Better! Faster! Moronic!
by Mad Dog
The new Chicago skyscraper, which is tentatively
being called A Dumb Idea, is all of 54 feet taller than Petronas. Obviously these builders
dont believe their wives and girlfriends when they swear size doesnt matter.
|| Every decade has its identifying label. The 60s was the Age of
Aquarius, the 70s the Years No One Wants to Own Up To, and the 80s the
infamous Me Decade. Finally, as the 90s draw to a close, it looks like its
official: these are the Superlative Years.
This doesnt mean theyve been the best years of your
life. Those were sometime in your childhood (if you can believe your parents, and Im
not sure why you should start now). If youre not convinced I suggest going to a
regression therapist. Just make sure you dont make the same mistake I did and
accidentally go to an aggression therapist. That really pissed me off.
The 90s are the Superlative Years because everything has
to be The Biggest! The Best! The Fastest! The Tallest! Come to think of it maybe we should
change it to the Exclamation Point Years. Either way, its gathering momentum. Maybe
its the approaching millennium, but people seem to be getting more and more into
this decadian motif, as if theyre afraid that when the 00s hit and its
officially the Zip Years it will be too late to start any big projects.
Take Chicago. A builder there is planning to erect a 112-foot
skyscraper. Why? Because he can. Unlike George Mallory, who said he was climbing Mount
Everest "because it is there", these guys are more interested in putting the
"there" there, then taking an elevator to the top.
They say its civic pride. You see, until 1996 Chicago
had the Sears Tower, which was the tallest building in the world. Actually, they still
have the Sears Tower only no one cares since Malaysia, in an effort to convince people
that Kuala Lumpur is their capital and not a Thai noodle dish, built the Petronas Tower,
which is a whopping 33 feet taller than the Sears building. The new Chicago skyscraper,
which is tentatively being called A Dumb Idea, is all of 54 feet taller than Petronas.
Obviously these builders dont believe their wives and girlfriends when they swear
size doesnt matter.
Hey! Im not making any money and it doesnt look like Ill make much more
in the foreseeable future. Anyone want to invest in me?
|| Theyre not
the only ones who think bigger is better. Norman Nixon, a Florida engineer, is trying to
build a ship thats 4,320 feet long. Yes, a ship. To put this in perspective,
thats almost three times as long as the proposed Chicago skyscraper is tall.
Its the length of fourteen football fields, eight city blocks, or 12,960 Snickers
bars. The plan is for it to contain 17,000 condos, 3,000 offices, a golf course, 200 acres
of parks, an airport, and more tubes of waterproof caulking than youve ever seen.
One thing about Bigger! Better! Faster! Taller! is that it takes
Money! Theres no estimate of how much the Chicago building will cost, though
"more than Ill ever see" is an accurate approximation. The ship, on the
other hand, is expected to run about $6 billion. Give or take a few billion. Sure, at his
most recent net worth Bill Gates could build 16 of them and still have enough left over to
buy Malaysia and raze the Petronas tower, but he didnt get rich by casting his money
like, well, ships on the water. He saves his, unlike Elton John who recently had to borrow
a few quidokay, $40 millionbecause, well, he just plain spends too much. You
know, like racking up a reported $400,000 a week on his credit cards.
Its tempting to tell Elton to just cut back, but why
should he? Another component of the Superlative Years is deficit spending. This started
when the United States government became a role model, something no one ever expected to
happen after George Washington left office. The thinking is: if the government can do it,
why cant we? Bad argument. After all, just because the government bombed Kosovo
doesnt mean we can all go out and do it, even if we have been practicing our paint
ball shooting on Saturday mornings.
Internet start-upssome of the Biggest! Fastest! Most
Virtual! businesses to come down the pike in yearshave chosen deficit spending as
their financial model. And why not? Investors are throwing money at companies which not
only arent making money, dont have workable products, and whose 5-year plans
dont even bother mentioning the word profit. These companies are the David
Copperfields of the 90sall smoke, mirrors, and illusion. Except, of course,
their CEOs are too late to snag Claudia Schiffer. Hey! Im not making any money and
it doesnt look like Ill make much more in the foreseeable future. Anyone want
to invest in me?
People are getting so impatient that if the Psychic Friends Network doesnt hurry up
and open ESPizza ("We know what you want before you do") theyre missing
the opportunity of a lifetime.
|| The quest is also
on for Smallest! Scientists are manipulating atoms one at a time to spell IBM and make a
nano-sculpture of a guitar. Others have figured out how to send secret code embedded in
DNA but dont know what good it will do except to annoy future generations of DNA
readers. Right, like they wont be using Cliffs Notes anyway.
Fastest!, now thats been an important part of the 90s
because they say time is money. I, for one, like this concept because it means Im a
pretty rich guy since I have a lot more time than I have money. To save time, everyone
walks around with a cell phone on their hip because they cant imagine having to wait
until they get home to check their answering machine. Recently, two companies put out
products which let you pause live TV broadcasts, then jump past the commercials.
Thats got to be twenty minutes of time saved every hour! People are getting so
impatient that if the Psychic Friends Network doesnt hurry up and open ESPizza
("We know what you want before you do") theyre missing the opportunity of
a lifetime. This one and their next two.
Now a battle is brewing over who will be the First! to
broadcast the dawning of the millennium. Scientists at Londons Greenwich time center
(motto: "Got a sec?") figured out that the first sunlight of 2000 will be seen
at 3:59 am on Mount Hakepa, which is on Pitt Island, New Zealand. The New Zealand
government offered the lands owner $190,000 to film the event but CNN reportedly bid
$270,000. Excuse me while I yawn, but its a sunrise. Theres one every day and
they all look pretty much alike. Some are sunny, some are cloudy. Just wake me when the
ATMs get back online, will you?
The problem with being Biggest! Best! Fastest! Tallest! is
that the only apparent reason to do it is to be Biggest! Best! Fastest! Or Tallest! As
Godzilla proved, size doesnt matter, substance does.
But there might yet be hope. In Italy they recently decreased
the lean on the Tower of Pisa, reducing it by about 40 centimeters, which is, well, a
bunch of inches. Thats right, they decreased it. Maybe theyre just not as hip
as we thought. Or maybe theyre being retro, which is out-hipping our hip.
Personally, I prefer to think that theyre forward thinking and its an
indication that the new millennium is going to be the start of the Calmer Years. Well,
thats my Biggest! Best! Quickest! guess anyway.
©1999 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. They're
always Bigger! Better! Faster! and usually Moronic!