died!” “I want to go to a four-year college at the taxpayers’ expense, but the Army won’t take me because I’m 100 pounds overweight and flunked the IQ test and I don’t really want to get shot...” “Gimme died!” “These junkies won’t quit until they die, but you’ll feel a lot less guilty if you give my program $5 million to fuss over them…” “Gimme died!” See how beautifully simple it all is? You just find somebody with the common sense of a former Army enlisted man working as a custodian because he needs the insurance while he actually operates a restaurant franchise in Harlem. That man despised junkies and dysfunctional drunks because he had the same excuses and opted to be a real man instead -- a man who understood how the American economy works. That’s the man to make head of the Department of No Gimme. This guy, with the learned lore and wisdom of an West African griot and the intuitive powers of a Cherokee shaman, could look right through you and tell whether your plan was big bucks or bad baloney. Best of all, nobody could call him a racist. He was a cordial man, but when people were rude to him or proposed dumb things, he was an equal opportunity gimme-buster. We shall not see his like again, but if this election – especially in New Jersey – was really about controlling property taxes, we had better hope we can find people of near-equal abilities, because with 10 percent of New Jersey’s residents unemployed, some mutual funds barely solvent, and the interest on savings miniscule, gimme died. Here is a two-word explanation for what happened at the polls last week: Gimme died. During my last year of college, I attended a credited class where teachers already on the job were in the same group as juniors and seniors who would shortly be graduating. I remember one teacher whose take on the educational situation was that if things were clearly wrong, which is to say not being run to your own satisfaction, you just “screamed” – his words – and they would get better. He claimed this worked. My next stop was the United States Army. Things there often did not work out to anyone’s satisfaction and, if you screamed, nobody cared. When bad situations cropped up, the sergeants would tell us there would be no passes until all matters were put right, and guys who were more pragmatic than idealistic and wanted that pass would conduct what was known as a Blanket Party: somebody would target the malefactor, swoop down and throw a blanket over his head, and three or four other guys would take turns punching him in the stomach until he agreed to stop being a nuisance. Since he could never say who hit him, he could not press charges, and since he had to sleep in the same room as the guys who might have been the ones beating him up, he learned to do what he was told. The Army has a different form of reality than the education system. Screaming was frowned upon. Recent news indicates that 70 percent of young Americans who attempt to enlist are not physically or mentally qualified. They should not feel too sad about this. Recycled back to civilian life with a small medal and a long crutch, I practiced walking without a noticeable limp, passed a couple of mental evaluations to prove I was not a homicidal maniac, and got a couple of dead-end jobs, none of them the usual goal of a college graduate, while I sat up nights writing and sent out resumes that did not get many responses. I was working as a laborer and short-haul truck driver when I met Quint Dickerson, the source of the twoword quote. Half African, half Cherokee, and twice skeptical about any white man’s good intentions, Quint wondered if I was a dope addict because I wore dark sunglasses indoors. When he found out I was a writer, he instantly decided that he would be my agent, limousine driver, and general counselor. He gave good advice. For instance, when you get diarrhea, get the technician to give you some of the syrup out of the Coke machine. That fixes everything. Sometimes, he asked for advice. “My son’s got a good job be he wants to be a filmmaker,” he once told me. “That’s a risky line of work unless you’re already rich,” I said. “That’s why I’m here.” Quint said, “He told me, Dad, if you just gimme $10,000 I can get into filmmaking school. I told him, ‘You’re 23 years old, and gimme died.” I filed that closing line in my repertory saddlebag. Shortly, I tried to sell an interview with a dope addict to a large newspaper, which put the interview on the back burner, but offered me a full-time job. I jumped at it. Gimme just died Now what do we do? Ridgewood The Ridgewood Village Council approved the leasing of a part of the office rental space at the Pease Library. Pease, originally Ridgewood’s public library, later an adjunct library and reading room, and ultimately the substitute police station – has been restored by David Bolger as a donation to Ridgewood. The building is now being offered as office space, with the money from the leases returned to the library board. The terms of the five-year lease agreement between Ridgewood and Ridgewood Medical Media, a private company, call for the leasing of 3,207 square feet of the Pease building, with a lease price of $64,439 for the first year of Council approves partial leasing at Pease the lease, rising to $77,029 for the fifth and last year of the lease. The front foyer of the public is available to Ridgewood residents, and the entire library building will be returned to Ridgewood after the 10-year leasing period expires. Ridgewood Village Council members and members of the Library Board praised Bolger and his son J.T. Bolger for the restoration of the venerable library after a hiatus of about eight years when a number of other plans fell through. J. KOSTER The 6th Annual Everybody Loves Elwood Walk/Run Day took place in October. Students, staff, family and friends came together to show their support for Jack, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) in 2003. Project Interact, a volunteer/help organization of Ridgewood High School, worked again towards another successful event. The total raised this year was $8,134, which will go towards the Elwood family expenses. The Elwood Walk/Run Committee would like to thank everybody who shared in this powerful day. For the event, Ms. Margarete Hyer’s Benjamin Franklin Middle School National Junior Art Honor Society, along with several eighth grade students, created the banner and additional signage for Jack Elwood Day. Sixth grade Art Honor Society member Isabelle Fosella was the creative mind behind the yin/ yang symbol idea, and her large peace sign greeted attendees at the registration table. Jack Elwood Day results