Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, May 18

Gapers Block

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Marilyn / June 26, 2006 9:19 AM

I had several--people whose biographies I read. Clara Barton, a female doctor in the 1800s, was a model of a professional woman in a man's world. Max Perkins, editor for Scribners, was my career model. My senior year h.s. English teacher, Mr. Stanley, gave me confidence I could write my way and succeed.

jennifer / June 26, 2006 9:34 AM

My mom, because she's the best teacher I've ever had.

Blagg the Axman / June 26, 2006 9:43 AM

My role model is King Mandrake, a ruler goodly and true, who tended his realm well and fostered the livelihood of a green and fertile land. He even found time to impart his kindliness and wisdom upon a lowly axman, and in time I grew to regard his Highness as a father, or as near to one as I have ever known—my birth parents were eaten by a roving bugbear when I was nigh two years old. Raised in a monastery orphanage until I was old enough to know that religion would do me little good in a world where only a good blade stands between you and a quick death, I soon absconded to the capital city and fell in with a band of pickpockets, urchins and card sharps.

One day I cut the purse-strings of the wrong man—a lord from the outlands of Flygg who was in town to see the King on official business. He hauled me before the royal court, where he made to hand me over to his Highness’s city guard. Mandrake looked upon me, then commanded that I be brought before him. As I was hauled to his throne, our eyes locked, but I refused to look away. He laid his hand upon my shoulder and asked me if I understood what I did was wrong, and against the law of the land; I turned my head and promptly bit his hand. In an instant I was on the ground, three guards’ daggers at my throat, but an unexpected sound soon filled the hall—Mandrake was laughing. “Let him go,” he told his man-at-arms. “Prepare a place for him to stay in the stables, and send him to the kitchens. I’ll not let one with spirit such as his swing ’ere the hangman’s noose!”

Truly, my life was saved that day, in more ways than one.

mike / June 26, 2006 9:46 AM

Growing up, I aspired to be like Mike Royko and Woody Allen. You should see my rap sheet.

paul / June 26, 2006 10:16 AM

Blagg is quickly becoming my role model. You guys should give him an Airbag Column.

Seriously, I'd like to say I strive to achive the character and achievements of men like Teddy Roosevelt and Ben Franklin, but naming them as role models would imply I do more to follow them then just read their books.

annie / June 26, 2006 10:40 AM

Audrey Hepburn was a truly gracious and elegant woman, a humanitarian and children's rights activist. And she was witty and stunning. gush.

Bill V / June 26, 2006 11:41 AM

Dennis Rodman and David Lee Roth. Aren't the reasons obvious?

Daniel / June 26, 2006 11:53 AM

the current target of my admiration is U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. the fearless and tenacious manner with which he's cast a spotlight on corruption in government has made him a sort of modern day Elliot Ness. He took down Scooter Libby and George Ryan. for the time being he seems to have let Karl Rove off the hook, but it appears he may still push the Plame leak investigation all the way up to the evil one himself: Dick Cheney.
that is if they don't snuff him out first.

Ruby / June 26, 2006 12:00 PM

Right now the role model helping me hang on to my sanity is my coworker, Jorge. He is so relaxed and easygoing that I'm forced to put my angry, high-strung reactions into perspective. Every day I strive to be a bit more like him; it's not really working, but I'm trying.

avantchicago / June 26, 2006 12:10 PM

The guy who invented Sparks. It keeps me regular.

Leelah / June 26, 2006 12:42 PM

Emma Peel!

VinceJose / June 26, 2006 12:54 PM

Avant that's some funny shiz.

Sorry for the cheeze but my role model is my Dad. At 11 years old, as the oldest male , he carried our family thru WWII ravaged Sicily and eventually brought everyone to America and into relative prosperity.

racerx / June 26, 2006 1:39 PM

John Steed.

leah / June 26, 2006 1:57 PM

mr. rogers

stackedbrass / June 26, 2006 2:40 PM

I second the nomination for Blagg the Axman. Except when he writes about Lord Kayne, I automatically read that as "Lord Kanye," which paints a whole new picture in my head.

