Archive for July, 2008

New initiatives (for people smarter than me to spearhead)

As many of you know, I’m out of the country, heroically making the guidebook world a better place. But I’m still very distracted by the events going on at home, particularly after watching the Politician Pride Parade a couple Sundays ago – which somehow got planned and executed at the exact same time and place as what I was told would be a Gay Pride Parade, but I digress…

Watching that spectacle of hopeful candidates, and now with Uncle Jesse in the fray, each of them being at a singular, desperate point in their lives where they’ve never been more susceptible to suggestion, has gotten me thinking about my city, state and country and some random, yet profound ways to improve them all.

Now I’d love to drop my profuse obligations to research and write about Romania, guns and poop and personally champion these initiatives, but unfortunately I effing hate politics. With my ultra-low bullshit tolerance threshold and increasingly delicate temper, I’m the last person that should be allowed to speak directly to a genuine politician. I have incredibly strong instincts in so far as identifying crazy people, liars and duplicitous weasels. I can spot these people from 20 yards away, before they even open their mouths. It’s like a Spidey Sense for insanity and assholes. But rather than flip 30 feet in the air and land on the offender’s head, accompanied by a witty remark, I’m overcome with a bug-eyed, speechless, semi-paralysis type loathing until I’m led away by my handlers.

Equally I reverently admire the people genuinely trying to make a difference that have the patience and diplomacy to immerse themselves in that endlessly infuriating milieu. So to those brave, thick-skinned people, here’s my wish-list of initiatives to put into motion as we enter the weak-willed, I’ll-do-anything-for-your-vote phase of pre-election campaigning:

•    Ban Metro Transit from raising fares for five years, forcing them to use more than four and a half brain cells during budget meetings.

•    While we’re talking transport, find a way to give commuters cash for not using their cars. Something like $1 a day for people on public transport and $2 for people on bike/foot. That’s about $20 and $40 at the end of every month respectively. No idea how to check or enforce this. Sounds like a job for my best friend of all time: Somebody Elseski.

•    Drop the fine for non-use of turn signals to $50, but enforce it more rigorously. I know a guy that got stopped for not using his turn signal on a deserted street by a cop that supposedly witnessed his infraction from three blocks away. It was something like a $200 fine! That’s bullshit, quota-starved, power-drunk, over-fed swine behavior right there. Since we’ll never be able to outlaw that kind of BS, make the fine more digestible for hapless victims of cranky cops. Equally, I almost got killed two weeks ago because some mouth-breathing asshat with a cell phone to one ear not only ignored my conspicuous presence, but didn’t signal the left turn he took three feet in front of my speeding bike. We gotta remind those people that driving is a dedicated, one-trick-pony task, not an inconvenient distraction from personal endeavors.

•    Pedestrianize Nicollet Mall on weekends. I’m talking no buses, no taxis, nothing. Let people stroll/bike/blade down the middle of the street. Allow kiosks selling snacks and street performers. Give all neighborhoods the green light to make similar arrangements. Hundreds of cities in Europe do this. It builds a priceless sense of community, which downtown in particular desperately needs. We gotta pull our heads out of our Ameri-centric asses and recognize that Europe’s got it goin’ on.

•    On that note, legalize topless sunbathing. It’s 2008. Time to deconstruct this country’s sexual uptightness. Think this is trivial (or that I just wanna see more boobies)? More boobies and my airtight theory on how they can could effect world peace notwithstanding, I’m more concerned/embarrassed/enraged by how we’re screwing ourselves and the world with shit like Iraq, global warming and our healthcare system, while headline news is dominated by stuff like John Ashcroft covering the exposed breast of the Spirit of Justice statue, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction and Miley Cyrus’ bare back (bare back!?!) in Vanity Fair. I can’t even look my European friends in the face when stuff like that leads the news three nights straight and the triple suicide bomb story gets third billing. So, set those boobies free, if only so there’ll be one less thing to piss me off. Sure, there’ll be a Pervert Interval – which admittedly may take an entire generation to eradicate, but you gotta start somewhere – but imagine the long-term relaxed attitudes and decreased sexual objectification (“Girls Gone Wild” will be bankrupt in no time). Look up the sexual assault numbers for places like Holland/Norway/Italy/Romania. The prosecution rests. If we can pull this off, we’ll tackle the Metric System next.

•    And I already know what you amateur voyeur photographers are thinking, so while we’re at it, we’ll make unwanted video/photography of sunbathers (even with cell phone cameras) a crime punishable by a $20,000 fine, plus civil damages and organized public embarrassment.

•    Oh and another thing about the news: establish an oversight committee to harshly prosecute media outlets employing ‘Scare News’ tactics, like the recent AP story about the alleged ‘danger’ of airplane go-arounds, deconstructed by my level-headed buddy Brett over at Cranky Flier. That same committee can monitor TV news shows for more equally distributed air-time. The current allotments for 30 seconds of international news followed by eight minutes of sports is totally effed.

•    Decriminalize vendetta murders.

•    Actually, that last one is just a distraction to soften them up for when we suggest the decriminalization of possessing soft drugs in quantities deemed acceptable for personal use. Why did Jesse, of all people, wuss out on this one? Time to toss this one back at him. You know Franken will be game. Do a seven-year trial run. License sellers. Do routine product/quality inspections. Tax it. Whatever. It’s overdue. That’ll free up ridiculously wasted prison space so we can go medieval on anyone possessing/buying/selling hard drugs.

