JOHN OSTRANDER: Salt In the Wound

John Ostrander

John Ostrander started his career as a professional writer as a playwright. His best known effort, Bloody Bess, was directed by Stuart Gordon, and starred Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, William J. Norris, Meshach Taylor and Joe Mantegna. He has written some of the most important influential comic books of the past 25 years, including Batman, The Spectre, Manhunter, Firestorm, Hawkman, Suicide Squad, Wasteland, X-Men, and The Punisher, as well as Star Wars comics for Dark Horse. New episodes of his creator-owned series, GrimJack, which was first published by First Comics in the 1980s, appear every week on ComicMix.

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15 Responses

  1. Vinnie Bartilucci says:

    "Race had to be a factor"Nope.I'm sure it will become a factor NOW (because it's gotten national attention, and TV time attracts activists like sugar attracts ants), but I'm sorry, not every single interaction between black and white people HAS to have a racial side. It's as unfair as assuming that every single cop on the Earth is on the take and out to screw "The little man". If one goes through one's life assuming that racism or police brutality or some other endemic problem with society is the cause of everything…well, you're not gonna get much done."If you look only the evil,in man, you will surely find it" –Pollyanna's locketHeck, didn't Michael Davis just do a piece about how not every bad thing in the world happens because someone is black?I agree, however, that arresting the cook was an over-reaction.You're supposed to SUE the bastards. After all, in the future, Bart Simpson is still waiting for the settlement over that "Over-salted fries incident"

    • John Ostrander says:

      I'll stand by the comments, Vinnie. If the cook had been white and female or white and MALE, I don't think for one second that they would have been arrested. Why wasn't the manager arrested? Bet they're white. Bet you an Big'N'Tasy that they're white.Race is still a BIG factor in this country. Which means that racism is as well. Big enough that AP didn't report the races of either the cop or the cook in their story. They omitted a FACT and, by doing so, said it wasn't a FACTOR in the story."Not every bad thing in the world happens because someone is black" doesn't mean that that bad things don't happen because someone IS black. Or are you saying that racism in America is not real?I don't look only for evil in man but I don't feel like ignoring what I see.

      • Marilee J. Layman says:

        Racism in America is, of course, real. But the WashPost frequently leaves race out of stories unless race played a part in the story.The Klan left literature in mailboxes in part of my city last week. The HQ says they were asked for it. And not against blacks, against Hispanics.I once made our evening meal of popcorn inedible by opening the wrong part of the salt cylinder and pouring salt instead of sprinkling. It was right before I got paid and our last popcorn. We didn't have dinner that night. My brother still reminds me of it.

  2. M. Sean McManus says:

    I don't who's race was or is what… I'm siding with the officer on this one. Regardless of it being a fast food burger or not, there is no excuse for messing with someone else's food. That should be classified as poisoning. I see ironic elements to the story here, and it is funny. But there is no real reason why fast food should have to be bad for you, or in this case even worse than normal.

    • Vinnie Bartilucci says:

      Obviously racism is real and still extant, but not universal. IMHO, the first thing one should do in a situation is not assume that it's race based. One tends to gloss over other evidence and possibilities when one decides on the result before the investigation starts.And since when is the media not happy to play up race in every story it publishes? I have no doubt that if they thought it would make a more sensationalist story they'da been happy to mention it. But they (most likely) saw it as a "dumb thing at McDonalds", or perhaps a "cop overreacts to dumb thing" story and not a "(racism and) violence inherent in the system" story, and reported it as such.As I already said, I don't think arresting a person for a salty burger is warranted, though an investigation as to how it happened is. Tempers were obviously flared at some point. I think there's a bit missing between the cop vomiting and the lady getting tossed in the cruiser. THAT's the part I'd like to hear more about. This is a dumb little puff-piece story that has been made Important by the suggestion that race is involved. It was a funny article right up until the phrase "was the cook black and the officer white". Then it became, well, it stopped being funny, anyway, and that's about all it deserved being.Check out the comments at the bottom of the story you linked to. First off, WAY too many people are posting things like "Good job, she deserves a medal". Thankfully, many more are saying that the cop way mad overreacted. But it's not until page five of the comments that the question of race was even brought up (by someone who related the oft-repeated story that "Jesse Jackson said he used to mess with white folks food when he worked in restaurants"). No one else (as of page 13 when I stopped reading) mentioned race as a factor in the incident. Of course, judging from many of the comments made, it is quite reasonable to believe that many people had less then kind thoughts for their black and brown bretheren.BTW, the police report is up at the smoking gun –… Both the officer and the food preparer are black.Great first issue of Suicide Squad, BTW.

