General Disassembly, Part One
by Paul Caputo and Jeffrey Carl
Peculiar to the State
Hi. We are Jeff and Paul, as enforcable by article 7-D, section 423 of the Virginia State Code.
We all know that there are certain places downtown that decent people just don’t go to at night. Like the General Assembly.
Virginia's General Assembly is back in “action.” Each day, our wacky legislative pals perform that miraculous process (Photosynthesis? We’re not sure.) whereby a Bill is suggested, sings to children on the courthouse steps, then Becomes a Law. At least that’s the way it worked on “Schoolhouse Rock.”
But what do we really know about our state legislature? What do they do all day? And why does it cost so much? Raise your hand if you can name more than two people in the General Assembly. Any guesses? No, “Catfish Hunter” was a relief pitcher for the Yankees. Can anybody do it? Does anybody want to?
Well,we don’t know anybody in the GA either. You could have named “I. P. Freely” and “Oliver Closeoff” and we wouldn’t have been able to correct you. But the point remains that we simply need to know more about our state legislature. As Thomas Jefferson probably said, “Ignorance of one’s legislature threatens democracy, and causes nausea and swollen lymph nodes in some cases.”
Well, fortunately for you – and your lymph nodes – we, Jeff and Paul, intrepid reporters, non-award-winning columnists and congenital smart-asses, are here to find out about the legislature, so you don’t have to. This saves you, the reader, valuable Intellectual Effort points which can be redeemed at the end of the show for valuable prizes and little ceramic gnome statues.
So this is the nub of our gist, if we’re allowed to use that expression in a family newspaper: this column is the first of a two-part investigative series on the Virginia General Assembly. In the first part (“Part One”), we review the vital matters currently facing the GA. In the second part (“The Second Part”), we will actually spend a day at the legislature, and presumably live to tell the tale.
There are many important and extremely serious issues facing the Commonwealth of Virginia. This is why the GA spends more than nine months out of every year arguing about what the Official State Song should be.
The current State Song , “God Bless White People” (or something like that) is seen by some as being somewhat “out of date,” or perhaps even “skull-crunchingly offensive and racist.” The more neutral proposed replacement, “O Virginia, Home of Many Kinds of Trees and Shrubs,” has actually bored several legislators to death. We think this recommends the song highly. But the rest of us might eventually have to hear it, which would be bad. Take as evidence the following lyrics from the song’s second verse (but don’t take them if you’re operating heavy machinery):
“O state of ours, you are also in grass quite wealthy/
Some of which is crab grass, which you should pull/
To keep your lawn’s root structures healthy/
And O dear Virginia keep thy weed-sprayer full.”
With only these two possibilities from which to choose, it’s no wonder that the General Assembly always is forced to put aside the serious issues (1. Who am I taking to the Legislative Prom? and 2. What would a grade school teacher do with more than $8,000 a year?) to discuss The State Song.
In lieu of our original plan (offering the Buttsteak song “Lint-Lover’s Pizza” as an alternative), we decided to write our own State Song. We did this and were very proud of our achievement until someone told us that the tune we used was exactly the same as the J. Geils Band’s “Hot Cross Buns.” Also, the lyrics were all stolen from the theme song to “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
We made a list of all the things we think make Virginia great (or that would at least sound good in a song). The list we came up with (1. There are lots of mountains in it, and 2. It’s not New Jersey.) didn’t have enough rhyming words in it, so we decided to leave it and come back to it.
Among the important issues facing the GA are (True Fact!) whether to allow judges to carry concealed weapons, whether to raise the legal driving age from 16 to 17 (Also A True Fact!), whether to raise the highway speed limit from 65 miles per hour to 70 (Still True!), and whether Keanu Reeves should be named the Official State Fruit (True In An Absract Sort of Way!). A recent NewsChannel 6 poll about these issues revealed that most Richmonders were watching another station.
Of course, the idea of allowing judges to carried concealed weapons is perfectly logical. It worked really well in “Judge Dredd.” Judges constantly have to worry about the seedy unscrupulous types who frequent their court rooms every day. Also, they deal with a lot of criminals.
LAWYER: Your honor, I object!
JUDGE: Would counsel please approach the bench?
LAWYER: Yes, your honor?
JUDGE: Object to this, scumball! BLAM! BLAM!
The resulting increase in dead lawyers could be offset by importing leeches from swamps in Florida.
The most intriguing possibilities facing the GA are the ones concerning driving. Apparently, the state legislature figures that since more than half of the people in state have figured out that you shouldn’t drive in reverse in the left lane on highways, and that “Yield” does not actually mean “Slam on your brakes! Do it now!!!,” Virginians should be allowed more automotive freedom.
While this seems fine at first glance, you should keep in mind that Virginians are the same people who thought that the best way to handle the road conditions during the Blizzard of ‘96 was to park their cars on top of each other sideways in the middle of Broad Street, and call Channel 12 for a ride to the grocery store.
Incidentally, we are in favor of raising the speed limit to 70, although we would also recommend introducing the Death Penalty for people who drive too slow.
We decided to incorporate all of this into our proposed state song. Why? We’re still not sure. At any rate, here it is:
“Virginia: First In Our Hearts, But Fifth To Last in the Alphabet.”
(sung to the tune of “The Addams Family”)
The ham is in the kitchen/
The R-Braves, they are pitchin’/
Virginia, you are bitchin’/
And this is your state song.
The judges, they are packin’/
The murder rate is slackin’/
The legislature’s backin’/
Virginia’s new state song!
Da da da dum (snap snap)
Da da da dum (snap snap)
Phillip Morris smokes!
Da da da dum, da da da dum! snap snap)
O “Yield” does not mean stoppin’/
Speed limits, they ain’t droppin’/
At Ukrop’s we are shoppin’/
Virginia really rules!
We’re trying to put a band together to record this song, so if you’re interested and you don’t play the accordion, contact us c/o The State. We’d like to make a demo tape for the legislature. We’re confident that, with a little luck, it will top the charts in Belgium.
ACHTUNG! JEFF UND PAUL ARE ON DER INTERNET AT http://www.pluginc.com!
©1996 Puff Carpluto