Barry Smith: Irrelativity
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
I could have sworn I saw the words “yodeling platform” in last week’s paper. (1)
Yep … says here the plan is to solve the mass transit problems by having new buses equipped with, among other necessities, a yodeling platform.
Typos are not uncommon in journalism, and I figured it really meant “modeling platform.” What a pleasant trip, having someone model the latest in Aspen fashion to people who obviously don’t have the money to afford it or they wouldn’t be riding the bus in the first place. (2) A modeling platform … great idea!
I called the paper to inform them of their little oversight. The woman politely informed me that it was not a typo, that it was in fact a yodeling platform, and if I didn’t mind my own business she would send someone over to smash my innards out. (3)
She seemed tense.
It was understandable, because the idea of someone yodeling in my face from Aspen to Snowmass gives me one of those little tension headaches, too. Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear yodeling my first instinct is to get as far away from it as possible. I hope part of the new bus design includes barred windows, otherwise when the yodeling begins people will be streaming out the sides like lemmings.
Since reading about the proposed bus, I’ve spent the last few days aimlessly wandering the town. I was hoping to find someone who could explain the justification for spending millions to promote yodeling rather than spending that money to have it stamped out. (4)
I figured the best way to pose my question was to grab tourists by the collar and scream, “YODELING PLATFORM?!?” (5)
Most people, obviously thinking I was some sort of performance artist, applauded and whipped out their camcorders. I never found an answer, but I did manage to draw a nice crowd and pick up a few bucks passing the hat. (For those interested, my next performance of “Yodeling Platform, Am I Missing Something, Or What?” will be next Wednesday night by the fountain.) (6)
In the midst of my psychotic reaction I noticed in the same article that $20,000 was being offered to the chosen bus designers to “refine their proposal.”
Twenty grand, huh? Well, Mr. Designer, if I may … your big mistake, as we’ve briefly touched on, is HAVING a yodeling platform. But if you have to have one, it shouldn’t be on a balcony on the back of the bus, we must put it INSIDE the bus, right behind the driver. We’ll rename it the “Annoying Things Which Are Mistaken For Culture” platform. (7) It will feature yodeling, of course … lots of it. Professional yodelers will be flown in and will be taking your requests (“FREEEEBIIRRRD!!”) (8) And for you amateurs – karaoke yodeling. (NOTE: The advent of karaoke yodeling was prophesied by Nostradamus as one of the precursors to the Apocalypse.) (9)
And on the days when there are no yodelers, we’ll have equally entertaining substitutes, like people making farting noises with their armpits. Or playing the kazoo, or the bagpipes, or “Margaritaville” on any instrument at all. (10)
So there, Mr. Designer, is my refined proposal. If you wouldn’t mind splitting the reward with me … $10,000 will sure come in handy. I think the first thing I’ll buy is an accordion and a bus pass. (11) (12)
(1) Actually, it wasn’t last week, it was August 1994, back when this column was originally published. I was 28 years old, and this is one of the very first columns I wrote. I thought I was pretty funny. This week I’m revisiting this early effort to see just how wrong I was about the funny. Hence these footnotes. The part about the proposed yodeling platform was real, though – I wasn’t making that up.
(2) Yikes. Classist much? In my defense, I was including myself among the bus riders.
(3) There had recently been a controversial story in the local paper about someone being killed by having their “innards smashed out.” The reporter who wrote those words subsequently left town and changed his name. No kidding. That’s why I thought this was funny. Sorta.
(4) I don’t mind yodeling so much anymore. Sign of maturity.
(5) I was just learning one of the benefits of being a writer – you can claim that you do bold and kooky things, when really all you do is sit at home and type.
(6) Self-promotional baby steps.
(7) Sheesh. You’d think my family was murdered by yodelers or something. Seriously, I’m different now. Please, no hate mail from yodeling fans. Unless it’s written in “yodel.” That would be cool.
(8) Oh dear … a Freebird joke.
(9) I was freshly extracted from a religious cult, so I found Apocalypse references to be timely.
(10) OK, that was pretty funny.
(11) All hail the pithy conclusion!
(12) As bad as this column was, you have to admit – 15 years later, local buses don’t have yodeling platforms. So, you know … you’re welcome.
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