Archive for June, 2008

Jurassic Park: A Personal Journey and a Multimillion Dollar Movie


Jurassic Park
I loved dinosaurs as a kid. That much is clear. I watched all the dinosaur shows on TV. I played with dinosaur toys. My family visited Dinosaur National Monument. My brother, much more adamant in his love, declared his future profession to be paleontology. The wonderful part about dinosaurs was knowing that they really existed. This is as close to a real monster that Earth may ever see.

And there were so many of them. Hundreds, maybe thousands of varieties of dinosaur. Their time on Earth lasted for hundreds of millions of years; they did much better than we have. Their downfall was not by their own hands, either. It took a giant rock falling from the sky and its severe aftermath to do in those fearsome creatures. How much more dramatic can you get?

When the novel Jurassic Park arrived in our house via my dad, I was first intrigued by the cover. First, the title and picture. “Jurassic Park,” like a National Park, except having something to do with dinosaurs. The picture, of a skeletal T-Rex, practically demanded that I read at least the first few pages.

Needless to say I was immediately hooked. The book delivered exactly what the cover anticipated. A crazy, rich, brilliant, cruel, oblivious entrepreneur named John Hammond discovers a way to bring dinosaurs back to life. He then makes the next logical step: raise these beasts on an island so they can be gawked at by fat tourists for extraordinary sums.

There are problems almost from the beginning. In order to quell the insurance men and the lawyers, Hammond brings in a team of scientists and a mathematician to take the park tour. Due to a disgruntled employee (who happens to be the guy writing the code for the park’s computerized security systems) and a freak tropical storm, all the electrified fences go down and the dinosaurs run free, eating man and dinosaur alike.
dino attackI saw Jurassic Park, the film, on opening day. We had bought tickets weeks in advance. Upon the good advice of the theater, we showed up over an hour in advance. There was a long line already, and we queued up. When the audience was seated, and before the show began, an usher walked to the front of the theater. He advised us that this would be “very loud,” and as the words echoed in the large theater you could feel the buzz of excitement in the audience. It was a feeling that did not dissipate until long after the end credits rolled.
dino haunchesTo say that seeing Jurassic Park was the culmination of my childhood may be an exaggeration, but it isn’t a big one. I can still remember watching the film from my seat, extreme front left. Seeing living, breathing dinosaurs felt like a graduation of some cosmic kind. I had spent my entire childhood imagining dinosaurs, not quite able to put flesh on the bones. They seemed so close to me yet were separated by millions of years. We would never meet through that chasm. Until Jurassic Park.

Jurassic Park was more than a story about people being chased by dinosaurs. It was the idea that impossible things are no longer impossible. It was a brave new world. The hacky dialog, the plot holes (there were only two, but they were oddly obvious), the changes from the novel were not important. Did you see that tyrannosaurus rex? The brachiosaurus grazing? The gallimimus moving in herds? These are powerful images. These are the things that make us realize how large the universe is, how connected we are to all beings. Dinosaurs are not only real, they are here.

I hadn’t seen Jurassic Park for many years when I was moved to rewatch it last week. It is kind of like the Beatles of my movie memory. I watched it so many times as a kid that I practically had all the lines memorized. I didn’t need to watch it as much anymore. It was there already, inside me. What made me pull it out? I don’t know, but you’re reading the result of that spur-of-the-moment decision. I needed to put in words why this movie is such a big freaking deal.

The effect of watching one of my favorite childhood movies through the jaded eyes of a twentysomething was almost as revelatory as watching it for the first time in that theater. This time I was not waiting for the velociraptors to attack; I was listening for the articulation of the movie’s themes and watching the camera as it turned and pivoted to capture perfect shot after perfect shot.

First of all, it is an incredibly solid movie. It looks good even after 15 years. The special effects hold up surprisingly well. (You can always spot the clunky animatronic, or “auto-erotic,” as Donald Gennero would say, dinosaurs by their jerky movement.) The music is so catchy (thanks, John Williams). The actors are good even if the dialog is not. It was obviously made by professionals not as a cheap summer thrill ride but as a hopeful statement to future generations. After King Kong, it is the only movie to get why we want to see giant monsters on the big screen.

Steven Spielberg may be one of the greatest camera operators of all time. Instead of jumping from cut to cut, he moves the camera as the scene is happening. It is deliberate but not artificial. You wouldn’t even notice it the first time around, but he’ll start somewhere, turn, then turn again, grabbing three moments in a single take. Not only that, each moment is perfectly framed. Planning that kind of thing must be tricky for even the most skilled cameraman.

