Hammer: Ahmadinejad's hard truths


The legendary Hoosier broadcaster Fred Heckman,

who spent decades as news director at WIBC-AM, used to do a segment called "My

Town, Indy." He'd talk for a few minutes about someone or something that made

Indianapolis a richer and more enjoyable place in which to live.

Harrison Ullmann once told me that every public

relations person in the city lobbied to get their clients on "My Town, Indy"

and that it was considered a major coup to have done so. Mr. Heckman was such

an astute observer of the town and such a paragon of integrity that if he

conferred his approval on something, people paid attention.

While I can only dream of attaining the status

that Heckman once held, I do like to celebrate the great places of

Indianapolis, the institutions that bring my wife and me happiness and make it,

well, "My town, Indy."

El Sol de Tala restaurant. For more than 30 years,

El Sol has been known for some of the best and most authentic Mexican cuisine

in the Midwest. For most of those years, it didn't have much competition on the

"most authentic" front, but the influx of Spanish-speaking people over the last

15 years to Indianapolis has brought us a great variety of Mexican and Central

American restaurants, from L.A.-style taco trucks to mom-and-pop comensales.

But El Sol still serves as the standard against which all others must be

judged. The other night, Katie and I had the best and freshest guacamole dip

we've ever had: tangy, spicy and so rich that we never wanted to ever eat

anything else ever again.

The rest of their menu is the same -- fresh,

lovingly prepared and unique to this city. It is one of the city's great

treasures. (www.elsoldetala.com)

ComedySportz. For years I've heard

people rave about the weekly improv shows at ComedySportz but I've always

resisted. A few weeks ago, we were invited to take in a show at their

Massachusetts Avenue theater. We left a few hours later with the kind of joy

that comes from laughing non-stop for an extended period of time. It takes

discipline, quick wits and nerves of steel to pull off improv -- and the

performers we saw all had those skills.

If you've never seen ComedySportz, it's a

competition-based exchange of improv games that, on the night we attended,

never hit a sour note. The weekly lineup is ever-changing, but all the

comedians have the same mission: putting on a fast-paced, family-friendly show

that delivers great value for your entertainment dollar. I can't wait to check

out another show there soon. (www.indycomedysportz.com)

Taj of India in Castleton. We are blessed with

great Indian restaurants in Indianapolis: India Garden, Shalimar and many

others. But Taj of India, located in a nondescript strip mall across from

Castleton Square, holds a special place in our hearts. Whenever we go there,

we're treated like family by the staff, most of whom hail from the Punjab

region of India. But what keeps us coming back is the food: Heaps and heaps of

fresh naan bread, tasty vegetable samosa and, most of all, what has to be the

best lamb boti kebab in North America.

Lamb is a difficult meat to prepare properly.

It's either under- or overcooked or drowned in spices. But the clay tandoori

chefs at Taj always seem to cook it with special attention, with spices

accentuating but never overpowering the lamb. We've eaten at Indian joints

across the country, but if we could only pick one, it'd be Taj of India.(www.tajofindia.org)

Mass Ave Toys. The people who operate

Mass Ave Toys must love children, because their store is so perfectly designed

to please them. Most toy stores are full of modernistic, electronic,

computerized crap. But Mass Ave Toys sticks to the tried-and-true, classic toys

of my childhood, my father's childhood and his father's childhood. If you want

a tin robot, science kit, erector set or an old-fashioned doll, this is the

place to come. I've never failed to find the perfect gift there, whether the

recipient was an adult or child. Everything is first-rate and the staff

obviously loves the toys they sell. This place never fails to make us smile. (www.massavetoys.com)

My list could go on for days: RadioRadio, Big

Car Gallery, the IMA and many, many others. But I'm neither as powerful or as

influential as Mr. Heckman was and my space is up.But the above are just a

few of the places I love about my town, Indy.


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