Here we go again. In the wake of Buford O. Furrow Jr.'s California shooting spree, the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, a.k.a. Aryan Nations, where Furrow was a member and a uniformed guard, announced that it doesn't sponsor or condone violence. And, oh yeah, it's not neo-Nazi or white supremacist either, just "separatist" and "nationalist."
I heard all these demurrals 13 years ago, when the Aryan Nationalists opened up their summer "Gathering of Nations" to the press and I was one in the pack that descended on Hayden Lake. The most engaging exposition of this "we really don't hate anyone or mean any trouble" view came from a young couple, Debbie and David Dorr, who played a main role in convincing Aryan Nations founder Richard Butler to open the gates to his compound. She was the Aryans' PR chief and, earnest and outgoing, was precociously good at her job. He was their security chief, and kept (lower-case) order with impressive restraint and professionalism.
But the tidy picture unraveled when speakers celebrated the captured and fallen members of the terrorist gang Der Bruderschweigen (a.k.a. The Order) as "martyrs" and whenever an attendee would speak frankly about what drew him to Hayden Lake. Late one night, David Dorr told me that his curiosity was piqued by the prosecution of a neighbor, Gary Yarbrough, a member of The Order. Dorr decided to go to the source; at Butler's recommendation, he went to a Jewish authority he knew of, a professor in Coeur d'Alene, and asked him what he knew about Aryan Nations and this international Jewish conspiracy. "He went berserk," Dorr recalls. "He called the police on me. Everyone I talked to was negative about the Aryan Nations. I realized there was persecution there. The more I checked, the more I realized Parson Butler was right."
Two months later, four members of a "Bruderschweigen Strike Force II" were arrested counterfeiting (a standby of the original Order) and bombing four buildings in Coeur d'Alene. David Dorr was one of them. Pastor Butler declared that, as usual, such crimes were a surprise to him and that prominent as they'd been, the Dorrs weren't "official members" of his church.
That's a joke, right? Right?
Life imitating art is one thing, but you know we're in trouble when it starts imitating April Fool's Day. The April 1984 issue of Technology Review included a fine spoof by Diana Ben-Aaron on Soviet scientists "Retrobreeding the Woolly Mammoth" by implanting genetic material from mammoths frozen in the Siberian permafrost in elephant surrogate mothers. Despite the usual telltale clues (the project was headed by a "Dr. Sverbighooze Yasmilov"), some media took the hoax for real: You'll still find Ben-Aaron's article indexed under "Genetic engineering—Research." And now it may be coming true: Japanese scientists are trying to resurrect the woolly mammoth with relic DNA. (Discover carried a nonhoax report on this effort in April, back when it was still trying to be a science magazine.)
In these pages for April Fool's Day 1998, David Ortman offered bogus "Technology Breakthroughs" including a Microsoft scheme to generate electricity from computer keystrokes. Now Compaq has announced a laptop that recharges itself by doing just that. Which begs the question: How soon will this year's Weekly spoof—a Microsoft project to link computers directly to brain waves—come true?
Architect/theorist Rem Koolhaas wowed the selection panel and everyone else this spring when he was chosen to design the new downtown library. But how will his puckish provocation and contrarianism wear in a city that reveres the New Urbanism (which proposes to restore human-scale, pedestrian-friendly street grids, public spaces, and mixed-use development)? Koolhaas raised hackles during a heated, sold-out conference on "Exploring Urbanism" at Harvard (where he teaches). New Urban News reported in May that "Koolhaas ridiculed the New Urbanism as a design movement aimed 'toward the bland and the predictable.'"
"Poor Rem," lamented Daniel Solomon, a director of the Congress for the New Urbanism (and hardly an unbiased observer). "What he can think of to love these days is pornography in Times Square and urban danger. To romanticize the desperation of others from the utter safety of [Harvard's] Gund Hall is the mental work of a true pornographer. He also had a good word for the new 36-hole golf course in Hong Kong. Such silliness; such elegance of language. We must be able to find some redemptive work for such a talented and engaging fellow." Like, maybe, in Seattle?
Beyond doggie bags
Latest entry in the annals of wretched excess, premillennial-style: The operators of such artfully "authentic" eateries as the Coastal Kitchen and 5-Spot (home of generic "American Regional Cuisine") offer a special doggie menu at their new Jitterbug (in Wallingford, natch). Served for $2.50 a portion at the "hitching post" on the sidewalk, this "Canine Cuisine" includes jerk chicken, Pizza Bites "dusted with a tomato-oregano-Parmesan ragout," a "whipped beef liver p for the gourmutt," and Dogiva BonBons, "a creamy carob truffle" for those who long to give their precious pooches chocolate but know it's bad for them.
Don't sneer. Pet fetishism—lavishing critters with human luxuries they can scarcely appreciate—has its upside: The pets serve as surrogate children and help keep their owners from actually breeding. But Canine Cuisine raises a few questions. What if one pooch covets another's Liver Pawt鿠What about panhandlers who might appreciate the "evergreen-shaped cheese treats with a hint of oregano" more than Fido? Should you only tip if the waiter scoops after your pooch? And do you want a scooping waiter to serve your food?