Second, I noticed a surprising number of in-jokes. Richard Attenborough, renowned for his nature documentaries, was cast as god-killing businessman John Hammond. I chuckled at the thought of this man, so interested in the natural world, who would have been too smart to blithely toy with biology as his character does.

Before the visitors to the Park take their fatal tour, they are compelled by Hammond to watch a short cartoon about how the dinosaurs (or, “dino-sawers”) have been bred. In the cartoon, a four-legged, lumbering dinosaur is shown trodding along. We knew better than this, even in 1993. Dinosaurs just don’t move that way. But the cartoon was not a mistake. It was, I believe, an homage to Gertie the Dinosaur. Gertie was the creation of master cartoonist and animator Winsor McKay. (See here and here.)

B.D. Wong was cast as the stereotypical Asian Scientist working on the dinosaur embryos. Wong is perhaps best known for his role in M. Butterfly, a play about a male Chinese spy who dresses as a woman to extract – ahem – information from a guileless male American diplomat. Why cast B.D. Wong when any old Asian would do? In the hatchery, the characters discuss the dinosaurs’ breeding habits. Wong’s character, Dr. Henry Wu, informs the visitors that all the dinosaurs have been bred as female. When they prod him, he is baffled. Female dinosaurs spontaneously turning into males? Impossible.

Before the Park is plunged into total chaos, we see Hammond and computer tech/chain smoker Ray “Hold onto your butts” Arnold scanning Nedry’s computer for clues on how to bring the computers back online. Taped to the computer is a picture of Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, a physicist involved in the Manhattan Project and credited as the father of the atomic bomb.

These things all appear in the opening hour of the movie. They are, perhaps, there to create something out of nothing. Instead of a tedious hour building to the action, we are treated to a series of subtle (and quite adult) jokes and references. Thus the action, the “meat” of the story (ha ha), comes as almost a surprise to the viewer who has been involved in spotting these little hidden treasures.

triceratops head

I’ve been very admiring of the movie so far. However, there are things that I wish could have been changed. Overall, the tone of the movie was much too upbeat. This is a story about the cruelty and indifference of nature. Why candy coat it, Spielberg? Of course it is precisely because Spielberg directed it that it was so upbeat, in spite of all the dinosaurs eating people. That’s his M.O. What he brought to the film in terms of his impeccable eye for editing and composition far outweighs, at least in retrospect, the loss of suspense and rawness. Suspense and rawness are good for one viewing; Jurassic Park brings something new to the table even as I rewatch it today.

One of my favorite parts of the book that unfortunately did not make it to the film was the demise of Hammond. He was killed in the most embarrassing way possible: poisoned by compys, tiny dinosaurs hardly bigger than puppy dogs. The movie made Hammond a much more sympathetic character: too sympathetic, if you ask me. Any man arrogant enough to fund Jurassic Park would not be doing it out of some sort of youthful sense of wonder. My guess is that any man funding Jurassic Park (and it would have to be a man) killed his youthful sense of wonder long ago, probably by strangling it in a dark closet, chopping it up into little pieces, and making his maid carry it out with the rest of the day’s garbage.

The Lysine-deficiency and the breeding subplots were shunted off to the side, barely mentioned in the film. I wish they could have explored them a bit more, as they were revelatory aspects of the book. The fact that Michael Crichton had mapped out these details shows his dedication to the story. They should not be hidden away; they are important and interesting.

Finally, every movie has a scene that desperately needs to be cut. Why Spielberg decided to leave in a leaden, heavy-handed exposition scene in the middle of the action-packed second half remains a mystery. I’m referring to the “flea circus” confession of John Hammond. In it, he and Ellie Sattler eat ice cream in a deserted cafeteria while dinosaurs stalk other members of the tour. Hammond talks about his youth, watching a flea circus. All the little rides, the wonder of it all, blah blah blah. We already know why Hammond wants to create dinosaurs. EVERYBODY WANTS TO CREATE DINOSAURS. That’s a given. Why create some half-baked rationale for something so glaringly obvious? I would have preferred they included some more information on the lysine contingency or the dinosaurs’ spontaneous sex changes.