Marilyn / June 26, 2006 2:42 PM

I think it's pretty darn sad that so few people have answered this question, and that more than half of them have made a joke of the notion. Either we've done a very bad job of providing people children and young adults can look up to, or the next generation has taken the term "self-made" to new heights. Either or both, I very bummed by this result.

Sabrosa / June 26, 2006 2:46 PM

My biggest role model is my father. He is the man in my family that holds it all together. He gives everyone hope and keeps us humble. Very dignified and always educating himself. Always intrested and intruiged by conversation and machinery. I remember when I was a toddler he picked me up and put me inbetween 2 couch cushions and starting eating me like a giant sandwich. I would laugh until I couldn't breathe! I am very grateful that he has shown me what a good father should be.

spook / June 26, 2006 3:00 PM

Cornel West, Bessie Smith and Dan Savage. But many of the roll models listed above I simply want to strangle with my bare hands for spawing. King Mandrake and Blagg the Axman, of course not included!

spook / June 26, 2006 3:02 PM

p.s not that I, could strangle King Mandrake or Blagg the Axman even if I wanted too

apathetic human that needs a reason to live / June 26, 2006 3:05 PM

My role model is whoever thinks Marilyn takes this stuff too seriously.

While well-intentioned, it would seem misguided for her to cull deep societal implications based 17 responses to a Fuel question.

It's early in the ballgame, Marilyn. I bet the human race will rise to this challenge and prove to you once and for all that people DO have role models and that the stewards of our youth HAVE done a reasonably good job.

C'mon humans!!! Let's rally to give Marilyn hope!!

Marilyn / June 26, 2006 3:07 PM

Thanks, apathy. I'm very sick and tired of living in the age of irony, which has more than outworn its welcome.

No role / June 26, 2006 3:29 PM

I've never liked this question, because it takes certain men and women out of the realm of "human" and puts them someplace above the rest of us slobs. The sad fact is that no one--no matter how great they are at something--is perfect (Miles Davis beat his wife, remember?)--and while we should all work hard and be nice to each other, we probably shouldn't try to be. For instance, I love my parents dearly, but my mother is a defensive control freak and my father is an alcoholic nutjob. And I'm totally okay with both of those things because they are also kind and funny and loving and whole people and very human. My boyfriend? Creative and sexy and crazier than a shitbird. Me? I'm needy and lazy and a tad selfish. I'll work on changing, but I'm not doing it to be like Mother Theresa.

lara / June 26, 2006 3:54 PM

marilyn, yes, some folks that tap into fuel *are* still trapped in the era of navel-gazing irony. they missed the announcement that the era of smug wryness gave way to a period of the new sincerity.

apathetic, why do you propose that you possess the *right* form of engaging with this public forum? i find your response to be part of a category of responses that smuggly dismisses someone's engagment with the question in favor of their own. and i don't like those one bit, not one bit.

here's a question for future fuels--what do you expect from this space?

A / June 26, 2006 3:55 PM

I don't have a role model per se but the list of people I have no respect for seems to grow daily and in some ways they model the type of behavior I want to avoid so I guess that might count.

Anonymous / June 26, 2006 4:14 PM

This is not a joke, this is the absolute truth. My role model is Steve Urkel, the next-door neighbor character from the early-90s family sitcom "Family Matters". Steve Urkel has been my role model and hero since I was 16 years old, because he was a guy completely devoid of self-consciousness. He pursued what made him happy and didn't pay any attention to the gallery of folks snickering at him. He was way too busy chasing his dreams to stop and realize what a nerd he was. He was way too passionate to decipher the fact that it was his dreams that made him a nerd in the eyes of others. He loved what he loved and he never said "damn the consequences" because he was too engaged in his own life to know that the consequences of being ostracized from everybody else were there in the first place.

There are others like him in the world, but they don't know it. Those are my role models: people who don't know that they're swimming upstream, and all by themselves. That takes a lot of guts.

apathy guy / June 26, 2006 4:32 PM

Lara, I don't propose anything about the right way to engage in anything. Anyone can draw any conclusions based on as much or as little information as they want. That's fine.

