by Mad Dog
potentially huge marketing trend died out quickly when Brazil turned
down Amazon.com’s offer to rename their river and Arkansas wanted
too much money to change its name to Yahoo.
Two years ago I was thinking about buying my own town. Otis,
a cute little 193-acre fixer-upper on the Oregon coast which
has a gas station, Pronto Pup hot dog stand, two houses, and an
empty 25-stall horse barn, was put up for sale. Vivian Lematta, who
inherited the town, was trying to get $2.9 million for it, not a bad
price when you figure her grandfather picked it up for 800 bucks in
1910. And you know he didn’t have to throw in any stock options on
the future Pronto Pup stand.
I was going to rename the
town Dogestan and make Jose Cuervo the Official Liquor, Converse
All-Star high-top black monochrome sneakers the Official Shoe, and
of course I’d be the Official Columnist. But I had trouble
qualifying for the loan. It seems writers aren’t the world’s
best credit risks. Something about banks having a preference for
people who have a steady income.
Well, it’s still
available. Not the mortgage, but Otis. Apparently the demand for
used towns isn’t as great as I thought it was and it’s back on
the market. This is particularly odd since you’d think it would
have been snapped up during the dot-com boom when there were a
zillion post-pubescent CEOs with more money than time to spend it.
Wouldn’t having their own town just have had so much cachet?
One company did make a move
in this direction when they offered the city of Halfway, Oregon
$75,000 and 22 computers if they’d change their name to Half.com,
which of course they did. This potentially huge marketing trend died
out quickly when Brazil turned down Amazon.com’s offer to rename
their river and Arkansas wanted too much money to change its name to
you’re interested in any of these properties you’d better jump
on it before someone snaps it up. Someone like, say, the Maharishi
Otis, it turns out, was a trendsetter. In central Turkey 11
villages have recently been put up for sale, and the going rate is a
bargain basement $1.3 million per village. Even though they’re
inland, are in a less developed country, are filled with farms that
oddly don’t raise turkeys, and don’t have the first Pronto Pup
stand, they’re still a good deal. After all, each is less than
half the price of Otis and includes about 120 families, which means
you’d have more subjects—I mean, citizens—and after all, a
high PPV (People Per Village ratio) is a good thing to look for when
In Australia, the town of
Jandowae is taking a little different approach—they’re selling
it off bit by bit. At $1 Australian (or 52-cents U.S.) it’s a
pretty sweet deal. Especially since for that you get a lot large
enough to build a house. Buy two and you can put up a crocodile
pond, dingo house, and kangaroo corral, call it a petting zoo, and
attract tourists who don’t realize that for the price of admission
they could own most of the town.
They’re selling it off
because too many people have moved away, which should be a tip-off
that the place isn’t exactly heaven on earth. Besides, if you
really wanted to buy a place that’s uninhabited you could have
your own island in the San Francisco Bay. It’s called Red Rock,
and it’s a bit north of San Francisco—far enough to not have to
worry about parking yet close enough to be able to commute to work.
Well, as long as you have a boat or helicopter.
No one’s ever lived
there. Except some squatter in the 1850s who thought he was taking
Alcatraz back for the Indians and, after he stopped wondering where
the other protesters were, decided he liked living with birds better
than living with people. They’re asking $10 million for the place,
which while over three times the cost of Otis and nearly eight times
as much as a cute little Turkish village, is a good deal by San
Francisco standards. Then again, being able to go out for an evening
of dinner, a show, and a cab ride home without taking out a second
mortgage is considered a good deal there.
As for Otis, I’m not too worried about their stealing
it away from me. It’s too small, it’s named after a drunk on
“Mayberry RFD”, and besides, what would a bunch of vegetarians
do with a Pronto Pup stand?
If you’re interested in any of these properties you’d
better jump on it before someone snaps it up. Someone like, say, the
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. You might remember him from the Beatles
years, when he giggled his way into their lives and put a ™ next
to TM, which incidentally stands for Transcendental Meditation, not
Not content with having
their own incorporated town in Iowa named Guruville, they’re
looking to start a country in South America. Just kidding. Well,
about the town in Iowa, anyway—it’s actually called Vedic City.
But yes, they really are looking to start their own country.
The Maharishi’s followers
have offered Surinam $1.3 billion plus one percent of the new
country’s money every year for the next 200 years if they can
lease 3,500 acres to run as an independent country. So far Surinam
hasn’t gone for it. They’re holding out for merchandising
rights, foreign distribution, and final say on the director’s cut
of the Making of a Meditational Country documentary.
If the Maharishi doesn’t
get Surinam to go along with this he might consider Jandowae, which
at its current price would save them lots of money, or Turkey, which
would probably sell the whole country for $1.3 billion. As for Otis,
I’m not too worried about their stealing it away from me. It’s
too small, it’s named after a drunk on “Mayberry RFD”, and
besides, what would a bunch of vegetarians do with a Pronto Pup
stand, convert it to Maharishi’s Fried Tofu Dogs on a Stick? Yes,
Otis is still mine to have. That is, of course, if my parents will
loan me the down payment.
©2001 Mad Dog
Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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