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May 18, 2012

A call to action (hero)

With temperatures and crime rising, Hyde Park needs a superhero—and you could be the one to don the mask.

If you’ve been reading my column regularly, you’d think that literally all I write about is trash cans. “Trash cans this, and trash cans that,” you’d say to mock my writing. And you’d be right! Had this been a week like any other, the column you’d be reading would have been entitled “Oscar the Grouch Enters Wuthering Heights: A Modern Take on Frame Stories.” But then, last night, I saw The Avengers. And HOT DAMN, my eyes were opened. I Hulk-smashed the earlier draft of my column and Tesseract-ed this new column into existence.

It’s well known that crime rates in Hyde Park increase in the spring. And I don’t mean to simplify the complexity that is the study of crime and violence on the Southside. But wait, yes I do: We need a superhero. Superheroes stop crime, and, if The Avengers is anything to learn from, also aliens. (But not you, Vargas; you’re cool in my book). So, really, all bases are covered. That’s why you, Loyal Reader, should become Hyde Park’s superhero.

Justifying my decision for calling upon you to become a superhero is far less important than deciding what kind of superhero you’ll be. When I phoned the Viewpoints editors in a sort of mania last night, they agreed to bring me all five of the prequels to The Avengers if I would “just step away from the window, please, nobody can really fly like Thor, no matter how big the hammer is.” I then spent the next ten to twelve hours devouring the movies. From them, we’ll decide what kind of superhero best fits Hyde Park.

First, the name. Most of the heroes in The Avengers have names that suit their characters. Iron Man is a man in a metal suit. The Incredible Hulk is incredibly hulking. Black Widow, presumably in the sequel, will mate with Hawkeye and then eat him alive. Captain America is an American soldier. Because I don’t know what you look like or what your background is or what special skills you have, I don’t have much to base your name off of. Though I do know that you’re probably somewhat affiliated with the University, so I propose…Gargoyle, inspired by our beautiful and brooding Gothic architecture. Other options, I suppose, are Phoenix or The Maroon Fist, but I prefer Gargoyle.

For your suit, you’ll have to appear grotesque and bulky. You’ll wear a mask with sunken eyes and an open mouth with blunted, menacing teeth. You’ll have large ears and small curved horns. Instead of a cape, your suit will have wings, and you’ll be able to fly. Well, in the Buzz Lightyear sense. You’ll have full body armor with padding to make you look brawny—not that your hours in the library and on the internet haven’t given you an athletic physique. You’ll be a creature of the night, striking awe and fear into the hearts of all who see you.

Your specific powers will depend a great deal on your individual skills. Because your ability to fly is more of an ability to glide, I recommend setting up a gargoyle nest at the top of a tall tower, like Rockefeller Chapel or the Theological Seminary. That’ll also be a good place from which to observe the goings–on of Hyde Park. Flying, however, will be your only suit–specific power. Relying on your suit for additional powers would require the engineering expertise necessary to build said suit, and, ha(!), U of C isn’t exactly a mecca for skilled engineers. My final recommendation is to stay true in some way to the nature of a gargoyle. Gargoyles are meant to divert rainfall off of a roof and away from the walls of a building, because otherwise the rainfall would cause the exterior of the building to erode. So if you know of a way to harness the power of water, definitely do that. It would be utterly fitting. But remember, when it comes to powers, customize to your particular skills! You’ll amaze.

By this point, I’m sure your imagination has taken hold of this idea. You’re ready to take to the streets and depress the increasing crime rate. You could only have one possible concern: stepping on my toes. But don’t worry about that. I’m too emotionally invested in the idea at this point. I wouldn’t be able to detach myself from the idea of the superhero enough to effectively implement the crime-fighting. I’ll remain as the brains behind the operation, the Nick Fury to your Avenger.

Oh, one last thing, a catchphrase. Rest easy, citizens of Hyde Park, for Gargoyle is the stony face of Justice. Take to the night, Gargoyle.

Matt Walsh is a third-year in the College majoring in economics and political science.

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