The Peter Pan Principle in DC
"The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by obvious realities. We need people who can dream of things that never were." John F. Kennedy
By Stephen Simac
When last heard from I was wandering Washington D.C, looking to sell my magic beans. Two brilliant plans to improve the health of Americans and the safety of our transportation system.
Those words of JFK gave me supreme confidence that the shakers and movers in Washington would love the New, Improved SafetyCycle! and the elevated CycleTrain! monorail ideas. I was leaning towards military intelligence agencies. Although they say that's an oxymoron.
If they bought info about Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction from a guy named Curveball, they should snap these up. I'll tell them to call me Knuckleball.
The SafetyCycle needs some fine tuning, I'll admit and the CycleTrain is a thing that never was. Still they will solve some serious problems in America. We'll save an inland sea of gasoline and make Americans fit again with these babies. If we put a fraction of the amount of money spent on securing foreign oil fields into innovative transportation projects, we'll have real security. That's fact, not ego.
"Of all the delectable islands the Neverland is the snuggest and most compact; not large and sprawly with tedious distance between one adventure and another, but nicely crammed." J. M. Barrie
Can't go wrong, I self congratulated. You always start off super confident, the inner critics jeered. Your ideas are so far ahead of the curve, you end topside down in a ditch. You're no Einstein, so you'll need to stay with the problems even longer to solve them. What's your history of that? I pity you, one sneers.
Don't you hate critics who say they only want to help? If you want to help, then get on board, start pedaling the Cycletrain! Or test ride the SafetyCycle! Help work out the kinks.
Don't jam your doubts into the cogs of my plan to Solve the Biggest Problems in America. I've never listened to these little voices of caution in the past so why start now, I yelled. Buffeted by doubts, I set off walking around Washington, slightly agitated.
Did I mention these concepts are works in progress, working models that need far seeing investors to get out of the garage. Lucky to get in on the ground floor of the wave of the future. That's why I'm currently walking.
"I'll teach you how to jump on the wind's back, and then away we go." "Oooo!" Wendy exclaimed rapturously." "Wendy, Wendy, when you are sleeping in your silly bed you might be flying about with me saying funny things to the stars."
Looking for true believers with cash. I was willing to offer better returns than pharmaceuticals. By god, I was willing to offer pharmaceuticals. Those meds never work, anyways. What works is walking.
There's some friendly people in this city. Guys kept coming up to me and saying 'whatever you want, bro' I got yours'. During my describing in detail the missing elements of the SafetyCycle! and the Cycle Train!, they hurried off. Let's hope the guy who said he could get Aerogel wasn't confusing it with some other substance.
To practice my marketing spiel I'll tell you again about the aerogel/clear foam safety shell wrapped around a recumbent bicycle with an electric motor for assisting up hills or on highways-the New, Improved Safety Cycle! Then whip out the conceptual drawings of the elevated tubes, (note: ripoff the Redding pedestrian bridge look) for the monorail CycleTrain! A bullet train powered by the passengers, getting their daily workout on their way to work or school or wherever.
"The Lost Boys are the children who fall out of their perambulators. If they are not claimed in seven days they are sent to Neverland to defray expenses. I'm their captain."
The Chinese weren't interested when I knocked at their embassy, they only wanted state secrets. The American Enterprise Institute I dropped in on, turns out not to be about any of those things. So typical of Washington, where words mean whatever they want them to. The AEI is actually all about Israel and churning out neocon tracts and talking heads for the vast right wing conspiracy that led us into invading Iraq. I was going to have to talk to Hillary about this, next time we were both at the coast.
The little pricks at the AEI called security on me as I rambled on about my absolute guarantee of cutting them in on the profits from the SC! and the CT! lines. Even after I offered to solve the Middle East problem for 'em. Flung out on my ass into the mean streets of D.C. for trying to help.
I was all about bashing corruption in government and corporations. Now I'm trying to make my writing more solution-oriented. Ain't easy, but I'm still keeping my New Year's resolution, this deep into the year. I wandered through the Smithsonian, where I stopped at the Declaration of Independence. It might seem odd, lying down under the pedestal, I tell the guard. I'm trying to figure out how to read the backside like Nicholas Cage in National Treasure. People tell me I look like him. Same balding pattern. I thought his twin brother was the better actor in Adaptation.
Security didn't even kick me out, said they were used to it. Just reminded me that it was a movie. Lectured me that the real treasure is on the front in plain English. Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness are inalienable rights is the national treasure of the united states of America.
I was suspicious, didn't sound right. I asked for directions to the subterranean chambers where the movie treasure was. I don't have the right security clearance it turns out.
