Beer Can Coffin Finally Invented

Some of the most emailed, viewed and commented on stories on the web, including the Illinois man who'll be buried in a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

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RACHEL MARTIN, host:

Welcome back to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. We're always online at npr.org...

MIKE PESCA, host:

You know, Rachel...

MARTIN: Slash bryantpark.

PESCA: Oh, slash bryantpark. Or, a little hint. You could just do "bpp" and it'll take you there.

MARTIN: Oh, that's true. You can do that, too.

PESCA: It has to be in lowercase, I found out. That's odd. You know, there was a time when maybe we were in junior high school and you'd try to find out what the cool kids were doing, and sometimes you guessed wrong, you know, and you wound up buying a whole lot of Scritti Politti albums, and that never really went anywhere, right? Because we didn't have the kind of tools and mechanisms that would tell you what the buzz was.

MARTIN: What's cool, what's happening...

PESCA: What's cool, what people are talking about, but we have those tools and mechanisms today. We at the BPP have put them together in a package called The Most.

(Soundbite of music)

MARTIN: Well done.

PESCA: So our selection of most-emailed stories from around the Internet starts with the Rocky Mountain News, where the most-emailed story has the headline, "Man Pushes Creation of Panel to Prepare City" - this is boring so far - "For Space Aliens."

MARTIN: There you go, the money shot.

PESCA: Jeff Peckman is back at it, and this time, he is bringing little green men along for the ride. The Denver man, who sponsored an offbeat ballot initiative that would have required the city to implement stress-reduction techniques, now wants to ask voters to create a commission dealing with space aliens.

Now, I just want to point, out in journalism, they use the inverted pyramid, where they list the facts in order of importance. So, you've heard those facts and here's the next thing they go to. Peckman, 54, who is single and lives with his parents, and submitted - blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

JEANNE BARON: It's a just-in-case policy.

PESCA: Yeah. We don't - the last one about the offbeat proposal, the stress reduction, was, the experts say, possibly a little more popular than this one will be, and that one didn't even pass. Yes. Ian, what do you have? What's your Most?

IAN CHILLAG: This is from my hometown paper. This is a most popular of the Charleston Daily Mail in West Virginia. About 20 minutes up the road from Charleston, there's a town called - it's spelled "Hurricane" but it's pronounced "Huracun (ph)," So...

MARTIN: Huracan?

PESCA: Is it up the road of Peace? Is that they would say it in the local vernacular?

CHILLAG: Yeah, yeah.

BARON: And if you say "Hurricane," do they look at you like, you're not from here?

CHILLAG: Yeah, yeah. You definitely - you never say "Hurricane." I don't even know what "hurricane means." Huracan.

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHILLAG: So there's a rock there, a big boulder that everybody calls the "Water Monster's Daughter," because it has this carving that looks like, you know, it's like about six-feet tall and it looks like a woman, and she's wearing a dress. And there's always been this debate whether or not it was graffiti or whether it was, you know, a Native American carving from a couple hundred years ago.

PESCA: Or space aliens, the guy from Denver might say.

CHILLAG: Yeah, he might chime in on that one. So, it turns out that actually it's both. It's an old - they think the Delaware Tribe, it was their carving. And then in the 1940s, these kids drew a prom dress on it. And so some people actually call it the "Prom Queen," not the "Water Monster's Daughter."

But anyway, it's sitting - they found it when they were clearing out land to build a car dealership, and when they found it, you know, it became this tourist attraction and the plan was to move it into a history museum, but it's just been sitting in a parking lot behind this old police cruiser, and now it's getting really weathered and actually, kind of, the carving is wearing down, so they're making some effort to protect it. That's what the story's about.

PESCA: The prom dress is tattered.

MARTIN: People are worried.

CHILLAG: Like many a prom dress.

MARTIN: People want to protect the artifact.

PESCA: Oh, poor Water Monster. Your taffeta did not hold up...

CHILLAG: She'll be all right.

PESCA: Tricia, do you have a Most? Have you a Most?

