Irresponsible ninja dads, officer-impersonating youngsters, and your weekly dose of stupid bank robbers. It’s Dudes in the News—Ya Heard?
Is it simply the perpetuation of a hoary cliché to note that some college students like to get wasted and do nutty things? We think not. Societal attitudes toward kooky stunts may have shifted since Dudes in the News was at university—the 1970s were a psychedelic time—but, as ever, young adults will be young adults.
Alas, in the case of the Tufts University Naked Quad Run, an end-of-fall-semester tradition since the (psychedelic) 70s, doing nutty things has escalated into such a threat to student safety that University President Lawrence Bacow has ended the event, according to a March 14 report in the Tufts Daily (“The Independent Student Newspaper of Tufts University”).
In an accompanying op-ed, Mr. Bacow cited reasons for shutting down the run: incidences of alcohol poisoning and underage drinking; physical injury resulting from running on icy pathways; and some students’ aggressive behavior toward campus and town police. Also, there is the general impossibility of managing an event that now draws the majority of the undergraduate population, which numbers roughly 5,000, according to a college ranking posted on Forbes.com (“Home Page for the World’s Business Leaders”).
Mr. Bacow has asked students to come up with an alternative tradition, one less dangerous than a drunken naked run and presumably more exciting than a chamber orchestra concert for which chamomile tea and rice cakes would comprise intermission snacks.
Dudes in the News is nothing if not service-oriented. Herewith, then, a suggestion for safe stress-relief hijinks: an alcohol-free Naked Jet-Pack Flight.
How does it work? Easy. The university provides state-of-the-art portable jet packs to students who have blown a clean Breathalyzer test. Once outfitted, the students, on a pre-assigned signal, fire up the packs and lift off. And there they go—5,000 clear-eyed kids zipping around aloft, naked as jaybirds and just as airborne.
Naysayers will nitpick the plan, of course. Some will say it’s dangerous. We say, well, sure. But for a student regaling friends at home about injuries incurred during wacky college stunts, which is better—a measly broken ankle from a slip on an icy path during a naked run, or total spinal paralysis from a fall from 800 feet up, where he was doing awesome figure-eights until the goddamned jet pack stalled?
Others will point out that the event is not technically “naked” if participants are wearing anything, including jet packs. Fine. We can suggest an alternative to the alternative: welcome to The Annual Naked Franks ’n’ Beans Flight.
The university will line the quad with long picnic tables laid out with huge pots of hearty franks and beans, the perfect comfort food for exhausted (but sober) students on a freezing December finals-week night.
Once students chow down, nature will take its course. With intense ferocity, the nude scholars will emit massive amounts of gas. Thus they will become, in effect, living jet packs. And there they’ll go—5,000 clear-eyed kids, farting madly, naked as jaybirds and just as airborne.
We realize our plan will require tweaking. But we’re sure Tufts president Bacow will approve, and that’s what really matters. After all, he has the final say.
As he told the Daily, in reference to quashing the Naked Run, “In the end, it’s my decision.”
He said “end.”
Some young people blow off steam by dashing (or flying) about in the nude. Others do it by pretending to be covert assassins in feudal Japan.
Take Ross Hurst, 28, of Scottsdale, Pa. The Associated Press reported on March 17 that police arrested Mr. Hurst on charges of child endangerment after they discovered his son, 4, sleeping unattended in Mr. Hurt’s house while Mr. Hurst was running around on the lawn, dressed in black, “playing ninja.”
Mr. Hurst denied he was doing so, instead claiming that he “went for a jog.” He did acknowledge, however, that leaving his son alone perhaps was not the brightest idea.
Whatever one’s age, playing at being a ninja warrior is a completely awesome pursuit. It is curious, then, that Mr. Hurst appeared to be more ashamed of doing that than of leaving his son alone. Maybe the courts will sentence him to counseling.
Thus he will find a sympathetic advisor who will both steer him to the basics of good parenting and encourage him to embrace his Inner Ninja. Better that than being a Dungeons and Dragons character, an anachronism in these go-go social networking times.
Is it better to impersonate a ninja warrior or a police officer? Let’s ask Alexander A. Welch of Boise, Idaho, who evidently thought it would be fun to do the latter at around 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 12. He was arrested for his trouble. He could face up to five years in prison.