•    Fire all those pinhead Homeland Security assholes – who have seemingly started deporting people out of sheer boredom and/or wanting to satisfying performance reviews – and only rehire people with the following prerequisites:
o    Four year college degree
o    Traveled abroad independently (i.e. not military, package trips or groups) to at least six different nations for a minimum of three months cumulatively
o    Speak at least one foreign language
o    Pass rudimentary geography, history, cultural awareness and current events exams
o    Demonstrate common sense, compassion and basic decency
o    (You know what would be funny? If they couldn’t find enough available candidates with the above prerequisites to fill all the positions and they ended up having to hire foreigners.)

•    Start a three year plan to phase out all unsolicited paper-mail catalogues and advertisements, with a long-term goal of an opt-in, email distribution solution.

That’s all for now. Certainly not comprehensive to creating peace on Earth, but it’s a strong start. Good luck!

Making the world a better place | 15.07.2008 6:00 | 8 Comments

Walker on the Green Artist-Designed Mini Golf

Having recently turned 38 – that is, 38 in chronological years, whereas I’m around 75 in cynical years – my already dwindling concern with what people think about me has all but evaporated. It’s one of the things that I revel in with regards to getting older: the confidence, comfort and wisdom to not give two shits about people’s perceptions of what I do, say or wear. Seriously, screw you guys.

What was formerly a huge source of anxiety is just plain gone and it sure is great to have that extra mental processing power to devote to more important things (like boobies). I’ll say pretty much anything in my blogs now, I don’t care who gets offended:

“Fart-bomb, Titicaca, fuckwit, 69.”

“Obnoxiously Loud, Attention-Starved, Little Dick Motorcycle Club.”

Armpit bang.”

Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.

But I suffer the occasional self-conscious relapse. For example, if the words ‘Walker’ and ‘Artist-Designed’ weren’t attached to it, I’m not entirely sure I’d have the nerve to announce that I was going to play mini golf without some kind of elaborate cover-story, preferably between the ages of five and 12, to validate the outing.

As it was, my companion and I weren’t the only ones unaccompanied by children, paying good money to play mini golf at the Walker on the Green Artist-Designed Mini Golf. Indeed, there was a full-on mob of self-proclaimed grownups enthusiastically taking part, though unsurprisingly the place was also crawling with nasty, dirty, unsupervised little people who were not only being seen and heard, but also getting in my way, but I digress…

We passed on the opportunity to play all 13 holes on account of me coming down with a sudden case of Starving to Death, which anyone who’s spent any time around me knows must be attended to immediately. As it was, resolving to do only one of the two courses brought up an early conundrum: which course to play? The bubbly girl selling tickets, familiar with this timeless deliberation, broke down the difference between the two courses with practiced ease…

“Do you want to play the competitive one or the fun one?”

“The fun one,” my companion and I blurted in eerie unison. I don’t know what her motives were, but I wanted to avoid getting into any kind of heated competition with this usually good-natured woman, as she’d just successfully auditioned for the Rollergirls earlier in the week and it’d had an instant impact on her aggression quotient. Those chicks are like Wookies, they like to pound and yank off important extremities when things don’t go their way. Also, I just loathe competition in general, which is why I never invite single men to my parties.

The holes on the ‘blue’, aka ‘fun’, aka ‘interactive’ course ranged from curious, to perplexing to impossible. There were a few holes that might have completely thwarted us if we hadn’t had the benefit of observing the bumbling efforts of the people in front of us and learning from their mistakes, who in turn did the same with the people in front of them… I’d hate to be in the first group of players each day. I bet when they get a load of that bicycle/pinball contraption, everything comes to a screeching halt and the delays ripple all the way back to the ticket line.

\

Fortunately there were plenty of people ahead of us to learn from, so our mistakes didn’t look nearly as mirthful, like on that hand-crank, ball-lifting, step thingie that, if you put too much muscle into it, your ball jumped off the track, forcing you to start over if you wanted to stick to the ancient Mini Golf Code of Mesopotamia, which we did.

The only exception to learning from other’s mistakes was the utterly impossible hole where it looked as if a giant, busty woman had flopped down face-first on the course, leaving an upper body imprint around a ridiculously placed hole hidden between the ‘neck’ and ‘breasts’. Those dual chasms doubled as hopeless water hazards that could’ve reduced Tiger Woods himself to wretched cursing if not for all the wee, impressionable ones standing around heckling (e.g. “Mommy, that man sucks!”).

The dreaded hand-crank step-thingiePutting out of the water-filled, reverse gazongasPedal backwards, play pinball and retort hecklers simultaneously

Some nights, mini golf/art fans queue up for 15-30 minutes for the pleasure of having their putting skills publicly critiqued by other people’s precious little angels. The wild popularity of the Artist-Designed Mini Golf was a given after the success of the first project in 2004. A heartening green/recyclable theme was once again evident, as well as wholehearted support of local artists. Per the Walker web site: “Designers range from independent artists and architects to members of established companies and design collectives. All are registered with mnartists.org, an online clearinghouse and resource for Minnesota artists of all stripes.”

Thankfully, the evening we played, with my death by malnourishment imminent, there was no waiting to get started and even with the bottlenecks at the more challenging holes, we were through the course in less than 30 minutes. It was a great outing for a beautiful Minneapolis evening and a friendly atmosphere where players freely helped/cheered one another. Quintessential Minnesota. Except for those good-for-nothing kids, who’ve clearly been enjoying too much South Park and too little fear of God.

Walker on the Green Artist-Designed Mini Golf
Through September 7th.
$8 one course, $14 for two, $6 for Walker members seniors & students, $4 for children
www.walkerart.org

Events, Sports | 7.07.2008 11:37 | 4 Comments