Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dave Barry and Bob Graham

As you know, my man Dave Barry has stopped writing a weekly column and has spent the past few years writing children's novels of unknown worth and following his wife to sports events. But, like with Calvin & Hobbes in newspapers, the powers that be have been reprinting old Dave columns. Most I've read already but sometimes we get lucky and there's a 'new' (meaning so old that it wasn't published in any of his books) column. So it was a week ago when I was able to read a 1983 interview between Dave and then FL Gov. Bob Graham (D).

I advise reading the whole column, but suffice it to say that Graham is possibly the sharpest politician I've seen interviewed, based on his extraordinarily swift wit. Mario Cuomo struck me as sharp and funny but just read this amazing interchange, which Dave swears actually happened, and was not pre-planned:

BARRY: What can the state do about harmonica safety? I don't know if you have any idea how many Floridians die every year in harmonica accidents....

GRAHAM: Well last year we actually made some substantial improvement. In 1981, there were four people who died of harmonica accidents. Now actually, I think it's only fair to count three of them, because the fourth one was actually, I would say it was more of a swimming-pool accident. He was playing the harmonica in the swimming pool and actually jumped off the shallow end, hit his head, and we don't know whether it was the fact that he swallowed the harmonica, or the brain damage. They counted it as a harmonica accident. Now, this year, or 1982, the last year for which we have statistics, we only had two harmonica accidents. I think it was the result of the public-service ads that I did....

BARRY: The Harmonica Safety Day I think was a wonderful....

GRAHAM: ...and we built it around the theme that if you want to play Dixie, it's fine, but don't do it in front of the air- conditioning duct, because that's where we found that most of the deaths occurred. It was the vacuum that was created.

BARRY: This leads us pretty much directly to toads. I've been staying at a house in Broward County, and there are, every morning out on the patio, toads the size of mailboxes. What can we do?

Just to 'fact-check', I searched to find if there really had been a Harmonica Safety Day. Nope. Gadzooks, what a guy!

I remember when he ran for president in 2004 and now I'm even angrier that he didn't make any headway. If he had run instead of John "Choke" Kerry?! Think about it: a sharp, savvy, popular Governor and Senator from Florida who opposed the Iraq War! Grrr.

Pic from this completely unrelated site.

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