I suppose that I found Marilyn's commentary to be misguided becase in my view, she drew broad assumptions about an audience (and cast aspersions upon the same) based on a very small sample after a short period of time after the question was posed. To pronounce disappointment in the lack of response is one thing. To explain the reason for that response as being one of two choices (lack of proper adult guidance OR a self-absorbed youth generation) seemed to be to be a bit of a stretch. We all know there could be scores of reasons for a lukewarm response. Maybe Marilyn is right in that just 17 responses in endemic of a national plague. Or, maybe people just weren't feeling terribly engaged or creative this morning.

But I guess it rubbed me the wrong way when Marilyn used the 17 responses to impart a bit of global wisdom. The logic of her point just didn't seem clear to me. That's all.

apathy guy / June 26, 2006 4:33 PM

Lara, I don't propose anything about the right way to engage in anything. Anyone can draw any conclusions based on as much or as little information as they want. That's fine.

I suppose that I found Marilyn's commentary to be misguided becase in my view, she drew broad assumptions about an audience (and cast aspersions upon the same) based on a very small sample after a short period of time after the question was posed. To pronounce disappointment in the lack of response is one thing. To explain the reason for that response as being one of two choices (lack of proper adult guidance OR a self-absorbed youth generation) seemed to be to be a bit of a stretch. We all know there could be scores of reasons for a lukewarm response. Maybe Marilyn is right in that just 17 responses in endemic of a national plague. Or, maybe people just weren't feeling terribly engaged or creative this morning.

But I guess it rubbed me the wrong way when Marilyn used the 17 responses to impart a bit of global wisdom. The logic of her point just didn't seem clear to me. That's all.

Marilyn / June 26, 2006 4:49 PM

I'm fairly new to Fuel, but I have noted that when topics are about day-to-day life--your post office, your neighborhood, your additions--everyone wants to talk. Let's be a community of the here and now. When it comes to more esoteric matters, the traffic is slow. When it comes to who you admire, it's positively dead. I was shocked to be the first person to post on this topic--that's never happened before no matter how early in the morning I get up. A small sample it may be, Apathy, and certainly unscientific, but it rubs ME the wrong way to see the question ridiculed and ignored. I'll be very surprised to see more sincere answers to this question than the one about taking on some 5 year olds.

Loadzone / June 26, 2006 4:50 PM

garfield the movie

Emily / June 26, 2006 4:52 PM

Audrey Hepburn. Actress/activist. Because she was a truely beautiful person who went out of her way to make this world a little better for many people.

slb / June 26, 2006 5:02 PM

By definition, a "role model" is someone on whom you *model* yourself. There are people that I look up to, and people that I admire. But I can't say that I can think of a person whose life I wish to emulate. That is why I have a difficult time answering this question. It is much easier to say something funny.

The list of people that I look up to is very long. But, as pointed out above, they are all only human and have flaws. One example: I can look up to the heroism of John McCain for his wartime bravery, but I disagree with nearly all of his political views. To me he is not a "role model." I read stories all the time about people who do brave things, or make great art, or persist against great odds. They inspire me and give me hope, but I don't want to *be* them.

Maybe I'm just being too literal about the term.

Emerson Dameron / June 26, 2006 5:03 PM

Fandom is all right for young people. When I was a teenager, I had plenty of role models. At some point, I realized what all those people had in common: They never tried to be anyone but themselves.

That said, I have many friends and acquaintences who make me laugh, make me think, or otherwise help keep me on the road. Because of them, I'm not disappointed when my favorite writers or musicians turn out to be petty assholes.

VinceJose / June 26, 2006 5:08 PM

To No Role: I don't think a role model has to necessarily be a "perfect" person. Just someone that has at some point in their life behaved in a way worthy of your admiration and respect. Maybe that's cheating, but for instance when I said my Dad was mine that doesn't mean I want to be exactly like him, just that his actions have inspired me.

