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Dictates for Change 

Yes, many have already asked. ...

Asked what are the Things I'll Change. When? When the world wakes up and makes me Loveable Dictator for Life or As Long As It Amuses You.

(I) The "1" before a long-distance number. Make up your mind: is it necessary or not? One recording says dial it, one says no. I say no.

(II) Why all the controversy about the lack of trailer installation here? Should we be putting folks in trailers in the most storm-likely place in America? And what's with all these trailers clunking up front yards while the owners have been living inside for months? I'll send out the Aesthetic Police right away.

(III) I'll eliminate the Tasers. For a while, there were three deaths in three weeks. The police were actually committing more homicides than non-police.

(IV) I'll get the flag concession in every Muslim country, especially the U.S. and Israeli flags, though other Western flags must be kept on hand. (e.g. Denmark, after the cartoon controversy. Miraculously, more Danish flags turned up in the Near East than in Copenhagen.) All flags must be flammable.

(V) There will be a reversion to pre-1990 ethical standards for lawyers so that no personal ads will be legal. No explanation necessary.

(VI) I'll put an expiration date on every bottle of "Dayquil." The date would not, naturally, involve month or year, but hour. So we will know exactly when we must switch to "Nyquil."

(VII) No one will be permitted to drive through the Ninth Ward who cannot find the Ninth Ward unaided or who has not already handed over a check to rebuild one house there. Already the Rev. Billy Graham, David Storm, Bruce Springsteen, Zacarias Moussaoui, Winona Judd, Sean Penn, Michael Moore, the Rev. Al Sharpton, Sen. Charles Grassley, Paris Hilton, Sean Hannity, Desmond Tutu, George Steinbrenner, Kobe Bryant, Juliette Binoche, Diane Sawyer, C-Miller (formerly C-Murder) and Sen. Evan Bayh have visited in the past two weeks. In fact, officials from the Department of Justice are checking out reports that 63 percent of voting-age Americans have visited the Ninth Ward at least once in the last 90 days.

(VIII) I would outlaw the phrase "un-American." I never hear "un-French" or "un-Norwegian" or "un-Tunisian."

(IX) And while on the subject of forbidden language, I would like to add another. And before I do, let me say I have never been a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. In fact, I have seen more than one stupidity committed in its name.

Nevertheless, how come "ex-Marine" turns up in every negative headline? As in "William Bonney, 63, an ex-Marine charged with marinating and eating four people." I don't see "ex-Coast Guardsman" or "ex-Catholic" used in this way. Neither will "ex-Marine."

(X) And this: "Daylight Savings Time." It smacks of humanity's effrontery at its most audacious, that we will somehow alter the very flow of time. No more. Choose one -- I don't care. Just pick it and forget it.

(XI) OK, men only. No one whose hair is at least partially, visibly gray will be permitted to wear it in a pony tail. If a gray pony tail is seen in public, any registered voter will be allowed to clip it off.

OK, on second thought, women should be eligible for this.

(XII) Some TV consultant has apparently decreed that the Next Great Television Fad will be something called "Paintball" in which participants shoot guns at each other, which is a fine idea for TV programs of this type.

However, the guns are loaded with paint, which is akin to bungi-jumping off the 17th Street Canal bridge. I would change this so that anyone who wanted to get into gunfights on TV would be required to use real ammunition.

Too violent? Well, all right. Participants would be permitted to wear armored protective vests. Sometimes.

(XIII) One summer night, I counted three members of the New Orleans Zephyrs named Brandon. I would make it mandatory that for every three members of a team of America's Game named Brandon, there must be at least one player named Billy or Johnny. (Guillermo or Juanito allowed.)

(XIV) I don't know about you, but I'm tired of having to out-jump Oklahoma City in the cash-register sweepstakes for the Hornets NBA franchise.

(Digression A: All right, all right. We shoulda seen it coming, shoulda listened to the NBA fans of Charlotte who tried to tell us about George Shinn & Co. But I guess we were too full of lust to hear.)

(Digression B: What kind of a redundant name is Oklahoma City, Okla.? There's no Delaware City, Del., or Alabama City, Ala., is there?)

Mr. Shinn has now rebuked us for not doing enough to renovate our town. Well, the next time the Hornets deign to play here, I would declare the evening "N.O. Renovation Night" and mandate that every citizen must work on a restoration project of my choosing. Can't you imagine the newspaper accounts? "The New Orleans en-route-to-Oklahoma City Hornets edged the Knicks, 105-104, last night before 17 wildly cheering fans."

The concentration of so much awesome arbitrary power in a single set of hands, no matter how humble or well-intentioned, could easily lead to megalomania and dictatorship. To prevent this, I will direct that this so-called Code of Virgeti should automatically expire at the end of 500 years or at the time of my demise.

Whichever comes first.


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