Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tomorrow Lafayette restaurateur Ema Haq will once again underscore the giving in Thanksgiving, serving turkey and all the fixings to the underprivileged and disabled in the Lafayette area.
A native of Bangladesh who came to Lafayette about three decades ago to study mechanical engineering at UL, Haq has been showing his appreciation for the success he has achieved in his adopted homeland with the annual feast at his flagship restaurant, Bailey’s on Johnston Street. Not only does he dip into his own pockets for the expense of the meal, Haq provides transportation to the families as well. As we gather with our own families to count our blessings, let’s also be thankful that Lafayette is home to generous people like Ema Haq, for whom personal success provides opportunities to be of service to others.

We have to wonder how an unfortunate case of collateral damage related to UL’s master plan — the destruction of six stately, decades-old live oak trees on campus, facing the woodsman’s ax to make room for new construction and renovations — would have unfolded had UL student and Independent Weekly intern Hope Rurik not sniffed it out. We suspect the trees would have simply quietly disappeared during a university holiday — the upcoming Thanksgiving break, for example. But Rurik’s reporting, published last week in The Ind, has the community talking. A campus environmental group and the Garden Club are mounting opposition. It likely won’t be enough to spare the oaks (the university says two are diseased), but the conversation the story has generated is galvanizing some very important community self-examination. It’s unfortunate that the UL administration appears to have preferred that this story not come out at all.

It must have seemed like a gift from God when the Hilliard University Art Museum at UL got a call recently from a man claiming to be a Jesuit priest, who said his wealthy mother had just died and wished to donate a painting, “Tree Women,” by American impressionist Charles Courtney Curran. When the man calling himself “Father Arthur Scott” delivered the painting on Sept. 30, he even blessed museum director Mark Tullos in the parking lot. Soon afterward, florescent testing showed the painting to be a forgery. And when Tullos identified the man from a photo, it was discovered that the forger had a pretty unholy track record of similar acts dating back to the 1980s. “We were his latest stop,” Tullos told The Advocate. “Hopefully, it will be his last.” Ironically, the UL museum will still get some use out of the forged Curran; it had apparently already been planning a “Say it isn’t Faux” exhibit on how museums authenticate works of art.

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