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The Durst of Times

Will Durst
America's most forgotten hazardous places

By Will Durst

Washington, D.C. Reason: Toxic fumes, poisonous gases and asphyxiating rhetoric.

Wall Street Sidewalks. Reason: High crime rates and the imminent possibility of falling brokers.

The Kennedy Compound. Reason: Surprise annulments, watery drives, stray bullets and nude photography.

Anywhere Within a Three-Foot Radius of Anna Nicole Smith. Reason: Mammary suffocation, premature death, hardening of the arteries and in-law injunctions.

A Dinner Table With Jessica Fletcher or Cabot Cove, Maine. Reason: stabbings, poisonings, bludgeonings, gunshot wounds, and very bad writing.

Near Will Durst's Libido. Reason: total vacuum.

San Francisco, California, where you could say the five hundred thousand dollar proposed statue of an 18-foot-high foot has caused some controversy. You might also say sufferers of altitude poisoning find Kansas worry free.

Bud Selig, the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and self-appointed Grand Poobah of Major League Baseball (who is to subtlety what Oliver Stone is to screwball comedy), has rationalized his proposed radical realignment of the sport by citing polls of casual fans who say it doesn't matter if teams switch leagues or employ the designated-hitter rule across the board.

They don't care! Of course they don't care. That's like non-Catholics allowing themselves to go to more masses if the priests got rid of all that kneeling jazz. "And cool it with the wine and the wafer deal already. Who needs it?" No. You ask Catholics about changes in the liturgy, and you ask baseball zealots about overhauling the National Pastime, and in both cases you ignore them like worthless drums of used crankcase oil and don't do a single thing. Besides, what does "casual fan" mean? A guy who can identify different beer ads? Ask a "casual fan" and they'll tell you six outfielders, topless vendors and plastic-explosive-seamed baseballs with randomly radio-controlled detonators wouldn't hurt either. Ask a casual fan and they won't tell you but they know: Bud Selig is the kind of guy who would sell sponsors a piece of Swan Lake and serve turkey legs at intermission. Will Durst is not a casual fan.

San Francisco, California, where the politicians complain about the weirdos they have to deal with. Amazingly, the constituents feel the same way.

OK, buckle up, me boyos, because I'm going to lay a heavy weird one on you here. Billie Jean Matay, former musketeer "Billie" in the troupe that performed at Disneyland's opening in 1955, says an armed man stuck a gun in her neck recently in the Happiest Place on Earth's parking lot and took her money and jewelry. Then, park guards held her and her grandchildren, ages 5, 7, and 11 years old, against their will for questioning. I imagine the interrogation was along the lines of "How dare you get mugged in our parking lot?" and "Didn't Walt teach you anything?" She didn't mention having to sit through multiple screenings of The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, so it couldn't have been too bad. But she is suing the park because the kids saw the Disney characters take off their costume heads. Don't you get it, they're traumatized. They've become tiny hair-trigger human bombs. I imagine not too much later in life, just a sideways glance at a mirrored image of a shelf full of discounted puppet heads or cookie-jar tops and one of them snaps...using an Army surplus flame thrower to take out a Fantasia pillowcase display along with the entire third floor of F.A.O. Schwartz. "M-I-C-K-E-Y. Why, because we're twisted."

Will Durst could go like ... that.

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From the September 1997 issue of the Metropolitan.

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