Vince / June 26, 2006 5:10 PM

I posted before slb's response but I think slb is right, interpretation of the term rolemodel is def getting in the way for a lot of us. I hesitated with my response becasue of that too.

spook / June 26, 2006 5:29 PM

o.k in all seriousness;
Congresswoman Katherine Harris- another truely beautiful person who continues to go out of her way to make this world a little better for many people, and the Gapers Block community builder Marilyn! and the Zombies from the original Dawn of the Dead, who refuse to speed up when the trend is for Zombies to move fast these days

lara / June 26, 2006 5:47 PM

apathy and marilyn: thank you both for your thoughtful responses. i hate to see conversation shut down, as it all to often is here, because one either perceives the question or (particularly) the answers as inane. regardless, i do appreciate both of your final comments.

Naz / June 26, 2006 5:59 PM

I find it interesting that some do indeed take the term "role model" for what it really is compared to the evergrowing ease with which people skew phrases and words these days to encapsulate more.

I don't know that when I posted this question this morning if it would be taken seriously or light-heartedly or as always with hipster irony (though I do love me some Blagg the Axman). I did expect it to be a slow-moving Fuel.

That said, the closest thing to a role model I've ever had was Henry Rollins during my teenage years.

Otherwise, like others, I look to the people I surround myself with, friends and family for the traits and roles they play to help define me and my worldview. After all, that's why you have them in your life, no?

spence / June 26, 2006 7:03 PM

I'd have to say my younger brother. He has a mental handicap (Williams Syndrome) that he deals with incredibly. He can't ride a bike or drive a car, he's probably not going to have anything more than a minimum wage job, he's been picked on by peers most of his life, and has issues with just about everything that most of us take for granted, but he manages. To give you an idea of how special this kid is: My parents enrolled him into a developmental skills school to help him live more independently and he's become the most popular kid at school with both the teachers and students. I know that part of the genetic disorder positively affects his social skill set, but it's still pretty amazing. Whenever I'm having a shitty day, I just think about all the shitty days he has had to endure and it get's me through it.

Mikey / June 26, 2006 7:08 PM

I would agree that the older one becomes, the more difficult it becomes to narrow down a "role model" to a single person...

There are aspects of both my mother and my late grandfather that I would like to think have rubbed off on me...

Aside from that, I think the types of people that I really admire these days are the treehuggers, the social activists and anyone who volunteers their time, energy, resources, etc. in the spirit of advancing the common good. In this modern culture awash with consumerism, materialism and general self-centeredness, it's both refreshing and encouraging to see people working towards something bigger than themselves...

Michelle / June 26, 2006 7:49 PM

It would be naive to have a role model as an adult in the same way you do as a child. You can't completely idealize anyone - and you probably shouldn't.

But I think it is crucial for any further mental growth as an adult, to recognize the qualities in others that you want to acheive in yourself. I have a lot of role models, and a few are famous stangers, but most are my friends - normal, imperfect people.

I admire my best friend Irene, for her ability to capably deal with crisis and simultaneously laugh about it. I admire my friend Mark because despite being terribly high strung, he never takes it out on another person. I admire Sue's endless generosity. There are many more that I could name.

As far as famous people, I admire Theo Colburn, a scientist who went back into school late in life because she cared so much about the environment. And Steven Jay Gould, also a great scientist and communicator, and a person who battled cancer in a unique and rational way.

mary / June 27, 2006 8:05 AM

my mom for having raised four kids, who all graduated college, by herself; my sister for doing what she loves, no matter what other people think or say; oddly enough, the beastie boys for making fun of themselves, making mistakes, and admitting to them, all the while contributing to worthwhile causes and the music industry as a whole

mary / June 27, 2006 8:11 AM

oh yeah, and my high school teacher mr casper, for living life to the beat of his own drum, and teaching more than just literature and music, he truly taught his humanities classes with heart

cory / June 27, 2006 8:16 AM

Roald Amundsen.
Very interesting person.
Runner-up: Winston Churchill.

amyc / June 27, 2006 8:51 AM

Like Naz and others have said, my role models tend to be the people close to me -- people who are wiser and funnier and stronger and more creative than I, who kick my ass out of my tendency toward sloth and self-pity. And especially in the past few years, through my volunteer work and putting on the DIY Trunk Show, I've met hundreds of incredible, vibrant, uncompromising people who make me want to try harder, think differently, and either speak out or shut the hell up (depending on the issue).

