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Thursday, March 31, 2011 05:54 am

April Tomfoolery again

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Britney Spears at the Illinois State Fair?

 I had so much fun doing a column as an April Fool last year I’ve decided to make it an annual event. Part of the fun is in just getting the chance to be outrageous and the rest comes in hearing that some readers actually believe the nonsense. Remember folks to read all the way to the end, just like those tricky tests certain fourth-grade teachers use to trip up students. Here we go fellow fools.

In a recent turnaround, this April 1 Springfield authorities will renounce plans for converting the Lincoln Library west branch building into a police substation by turning the whole shebang into the joke all sensible citizens had already realized.

“We were just kidding,” said an anonymous city spokesperson. “Why would we take a space set aside for learning where future lawbreakers could get an education and possibly break the chain of ignorance and lawlessness and turn it into a criminal catch all? That doesn’t make any sense.”

In a bold and progressive concept, city fathers propose using the space as an art outreach center focusing on music, dance, painting and other forms of creative endeavors designed to help the low-income community surrounding the building find alternative and lawful ways of personal expression. By converting the funds appropriated for police protection into service of the citizenry, city officials aim to claim a new direction in law enforcement, calling the program, Bullets into Beats.

“We need more beat poets and less beat cops around here,” proclaimed a local wag known around town as the “Hillbilly Hippie,” when calling the move a modern dance step in the right direction. “No one would ever rather go to jail or commit a crime than dance the night away while soaking up the jams. It’s so far out and righteous that someone now seems to understand the effect of the arts on a community is immeasurable.”

Elsewhere in the capital city, ambitious and socially responsible real estate tycoons announced the refurbishing of the old Esquire Theater complex near MacArthur and South Grand into a swank and stylish center for popular entertainment and community involvement. In promising a hip, alternative center for the arts, daring and dashing developers explicitly proclaimed the name of the facility would be easily pronounced and understood by everyone. The nearest remaining ex-movie theater in proximity to downtown, it barely missed being razed when former city officials recently called off the hunt after deciding the building could be spared.

“We demolished all the rest of the downtown theaters years ago and were going after this one until we realized it was far enough from the city center to not be a danger to the public pleasure,” explained another anonymous authority. “We did our job well. There isn’t a downtown theater left, like in other, less vigilant central Illinois towns. We take care of our concerns here.”

Plans for the place include a well run and tasty vegan restaurant, convenient coffee shop not owned by a national chain, retail outlets for area artisans, reasonable rates with pleasurable performing spaces and regular music performances by national touring artists and deserving local acts, much like what happens in other cites all over the nation.

In the biggest news yet, city ordinances now require every venue to have adequate in-house sound systems, every customer to tip the musicians extravagantly and all audiences to listen intently and alertly to each performance under penalty of the law.

And if you believe that, the Rolling Stones and Beatles are playing a free benefit concert at the Hoogland this Saturday night, Coldplay and Britney Spears will be at the Illinois State Fair and Pete Romano really is the Mayor of Springfield, no matter who wins next week.

Let each and every day be an April Fool’s Day.  

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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