Whale of a Notion
Date: Mon, 14 Jan 91 16:10:20 PST
Subject: Whale of a Notion
...Forwarded through a zillion aliases.....
I am absolutely not making this incident up; in fact I have it all on
videotape, which I obtained from the alert father-son team of Dean and
Kurt Smith. The tape is from a local TV news show in Oregon,
which sent a reporter out to cover the removal of a 45-foot,
eight-ton dead whale that washed up on the beach. The responsibility
for getting rid of the carcass was placed upon the Oregon State
Highway Division, apparently on the theory that highways and whales
are very similar in the sense of being large objects.
So anyway, the highway engineers hit upon the plan -- remember, I am not
making this up -- of blowing up the whale with dynamite. The thinking
here was that the whale would be blown into small pieces, which would be
eaten by sea gulls, and that would be that. A textbook whale removal.
So they moved the spectators back up the beach, put a half-ton of
dynamite next to the whale and set it off. I am probably not guilty of
understatement when I say that what follows, on the videotape, is the
most wonderful event in the history of the universe. First you see
the whale carcass disappear in a huge blast of smoke and flame.
Then you hear the happy spectators shouting "Yayy!" and "Whee!"
Then, suddenly, the crowd's tone changes. You hear a new sound
like "splud." You hear a woman's voice shouting "Here come pieces
of... MY GOD!" Something smears the camera lens.
Later, the reporter explains: "The humor of the entire situation
suddenly gave way to a run for survival as huge chunks of whale
blubber fell everywhere." One piece caved in the roof of a car
parked more than a quarter of a mile away. Remaining on the beach
were several rotting whale sectors the size of condominium units.
There was no sign of the sea gulls, who had no doubt permanently
relocated in Brazil. This is a very sobering videotape. Here
at the institute we watch it often, especially at parties. But
this is no time for gaiety. This is a time to get hold of the folks
at the Oregon State Highway division and ask them, when they get
done cleaning up the beaches, to give us an estimate on the US
[From the tone of it, this could only be Dave Barry... -psl]
© 1991 Peter Langston