Just Joking

October 14, 2004
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The 19th annual Grand Rapids Magazine Joke Off, set for , Wednesday, at The Stack, will feature Grand Rapids Business Journal contributing writer MikeMarn

Who's he? Well, he wrote an e-mail to Editor CaroleValade outlining some of his comedy bits, and they're being published in Street Talk. That makes him a Business Journal writer. See how easy that is?

Anyway, Marn, who spends his daytime hours as vice president and executive creative director at Francis Marketing, says to expect plenty of local humor in his routine.

And, since this is being billed as an "uncensored night of comedy," here are just a few of the subjects.

"Too bad the new Marriott Hotel isn't open already. I mean, forget convention visitors — they could have filled it with all of us who can't get home because construction is blocking all the @#$@ roads!"

OK, there's one everybody can identify with. Here's another:

FredMeijer is probably disappointed about the zoo thing falling through, but at least he's got his new HeartCenter. Probably not as good for tourists, though. I mean, are you going to take a tram past the Badly Spotted Ventricle Exhibit while wearing your 'I Saw a Wild Angioplasty' T-shirt?"

Good, Marn has scored another point. And finally:

"That new YMCA is really coming along over there next to the expressway. Pretty exciting, but wait till those people on the West Side find out that the Village People are going to be living there!"

Oh-oh, picking on West Siders is hazardous to one's health.

Anyway, Marn (who really is representing the Business Journal because the rest of us aren't funny) will be joined on stage by several other (slightly) notable celebrities from around town, including Grand Rapids Magazine's own humor writer (and defending champ!), DwightHamilton

BrianSterling from WOOD-TV8 landed the emcee duties, mostly because he offered to bring TerriDeBoer along. Other "for-sures" (note, this can change the night of the show) include John "The Hoss" Perry from WMFN AM640 and WZZM TV's "13 On Your Sidelines" and KevinRichards from SkyView Traffic.

Headlining this crew of amateurs is national act David Dyer. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the night of the show, and are available by calling 459-4545. The event, which is sponsored by the Walker chapter of AMBUCS, is a fundraiser for Indian Trails Camp. And that's no joke.

  • Here's an item to put at the top of your Election Day things-to-do list.

Michigan's big teachers union, the MEA, last week got its oar into the ballot proposal waters. It urged the public to vote down Proposal Two — the constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

If voters approve the amendment to "safeguard the sanctity of marriage," that action will — according to Al Short, governmental affairs guru for the MEA — constitute messing with the sanctity of teacher contracts in East Lansing and Ann Arbor.

"It's a bargaining issue," Short said, and therefore apparently off limits to Michigan citizens.

He said MEA's "member-driven" Statewide Screening and Recommendations Committee has ruled that the amendment would ban domestic partner benefits that the Ann Arbor school district and MichiganStateUniversity make available to MEA members.

The long and the Short of it apparently is that the state should march to the personnel policies of one K-12 school system and one university.

Short's news release, incidentally, came on stationery that claims the MEA's mission is to "ensure that the education of our students and the working environments of our members are of the highest quality."

  • Remember the brouhaha that city staffers launched two years ago about whether the big gold emblem painted on the side of the BrassWorksBuilding constituted a violation of Grand Rapids' sign-control ordinance?

Well, now that the mural designed by RichardHaas on the old Reptile House is complete, we hope some Clever Harry at City Hall doesn't bring up that same issue again — even though the mural is not only a look at local history but also a blatant community attempt to improve the business climate of the Heartside area.

And, gee, if City Hall starts questioning that, what's next? The Calder?

Or maybe it's just that DennySturtevant is better accepted around City Hall than JackBuchanan

Nah.

By the way, the BrassWorksBuilding logo underwent a badly needed touchup last week and looks spiffy once again.

  • Development of alternative power sources seems to be catching on and — considering the direction in which gasoline prices and natural gas prices are headed — that seems to make sense.

But global warming seems to be taking a vacation as a reason to pursue power alternatives. Tourism industry officials in Michigan are slightly at odds about whether the state endured a bad tourism season in 2004 or merely a "soft" one. Either way, part of the reason for thedownturn in the number of visitors is a summer that was cooler and rainier that usual.

In fact, the Weather Channel pointed out early in October that four Upper Midwest states had record low average temperatures this summer and that summer temperatures in eight others — Michigan included — were below normal.

The phenomenon also has impacted highly productive KentCounty nursery and greenhouse operators. According to Tom Dudek, of the MSU Extension Service, better spring weather would help the growers. They need six to eight weeks of sunshine in April, May and early June, but haven't received nearly that much in the past few years. In fact, the last three Mays have been among the wettest in local history.

Now, three states in the Far Northwest did experience record high temperature averages this year.

ElNino is baaaaaaack.    

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