Get a cost-free quote on your project NOW!
Call 312-391-2626

Grasslands Driftin’ Cowboys

Mark Andel’s new novel Lunker Candy is now available!


About Us



Trade Articles



Theater Reviews

Easy Mark

by Mark Andel

Return to column index


Awakening to Something: George Harrison

A Case of Martha Stewart Envy

A Close (Curtain) Call: Dell Close

A Skeleton in the Wine Cellar : Jonbenet Ramsey

Life as Theater of the Absurd: In Defense of Springer

Set It And Forget It: The Sales Artistry of Ron Popiel  

The Rise and Fall of Miss Cleo

The Short, Troubled Life of Gary Horton


Easy Mark Column Archive
by Mark Andel

Awakening to Something


“Give me hope, help me cope with this heavy load.

Trying to touch and reach you with heart and soul, my lord.”

-         George Harrison, from “Give Me Love”


The quiet one? Not really.

George Harrison was multifoliate. He could rock out with the vigor and enthusiasm of a rockabilly troubadour and then quietly tap into a deep spiritual well for soul sustenance. He could make vintage guitars cry, and grown men laugh their heads off. He may not have been the wittiest and most acerbic Beatle (Lennon was) but he was the funniest. And the world will miss having him around.

In the Beatles films, it is always George’s wry comments that draw the biggest laughs. His mock snarl was hilarious, and his quietly barbed digs at the establishment figures bang-on. He’s funny just looking over someone’s shoulder. All four Beatles had more charisma in their little finger than the entire MTV line-up of hip-hoppers, rappers, and pop stars on display for the past ten years, lined up end to end,.

And that fact seems to irritate a lot of young fans and bands coming up. There was never anything like George and the Beatles, before or since. And it’s a safe bet there never will be. When The Beatles released a collection of their number one songs on CD last year, it was at the top of the charts the same day it came out. Number One, thirty-six years later, with not a smitch of new material. Pretty incredible.

And maybe the new generation of listeners is amazed, too, and has become awakened to something. Goethe wrote about “elective affinities:” how certain relationships are like chemical elements, in which people are inexorably drawn to each other beyond reason, beyond logic, beyond sense. They attract each other by some force of nature and combine to produce something greater than the sum of their parts. That would describe The Beatles. In the relatively short time they were together (only a decade, really) they produced something enduring and struck a chord that affects us deep-down. My friend Mike O’Connell, who cut his musical teeth playing Beatles songs on a red Rickenbacker guitar when he was a kid in the Sixties, describes the sensation of going into a Beatles song with the bands he has been in over the years. “They make people feel good, instantaneously,” he said. Call it a chemical reaction.

And now, all the talk must end about reunions and the trek that other iconic bands have taken, what rock critic Larry Keenan calls the “Catch-Up-On-My-Child-Support” tours of the Rolling Stones, The Who, The Eagles, and Plant and Page. George was the Beatle most firmly against reuniting, saying that, “People would come expecting something other than four old guys on stage.” Indeed they would. So now, we can hold close the image of The Beatles in the full flower of their talent. Perhaps the boys watched as Elvis became bloated and dissipated and drug-addled, still filling up stadiums and rock arenas, but carrying with him none of the fire and dangerous, rebellious energy of his younger days. Elvis didn’t know when to leave the building. George did, and tended to his gardens and his family.

George was the first Beatle to produce a number one song (“My Sweet Lord”) and the first to produce a number one album (“AllThingsMustPass”). That album title could now be seen as a kind of acceptance, and posthumous plea to those who fought against seeing the end of the band.

The irony is that Harrison’s music, and all of the music in the Beatles catalog, will never pass.


©Mark Andel 2001


Back to Table of Contents


A Case of Martha Stewart Envy


“I can skin a buck, I can run a trot line,

And a country boy can survive.”

-         Hank Williams, Jr.


“I’ve got the world on a string.”

-         Classic crooner’s tune


I have to admit to a bad case of Martha Stewart envy.

How could anyone have everything as together as this home-economics guru and crinkly-eyed doyenne of Connecticut? I have tried to convince myself that it’s a pose, that in fact she has swarms of people who actually do the things that she writes and talks about, and that she’s simply a just a very good manager, and that’s the beginning and end of it.

Until I saw her make an apple pie from scratch on Oprah.

She handled the crust dough with the ease of a North Carolina grandmother. She knew exactly how much sugar to add and threw it in without the aid of a measuring device. And she held forth eloquently on why the apples she worked with were the best for the job. She trimmed the crust around the top with surgical skill, and delivered a finished product that was peaked and brown and perfect.

Oprah, who brings along an entire staff of sycophants to exotic locations just to accomplish cover shoots of herself, seemed beside herself. “You’ve never made a pie, Oprah?” Martha deadpanned evenly, and I nearly felt like cheering. What can’t Martha do?

She talks about putting up her own preserves as though her last name was “Smucker.” I had high hopes of canning some grape preserves this year, too, and even invited people over to help me stomp the juice out of my grape crop. A few days before I picked them, the crop fell victim to grape skeletonizers, an aptly named aphid that lays waste to the fruit of the vine. I offered up an excuse along the lines of “These are God’s creatures, who have a right to partake of the bounty of the earth,” but, really, I was steamed. This sort of stuff doesn’t happen to Martha.
                For the kid’s table on Thanksgiving, Martha found some charming glass turkeys in which she put homemade caramels. At my table when I was a kid, we got a paper cupcake holder with a few M & M’s thrown in. But my Mom was a great believer in Baker’s Square French Silk, which was okay in its own way.

A while back, I made a joke about wanting to be in Martha Stewart’s bomb shelter because she would be the one with cool little potpourri sachets made in the shape of bombs. Her shelves would be lined with glass jars of green beans, the bathroom would have little homemade soaps, and the guest towels would be dainty and fine. She would see to every detail. And that’s enviable.

Especially for someone who doesn’t realize there’s not a decent bar of soap in the shower until he’s soaked; whose vegetable intake is always preceded by the whir of a can opener, and who more often than not uses his wife’s robe as a hand towel.

This Christmas, perhaps taking a cue from our beloved Martha (and taking a sidelong glance at our downsized bank balance), my wife Linda and I decided to make each other’s Christmas gift. This presents no problem for Linda, who knows how to knit and quilt and cross-stitch and fix computers and play cat’s cradle and do algebra at the same time. But for me, the task is broader than Martha Stewart’s smile. I need help bad.

By nature, I am not a survivor. I can make a pretty good cheese omelet, I can abstract paint as well as any third-grader out there, and I seem to be able to scratch behind a dog’s ear just right, all of which I include on my resume.

I am in trouble. I thought what I might do is study the videotape of Martha Stewart making that apple pie. I’ll assemble the ingredients and all the tools right down to those shears used to snip off the excess crust (which is then used to make cookies! See what I mean?)  and I’ll have Linda watch as I create this masterpiece.

Only one hitch. She’d probably rather have a slice of French Silk.

Or a cupcake holder filled with M & M’s.

And that fact also holds, for me, its own kind of magnificence.

In these soul-nurturing times, as Oprah calls them, simplicity and sincerity are the order of the day.

©Mark Andel 2001


Back to Table of Contents


A Close (Curtain) Call


  "Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs?

Your  flashes of merriment that were wont

to set the table on a roar?

Not one now, to mock your own grinning?"

                                                   -Hamlet, to Yorick's skull


INVENTIVE COMIC GENIUS Del Close willing his skull to the Goodman Theater (which was carried out ceremoniously last week) is right and fitting in so many ways, but most especially for the potential that now exists for Mr. Close's skull to one day play Yorick, the king's deceased jester in a future production of "Hamlet."

