April Fools’ Day is actually only a quasi holiday. I mean nobody gets off work. Nobody gets off work on St. Patrick’s Day, either, although many take the next day off due to hangovers. But I’m partial to a holiday that has the word “fool” in it. It reminds me of one of my comedic heroes, the late George Carlin whose 1973 album was entitled “Occupation: Foole.” (It’s on YouTube.)
And, perhaps in that spirit, the Santa Monica Daily Press may be the only mainstream paper in America that devotes its entire issue to gag stories. It’s an event that the staff looks forward to all year.
As it happens, this was the first April Fools’ that fell on a Friday. When my editor asked if I’d like to participate, thinking of “Occupation: Foole,” I jumped at the chance. But what column could be both plausible and absurd? My writing speeches for Mike Huckabee? I crossed my fingers.
For the many who e-mailed to say they were disappointed I would be leaving but wished me well in my “new adventure,” I’m grateful for the sentiment. And don’t feel bad that you didn’t get the joke. Last year, I fell for the Daily Press’ April Fools’ story about gambling ships off the Santa Monica Pier. (Rather embarrassing since I’m a columnist with the paper!)
Even worse, I sent my editor an e-mail correcting the spelling of a council member’s name, not realizing the mistake was designed to tip the reader that the story was bogus. Actually, gambling ships off the pier seems a lot more plausible than my hanging out with Chuck Norris at Mike Huckabee rallies.
And yet, last Friday’s column generated double the most e-mail responses I’d ever received. The majority came from Santa Monica residents, but also from as far away as New York, Florida, and one from Texas. (No, it was not from W apologizing for the war in Iraq.)
Most readers were saddened that I would be leaving but others suggested that it was long overdue. An outspoken reader, Mimi Greenberg, e-mailed with permission to use her quote in which she suggested that no one would believe the column’s premise, “You’ll move from Santa Monica when pigs learn to fly.” (If only Mimi could stop being so wishy-washy, come out of her shell and have an opinion.)
To show her, I cut and pasted some of the e-mails from readers who believed I was moving to Little Rock. (If it was such a “little rock” why did they name the town after it?) Mimi couldn’t fathom the gullibility of these readers. Imagine if she knew that I fell for the gambling ship story. Then again, my thoracic-surgeon and workout friend, Dr. Andy, who knows just about everything about everything, thought it was real, too. So there.
Also, for the April Fools’ edition, and using a nom de plume, I wrote a bogus letter to the editor, complimenting the City Council for authorizing a feasibility study about what to do with the Santa Monica Airport when the lease expires in 2015. Actually I wrote three bogus letters, each advocating its own unique use at the airport.
The title of the one that got published was “S.M. needs NFL.” I pointed out there were two stadium projects for which investors were putting up $1 billion. One is to be in Downtown L.A. on a measly 15 acre site and the other is in the City of Industry which, after all, is the City of Industry. Our airport has 225 acres that barely breaks even. I ended by saying Santa Monica’s biggest problem would be how to spend the millions in revenue, closing with, “If we build it, prosperity will come.”
The second letter was entitled “From Sweden with Love.” For the airport site it advocated implementing the revolutionary technology developed by Dr. Lars Lindquist of Stockholm University. This has allowed the city of Helginborg, Sweden, to get 82 percent of its energy from manure. (There is, however, no Dr. Lars Lindquist or Helginborg, Sweden, but other than that, it was all true.)
The last of the three letters came from Chief Chumash, whose tribal relatives, centuries ago, lived on the land which the airport occupies. The chief wants the land “returned” to his tribe (assuming he can round them up) for which he proposes a Las Vegas style casino, perhaps with a cowboy and Indian motif.
The truth is, as with the gambling ships off the pier, the NFL idea actually makes sense to me. We could have a stadium, a manure pile and a casino with a cowboy and Indian motif, and there’d still be room for a park. Santa Monica could be energy self-sufficient, make the NFL playoffs and be so rich we’d lend money to the state. I can hardly wait to read Mimi’s next e-mail.
When Jack isn’t busy dreaming of an NFL stadium within bike riding distance, he can be reached at Jnsmdp@aol.com.