Ralphie / June 27, 2006 9:10 AM

Rush Limbaugh. I must bow to a man with the balls to walk through Customs with someone elses name on a bottle of Viagra.

Appleby / June 27, 2006 9:12 AM

I think that I have different kinds of role models. There are friends I admire and respect, and there are people whose intellectual achievements are models for me.
So, among the former there's my friend who's an intrepid paleontologist, throws a fantastic party, and is generally more fearless than most people.
The great thinkers who are my role models:
Samuel Beckett
Jane Addams
Katherine Dunham
Albert Camus
Virginia Woolf
They were all people who strove to realize a certain ideal, whether social or artistic, and all were generous to others and even supported those who didn't agree with them.

NSH / June 27, 2006 10:02 AM

Ozzie Guillen, I admire his truthfullness. You always know where you stand with him.
As the Undisputed Truth once said...
Smiling faces sometimes pretend to be your friend
Smiling faces show no traces of the evil that lurks within Smiling faces

fluffy / June 27, 2006 10:23 AM

The reason I didn't answer right away is because this is a thought-provoking question, at least for me. So I took a day to think about it. Sorry if that disappointed anyone!

I don't have a specific role model. If someone inspires me by the way they live their life or by their words, then I do try to model that aspect of my life in that way. And the source of inspiration doesn't have to be anyone I know personally. Everyday people, like some guy giving up his seat on the bus for an older person, or an artist who is brutally honest and doesn't have an attitude, a hard-working person. I may be weird, but I can't seem to find one specific person who I model myself after. Anyone who is kind, non-materialistic, honest, unselfish, and stands up for themselves is someone I admire.

On the side, I have always admired scientists because they're such pioneers - some of my favorites are Seymour Benzer, Richard Feynman, and others who were brilliant plus had great personalities and didn't give a rat's ass what others thought of them.

amy / June 27, 2006 10:42 AM

Studs Terkel for reminding me that most of the people who deserve to be heroes are the people you see everyday. He's just thoughtful enough to ask the right questions....

And my usual list -
Simone DeBeauvoir (but not for relationship advice)
Audrey Hepburn - style and humanity. The perfect mix.
Anne Lamott
F. Scott Fitzgerald
EM Forster
Georgia O'Keefe
Saul Bellow
Terri Hatcher & Vanity Fair for using a celeb mag to speak out about sexual abuse and women's self esteem issues
Anderson Cooper
The Chicago White Sox, players, front office and coaching staff
Merge Records
David from Hazel the card shop on Montrose (how to run a great community business)
Kathy the one woman community center who is also a waitress at LeSabre - she's working for our State Rep now and I couldn't be prouder.

amy / June 27, 2006 12:11 PM

Mary - did you go to HF?

Is this the Casper who would wear the Sartre shirt and tell us that we were all doomed (in the best way)?

That class was amazing. He started taking people to Paris after I graduated, dammit.

mary / June 27, 2006 12:23 PM

amy - yes! and the eyebrow raise too! i went to italy with him (and doc soltes)

db lovah / June 27, 2006 12:36 PM

Who: David Bowie

Why: Talented genius, dramatic, fantastic voice, self-effacing humor, open, and he pulled that prank on the art world in '98 with Nat Tate

jonesybot / June 27, 2006 12:44 PM

No. any volunteers?

racerx / June 27, 2006 1:56 PM

I am my own role model. I am John Steed.

spook / June 27, 2006 2:36 PM

Tom Cruise's mother, Martha Ray Cruise for with out her, there would be no Scientologists Tom Cruise
and Fluffy

cupid / June 27, 2006 2:39 PM

leelah and racerx should get together.

amy / June 27, 2006 3:18 PM

Mary - Oh, the eyebrow raise I would get in that class.

I think I was the only person who got really excited about existentialism (I had a DeBeauvoir thing). I wrote my best HS paper for him. I got to use 'The Mandarins'. He was surprised. I thought of him recently reading about the Dada show @ the Met. He really did teach me about modern art as well.