       It's a dream role for Close, of whom it could be said that "jester" was his occupation too. He lived to make people laugh. There are worse jobs out there. Close wasn't picky about the roles he might get in the future. If there were to be a call for a desert scene, he indicated while he lived that his skull might be placed on a small hill of sand, out of the way, but informing the action on the stage somehow, perhaps swelling a progress, starting a scene or two.

     It's interesting to contemplate the staging of that first production of Hamlet, in which the actor playing the Royal Dane will hoist the former head of the comedian and express wonderment about the fate of all the bony containers that provide a home for our spirits while we roam the earth. Recently it was announced that Bill Murray will play Polonius in a filmed version of Hamlet, the sometimes unintentionally but deliciously comic old windbag father of Laertes who gives the "Neither a borrower nor a lender be," and "To Thine own self be true" speech. Del Close should get to play the credited role of Yorick in the movie, if only to have two Second City actors sharing the same world stage. One could almost picture Murray picking up the skull off the set and shouting to it, "Your scene killed, man! The emotion, the intensity, the restraint! It was … stoic, really!"

        Mr. Close's skull as Yorick would provide fresh relevance to the part that perhaps it hasn't had for a long time. Where some productions might use a waxy resin skull purchased at Spencer Gifts for their Yorick, here is a chance to breathe new life (so to speak) into the part. Hamlet is recalling a man he knew and presumably loved ("A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy! He hath borne me on his back a thousand times! Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft.").

     Now, an actor could conceivably make the treasured leap to authenticity that all actors strive for, having met and laughed heartily at the man whose skeletonized head is now in his hands. It may be gruesome for some to consider. For others, it may seem an artful bit of method acting. Either way, Close's presence (and non-presence) in the scene will automatically enliven the text of the play, and offer up a healthy dose of contemplation on what life is all about that has always been a plot point of "Hamlet," contributing to its universal and ageless appeal.

      The great German writer Goethe kept the skull of his best friend Schiller on his writing desk for twenty years, back in the days when the "Memento Mori" or "reminder of death" held real power for scholars and philosophers. The physical self has always held a fascination for philosophers because it seemed so unrelated to who a person is, in spite of what the makers of Slim-Fast tell you. Beauty really is only skin deep, because underneath, we all look pretty much like Mr. Close does now.

     His was a bright, brilliant, valuable gesture, a perfect, posthumous gift from a stilled heart.~

 ©Mark Andel 2001


Back to Table of Contents


A Skeleton In The Wine Cellar:

JonBenet and the

Mad Dash Toward Adulthood


"From that moment, things were never the same between us."

- Lee Strasberg in "Going In Style"


THE CHILD’S BODY was wracked with sobs, and every time she could gather enough breath in her nine-month-old lungs, she would shriek horribly. Her mother was consoling her, telling her that the pain would be over soon, but the child's face reddened with agony, and tears dampened her pudgy cheeks.

A scene from the pediatric ward? No. A scene from a mall.

This occurred at an accessory shop for young girls, one of those boutiques filled with blue angora purses and so forth, and the child in agony was having her ears pierced. As I wondered what would possess a mother to force a baby to undergo something like this, a possible reason occurred to me: perhaps it was so that this perfectly beautiful child with short, fine fuzz on top of her head would never suffer the humiliation of having a stranger ask, "How old is he?"

 But surely that is not enough reason. And in these days of inter-gender piercing, a set of dangling vermeil hoops from both ears is no sure indication of someone's sex. What then? What prompts this race toward maturity and the mad dash toward adulthood that parents inflict on their children as they rush to hand off the keys to the car like a relay-race baton as soon as their kids reach their mid-teens?

Children are children for such a brief time. There should be no hurry to get them to suffer the ignominious hard-scrabbling that adults have to endure as they scrape out a living for their families. Kids should not be subject to inane competitions and one-upsmanship of any type. Whenever I read something about parents competing to have their child put on the waiting list of a certain prestigious pre-school or enrolling them in Japanese classes at the age of three, a sense of tremendous sadness overwhelms me. What is everyone so worried about? And what will this competitive urge bring about in the next generation?

