You only have to visit Yellowstone National Park once to know how it goes: If the traffic’s slow, there are animals nearby. When you arrive at the park, you’re handed a thick sheaf of material with very explicit, liberally illustrated warnings about the dangers of approaching wildlife. Don’t be fooled by a seemingly passive animal! Etc. There are usually drawings of a bison, moose or elk sticking an antler into some idiot’s ass, with underlined text saying these attacks can be fatal or cause grievous injury.
And yet, talk to any ranger, and year after year, tourists leave the park on a stretcher, and the offending beast has to be put down, because of idiots.
One told me they had a particular problem with Japanese visitors, this being back when Japanese visitors were all over the Western U.S. on holiday. “I don’t know if they don’t understand English well enough, or what, but those guys act like every animal in the park is animatronic or something,” he said. (Hence the illustrated warnings.) Just that summer, one had walked up to a resting bison and plopped right down on the beast’s back, while his friend took a picture, or at least that was the plan until the thing jumped up and stuck the idiot in his hindparts.
So when someone sent me this video, and I noticed the long black hair on the tourists involved, I thought nothing could possibly cleave to ethnic stereotypes quites so neatly, that it must be a coincidence, and to be sure, it seems to be. When you hear the people talking, they speak in perfect American accents. And the kind of blatant lack of common sense that would allow a parent to walk right up to a 1,500-pound bull bison with his children, ignoring every warning sign — the raised tail, the angry head-shaking — and then still act like your kid’s near-death experience is a hoot and a half? That brand of dumb crosses all ethnic boundaries.
Out of the gene pool, Gene.
I had a tough last few days, and I’m still catching up. A good friend died, not unexpectedly but before I was ready for it, which is to say, I had dropped what I expected would be my final note in the mail to him the day before. Sigh. And I’ve been working on a short-deadline package that will require one more rewrite, so I cannot linger here.
Cops roust an after-hours joint/brothel in Detroit. Does any other place in the country refer to these establishments as blind pigs? (The bars, not the brothels.)
Jonathan Kozol has a new book out, looking back at some of the poor children he’s written about through the years. I lost a lot of interest in Kozol after I heard him say that the answer to homelessness was housing, but there’s no question the guy’s been a hero of the literacy movement.
Let’s try this again tomorrow, when the deadline’s over.