|Lee Goodman updates the COVID death toll on his sign in Northbrook|
The media consisted of a camera crew from ABC 7, a helicopter, and me.
Although I was there in my unofficial capacity. Not as newspaper columnist but as local resident. I had heard the chopper, looked at my phone — 3:57 p.m. — and remembered that at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Lee Goodman would update the number on his sign to 200,000 to reflect how many Americans have died from COVID-19.
Lee is the sort of fellow no town should be without and, indeed, most towns have one. The local gadfly, or activist — lately I’ve referred to him as “the spoon that stirs the pot.” A retired lawyer, Goodman left the profession to devote his full energies to endeavors such as posting a sign at the busy corner of Shermer and Walters, an area set aside for free expression. It is significant that the other sign, already there, is promoting the annual Lobster Sale at The Episcopal Church of St. James the Less.
As much as I would like to dive into exploring the identity of St. James the Less — cousin of Jesus, apparently — let’s keep our focus on Goodman’s sign.
I witnessed its arrival Saturday — again, again, not in my journalistic capacity, but as a man smoking a cigar while walking a little dog. The sign drew reaction: a zealous spontaneous rally celebrating the glories of Donald Trump and the insulting absurdity of suggesting that a large number of Americans have died of COVID. I watched the commotion, briefly, then left with the conviction that this is going to be a very long six weeks, if not six months, if not six years.
Tuesday, while I gazed at the helicopter, wondering what it costs to keep that thing in the air, a large, angry man marched up. “Why is the president’s name there?” he demanded. “What’s Trump got to do with this?” I am not given to direct personal confrontation. But the slow pitch of that question just hung there, right over the plate. Why should this guy be the only one allowed to yell? I swung on my heels.
“If you have to ask,” I said, con brio, “you’ll never know.”
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