 Right now, there are many Dads out there putting sawed-off golf clubs in the hands of their two year olds, admonishing them to keep their head down, hoping with all their might for the next Tiger Woods, not entertaining the notion that they might be engendering early burn-out and a hatred of the game. I know someone who is in his forties now who knows how to play the piano beautifully. His "Rhapsody In Blue" is soaring, delicate, and lovely beyond description. I've heard him play it once. He avoids the piano now, because it is "painful." His father used to make him play for six hours a day, and would beat him if he left the bench. He feels no joy as he plays, just rote movement, ingrained over years of practice.

JonBenet Ramsey is, of course, the regrettable poster child for parental ambition run amok. The little six-year-old girl who was murdered on Christmas night in the wine cellar of her home four years ago in Boulder Colorado, had competed in one beauty pageant after another since the age of two. When she competed, as everyone who has ever glanced at a supermarket tabloid knows, she wore expensive, elaborate costumes that were custom-made for her and gobs of make-up and eye-liner applied by her mother Patsy, "the former Miss Virginia," which was her preferred way of being introduced.

According to Lawrence Schiller's book "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town," Patsy Ramsey would never entertain any notion of JonBenet refusing to participate in a pageant. Her control over the little girl was as tight as the garotte around her neck on the night she was found dead. But when her face was not ridiculously made up, JonBenet looked like a normal kid. There is a carefully selected photo of her on the dust jacket of Schiller's book, itting at the captain's wheel of her father's boat. She is wearing a typical kid's bathing suit, smiling a big baby-toothed smile, and there is no eyeliner caked around her clear blue eyes.   There is not even so much as an earring in sight.

The fact that she appears to be steering the craft is comical, ludicrous, but yet another chillingly subtle "Look how big I am" moment captured there.

Kids shouldn't be at the helm of anything. They should simply be enjoying the ride while an adult labors away quietly  in the wheelhouse. ~

 ©Mark Andel 2001


Back to Table of Contents


Life as Theater of the Absurd: In Defense of Springer


“Dost thou think because thou art virtuous,

There shall be no more cakes and ale?”

-- Sir Toby Belch in “Twelfth Night”

    Wm. Shakespeare


There are those who claim that Jerry Springer is a vulture, pecking at the wreckage and remains of dysfunctional families and inviting us all in for the ghastly feast that he spreads before us every morning.

There was, in fact, even a show once on Thanksgiving day, featuring dysfunctional families battling it out around a catered meal, where bitter accusations and drumsticks were hurled with equal gusto, while a thousand lusty throats in the studio audience roared their zealous approval as bowls of mashed potatoes and gravy were poured over the heads of tired-looking cheaters and ne’er-do-wells.

But let me tell you this: as televised theater, it beats anything “Mama’s Family” ever cooked up. And this is where I leap to Springer’s defense.

Save your moralizing and preaching about the spectacle of seeing people ripping each other apart with a well-turned riposte or knocking some sense into a wayward lover with a high heel to the head. This is meant to be something of a circus freak show, never pretended to be anything more than that, really. Behaving as though there should be some higher moral purpose is to miss the point and be carried away in a tsunami of Carrie A. Nation-style indignity and nonsensical proselytizing.

 Watching old film clips of Carrie A. Nation tear into kegs of beer with an axe while mustachioed men in straw boaters sat around and watched her do it is amazing. I’m surprised that none of them ever attempted to take the axe away from her and threaten to put her fat, wattled neck on the chopping block. You have to wonder what kind of nasty phrase a Springer audience would chant at her.