      • John Ostrander says:

        Vinnie — thanks for the Smoking Gun connection. The police report was real useful to see. I have to remember Smoking Gun for my future reseraches; thanks for reminding me about them. My info came from the Atlanta newspaper which stated that the officer was white. Assuming that he's black then — yeah, that makes it different. Obviously. I'll accept the police report as the better source unless I can find something better still.I'll stand by my overall comments on racism in general, however. If it's not a factor in this case, fine, but it's still a factor in American life. I've talked to too many people of color about it to think otherwise.Glad you likied the first issue of the Squad. We're just getting started and we have some twists coming.– John

        • Vinnie Bartilucci says:

          I didn't see any mention of race on the page you linked – most likely it was fixed after the time you read it.I agree with your comments about racism, but I stand by MY comments that race doesn't apply in every single situation.Ironically, I wrote my wife an email at 2:22 today, telling her about this thread. The last line of my note was, and I quote…"I really look forward to John's response, where he will undoubtedly fall back on "Well, this doesn't change the fact that there is lots of racism in America, and even if THIS case wasn't racial, there are many other that ARE…"" :-)

          • John Ostrander says:

            Never said that race doesn't apply to every situation and, evidentally, doesn't in this one — despite what i initially read. Race, however, ihas been and remains a big factor in American life. Has there been progress in the past fifty years? I'd say so But I'm not black. However, is it likely that fifty years is going to overcome what has been entrenched for a few hundred years?Perhaps my reactions seem "knee-jerk" to some; to me, they're conclusions based on what I've seen and heard.

  3. John Ostrander says:

    I've been served over-salted food from a fast food joint and not been poisoned. The amount of salt that you would have to ingest would be considerable — like drinking a bottle of soy sauce. Check the RAISING THE BAR link I cited. Further, given where her station was in the restaurant, it's unlikely she knew the burger was for a cop. The cook claims she herself ate a burger from the same salted batch during her break and wasn't affected. Unless the crime lab reports there was something ELSE in the burger other than a bit too much salt, its unlikely the burger is at fault. As for fast food not being bad for you– c'mon. I mean, i eat it, too, but I'm not kidding myself. Heavy of grease and fried foods. Heavy of sugar, even in the buns. Usually high in fat. I guy I know who worked for McDonalds (this was a while ago) told me that someone who was allergic to milk could safely ingest one of their "Shakes". Yeah, the article if full or irony and its pretty funny — but mainly because the cop with the burger was acting like a weenie.

    • Marilee J. Layman says:

      Most fast food places don't have milk in their "shakes" which is why they call them that. It would be illegal to have "milk" if there isn't any there. Look at Wendy's Frosty — do they call it ice cream? That's because it's not. Reading labels is an art.Here in Manassas, we have a fabulous ice cream place with full fat. I go a few times a year for the wonderful taste and mouth-feel.

      • Mike Gold says:

        Then again, there's no ham in hamburger – and it would be illegal to call a hamburger made from ground ham a hamburger. Now, as for the "comics" in comic books…

  4. Alan Coil says:

    Several months ago, a local convenience mart was sold to a family which appears to be Middle Eastern. A co-worker who lives in our small town said she was really upset the "those people" were coming here. The co-worker is a Latino who may herself have been an immigrant.

  5. Adriane Nash says:

    I have an exboyfriend who is half italian half puertorican. he considers himself white and is quite the racist. I have older family members who would not consider him white (the italian half alone would, in their eye.s be too swarthy a heritage). My ex doesn't see the irony in his refusing to shop in middle eastern owned shops given he has no sense of history (or irony… or decencey…)My point is we fancy northerners find cross burning outrageous but like john points out are just as trained to rascism.

  6. Michael Davis says:

    To arrest somebody who makes a stupid mistake is a waste of taxpayer’s money and time. That said, is this not the same state where they lock up teenage honor students for fooling around? I mean BLACK teenage honor students? This is as much a RACE thing as it is a stupid thing. Even in L.A. they have to SAY you did something bad before they shoot you in the back. It has to be a race thing because you have to have like-minded people to pull off something like this. Do you think the booking sergeant and D.A would be dealing with this crap if in fact it were a young white girl? HELL NO! One of The Best Conventions I have ever been to is Dragon Con in Atlanta Georgia. I have only been there once and that was over 10 years ago and here’s why- while in Atlanta I wanted to go to the Civil War museum, I had some free time so me and my then girlfriend at the time (my WHITE girlfriend at the time) went. When we entered the parking lot it was filled with a bunch of people. The looks we got were nothing short of hatred. One guy who was standing by a pick up truck fully equipped with a gun rack AND A GUN simply nodded 'no' and we left. I really believe that guy was looking out for us. I will never forget that, never.It seems to me that there is a growing return to Jim Crow in the south. For something like this, the honor student I wrote of earlier and the Jena 6 (I can’t go into that my head would explode. If you don’t know the story Google it. YOUR head will explode.) for all these things to happen in 2007 is simply amazing. The current raging debate in this country is rather or not we get out of Iraq-I’m wondering if we should get out of Georgia.

    • Linda Gold says:

      Glad you mentioned the Jena 6 Michael. When I first read that story I couldn't believe it was happening today. The only difference between this happening now and if it had happened in the '50's or '60's is that those boys would never have made it to the police station in those days. We have moved forward but not nearly as much as people like to think and certainly not as much as I had hoped.