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THE DEPRESSINGEST PLACE ON EARTH
December 6th, 1999 by Clark Humphrey

JUST A FEW MORE WTO COMMENTS:

  • The city has returned to “normal.” That means, instead of the eerie yet somehow empowering sense of calm that pervaded over downtown during the two days after the Wednesday night cop riot, there was the more familiar, more materialistic chaos of Xmas shoppers looking at and getting stuff. In a way, mighty disappointing; in another way, to be expected, now that both the out-of-town protesters and the out-of-town WTO delegates they were protesting against are gone.
  • Could the multinational, multi-cause coalition we saw in Seattle last? It actually could, I think. I saw a sticker on a male protester’s jacket: “Owls Don’t Kill Jobs. Greed Kills Both.” Loggers and mill workers aren’t really helped by accellerated clearcutting of forests; it just means their jobs and communities are destroyed a little later, a lot more permanently.
  • Was it just a few weeks ago when I wrote that the end-O-history, total-rule-by-global-business guys were on an apparently unstoppable roll? After WTO, that seems at least a little less likely.
  • I know at least one person who quit working for Microsoft three days into the protests. She says after a taste of real empowerment, she couldn’t stand the ruthlessly pro-corporate attitudes anymore.
  • It felt great (at least as one who wasn’t gassed or arrested) to have participated in such a big, seemingly-triumphant gatherings.

    But, as I’ve always said, feeling good about yourself isn’t enough.

    My past complaints about the Lifestyle Left were only partly about the subcultural isolationism and delusions-O-superiority endemic among too many hempheads, vegans, het-male-bashers, Earth-Firsters, Animal-Liberationists, etc. etc. They were also about the hippie-derived notion that “being political” has to be fun or thrilling or self-aggrandizing.

    Real political work, like most any real work, is mostly grind-work, and often is (or at the time seems to be) unsuccessful. Not only can’t hedonism change the world; but any zeitgeist centered around personal pleasure is all too easily taken over by corporate hipsters.

  • I’m still adding items to a long list-O-WTO-links.

NOW, OUR PROMISED TOPIC FOR TODAY:

A couple weeks ago, bigshot developers from Kentucky announced plans to raze 100 acres south of Tacoma (near Fort Lewis and McChord AFB), where some low-income housing, a trailer park, and a middle school now stand.

In place of all that, they want to put up a “Great Northwest” theme park.

Early accounts said the “proposed family-oriented park would include thrill rides. It would aim to highlight the ‘rugged outdoors’ elements of the Northwest, as well as its history.”

It’s a satirical opportunity just too damn good to pass up. And since Almost Live ain’t around to handle it, I’m gonna have to.

Here’s what I believe any truly authentic NW-themed tourist attraction oughta have:

  • Seasonal-affective-disorderland. Start your visit here at “The Depressingest Place On Earth,” where a special overhead dome keeps the “sky” unrelentingly grey and dim for a few midday moments; completely dark all the rest of the time. Soothe your quiet desperation at such merchants and attractions as the Jolt Cola soda fountain, the tanning-bed thrill ride, the Magic Prozac Dispenser, the Imgmar Bergman screening room, and the Cry-In-Your-Beer Garden.

    The fog machines shut off just long enough to reveal the desolate landscape of your next stop–

  • Clearcutland. Panoramic murals enhance the experience of being entirely surrounded by stumps and blown-away topsoil. Take the Abandoned Sawmill Ride, but keep your arms inside the tram car–especially when turning past Circular Saw Corner. See the hourly fights in the Lonesome Pine Tavern (the sign above the bar reads: “It’s called the Lonesome Pine because it’s not poplar”), as the hippie backpackers blame the unemployed loggers for having killed 90 percent of the forest and the loggers blame the hippies for not letting them finish the job.

    But see it all soon; each week, 50 square feet of Clearcutland is given over to the expansion of–

  • Sprawlland. Enter the showplace of material excess that is the Cabin Castle–a giant, meandering compound all done-up in “rustic” tones and overlooking the last remaining forested area of Clearcutland.

    Step lively during the walking tour; while the castle’s perky mistress (looking sharp in her Coldwater Creek apres-ski outfit) demonstrates each of its amazing luxury features (the indoor hot-spring surrounded by holographic rain-forest images; the sauna rebuilt from an authentic native sweat lodge; the bedposts made from real Inuit totem poles)–all while lecturing you about the importance of Simple Living.

TOMORROW: The park tour continues at, naturally, Gatesland.

(Suggest your own surefire tourist-attractors at our gregarious MISCtalk discussion boards.)

ELSEWHERE:

  • French writer Georges Perec could write entire books without the letter “E;” nowadays, folks in the Net biz can’t seem to write a single word that doesn’t start with it. (Found by Memepool)….

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