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Silas of the lambs 

I've never really been a very religious person, unless you count the time I prayed that God would give me a great, fulfilling job and a long, fulfilling life. So far, he hasn’t answered the former, which doesn’t exactly raise my hopes for the success of the latter, at least the fulfilling part, and if God isn’t going to give me what I want the instant I want it, why should I do good things like go to church or not tell dirty jokes to children after I drink too much?

I bring this up because religion has been on my mind lately. When you do what I do, which isn’t very much or very fulfilling, for that matter, you have plenty of time for drinking, and when you’re not drinking, you have plenty of time for thinking. This last week, I’ve haven’t been drinking too much because my favorite liquor store stopped carrying my favorite liquor, so, with all my spare time, I’ve been thinking a lot, mainly about this past Mardi Gras, probably because of all the ads that threatened me with bodily harm if I so much as waved at the parade as I imagined it passing by downtown.

Eventually, after all the police-state hullabaloo and bead-throwing malarkey subsided, I decided to look into how Mardi Gras first got started, and, lo and behold, I learned that it was a sort of church holiday that people celebrated by stuffing their faces with fatty foods before they had to give up all the good stuff before Lent, which, I guess, is the part of the year we’re in now. Something about this holiday made sense to me, maybe because my doctor told me to cut back on some of the more indulgent aspects of my lifestyle if I want to live a long, fulfilling life.

So, despite my lack of prior religious activity, I took a long look at my alcohol collection and decided then and there that I would give up writing this column for Lent, just like Silas Lyons is giving up his column, except that he’s calling it quits for good and I’m only doing it for, uh, however long Lent is. I didn’t read about the holiday or whatever it is for very long because I found a new liquor store that does carry my favorite liquor and I passed out on the keyboard after teaching my nephew the one about the man from Nantucket.

Anyway, looks like Tribune city editor Rick Jackoway, a great guy at a crummy paper, finally put two and two together and is moving up in the world by moving east in the world to Missouri, and Silas is moving up in the world by moving into Rick’s still-warm seat at the paper, which brings with it the title of city editor, control of the Trib’s local news reporting, and no room to continue watching out for you.

In his farewell column, Silas said that he still has a stack of column ideas that he never wrote, which confuses me, because if I was him, I would’ve used those ideas instead of rambling so much and so often. To be fair, I’ve been accused of rambling before, but I’ve never plastered my face around the city, either. By the way, what’s going to happen to all those Silas signs now that he’s taking a deskier desk job? To whoever is responsible for taking them down: I want one. I’ve got a great idea for a Halloween costume for next year.

In his goodbye commentary, Silas also says that his column helped restore the public’s trust in the Sheriff’s Department, which must be a big relief for Pat Hedges, who’s had a trying time thanks to pesky, muck-raking media members like myself these past few years. Sorry Pat, nothing personal.

The latest rumor I heard about the situation had Tribune writers putting together a piece on the Sheriff’s Department, until the piece was scrapped at the paper’s top level by top-level paper scrappers. If this rumor is really to believed as more than a rumor, the Trib higher-ups were disappointed that an exposé investigation in the department did little but expose a pretty good record, and pretty good records don’t sell papers. Readers want scandal. I should know, because I’m both a reader and a purveyor of such cheap and tawdry backroom talk. Where do you think I learn all my dirty jokes?

The rumor went on to rumor that the Sheriff’s Department wasn’t very happy to learn that their story got bumped in favor of whatever it got bumped for, so maybe putting Silas in the news spot will go a long way toward soothing the savage sheriffs. And apparently, even if pretty good records don’t sell papers, the top-levelers think that Silas does, which, if it’s true, makes me question whether there is a God at all, in which case I’m not giving this column up for anything short of the promise of a long, fulfilling job, a long, fulfilling life, and Silas Lyons picture that I can draw a Hitler mustache and unibrow on.

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