I’ve so far not mentioned some of the greatest rewards of this movie upon repeat viewings. They are:

The character Robert Muldoon. Some of the best lines are uttered by him: “Shoot her!”, “Clever girl…” Every time he mentions the “Raptor paddock” I get chills. Why his character has to die is another of the film’s mysteries. He, of all the characters, should have known how to escape a tricky situation.

The shot of Ian Malcolm after his leg has been torn to shreds by the tyrannosaurus. He props himself up by one arm, his jacket open. For some reason, he is shirtless. Jeff Goldblum’s chest glistens from rain and sweat, and the camera lingers lovingly. This is perhaps the most sexual shot in the entire movie.

The sly mention of renowned paleontologist Robert Bakker. Without his research, this movie would not have been possible. The photos I’ve taken that appear in this essay are from the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Dr. Bakker helped design the dinosaur exhibit in that museum. It is, bar none, the best dinosaur exhibit in the entire world.

The character of Nedry, played by Wayne Knight (known best for being Newman in Seinfeld). When I was a kid, I saw his character as the worst desecration of the book. His character felt totally out of place. While the book was sombre, he was slapstick. Now I see him as a reminder of human folly. Instead of a bland, boring computer nerd, he’s something interesting to watch. His slovenliness underscores the film’s theme of technology versus nature. Technology, or at least taking a shortcut without doing the proper research, will always lose out to nature. The simple fact is, nature has had millions of years to prepare for every contingency. How can we compete with that? Nedry is the embodiment of that.

Finally, the way chaos theory is defined in the movie is nothing short of hilarious. Instead of pages-long, rambling speeches by a doped-up Malcolm, we get a silly little lesson demonstrated by dripping water down Ellie Sattler’s hand. What is chaos theory? you may ask. Chaos theory is when the dinosaurs escape and eat all the people.

Jurassic Park is greater than most movies. It helped define who I am today, and I am happily surprised that it still holds new meaning. Its flaws only make it a more interesting subject. Jurassic Park was a powerful idea when I saw it as a kid. Now, it is a well-made movie I enjoy even when I know the exact moment the velociraptor will pop out of that air vent.

Long live dinosaurs.

dino sillhouette

Here are Friday Robots…ladies.

As funny guy Demetri Martin says, adding “…ladies” automatically makes it sound sleazy.friday-robots-6-13-08-low

└ Tags:

Happy Belated Birthday, Falling Rock National Blog

On June 2, 2007 Falling Rock National Blog went live.

It’s nice to know that friends, or even strangers, can log on and know exactly what I’ve been thinking on any given day. My heart swells close to bursting to know that I am loved about 10-15 times per day (sometimes more when I talk about Cat Power, Ian Wilson, or mayonnaise).

We’ve traveled a long road together and there are many posts yet to be written. I hope you will continue to support the blog by visiting and commenting. This blog was originally intended to be a supplement to my comic strip. Although I still use it to comment on Falling Rock, the blog has also become a way to talk about matters – important matters – beyond the scope of four panels per day.

Milestones in the brief life of Falling Rock National Blog:

The first post I completely made up was also a signal that I didn’t have to write about comics all the time.
My ode to loving (and losing faith in) Garfield.
The very first Friday Robots.
Retrospective of my high school comic strip.
Harry Potter by Charles Bukowski (also here and here)
Ian’s album cover
The comic syndicate’s rejection process.
The Boogeyman who founded Oregon.
Falling Rock book collections.
History of Bikes
Ernesto sucker-punches James Joyce.
Jurassic Park

Thanks for reading, thanks for all the comments, and thanks for making me feel like less of a hermit and more of a crackpot. It’s a fine line, and I think I’ve crossed over to the better side.

Stan Winston 1946-2008

stanwinstonThis is sad: Stan Winston, special effects master, is dead. He was only 62. You all know my love for Jurassic Park, the movie that made me who I am today. Stan Winston created the physical effects for that movie and worked on a few other all-time classics: Aliens, The Thing, Predator, Edward Scissorhands, Terminator 2, Big Fish, (the currently playing) Iron Man, among many others. His is the hand that created the visuals for many of the movies that loom largest in our collective memories.

Like Ray Harryhausen before him, Stan Winston changed the way we see monsters, aliens, and robots. He didn’t just create special effects, he set the visual style of movie monsters for the past two decades. His creations are not “realistic.” They are better than real: they are iconic.

└ Tags:

Decision-Making Hat

I am a man of action. Ask any of my friends; they will tell you my long list of accomplishments. I make thousands of decisions per day, and I never look back. Dear readers, you are fortunate to be reading a blog by a man as illustrious and sure of himself as me.

