Down in the dumps no more!
On Monday, when I opened an email from Joe Spadaro saying he had a great idea for my column, my finger was poised over the “delete” button before I knew it.
It’s not that I don’t like Joe or respect his opinion. It’s just that I can almost never relate to what other people think is a good column for me to write.
But as much as I wanted to dismiss Joe’s message, I didn’t.
Because one word in his email jumped out at me and could not be ignored. It was “outhouse.”
The outhouse he referred to is the one at the Lake Flower boat launch, which according to Joe, is so deplorable he feels sorry for any flies trapped in it. And that’s provided it’s even there anymore.
But Joe’s complaint has a valid political component. According to Joe (who heard if from Howard Riley), when the state razed all the buildings on Lake Flower Ave. and put in the boat launch, they promised to install a flush bathroom there. But they didn’t.
And why is that?
Simple: Neither the governor nor his cronies ever used the boat launch. Because if they had, we’d have a two-story crapitorium, with a hot tub and massage parlor on the second floor (public access to the first floor only).
But here we are, stuck with a loo that if you go in to drop a deuce, you end up losing your lunch. And we’re gonna stay stuck with it, for the simple reason that the state bigwigs, and all downstate machers think of us as bunch of jeeters with 16 fingers and IQs to match. But that’s not bad, of and by itself. What IS bad is we’ve come to believe it too. We get dissed as hicks by some downstate dupa, and with lowered eyes and hanging head, we skulk off into the pines, in passive agreement.
But no more!
The time has come for such self-deprecation to end and for us to fight the condescension and contempt. We need a grassroots group to let the big shots know we’re not gonna take their crap – figurative or otherwise.
And of course we need a strong leader to organize and direct all the action. Luckily, you have him… and he is me.
Yep, I am starting a social activist movement to give us rubes the status we truly deserve but have always been denied. Its name — hick pride.
They may visit, but we live here
Our first step to empowerment is to recognize all the things we have going for us that many others don’t.
How about a few million acres of wildlands that are ours for the taking? We can hike, ski, swim or just hang out in forests that other people can only dream or read about.
What else do we have?
A great library, a ski slope, a skateboard park, thrift stores, a wonderful humane society, and lots of independent businesses (ask yourself: When was the last time you saw an independent pharmacy?).
We also have a daily newspaper, a playhouse, an arts and crafts center.
Or how about our very own mountain in town?
Plus, if you wanna imbibe, at happy hour the Nail has $2.50 beers If you wanna go into sugar shock, Stewart’s has $4.29 banana splits.
And while the debate rages about which U.S. winter carnival is the oldest, the indisputable fact is ours is the best
So you know what all that means? This: The next time some city slicker looks down his nose at you and goes into that local yokel rap, you just look him straight in the eye and snap, “Damn straight, Jack. And proud of it!”
This house sure ain’t a home
But hick pride! can’t simply be a matter of words. We need a tangible monument to the movement, and I have the perfect one: We replace the boat launch’s Port-a-Pestilence with a country classic — a genuine, old-time, Chic Sale outhouse.
But while it’d look like the old time outhouse, it’d have several major improvements.
First, it’d be a spacious two-holer.
Second, it’d be well-ventilated.
Third, it’d be non-polluting and ecologically sound.
And how do I intend to get all this done? Simple. The way a whole lot of things have always gotten done around here, including Winter Carnival. That is, with low budget, high hopes, and a helluva lot of help from our friends.
First, the builder? Brother Russ Defonce. Russ is not only a master rustic furniture maker, he’s also one of those rare birds who likes to help others. Plus he loves to have fun and can see the humorous side of life.
So where would the material come from? Local contractors, of course. I’ve no doubt they’d gladly part with what they have for scrap or pull out of house renovations.
But after it’s built, how will it get on site? Madden’s Moving and Storage, who have always stepped up when the community needs a freebie, and without whom our ice palace might never have hit the chilled light of day.
That leaves only one thing – the infrastructure that’s going to prevent polluting the environment. OK, this is more problematic, but I think I know who to tap — Paul Smith’s College. Ecology and environmental protection are mainstays of theirs, so surely they’d have the know-how. Beyond that, it would be a great project for students, one they could not only learn greatly from, but could get college credit for as well.
Granted, the materials would cost, but I can’t imagine the college not springing for it it. Think about it: Every college has sports teams, illustrious alumni, dignified boards, renowned teachers and so on. But name one college that sponsored building an earth-friendly outhouse, I dare you.
Only a few details would remain.
One is where, exactly, it’d be located, which to me is obvious. The line between Franklin and Essex country runs down Shepherd Ave., right through the boat launch site, so I think the outhouse should straddle it. That way, on the inside, we could post a sign above the door (with a half-moon cut out of it, natch), that’d say: “Don’t let the door hit ya where the counties split ya.” If that ain’t pure adorable country, I don’t know what is.
Another thing is bum-wad. The old outhouses didn’t have toilet paper; in fact, the paper of choice was the Sears-Roebuck catalog. But now that catalogs are things of the past, where could we turn for that … um … accessory? Where else, but to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise? There are always enough papers left over each day to take care of tuchises aplenty.
Of course, any structure so evocative, innovative, and distinctive needs a fitting name, and after a great deal of thought I came up with the perfect one – The Taj Manure. Granted, it’s a bit on the earthy side, but what are we dealing with, after all?
In order to officially bestow the name, I think there should be a dedication ceremony, with a christening of sorts. Hizzoner Clyde Rabideau would do the honors (especially since he would’ve done all the paperwork and liaising with state officials) and I see us putting a rustic spin on it. Traditionally, ships were christened by smashing a bottle of champagne on their side before launching. But not only is champagne expensive, no one around here actually drinks the stuff. Plus, we’re a frugal bunch. So, in keeping in theme, I propose using a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, and pouring only a few drops on the Taj, so as not to waste any of those precious suds.
I think it fitting that after devoting so much space to so prosaic a subject, that I end with poetry. This is the perfect piece, which was recited to me 1978 by my old pal Bill Gokey.
Two feeble old twins
Built a two-hole outhouse with pride.
But in fell one brother,
Then in fell the other
And now they’re interred side by side.