Springer’s show is a bizarre entertainment, to be sure, but the players who appear know full well what they are letting themselves in for. Their shoving matches and venomous (though empty) threats are policed by the smiling ex-copy “Steve,” whose demeanor is that of a blissed-out Buddha. He’s enjoying himself, and the audience enjoys him quite a bit, too. The audience participates as a Greek chorus, vocalizing in unison a kind of mob sentiment, egged on by stage manager “Todd,” whose job it is to stir the pot of animosity. Without Steve, anarchy would reign. Without Todd, the character assassinations from the Greek chorus would be less organized and would have duller teeth. There’s an appetite for blood here, and that’s what the people want.

Recently, my wife and I joined the morning crowd of lusty throats for a taping of Springer at Bradley Place. The mood of the people around us was celebratory, and although it was 9:00 a.m., you could smell booze on the breath of some who had assembled. They were here to have some fun, that’s all, and when we left,  I told Jerry about how much fun we had. He smiled and said, “The best part about it? It’s all free.”

Springer’s show, with its endless parade of social outcasts and miserable souls who believe with all their hearts in the fifteen minutes that Andy Warhol promised them, is all American, right down to its dark roots.  Greetings from the land of the free.

Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

God bless America.

 ©Mark Andel 2001


Back to Table of Contents


 Set It and Forget It: The Sales Artistry of Ron Popiel


                  "He don't put a nut to a bolt. He don't tell you

the law or give you medicine. He's a man way

out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine."

                                    - From "Death of a Salesman"


                    "Coffee's for closers only."

                                     - From "Glengarry Glenn Ross"


 IF EVERYTHING THAT Ron Popiel touches doesn't turn to gold, it at least turns into gleaming stainless steel.

If you've ever experienced the incredibly decadent luxury of sitting around on a Saturday afternoon  flipping through channels with your remote control, you're bound to have seen Mr. Popiel selling his new rotisserie cooking machine on some cable station. And man, can  he sell! He's the consummate closer, a man with a perfect pompadour and twinkling blue eyes,  exuding an excitement and quick competence with his own product that would put George Foreman and his Lean Mean Grilling Machine to shame. (Don't tell George I said that, by the way.)

Ron Popiel cooks up more batches of what he calls "mouth-watering" food in the space of half an hour than anyone could possibly imagine. And it's so easily done with the rotisserie! You just "Set it and forget it!" Before long the audience is chanting this phrase. We're talking shish kebobs, fish filets, plump chickens, lamb chops, and a roast prime of beef that is the singular juiciest and most scrumptious-looking meat dish that I've ever seen - and I'm not alone. The studio audience is nothing short of rapturous when Mr. Popiel deftly removes the roast from the rack and places a "king-sized" cut on a plate with vegetables and a side of horseradish. Of course, the vegetables were prepared on the "steamer" that is included free with the rotisserie. He regularly enlists the audience's support, addressing them all as "Audience." He will say, "Audience, do you like juicy hamburgers?" And the camera will cut to them all nodding that yes, they in fact DO like juicy hamburgers. Another time he comments that garlic helps you sleep. "You sleep alone," Mr. Popiel says to the delight of his potential customers, "But you sleep well."

My first experience with Ron Popiel came in the early Seventies, when the Popiel Pocket Fisherman" was on the market. Since my family lived near the loamy banks of the Mississippi River in those days, this product seemed like the perfect idea. You could be on your way home from school, say, and decide to cut across Riverside Park with your new Pocket Fisherman, pick up some grubs or waxworms or corn-meal dough bait, and try your luck pulling in some dark, slippery catfish or bullhead, the meanest, ugliest fish in the water.

Ron Popiel had hit on something. And back then, you could probably have used something like the Popiel rotisserie to grill your catch without worrying about Mercury content or the myriad carcinogens that bottom-feeders always seem to have in their flesh these days.

