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/// OP-ED E-MAILS TO BLIGHTY | by David Smith MEAN & SOBER | by Stad DiPonzi

“Spring” for a new outlook on Grand Rapids


PRING IS MY FAVORITE time of year. No punch line, no catch, no ironic irony here. Seriously. No joke. March 21 usually means we are

out of that horrible phase when everything looks like Soviet-era Gdansk. No more City smack downs for your unshoveled sidewalk. No more praying for a few more drops of wiper fluid so you can find your driveway through a salt- smeared windshield. No more weather warning maps that take up a third of the TV screen. Hey, 45 degrees feels like 80, so roll down every damn window and enjoy! It is enough to make

you remember why we live here, and the reasons are many. (Unlike our simpering milquetoast mayor, I wouldn’t list Lady GaGa’s appearance among them, but hey, I am trying to keep a good thought going here.) Every spring, no matter how dopey it

sounds, I still catch myself saying “wow, the river’s really high!” I love going to the John Ball Park when it is still just cold enough to keep the crowds away. I love watching the people fishing off the walkway on Monroe, asking them how they are biting. Seriously. I do that. No joke. Perhaps, it is knowing we have all of this and more that makes my ass twitch like a fiend

when local leaders cite Betty White’s visit as a sign that we are on the right track. Put your yellow smiley face right here. Seriously. We live 40 minutes from the post-glacial

miracle that is Lake Michigan and yet we trot out “STEAM PIG” – our thumbs proudly pulling at our suspender straps, as our national claim to fame. Yup. Got us on the TV and every- thing. No joke. Thank god for Hope

Network – a truly unique resource for the disabled and disadvantaged with few true national peers. We are incredibly lucky to have it. But GR’s jaded gentry would rather get tumescent over MSU’s medical school, despite its

ranking of 99th in 2010 NIH research funding (out of 133…behind the University of Puerto Rico and Meharry Medical College). I understand people want to feel good

about where they live. It would just be nice if we could focus a bit more on the existing sub- stance and less on the passing style bulls**t. Given our recent history, I have my doubts, but hey – hope springs eternal. n

SDP believes those who conduct “guerilla” market- ing (cryptic smiley faces, half-covered billboards, etc.) should be required to register with the state and tell their neighbors about their crimes against humanity.

Alan Titchmarch My Big Green Thumb

Still snow on the ground, and already the first wave of scaremongering Lawn Care ads have appeared in my mailbox at the bottom of my garden. Believe what you read; a number of alien insectoids are breeding like drunken 18-year-old Glaswegians under my property, awaiting the warmer days to unleash their devastating attack on my grass. I walk over my grass to get to the mailbox, and I’m a little scared these creepy crawlies may get sick of bluegrass and attack my English feet. If the alien bugs don’t get me, there are “stealth” moles, chickweeds and land-based Asian Carp that will destroy all healthy grass and turn my “yard” into a fishy dustbowl.

Apparently, all I can do to defend my property from these invaders is either:

1. spend hundreds of dollars getting some people to spread planet-destroying pesticides on my lawn each month;

2. spend thousands of dollars getting some people to spread planet-friendly treatments on my lawn each month;

3. do it myself and have a brown, patchy lawn; 4. do nothing, have a brown patchy lawn, and use the money I saved to buy drapes and beer so I can’t see the hateful stares of the neighbours, and be generally too drunk to care.

Just for the record, the Yanks, as usual, use different words for everything outside your house, too. A “yard” is not a tatty concrete square that you leave your old washing machine rusting in, but a wonderful green and lush oasis, otherwise known as a garden. However, a garden over here is a vegetable patch. Americans have green thumbs, not fingers like us, which makes me wonder if I’m using the right digits to plant things, and may explain why my lawn is always brown and patchy.

I’m off to watch “V” for some tips on dealing with my alien menace. Ciao!



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