Stuck with looking for clues in the text. A postmodern puzzle. Starts out all upbeat and positive, if a little hypocritical with the All Men created equal. Pretty quick the founding fathers get all negative, King George did this and King George did that. Then they start frothing at the mouth about the savages on the frontier. Amazing how much they crammed on one page. I lost interest and went looking for the whale skeleton.
"How clever I am", he crowed rapturously. "Oh the cleverness of me!" "You conceited boy", Wendy exclaimed with frightful sarcasm. "Of course I did nothing."
"You did a little, Peter said carelessly and continued to dance.
What I believe is that America is about more than just bigger bombs and wasting oil to support our troops. I believe that Americans want to Save Money, Lose Weight, Feel Better, Reduce Pollution (if made really easy), and have Better Sex more often, (at least the fantasy of this). The SC! and CT! will provide all of that and more.
Oh well, as Gore Vidal said, "All the problems of the world could be solved, if people would only do as I advised." And he doesn't even have my background in bicycling safety and health and wellness.
I was so worked up about being an unheard prophet in the wilderness of Washington that even walking wasn't reducing my stress levels. I shot my last wad with these CycleNots, now I'm stranded with no shelter as it starts to get dark. Starting to feel tired, hungry and broke. Damn, I'm dumb!
I heard somewhere that if you snap your fingers three times and bark like a dog, inner critics will back off for a while. Anyone asks, it's Tourette's.
Nobody asks. People were giving me plenty of space on the sidewalk. Good thing as I was starting to feel right irritable.
These rapid mood swings just about have G force. I was feeling like George Will when he told Gore Vidal on national television, "Listen you little queer, don't call me a crypto-fascist or I'll sock you in the face and you'll stay plastered." Luckily, my anger management groups weren't a total waste.
"You just think lovely, wonderful thoughts," Peter explained, "and they lift you up in the air."
Walking is a lot healthier than bicycling, when you're as distracted as I am. Walking alone is enough to solve America's health problems.Walking just two miles a day lowered death rates from all causes by 30% in one study. Now that would really cause a Social Security Crisis.
However walking in a big city or even in rural areas isn't all that healthy. There's almost no budget or much thought put into encouraging Americans to walk more, when compared to highway funding.
Where there are sidewalks, they are often obstructed. Even embedded with metal plates which regularly electrocute dogs and barefoot humans. Cluttered with signs or in rough shape. Crosswalks that aren't honored by motorists trying to turn right on red.
Where there aren't sidewalks, pedestrians usually have one foot in a ditch. Two miles of this can be a bitch. If my mind kept wandering into all the negative wards, I was going to have to re-boot, I told myself.
Being all Solution Oriented I decided to come up with ways to improve pedestrian safety and increase the number of Americans walking for transportation, health and recreation, to improve my mood.
"And if he forgets them so quickly." Wendy argued, "how can we expect that he will go on remembering us?"
I was walking through a children's playground to get away from the traffic noise on the sidewalks. It was surfaced with brightly painted, shredded tires to cushion the falls and keep dogs from pooping in the sand. It was so comfortable I laid down for a spell, but quickly got up when the nannies and their little charges started throwing rocks at me. Some kind of Swedish custom I guess.
Paving sidewalks and cross walks with this stuff would increase the visibility of crosswalks, cushion it for walkers, reduce all that cracked concrete and stumbly brick stuff, and recycle a few billion old tires.
They'd be cheaper to install and repair and would insulate from those nasty electrical shorts. Crosswalks could be raised a few inches higher than the road surface. Lay more of them in high pedestrian areas to serve as slow speed humps. Have built in lights that go off when pedestrians step on them. Make portable ones to use for special events.
Thought of reflective vests/backpacks as a fashion statement, One Less Car logos. Came up with a folding walking stick/talleywhacker with pepper spray handle in a handy, fanny pack for fending off dogs and muggers.
It was almost painful, having so many solutions pouring in.
"There is one thing", Peter continued, "that every boy who serves under me has to promise, and so must you."
I decided I would add all these pedestrian improvements together with the SafeyBike! and Cycletrain! for a comprehensive transportation plan. Now for some publicity. I was tired of being self-congratulatory only.
Security booted me from the Washington Times, before I even got warmed up with the receptionist. Must be 9-11 paranoia. Around the back of the building I saw a line.
As luck would have it, the last guy in the line, Wild Bill told me Wednesday was free baloney sandwiches on wonder bread and all the Kool-Aid you could drink. A Reverend Moon faith based initiative. Is America Great, or what?
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