People have asked me to write a book about decision-making. Many have failed miserably where I have succeeded. Is there a trick to my decision-making process? Some little trick that catapults me above all the riff-raff? Friends, it doesn’t take a book to tell you my secret.

I have a Decision-Making Hat.

That’s right! When I need to think, or sometimes when my head is cold, I put on my Decision-Making Hat and things just come to me. It has never let me down. When I’m wearing the hat, I no longer need to weigh the arguments for and against something. I just know.

Here is me without my Decision-Making Hat. Sitting at my drawing table, completely paralyzed with indecision. Notice the furrowed brow, making me look decades older. Not very attractive, eh?decision1

Now me with the hat. Happy, smiling face. No worries. Why? I’ve gotten so much done! Mission accomplished!decision2

For the rest of you huddled masses, I would advise you get your own Decision-Making Hats. Forget your old worries and be like the President and me. We don’t worry; why should you?

└ Tags:

My Hero: Jack Johnson

jack-johnson2 What attributes does your hero have? Would your hero be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound? Have a special “Spidey sense” to know when trouble is afoot? Dress up like a big bat and fight crime? Know when microwave popcorn is done without being burned? Be able to steal and feel no remorse?

Fortunately for me, my hero exists in the real world. His name is Jack Johnson. He is a singer/songwriter. You may have even heard some of his songs.

Jack grew up in Hawaii. He loved to surf. After high school he went to college, but not any old boring institution for higher learning. He went to school in Santa Barbara to be a filmmaker so he could make surfing documentaries of his friends. After college he bummed around with his friend, G Love. G Love put Jack on one of his songs and it was a hit. Then Jack made an album of his own: Brushfire Fairytales. It was also a hit. Now Jack and his other good buddy Ben Harper write songs, hang out, surf, and talk about saving the environment.

Jack, who is not related to the boxer, is supremely mellow. He is also tall, and awesome. Every one of his albums sound relaxing. Some people – naive and petty people – say all his albums sound the same. Do not believe their lies. While I’d happily put on a Jack Johnson album at a chill party or a BBQ, I would most likely opt for In Between Dreams or his newest, Sleep Through the Static. That’s just the way I roll. Other people may prefer Brushfire Fairytales or the Curious George Soundtrack (which features G Love and Ben Harper). I don’t think anyone likes On and On. Sorry, Jack.

One theory, put forward by my mother, states Jack is the Jimmy Buffet of my generation. He’s mellow, makes you feel good, and has a kind of island-vibe. I agree with that, although I also think Jack is a more dedicated artist than Jimmy. Jimmy is fine, but sometimes he tries too hard to sound laid back. Jack is the real deal.

While I’m not out to convert anyone (Jack would totally oppose proselytizing), I do think that Jack Johnson is worth checking out if you haven’t heard anything beyond “Flake.” I’ll be the first to admit I used to be a Jack naysayer. Then I liked him ironically. Now, I just like him.

Hats (and shoes) off to Jack Johnson: singer, songwriter, surfer, filmmaker. Saving the environment one album at a time.jack-johnson

Welcome to Fort Plague

Falling Rock is your source for up-to-the-minute information on the Black Death, or bubonic plague. What follows is an article from New Scientist. “Fort Plague,” a Russian fort constructed on an artificial island in the middle of the Gulf of Finland, housed scientists who studied deadly infectious diseases.

Be wary, dear readers. The plague abounds.

During a field trip to the Russian steppes in 1912, biologist Ippolit Deminsky finally found what he had been looking for: a rodent called a suslik that had died of plague. Perhaps now he could persuade the Russian authorities that the disease was not carried into the country by foreigners but had always been there in the indigenous fauna. Before he could report back, however, he realised he had been infected. Carefully, he composed a last telegram: “When you arrive take the cultures that I had isolated. All the laboratory records are in order. The rest you will be able to find out from the laboratory. My body should be examined as an experimental case of a human contracting the plague from suslik. Goodbye.”

FOR much of the cold war, western intelligence agencies suspected that the Soviet Union’s capacity to wage biological warfare was superior to the west’s. Their suspicions were only confirmed in 1989, when a Russian visitor to Paris turned up at the British embassy and requested asylum. Vladimir Pasechnik was a brilliant microbiologist who worked on the bubonic plague bacterium, Yersinia pestis. He was flown to England and taken to a safe house, where he revealed details of what was then the world’s largest biowarfare programme, codenamed Ferment.

