Monday, June 7, 2010

Squandered Opportunities

REGRETS DEPT., June 7 - Undone projects time. I have more of these in my past.

MEAT ARM (1994)

This was planned as one in a series of altruistic pranks. The idea was pretty airtight. Me and my pal Neil would find or purchase a mannequin arm. We would fill the mannequin arm with raw meat purchased from the butcher shop. I would shave my head bald, buy a flight jacket, and make myself some sort of swastika armband. Neil would drive my van with me in the passenger seat, posing as a Nazi skinhead. We would find a crowded bus stop and drive past it slowly while I leaned out the window, yelling the worst possible things I could think of and sieg heiling with the fake, meat-filled arm protruding from my flight jacket. As we passed, Neil would then suddenly "lose control" of the steering wheel, sending me crashing into a nearby telephone pole or lamppost. The mannequin arm would explode in a terrific spray of blood and gore, I'd scream in agony, and, for one glorious day, everyone at the bus stop could think that there was something like cosmic justice in the world. They would each continue on their own daily routine with an extra spring in their step.

Although this was never seriously considered as anything but an elaborate joke, so much time was spent discussing the logistics of the Meat Arm - costs, locations, executions - that it kind of still feels like something that almost happened.


I frequently attempt pieces for this blog that never make it past 70% completion. My review of our 2006 Toyota Prius was one of those pieces. It was really only funny if you happened to be reading in mid-March 2010, that long-ago time when every Toyota car seemed capable of lethal accelerations. In no particular order, my review was to have explored 1) the newfound dread of me and my fellow Prius drivers, 2) the newfound loss of smugness for this same group, 3) the Prius's cultural acceleration from 21st century wonder car to the Ford Pinto of the twenty teens, 4) my own planning for the driving state known as Gnarls In Charge, which included keeping a constant eye on larger vehicles I might use as moving crash barriers, and stocking up on box cutters to free myself from my airbag after I'd plowed into the back of one of these larger moving vehicles. I also got halfway through a nice collage of crashed Priuses;

The moment passed. No one cares about the lowly Prius these days. From a PR standpoint, Toyota emerged the clear winner of BP's current oil spill disaster. It's a little suspicious. I'm not saying that a $30 billion car company would sabotage a $230 billion oil company just to get themselves off the front pages. But, hey: crazier crap has happened.

What insane megastunt would BP have to orchestrate to get themselves off the front pages? Trick North Korea into invading Iran? Blow up Antarctica?


This was another late March 2010 concept. After passage of health care reform on the 23rd, I spent a few days driving around listening to AM radio. It was the most overwrought spectacle of public anguish I've ever experienced. If I hadn't known better, I would've assumed the United States had just lost a huge war.

It occurred to me that my household actually owns an adult baby costume. It's a full-body cloth harlequin thing, complete with oversized bonnet. We bought it at a Chaffey College Drama Department costume sale a few years back. All it lacks is a man-sized rattle and pacifier, and I know a party supply store in Montclair that sells both.

The math wasn't too hard on this one. I spent a good day planning a protest at the local headquarters for the Republican Party. My picket sign was going to read "WAAAAAAAH! HEALTH CARE!!!!!" The whole thing was going to be videotaped, and if it seemed successful - although I had no idea what that would mean - there were plans to branch out to other GOP HQ's.

The internet tells me this is the kind of thing that the internet likes, so the ramifications of wild viral victory had to be carefully weighed. What if I became known as the Big Baby Man guy? Would rednecks and hooligans balk at savagely beating a defenseless baby? Then there was mission creep. Why stop with Republicans? Why not picket banks and gas stations and movie theaters? Why not stand around in front of Albertson's with a sign reading WAAAAHHH! FOOD COSTS TOO MUCH!!!!

This moment passed as well. The GOP moved on to easier targets, like the 17th amendment. I'll probably wear the costume to a Halloween party someday, but I need to put on a few more pounds and lose some hair for this to really work as a nonpartisan gag.