IN 1961, AMERICAN PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY, in between giving Marilyn Monroe his presidential seal and nearly starting a nuclear holocaust with a tropical resort, declared that within a decade the US space program would put an American on the moon. This escalated what was known at the time as the Moon Race with the Soviets, a country that couldn’t feed its people but was putting them in space with alarming frequency and success.
When it became apparent that there was no way an American society that couldn’t master commercial air travel or gun control could possibly put a human being on the moon, the Kennedy administration assembled a group of NASA astronauts on a film set in Austin, Texas, and faked the moon landing. Walter Cronkite was in on it. Neil Armstrong was drunk. Buzz Aldrin is an android.
Since then the obsession with space travel, fed no doubt by a generations that grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek, has inflated the annual budget of NASA to an unconscionable amount. Without the space program, Americans would by now all be living in gold houses with monkey butlers and flying cars. But instead, a country founded on the notion that Christopher Columbus discovered a nation where people were already living quite happily reaches again and again for the stars.
The current administration wanted to go to Mars, because it apparently has water and a Total Recall reboot made for good timing. And so, a few weeks back, the Mars Curiosity rover landed on the Red Planet and took some photos immediately posted to its Facebook profile and Instagram. Or did it? United can’t manage a flight from New York to Tulsa without six fires, two terrorist plots foiled, and three Paul Rudd films, but we can put an SUV on another planet? Sure. So if you believe that, what are we to do with our Martian state? Well, Headshots has a few ideas.
1. Relocate Arizona
Arizona’s state motto is “Come shoot a minority and get a free dreamcatcher.” It has become the state where rationale and common sense go to die. Mississippi looks at Arizona and thinks “Wow, that’s a fucked up state.”
Arizona is the new birthplace for bad ideas and contradictory policy. They legislate against immigration, but still want their lawns mowed for $2. They want to build a fence on the Mexican border, because Mexicans don’t own ladders. They continually re-elect John McCain, who has been dead since 1972. It’s time we righted the wrong of the Copper State before they try to make the Grand Canyon the world’s largest outdoor pool.
Send the whole lot of them to Mars. They won’t know the difference, as long as their A/C works and Fox News is available.
2. Mars Jail
A Mars jail would be the ultimate deterrent that today’s cushy country club jails are not. It would have to be reserved for the worst criminals: Murderers, rapists, NBA players, the producers of Toddlers & Tiaras, investment bankers, climate change deniers, Republicans, and Penn State boosters. And there would be no walls, no prison guards. Just drop ‘em all on Mars with only space suits and a bottle of Evian. It’ll make Sing Sing look like an episode of Glee.
3. Decentralized Banking
Bankers are horrible people. Remember when the bank was a place to put a bit of savings and gain a little interest? Ya, neither do I. And the worst banks are the offshore syndicates where the Mitt Romneys and Bernie Madoffs of the world hide their kabillions so that they pay the same in taxes as a Denny’s line cook. So, because I readily admit the inevitability of a capitalist free market society, if banks are going to do their evil, then we legislate that their base of operations has to be on Mars. Mars, where the surface temperature fluctuates between 130 and 308 Kelvin, which makes an afternoon in your gitch in Antarctica feel like a hot night in Libya inside your special lady friend.
A few months of banking on Mars, and I predict the economy will stabilize.
4. Move Mars Closer
You know what the most annoying thing about Mars is, I mean besides the fact that the photos we’re being fed are actually of Montana at dusk? It’s too damn far away. You know why every one loves the moon, why they sing about, why poems are written about its glow, why when it hits your eye like a big-a pizza pie it’s amore? Because it’s close by. It’s pretty much in the next town. Mars? I can’t see Mars unless I buy a four thousand dollar telescope and get a minor in Spaceology from Harvard.
Let’s fasten that bastard of a planet to the back of a NASA shuttle and pull it down this way so that we can see it every night. Plus, it’ll make it easier to transport the child pornographers and bond traders there for Mars Jail.
There’s a disease infesting our cityscapes and skylines, and that disease is called “Condominium Construction.” Condos are a plague. And what’s worse than condos? The people who live in them. It’s about status and convenience and never going outside. So let’s legislate that all new condos from here on out need to be built on Mars.
One, it’ll start the process of populating the Red Planet. Two, it’ll clear up the skyline of Western metropoli. And three, it’ll take the condo people and their miniature dogs far, far away.
Now that I’m reviewing this list, it’s clear that all five initiatives must happen within the next decade. Or at least in time for the next Total Recall reboot. It’s actually mostly about getting capitalists, rapists, and Arizonans off the earth. Well, that and the marvel of space exploration.
Mike Spry is the author of JACK (Snare Books, 2008), which was shortlisted for the 2009 QWF’s A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and he was longlisted for the 2010 Journey Prize. His most recent work is Distillery Songs (Insomniac Press, 2011).
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