Its full extent remains a mystery to Russia’s cold war foes, but one thing is certain: its foundations were laid long before the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, in a lonely, windswept fortress in the Gulf of Finland. There, Pasechnik’s predecessors lived – and sometimes died – as they tried to find a way to end the epidemics that ravaged Russia.

The story of how Fort Alexander I came to be Russia’s “plague” laboratory begins more than 600 years ago. In 1346, Mongol forces were laying siege to the Black Sea port of Kaffa (now Feodosia in Ukraine) when they realised they had been infected with plague. In an early example of biowarfare, they hurled their dead over the city walls. Plague ripped through the city and those few who escaped fled west, carrying the bacterium that would set off the world’s second pandemic of bubonic plague – the Black Death.

For most of the centuries that followed, outbreaks of plague were frequent in Russia, often devastating whole cities or provinces. Convinced the disease came from outside the country, the imperial authorities looked to its borders, gathering intelligence on outbreaks in neighbouring countries and introducing strict quarantine measures at its ports and frontier crossings. The epidemics continued. Russia’s belief in the polluting influence of foreigners remained unshaken even when, in 1894, French bacteriologist Alexandre Yersin identified Y. pestis as the agent responsible for plague. But the discovery did prompt the authorities to set up an organisation dedicated to the study of the disease, says Alexander Melikishvili at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Washington DC, an authority on the pre-Soviet anti-plague system.

The Special Commission for the Prevention of and Fight against Plague was presided over by Prince Alexander Oldenburgsky, a member of the ruling Romanov family, decorated war veteran and the driving force behind the Imperial Institute of Experimental Medicine (IIEM), Russia’s first scientific research institute.

According to records kept at the modern IEM (it lost its imperial “I” after the revolution), Oldenburgsky’s interest in infectious diseases may have been sparked by an incident in 1885, when an officer in his regiment was bitten by a rabid dog. The prince paid for the soldier to be treated by Louis Pasteur in Paris, and when he returned cured, Oldenburgsky was inspired to build a Russian version of the Pasteur Institute, a centre for research into infectious diseases.

Oldenburgsky understood that the IIEM needed an isolated laboratory where its scientists could work on highly contagious diseases such as cholera and anthrax – and plague. Fort Alexander I was ideal. It had been built on an artificial island in the shallow Gulf of Finland about 60 years earlier to defend the southern sea approach to St Petersburg. Advances in military technology rendered it obsolete and in 1896, it was struck off the register of fortresses and Oldenburgsky was given permission to use it. And so a fort built to defend the imperial city from outside threats was put to work on a disease the Russians had for so long seen in the same light, with such disastrous consequences.

Once up and running, the lab was subject to stringent security. All visitors were ferried to the fort on the steamship Mikrob, and had to leave before sunset. Safety regulations were strictly enforced. Medical staff working with infectious samples and sera had to wear galoshes and rubber-lined capes. Any member of staff who developed symptoms was incarcerated in an isolation unit cut off from the rest of the facility by an elaborate system of hermetically sealed doors.Thanks to such precautions, there were never any major outbreaks of disease – although two of its scientists died after accidentally contaminating themselves with plague.

Medical staff had to wear galoshes and rubber-lined capes

Despite the country’s xenophobic attitude to plague, one researcher, Ippolit Deminsky, realised that not all the questions about the disease could be answered within the confines of the fort. A physician and epidemiologist, he rubbished the idea that the source of plague lay outside Russia and encouraged his fellow biologists to look for its hosts in nature. He practised what he preached and paid dearly for it when, during a field trip to the steppes, he isolated the plague agent from a dead rodent called a suslik, contracted the disease and died. He didn’t die in vain: his discovery confirmed that far from being a foreign import, plague was endemic in Russia.

Oldenburgsky compensated the employees at the fort for their devotion to duty in perhaps the only way he could: by making their lives comfortable. The fort had a well stocked library and a billiards room, and staff each had their own private room. He also ensured they had everything they needed for their research, including a collection of organs from diseased animals and another of preserved parasites, suspected of being plague carriers. A menagerie housed monkeys, rabbits, mice, guinea pigs and deer – but the most important animals at the fort were horses, which were large enough to provide the quantities of blood needed to make anti-plague serum. The horses were well catered for too: there were 20 stables, a riding ring and a lift capable of raising one horse at a time into the laboratory above.