I am terribly jealous of your Italy trip. I did get to go to DC with Periolet (sp?) which was a joy. He liked to show us the basement of federal buildings and Georgetown on a Friday night. Anyone else could show us the normal spots.

fluffy / June 27, 2006 3:39 PM

huh? Now I'm a scientologist? Because I admire some really cool scientists with a sense of humor whose studies of genetics and experiments with fruit flies helped map out the relation between DNA and behavior in humans and animals?

I'm also not religious, I hate cults, and I don't believe that people with depression or who are gay can be 'saved' by religion.


spook / June 27, 2006 3:51 PM

high school trips to Paris, Italy, Ow La La! I guess, "H.S" isn't Haper , Harlan, Hirsh, or Hyde Park High School or any other south or westside public high school

o.k Rod Blagojevich who is finally addressing the grossly inadequate funding of High Schools in Illinois

taJ / June 27, 2006 3:51 PM

well it can be a long list..from ordinary people who make you question your attitude and behavior to the giants who changed the course of history... they leave a place a better then how they found it.

in the first group i could mention american family who gave me home when i coudn't go back to my old country, my friends who are still there for me even after i have a horrific bout of moody PMS, my parents even they have theri own quirks, to cashier at my walgreens-she's always cheery, pleasant no matter how many grumpy, impatient people she has to serve that day...

the other group i'd like to mention either for intelecutal or spiritual legacy.
ghandi, enstein, amma, mother theresa, buddha, christ, frida kahlo, rudolph steiner, sufi, list go on and on...of known and lesser known...

amy / June 27, 2006 4:29 PM

spook -

H-F is Homewood-Flossmoor.

Completely community funded b/c we couldn't get squat from the state either. We used to have to stand outside of polling places and ask voters to approve another referendum. We were taught how jacked the Illinois school funding system was in our Econ classes.

And on the South Side.

Public education does work when the community is involved.

NSH / June 27, 2006 4:34 PM

amy you've said too much. We were trying to keep spook as far away from the south side as possible.
Spook believe everything you were told about the south side, it really sucks down here.

amy / June 27, 2006 4:38 PM

NSH - sorry, sorry.

HF is up by the Wisconsin border. We all moved up there after the south side became too scary to go out during daylight.

We couldn't stay in our community and deal with a changing economy so we ran as fast as we could to get away from the 'bad people'.

Stay far far away from the South Side. It's too scary.

spook / June 27, 2006 5:28 PM

yes, I understand, community funded, which is what I meant by
"grossly inadequate funding of schools in IL". This is the problem, what about we all share? And I know that state funds are directed largely on attendance which still benefits upper income communities because attendance is higher. But yea my bad I certainly didn't take into account homewood Flosermore at first, but come on yall that's a rare example, unfortunately. And I do recognize its some what diversity and struggle to stay that way. All right, its a roll model

hummmm...maybe I can catch the next Metra train down there NHS, hang out with you and Jessie Jr.

Amy / June 27, 2006 5:36 PM

There's many I admire but my current role model is boss. She and her husband are in their 50's and live like they are still in their 20's. They love life and take full advantage of what the city has to offer. They have no kids and seem fulfilled as people who do. They just seem to always be having a fun time.

Leelah / June 27, 2006 6:10 PM

Uh, I wasn't kidding about Emma Peel.
I teach high school. Of course I want to be brilliant and kick ass and dress fabulously...

Plus I'm always making racerX look good.

God / June 27, 2006 6:19 PM

My role model will be whoever beats the hell outta Spook first and eradicates his faux ghetto persona once and for all. Damn, does it get tiresome...

Spook / June 27, 2006 7:39 PM

Dear "God"

Did you ever know that you're my hero?
You're everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle, for you are the wind beneath my wings!

I love you God, I wanna be just like you!

mary / June 28, 2006 11:24 AM

amy - im glad you spoke up about HF

the end!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Evans / February 5, 2007 6:15 AM

Not to sound egoist but myself.
With all the shizznit I have been through, I always seem to pull myself through it all and though I draw inspiration from a host of characters, I still consider that within myself is the true gem, for I have friends who also read the same books or do the same things but never view them, or grasp inspiration/idea's in the way I do, so I guess there's something in me!
Okay enough, it's starting to sound wierd!

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