Mr. Welch allegedly used a cell phone application that replicates a police vehicle’s flashing lights in an attempt pull over a motorist in the 4000 block of Fairview Avenue, in Boise, according to a March 14 report posted on IdahoStatesman.com (“Idaho’s #1 Website for News and Information”).
(The story’s headline says Mr. Welch is 21; the story says he is 20. We simply throw up our hands. How is one supposed to gather facts when presumably reputable fact-gathering organs are inept to such a mystifying degree?)
The motorist, suspicious of the authenticity of the vehicle making the traffic stop, phoned police and said the car with the flashing lights had paused briefly and then sped away. Police located and pulled over both cars. When they talked to Mr. Welch, the website noted, they “found an application on his Verizon cell phone that flashed a blue and red light.” They arrested him.
We can all agree that the whole cell phone-app thing is, as the kids used to say, completely off the hook, or, as the rappers used to say, off the hizzle. (We miss that old-school hip-hop slang. It was totally the shizznit.) But come on—an app that replicates police emergency lights? Really? To what end, other than to walk oneself into prison, where, head in hands, one can think long and hard about what a fool one has been?
In this sense, Mr. Welch may be a kindred spirit to Nathan Wayne Pugh, 49, who at first glance seems the sort to respect women and follow protocol. These attributes make for a decent man. They do not, however, make for a decent bank robber.
Last July Mr. Pugh, already on parole for two aggravated robberies, got it into his head to rob a Wells Fargo Bank in Dallas (population roughly 1.2 million). The teller, a woman who goes unnamed in a March 15 AP report, cleverly requested that Mr. Pugh show two forms of identification. Mr. Pugh, evidently an acquiescent sort, complied, ensuring his place in the Dimwitted Bank Robbers Hall of Fame.
Under duress, the teller gave Mr. Pugh $800. Authorities captured him as he tried to flee. He was sentenced March 16 to eight years in prison for attempted robbery.
Mr. Pugh will have lots of time there to think about things. One of the things he may think about, and take comfort in, is that although he was foolish enough to hand a teller he was robbing two forms of ID, at least he didn’t plan his getaway using a city bus.
This is just what an Ohio man named Lonnie Johnson allegedly did, according to a March 16 Dayton Daily News story.
Witnesses reported seeing Mr. Johnson hop on a bus a couple of blocks from a downtown Dayton KeyBank branch, which, as it turned out, he’d allegedly just robbed, according to Dayton police Sgt. Moe Perez (no relation to Moe Howard of the Three Stooges, who was not, as far as we can recall, in law enforcement).
Police followed the bus and pulled it over “on West Fourth Street near Building 10 on the Sinclair Community College campus,” the Daily News reported with a laudable flair for detail.
Police took Mr. Johnson into custody without incident.
When it comes to robbing banks, Mr. Pugh and Mr. Johnson show a ghastly level of incompetence. No doubt Clyde Barrow, of the famed Depression-era bank-robbing duo Bonnie and Clyde, is spinning in his grave. But he, too, proved incompetent: he came to a grisly end when law enforcement officers gunned him down, even though he looked almost exactly like a young Warren Beatty, according to the 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde.
Is it really so hard to devise clever ways to rob a bank and escape with the bounty? We think not. Dudes in the News is nothing if not optimistic, and also service-oriented. Herewith, then, a suggestion for a successful holdup.
The robber will wear naught but a ninja mask. His nudity will simply bewilder his victims. Also, it will prevent him from feeling compelled to hand over ID inasmuch as he’ll have nowhere on his person to stash vital papers.
Once in possession of the loot, he will don a jet pack and zoom away. Aloft, he will hold a cell phone with the flashing-lights app above and behind himself. Police choppers, seeing that one of their own appears to be in pursuit, will back off. Et voila—our robber will escape.
Where will he go?
In the end, it’s his decision.
Dave Ford is a San Francisco writer whose work has appeared in Spin, The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Examiner, SF Weekly, The Advocate, and a host of other periodicals. He writes the blog First of All, and is a certified yoga instructor who teaches at various venues in his home city.
Illustration by Bion Harrigan. Bion Harrigan keeps his head firmly planted in the clouds and has done so since the earliest days of a youth misspent idly daydreaming, reading Mad magazine, and drawing scary monsters and super creeps. He continues to spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming and drawing at his home in Maplewood, New Jersey.
Other dudes, who, previously, have been “in the news”: