August 3, 2000
to the Republican Convention, the Philadelphia Zoo
has nearly doubled its population of exotic animalsand
those ingrates are complaining!
if it wasn't for the Republicans and the way they have
of inspiring truly innovative ideas for disruption and
sabotage among their detractors, the Philly Zoo would
not be enjoying a windfall of nearly 2,000 assorted
reptiles, arthropods, small mammals and icky bugs.
other night, in the midst of some rowdy street protests,
two people were arrested by Philly police. The big red
school bus they were driving turned out to be packing
a hazardous cargoa host of vermin which, police
say, were to be unleashed on the streets of Philadelphia.
Traffic-snarling was reportedly the main goal, and we
presume that any poisonous scorpion attacks on Dick
Armey would just be gravy.
the plan was foiled by the keen work of the Philly PD's
intelligence division. The story was big news in Phillyfor
about a minute and a half. Then, this town's lapdog
media fell completely silent on the subject and moved
on to pursue other, less pest-based bits of information.
totally overwhelmed with other stories," said Jen Brown,
the Associated Press's official "protest reporter,"
before hopping on her bike, no doubt in a hurry to totally
cover the 1:30 "Vegetarians for Tofu Subsidies" rally.
Pseudonymous jumped into the breach and set out to find
the truth (or, at least, a snack). I headed for the
police department's daily briefing at the African-American
Museum. Yes, the Police Department's briefingthe
one in which they tell how professionally, politely
and, let's face it, studly-ly they've bashed headsis
really held at the city's African-American museum.
John Timoney, the city's affable police commissioner,
stood at a podium a few steps from a mural depicting
centuries of various forms of white oppression of blacks
and blasted my hopes for any cheap irony based on this
unfortunate juxtaposition by making it clear that the
300 arrested protesters were mostly white, mostly unwashed
"anarchists" who (I'm paraphrasing here) just get really
pissy about free trade.
I parsed Timoney's words closely. It's only when you're
at a press conference to discuss the mysterious appearance
of 2,000 exotic animals that you start to notice that
the English language is a veritable menagerie of metaphors.
instance, Timoney began his statement complaining of
the "cat and mouse" games that the protesters were playing.
He waxed further about how the rallies really "tick
off" Philadelphians. He described how he personally
"tailed" a protester and then "plucked" him from the
crowd. And even described one of the arrest sites as
"the corner of 16th and Locust."
these oblique references to the case I was investigating,
the question of the big red schoolbus remained unaskeduntil
your faithful correspondent pounced.
I asked. "Is there any update on the big red schoolbus?
The protest groups say that the police are lying and
that they didn't have anything to do with it."
do you expect them to say?" Timoney retorted.
expect them to say, 'You can kiss my hairy ass, you
donut-eating pig!'" I nearly replied, but realized in
time that Timoney was using that old interrogation gambitthe
then almost seemed to violate the separation of church
and state by reading an extremely Biblical-sounding
list of the beasts that were found on the magic bus,
a plague that included poisonous snakes, poisonous toads,
tarantulas, scorpions, mice, reptiles and at least one
dead skunk. It is undetermined whether there were any
plans for slaying of the firstborn, unless you count
the demise of Jeb's presidential hopes.
animals were taken to the Philly Zoo (the nation's first!),
but spokeswoman Leigh Rende told me that no one at the
institution is happy about the new guests (as Ben Franklin
might have said: "Abandoned animals are like fish; after
three days, they stink.")
is no joke. Everyone at the zoo is upset about this
blatant cruelty to animals," Rende said. If they're
that upset, they should let their own animals out of
their cages and free them, in the GOP spirit, from a
cycle of dependency that involves regular handouts and
no incentive to work.
was too distraught to hook me up with Karl Kranz, the
zoo's animal affairs expert (would somebody please
elevate that to a cabinet position!), so I called the
San Diego Zoo, which, in addition to being one of the
foremost zoological institutions in the world, is also
located in a time zone three hours before Philadelphia
and is therefore open long after Rende and Kranz went
home for the night.
needed to know just what kind of disruption Timoney's
"anarchists" could have possibly planned to create with
a menagerie of crickets, some lethargic snakes and a
poisonous toad or two.
don't know what kind of disruption they were trying
to cause with crickets," said spokeswoman Christina
Simmons. "And all toads are, technically, poisonous,
although some emit toxins that are not hazardous to
humansunless they are, literally, kissing the
leave Lynne Cheney out of this.
100% True ]