PATRICIA MCKINNEY: I have a Most, it's one of the most-emailed at USA Today, and it's about a guy who really, really, really loves his favorite beer. He loves it so much that he wants to be with it through eternity.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MCKINNEY: It's a guy from Illinois who has designed a beer-can coffin that looks like a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

PESCA: Ah. So he's classy in every way.

MCKINNEY: Well, you know, the thing is, I guess I associate Pabst Blue Ribbon with when I was a kid and, like, the people around me were drinking out of aluminum cans or whatever. It just didn't seem like a cool beer to me, and what jumped out at me from this story is, in USA Today, they call it a "trendy brew."

MARTIN: It is. It's trendy. It's PBR.

CHILLAG: I think it's now, it's actually now a classic.

MARTIN: Yeah...

CHILLAG: It's gone from trendy to classic.

PESCA: It doesn't make it taste good.

MARTIN: No, it does not taste good. Sorry, PBR.

CHILLAG: Well, anyway, this guy likes it so much, he bought a real coffin and he got this sign company to make, you know, I guess a shell for it that looks like a can of PBR, as the cool kids say, and...

MARTIN: It's a cool can. It got, like, a blue ribbon on it...

PESCA: Yeah.

CHILLAG: It's very patriotic.

PESCA: It does claim to have won an award in 1893 that is in some dispute, I found out. There's no record of the actual award of blue ribbon.

CHILLAG: That's the blue ribbon of the name?

PESCA: Yes, that is the blue ribbon of the name.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MARTIN: Oh.

MCKINNEY: So my question is, is Genesee the next cool beer, or what's the next one?

MARTIN: Genesee?

PESCA: Yeah, that's a Buffalo, that's a northern New York kind of swill.

CHILLAG: That's definitely the worst beer in the world.

MARTIN: I have never heard of this.

PESCA: I object to that.

CHILLAG: Really?

PESCA: Keystone.

MARTIN: Olympia.

PESCA: Hams. Pearl. Oh, I know all the bad beer.

CHILLAG: We used to call Genesee "genocide," just to give you a sense for how bad it is.

PESCA: That is in poor taste. I don't mean the comment, I mean the beer.

(Soundbite of laughter)

PESCA: Rachel, do you have a Most?

MARTIN: Yeah, I have a Most. It's a little depressing. It's intimating that American children are being over-medicated. News-flash, breaking news-flash. There was a study - this is from one of the most a cnn.com. There was a study in the UK measuring how often children there are given anti-psychotic medicines.

And then some scientists in the U.S. decided to do a comparative study. Based on that study, they found out American kids are given anti-psychotic meds about six times the rate - more often - than children in the UK. So that begs the question, does this mean U.S. kids are being over-treated, or that UK children are being undertreated?

PESCA: Or that the U.S. has nuttier kids.

MARTIN: The upshot is that they're probably both being over-treated, overmedicated. The study is being released Monday in the May edition of The Journal Pediatrics. And it goes on to say that a lot of this is stemming from autism or attention deficient disorder. These are drugs that are given to apparently mediate some of the negative side effects. But then it generates all these other really bad side effects. You just can't win. It's sad.

PESCA: Jeanne, I think you have a Most, yes?

BARON: On a lighter note, I do. This was the most-emailed on Yahoo! Steve Kreuscher of Zion, Illinois - more about Zion in a second - does not want to be Steven Kreuscher anymore. He wants to be "Steve In God We Trust." He has asked a judge to allow him to change his last name to "In God We Trust." And he is going this partly because he thinks atheists are making too many inroads. He pointed out that - he told the Arlington Heights Daily Herald that for...

PESCA: The Daily Herald is on it!

BARON: That the phrase "God Reigns" was removed from the Zion City seal in 1992. He wants to stop this kind of thing and honor the role God has played in his life. And there is a curious notation that - I went and looked it up. Zion, it says here, was founded as a theocracy by a sect that believed the Earth was flat in 1901.

PESCA: Yeah, well, the jury was still out at that point, anyhow. Well, thanks, Jeanie. Thanks everyone for your contribution with The Most.

MARTIN: You can find links to all these stories on our website, npr.org/bryantpark.

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