Next, Ride an ATV Through the Boundary Waters
Recently, Jesse Ventura announced that he and two buddies were planning a novel vacation. Sometime in July, he said, they would travel the Mississippi River from St. Paul to New Orleans via personal watercraft. The purpose of the epic voyage? To promote Minnesota tourism and raise awareness about environmental threats to the great river. That struck Whitney Clark, the executive director of the St. Paul-based Friends of the Mississippi, as more than a little odd. "I couldn't help note the irony in the idea of drawing attention to the issue of pollution in the river by riding Jet Skis, which tend to be very polluting," notes Clark.
In fact, according to the California Air Resources Board, a typical personal watercraft operated continuously for seven hours produces as much smog as a 1998 passenger car driven 100,000 miles; like other water craft with two-stroke engines (including most outboard motors), personal watercraft discharge up to 30 percent of their fuel unburned directly into the water. True, some newer models are significantly less polluting, but there are other reasons to object to their use on rivers, says Clark. The wakes, for instance, damage shoreline habitat and add sediment to the water, impeding the growth of aquatic plants.
When it comes to threats to the health of rivers, Clark adds, Jet Skis and other water craft hardly rival the dominant villains: excessive development and inadequate protection of natural buffers. And how has Ventura been on those issues? "In the context of recent Minnesota governors and the state legislature, he hasn't distinguished himself," opines Clark. In May, he notes, Ventura vetoed the Shoreland Buffers bill, which would have provided $10 million in funding for projects along the Mississippi and its tributaries; the governor also nixed a funding request for the Department of Natural Resources Metro Greenways Program, which supports efforts to preserve the remaining natural areas in the Twin Cities, many of which lie along the Mississippi.
Clark does, however, credit Ventura with one thing: making "excellent" appointments to the Metropolitan Council. "In terms of paying attention to water quality, this is the best council I've ever seen," he says. --Mike Mosedale
A Paler Shade of White
Every once in a great while corporate America surprises you with a blast of breathtaking vision, an acknowledgment of your deepest yearnings that makes you want to lurch around your spotless all-white kitchen in the awkward but unmistakably ecstatic flat-footed shimmy of the hopeless white man.
Maybe, like us, you've long felt that the barons of the coffee industry haven't been paying attention to your needs and desires--don't these pathetic people even notice what's going on in this country? Ever since we made the move to all-white designer clothing and started frequenting nothing but nightlife hotspots popular with other ivory-clad hipsters--and we certainly recognize that we had plenty of company; something was clearly afoot--we've felt that coffee was just too...well, too dark. A cup of black coffee suddenly felt terribly gauche. Even iced tea was making us increasingly uncomfortable; it just didn't seem white enough. What we and so many of our like-minded friends craved from our local barista was something else, something we couldn't quite put our finger on, something that wouldn't leave dark stains all over our white Polo shirts, pleated white slacks, and white leather upholstery.
Imagine our delight, then, when we received word just the other day that Starbucks, the Seattle-based caffeine juggernaut, was launching a new line of "Fashionably White Crème Frappuccino" drinks-- and just in time for the Fourth of July. We'd be almost creeped out if we weren't so thrilled; reading the Starbucks press release we had the eerie feeling that someone had implanted a microchip in our buttocks. The language is uncanny, so closely does it parrot our fiercest desires.
"On July 3, Starbucks Coffee Company (Nasdaq: SBUX) will provide North American customers with the perfect fashion accessory by introducing Crème Frappuccino, a unique line of velvety white blended beverages with visual appeal and taste to match," the tantalizing release promises. "Fueling a nationwide resurgence in the color white's popularity, Vanilla and Coconut Crème Frappuccino blended beverages are frosty concoctions that get their stylish hue from an absence of coffee. From all-white designer clothing lines to ivory-clad nightlife hotspots, shades of white are making an undisputed comeback in the world of fashion, food, and with the social elite."
"White is classic and simple but also hot and trendy," analyst Tom Julian of Twin Cities-based Fallon Worldwide's Trend division observes in the Starbucks release. "This pristine color palette has become part of the minimal home décor craze, the stylized beauty world and the artist food craze."
Who knew that in a world of so much darkness a corporate press release could be the source of so much happiness and affirmation? Who knew--who could have suspected--that a velvety white Frappuccino was even a fashion accessory? Excuse us while we pat ourselves on the back, but we did. --Brad Zellar
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