Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Crazy Manifesto (is there another kind?)

I didn't like 'As Good As It Gets,' but Jack Nickolson
throws out a line in it that Mandy, Danny and I have
adopted as our unofficial motto here in the 49th
Sell Crazy Someplace Else; We're Full-Up Here

Indeed we are, and since this is 1/50th of your country up here (1/3rd if we're speaking geographically), I think the world needs to know how stark-raving Crazy everybody is here. I've lived here only since April, '03 and here's a short list of what i've come across:
- with no sales or income tax, pays every resident
over $1000 a year. Period. Sign up, here's your
check, enjoy the snow.
- that said, you will NEVER meet a population more
militantly anti-government than Alaskans.
- Dec 21st has about 4 hours of sunlight and Jun 21st
has more than 20, and that's just in
relatively-southern Anchorage - farther north (and the
state is as north-south tall as the lower 48) they go
months when the sun never crosses the horizon, either
above or below.
- You can't drive from the biggest, only city
(Anchorage) to the state capital (Juneau) without a
500-mile detour through Canada. Out of the 20 biggest
towns/cities, I'd guess a solid 7 of them you can't
drive to at all.
- Every year, they play the Nation's First High School
Football game (in July) and the state title game is in
- From Anchorage, you can regularly see Mt. McKinley,
the tallest mountain this side of the Himilayas,
which, distance-wise is the equivelant of standing on
the Santa Monica pier and seeing the Golden Gate
bridge, or going up in the Washington Monument and
seeing boston.
- with caveats for distribution-sized stashes, it is
illegal for cops to arrest in you in your house for
pot. the state supreme court has said so.
- and then there's the politics, and in case you don't
know the most recent chapter: AK had 2 of the longest
serving US Senators in history, Ted Stevens, who's
still there, and Frank Murkowski. Murkowski ran for
Governor in 02 and won, which means he had to quit his
job as Senator. Since the US Constitution says state
Govs get to pick Senators when there's an opening, the
AK Legislature passed a bill saying that no new
Senator could be appointed until at least 5 days after
the old one quit - just enough time for Murkowski to
quit and be sworn in and, therefore, pick his own
successor (in fact, the lame duck-gov vetoed that
bill, and the leg over-rode him - hell of a fight).
So murkowski came in and appointed to fill his
still-warm US Senate seat...
His Daughter.

And that's just the big-picture, government and
geography stuff. living here everyday you meet an
endless stream of the normal people who actually
aren't normal at all but are walking microcosms of all
the insanity i just listed above.

Why, just hours ago, i took my dog for some cross
country skiing on some local trails, and we were
nearly run over by a dogsled... four times.
Also on dogsledding, the chaplain at Kulis Air
Force Base races dogs - so he has a dog kennel on his
truck, the windows of which are crosses.
dogsledding, i pro'ly need not say, is ESPECIALLY

so I'm going to pass along, in MUCH smaller emails, a
running tally of the ridiculous events that fit one of
a couple categories.
- it could not possibly, under any circumstances, happen anywhere but here (an example might be getting
a ticket for driving without lights on at 10:00 am
since the sun still isn't up at that time this month -
i made that up, but barely)
- would seem odd elsewhere but hits you with
shattering unexpectedness since it happened in Alaska
(see my anecdote below for an example)

- straight links to stories in the anchorage daily
news which - as the paper of record for a state of
insanity - nearly every day produces the driest,
craziest headlines and stories this side of the Onion.

- it's just flat insane (say, the murkowski-daughter
thing, for example, or yesterday when the osteopathic
surgeon who stole a taxi on the way to a strip club
and, oh, nevermind, here's the link - they even have
'bizarre' in the headline.
- any personal contact with dogsledding.

You may be thinking that California - and certainly Florida
- has plenty of crazy, why concentrate on Alaska?
Well, keep in mind: There's about 600,000 people in
the whole state (including natives who ARE NOT Eskimos
- I don't think i've even heard that word uttered here
since my arrival). There's only one city, and its got
half of that population. We don't have an LA-basin
worth of crazy-resources. We're just astonishingly
efficient with what we have.

today, as the inaugural post, you get two examples,
an anecdote and a straight link.

First, the link:
I'm sure the bacon-grease industry is mobilizing its

and the anecdote: my friend Ben went to turn in his
Toyota pick-up for service at the Toyota dealership.
Non-descript, cinder-block and glass, slightly shabby
Toyota dealer along the main highway drag.
Who am i gonna call for a ride? he thinks.
Don't worry about it, says the dealer guy. We got a
shuttle service to take you back to work.
Great! he says. And right outside is a simple,
dull minivan with 'shuttle' on it.
That's not it, says the guy. we're calling the
service right now.
Oh, says Ben, and waits.
And up pulls... a black, stretch limo.
At a ratty Toyota dealer, in alaska.
So when he got back to work, everyface in the house
was pressed up against the window as the black stretch
rolled to a stop, the door opened and out jumped...
And yip - it had snow tires.

as the guy in the taxi story said: 'Geez, this is