The Body goes south: A City Pages contest!

class=img_thumbleft>The days when Jesse Ventura could claim an opening slot on Jay Leno's couch are surely in the past. But only a true perverse streak could explain what the former governor was doing at midnight on CNBC,

a network

whose viewers can frequently be counted on the fingers of an amputee.

And yet there he was last night, dressed in Johnny Cash black, trailing a long fringe of implausibly black hair ("I've dyed it since I was in my twenties," Ventura said--the old Jesse shamelessness in full effect). The signature piece to Ventura's new look is a braided, six-inch beard, which splits into a devil's fork, and wobbles like a turkey's wattle when he speaks. (The tremor that Ventura has displayed--and which some observers attribute to the legacy of steroid use--has become more pronounced.)

Following standard practice, Ventura was alternately compelling, comical, and strange. Host Donny Deutsch, a stupendously wealthy ad-exec who nonetheless comes off as a poor man's Charlie Rose, asked the usual questions about the former gov's presidential ambitions. Ventura answered smartly that a Hillary 2008 win would mean that only Bushes and Clintons had been seated in the Oval Office for 24 years, a set-up he identified as "dueling monarchies."

In a loonier moment, Ventura claimed that with nine of his SEAL buddies, he could form five roaming sniper squads that would paralyze the nation. He had a point here--something about John Mohammed and our vulnerability to terrorism--but Ventura also seemed to take pleasure from the scenario on its own merits.

At least one Minnesota viewer--and perhaps there only was one--found himself wishing that Ventura would return to the governorship. There, his out-of-control egotism ("I'm the most dangerous man in the country," he told Deutsch) and his core loathing for two-party politics could set the state right.

But Ventura is done with Minnesota--and done with America, it would seem. Ventura's big announcement, if anyone was listening, is that he plans to leave the country in search of a place with a greater respect for freedom and civil liberties. After a couple of commercial breaks, Ventura returned to the topic, while refusing to divulge where he'd be bringing his bigtop. People would try to find him, he said--the old Jesse paranoia. It would be someplace with sand and sun, he elaborated. (Perhaps reporters should start scanning the Sun Country flight manifest.)

Though Ventura couldn't muster a charitable word for former mat foe Hulk Hogan, who followed him on the program, he left us feeling generous. And so we're happy to announce a contest in Jesse's honor. Email us with your guess where Ventura will be dropping his cabana; add a comment if you'd like to publicize your opinion (you know Jesse would!). Whenever the actual location emerges--perhaps during a 3:00 a.m. slot on the Weather Channel--we'll award the winner some piece of City Pages swag that we find sitting around the office. In addition to listing the country, please add a city, which will be used to break any ties.

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