The Dr. Is In

in Poetry

Dr. Wes

Atomic Duck Quacks Down

Last time I promised that I would nag Mayor Paul Schell in this issue. But as I think of how to begin nagging our Mayor, images of cartoon characters fly around and about my psyche. I find myself thinking especially of Atomic Mouse, dispatching mobs of zoot-suited wolves. This is not because I believe that Mayor Schell in any way resembles Atomic Mouse dispatching mobs of zoot-suited wolves. Actually, having seen him and heard him speak, I would picture him more as an Atomic Duck dispatching mobs of publicly inebriated squirrels.

But I don't want to have to justify that statement. Instead I would like to ramble incoherently all over the page, until I can figure out what I am talking about.

Don't you all miss the good old days when we could solve all of the world's problems with a great big heaping helping of atomic power? Remember when Mr. Atom was your friend? I sure do, and I loved my friend Mr. Atom. Oh, sure there were problems with atomic power, but they were minor compared to the benefits. How did we know? Because really, really smart people worked it all out for us on their slide rules and their computers, that's how!

Thanks to Mr. Atom our electric bills would drop to almost zero. We would have so much cheap electricity that we would never have to dig up coal or drill for oil again. Guys wouldn't have to wear hardhats anymore. Eventually every house would have its own supply of plutonium running its furnaces, ovens, TVs, radios, hair dryers, washing machines, refrigerators, and charging the electric flying cars that would take us to our vast atomic powered and fully automated amusement parks, that we would spend all our lives in, now that labor would be unnecessary.

Even our farms would be operated by atomic powered robots, and we wouldn't even have to bother to pasteurize our milk anymore. We could irradiate it, and get rid of nasty germs once and for all!

When everything is new nothing can be imagined to stand in the way of the march of progress. Yesterday it was Mr. Atom, today it's Ms. DNA and her little sister Ms. Clone. Whole armies of genetically engineered cloned pigs, each patented and owned by the latest incarnation of the spirit if not the flesh of Dow Chemical, are going to grow on their backs human livers, kidneys, hearts, eyeballs, hips, lungs, assorted glands, limbs and appendages. Every conceivable beneficial drug, including miracle drugs not yet discovered, will be harvested from bacteria cleverly engineered to eat only stuff that we have no use for, such as torn nylons, used styrofoam, and Brussels Sprouts. And again, how do we know all that's right? Because people who are really really smart, smarter than we are, tell us all this is so. Nothing serious can go wrong with the invention of these pigs and those bacteria. Oh sure there will be some minor problems but nothing that these really really smart people (smarter than we are) won't be able to fix on our ignorant behalves.

But I shouldn't be letting myself stray so far from home. None of this could possibly have anything to do with our Mayor, who doesn't have to solve all the problems of the world, who only has a rather medium sized city to look after. Given how much smaller the arena of his problems, and how much simpler those problems are, he is perfectly capable of having all the answers. He is an authority after all: he is a certified urban developer!

Take those public inebriates, for example. Now you might think that the problem with public inebriates, particularly in the wintertime, originates not in the fact of inebriation, which goes on behind doors also, but with publicness, i.e. you might think that no one who had a choice would choose to drink outdoors, in the cold, if they had warm places indoors in which to drink. And that the solution to the problem of public inebriation might lie in attacking that fundamental cause.

But no. You would be wrong. The problem, according to Paul Schell, is that these people can buy 40-ouncers of malt liquor at Korean grocery stores in the neighborhoods in which they hang out. So all we have to do is identify those neighborhoods, and pass special laws for just those neighborhoods, restricting what can be sold there.

And which neighborhoods would those be? That's easy! They are just the same neighborhoods into which decades of city policies have driven Seattle's homeless. The same neighborhoods in which most of the shelters and social services are concentrated.

Neighborhoods of a kind that in another age and another country were eventually called ghettoes after enough special laws were passed applying just to them.

So I guess what I'm saying is this: Hooray, Atomic Duck is here to save the day, he'll put our public inebriates away, then ghetto-ize them into sobriety, because he knows best, he's the authority!

© Dr. Wes Browning:

2129 Second Ave., Seattle, WA 98121 (206) 441-3247

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