IEM records show that the lab produced huge quantities of sera and vaccines – in the case of plague, enough to prevent or contain outbreaks in the Volga and Transcaucasian regions, Odessa and the far east of Russia, with some left over to export.

The lab’s output dried up after the revolution of 1917 and the subsequent civil war. Blue-blooded Oldenburgsky was forced to resign and fled to France. In 1918, a new dangerous-pathogen laboratory was established at Saratov University on the Volga, south-east of Moscow, and from then on the country’s anti-plague system underwent a massive expansion. According to Sonia Ben Ouagrham-Gormley of the Monterey Institute, the Soviet-era network consisted of more than 100 facilities scattered across the 11 Soviet republics. Her colleague Raymond Zilinskas reckons that within a decade of the Saratov lab opening, staff were working on an offensive biowarfare programme alongside their public health research.

Today, the fort has fallen into disrepair. Nothing remains of the horse lift, the huge vats for brewing lethal microbial soups or the furnaces in which legions of animals and the bodies of two unfortunate scientists were incinerated. According to Melikishvili, thieves have stripped the place, scavenging every last piece of metal. “Even the doors are gone,” he says. Last year, the very foundations were threatened by plans to widen the channel feeding the St Petersburg sea port, until the city’s heritage committee stepped in and ordered the works to be moved a safe distance.

For one night in July, the fort briefly comes to life – though not in a way Oldenburgsky could have foreseen. Temporarily renamed Fortdance, it throbs to an electronic beat. Hundreds of party-goers dance beneath its thick walls while laser beams swirl over the empty cannon emplacements. In the early hours of the following morning, motorboats ferry exhausted revellers back to the mainland, retracing the route of the old ship Mikrob, and Fort Alexander I reverts to its habitual state: a desolate ruin inhabited only by seagulls. It’s unlikely that many of the departing guests know they have just spent the night in what was once Russia’s official plague laboratory, and the birthplace of its biological warfare programme.

Plague’s Evil Friends

Remember this?plague+in+mountains

It’s from an article on plague (or Black Death). Well, apparently there are more diseases out there. Plague’s got a posse of evildoers, and you never know where you will find them. A few examples:Prolapsed+Disk tinnitus typhoid+fever leprosy fever+blister

This message brought to you by the Falling Rock Committee on Disease and Pestilence Control (FRCODAPC, for short).

└ Tags:

Bike/Bridge Robots

If you have read either Great Wave of Falling Rock or Owl & Other Comics, you should write a review! Just go either here or here at Powell’s website and tell the world what you think. Unlike my friend Ian I don’t have a sweet mix CD offer, but maybe I’ll dedicate a future Friday Robots to you.f-r-6-20-08

└ Tags:

no more cars

This morning on my way to work I almost got run over by a bus. I was crossing on a sidewalk. When I stepped off the curb the little man was lit, and a few steps later the red hand began to flash. I thought – naively, apparently – I was still safe to cross. A bus, coming the opposite direction, took a right hand turn directly in front of me. I kept thinking he’d stop when he saw a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Nope. He started gesturing at me to get back to the sidewalk. I wish I had flipped him the bird. Instead I pointed out the green light. I was amazed at his incompetence and his self-righteous anger. He really thought he was right. Well, I’m here to tell you that he was wrong.

Cars are indirectly killing us all. They are slowly suffocating us with their evil emissions. They will eventually contribute to the end of life on this planet as we know it. Say what you will about the dinosaurs’ evolutionary skills, at least they didn’t commit species-wide suicide.

Worse still, cars kill people directly by running us over in crosswalks.

I am hereby submitting my proposal to every city in the nation: ban cars from your downtown. Whether your downtown be a single road with one traffic light or one hundred blocks of intersecting road, do not allow cars to drive there. Emergency vehicles, buses, taxis, and delivery vehicles will be excepted (restrictions apply). Think of all the space you’ve just created for yourself. A lane for bikes, a wide promenade for pedestrians. Maybe an avenue of trees. Don’t these things sound better than dirty, loud, smelly cars?

I admit to owning a car. Road trips have long been a way to explore this grand country. But there must be limits. Since none of our governors is man enough to draw a line in the sand, I will be the one. No more cars downtown. No more needless deaths, either from carbon emissions or from physically being hit by that tangled mass of steel.stretch_hummer

└ Tags: ,