Then there was the startling imagery in the Ginsu knife commercials, in which a man in a tall chef hat would saw through a tin can and then, without missing a beat and with a quick precision that a Benihana chef  would envy,  he would slice a tomato into several perfect sandwich slices. And Ron Popiel kept adding value with every breath. "What if this were included? Now how much would you pay?" How could anyone resist? Of course, we ended up getting the knife, and when my brother and I attempted the tin can trick, I nearly sliced his hand off. We got into some trouble, but not nearly as much trouble as the time we tried to make chocolate-covered grasshoppers by putting some of them into a bowl and pouring Hershey chocolate syrup over them before sticking them in the freezer. We didn't know we were supposed to kill them first. I can still hear my mother's scream. Apparently, the grasshoppers had used their long legs to try to shake off the chocolate sauce in there, shivering from the cold, and when the freezer door opened, well, they were pretty teed off and just leaped out of there at her. It's not easy raising boys, I guess.

As far as I know, Ron Popiel never came up with a good device for making chocolate-covered grasshoppers. But if he did, you better believe it would be pretty darned efficient and that the grasshoppers he would have already prepared ahead of time would look absolutely mouth-watering. I can just see the audience nodding their approval when he asks, "Audience, do you like chocolate-covered grasshoppers?"

(It's easy to get carried away when a good salesman is at work.)

Well, of course we do. Who doesn't? ~

 ©Mark Andel 2001


Back to Table of Contents


The Rise and Fall of Miss Cleo


“Your readin’ will amaze you! Call me now!”

-         Miss Cleo, on her Mind and Spirit Psychic Hotline commercial


She never saw it coming.

When Miss Cleo’s multi-million dollar television Tarot-reading business was slapped with a bevy of lawsuits charging the business with fraud and threatening to draw the shade on her psychic shop last week, Miss Cleo came clean: she’s just a front who does the commercials, and not a descendant of a long line of Jamaican shamans as she claims in the commercials.

A couple of sharp businessmen from South Florida named Steven Feder and Peter Stolz actually run things. And from the look of the company’s bottom line, they run things very well: to the tune of $400 million a year. That’s even better than Feder’s first venture: the “Dionne Warwick Psychic Friends Network.”

 Insomniacs and Springer-philes know Miss Cleo. They are familiar with her charismatic lilt of Jamaican accent, and her “just-between-us” dishing on relationships and advice. Callers, after venting their concerns that their boyfriend may be cheating on them, are awe-struck when Miss Cleo tells them that their boyfriend may indeed be cheating on them. And then they breathlessly compliment Miss Cleo for being so in tune with the infinite. “Oh, bless you, darlin!’ Miss Cleo will smile and give a dismissive wave that suggests, “It was nothing.”

Because it was.

When you call Miss Cleo, you are put into a bank of “psychic advisers” (little more than telemarketers on an hourly wage) who have one goal: to keep you on the line for as long as possible. Because after the first three minutes (usually spent on hold), you are charged $4.99 per minute while your “reader” does just that: reads a script designed to get you to do most of the talking.

It’s not much different, really, than going to a shrink. We all love to talk about ourselves, and we love it even more when we have an encouraging, eager ear. At $120 an hour, a shrink is much cheaper than Miss Cleo.

The profitability of psychic hotline proves out Thoreau’s comment about us all living lives of quiet desperation. For despair is what prompts these calls. A pregnant woman fearing that her husband is fooling around on her. A broke and frazzled man wondering whether he will turn up another job any time soon. A woman with the puffy eyes of an insomniac concerned about a lump that she found near her breast last week.

Preying on these sad cases goes beyond Feder’s defense of “Caveat Emptor” (let the buyer beware). Although the fine print speeding by the bottom of the television screen says something about “For entertainment purposes only” and “$4.99 per minute after the first three minutes,” the message is persuasive and professional, as Miss Cleo throws down her cards and tilts an askance eyebrow at what she sees there. “You can hurt people,” one Florida “psychic” said, feeling the pangs of guilt after lying to a caller to keep her on the line. “You can hurt people very, very deeply.”

Perhaps there should be a public service announcement from a real social service agency to counter Miss Cleo commercials. They would come on right afterward, and say something like, “If you are picking up the phone to call Miss Cleo, call us instead. We’ll pretend to care about your life and your problems and offer up some universal generalities until a few of them click with you. We will offer warmed-over homilies and suggestions on how to get control of your life even though we have never seen you before. And we’ll do it for half of what Miss Cleo charges.”       

There does happen to be one actual card in the Tarot deck that applies to all callers seeking advice and succor from the likes of a Miss Cleo.

It’s called “the Fool.”


 ©Mark Andel 2002


Back to Table of Contents


The Short, Troubled

Life of Gary Horton


NOBODY EVER DID much for Gary Horton.

He liked cold beers on hot days, pitching softball games for Margate Park's  championship team the Atomic Roosters, taking Gigio's pizza breaks from his job as a roofer, and listening to rock-and-roll music. His taste in music ran to the old stuff: the Boss, the Stones, Super Tramp. He always talked about starting a family, settling down with the right girl, but at thirty-nine, he knew his prospects were limited. He still lived at home with his Dad in Rogers Park. With his tobacco-stained teeth and scraggly hair, he had to own up to it: he wasn't much of a catch.

He liked the holidays especially. There was something about the family getting together at his sister's house, eating one deviled egg after another while the aroma of turkey filled the house with the very essence of Thanksgiving. He'd tickle his niece Megan relentlessly, absolutely in love with the sound of a child's laughter.

One day last summer, an old friend of Gary's from the neighborhood, a street tough named Frank Moore took him up to Round Lake. The two men started arguing about something. And somewhere around the ghostly hour of 3:00 a.m., Moore pulled off to the side of a long gravel drive near River Road, shoved Gary out of the van he was driving, and put a slug from a .38 into his head. He may have shot him again, since two slugs were recovered -- the record isn't clear on that -- but what is clear is that Moore then poured some type of flammable fluid over the now-dead body of his boyhood friend, and ignited it. The flames were so high that they scorched the treetops, and left a black, oily smudge on the weeds nearby.

Moore then drove back to Chicago, painted the van black, and went about his business, even periodically calling Gary's Dad to see if he had heard anything about his son's whereabouts. Moore might have felt like he owed Gary's Dad the show of concern. After all, it was this man who had given Moore a fresh set of clothes to wear when he was released from a federal prison just six months before. But then again, maybe Moore didn't feel anything. Maybe he was just trying to cover some bases.

Moore was convicted of first-degree murder last Friday by a jury of seven women and five men, after an airtight, impressively mounted prosecution by Assistant State's Attorney  Michael Mermel and Donald Morrison.  Every detail they presented built toward an undeniable point. Every witness they called revealed another bit of damning evidence. Every well-thought-out remark and every exhibit pointed toward a grisly, heinous crime that surely was committed by Moore. These two men, and the others who professionally worked the case -- from Detective Byrne to Detective Oliver to state troopers, forensics experts, fingerprint specialists, and  the County Coroner's office -- worked hard for Gary, a man they never knew -- certainly harder than anyone else ever had while he lived.

Judge Raymond McKoski was the picture of fair-play, allowing certain questions and disallowing others, but at the end of the day, the preponderance of evidence tipped the scales of justice toward a guilty verdict.

The real winner in the case was the system. The embattled old Constitution and the law of the land came shining through. A jury of twelve peers listened to the whole story over a full week, taking time out of their busy lives because it's what their country called on them to do. They took six hours to discuss it, and decided that Moore was the one who committed this terrible crime.

So now, my brother-in-law Gary Horton, who never had anyone do a whole lot on his behalf, the Chicago softball pitcher who will never approach the mound again, can rest in peace, thanks to the substantial efforts of some good people who knew how to do their job, American citizens working for American citizens, in the home of the brave.~

 ©Mark Andel 2001 


Back to Table of Contents