Alcatraz Prison May Become Luxury Hotel
MIKE PESCA, host:
Welcome back to the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. We're always online at npr.org, and whereas a straightforward recitation of today's news headlines is always appreciated, the artistry comes in, the curly cues, the digressions, the little bits of flair that we can give to it. This is our gift to you. It is The Ramble.
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PESCA: Who would like - joining me to Ramble, Tricia McKinney and Matt Martinez. Which one of you would like to start?
MATT MARTINEZ: Hello. I would like to start. Well, you know, you hear a vote can make the difference. You know, you alone can make the difference.
PESCA: You're the "public" in public radio.
MARTINEZ: Exactly. If you're arrested in Barnes County, North Dakota, it will definitely make a difference. Voter turnout for the local election June 10th? Zero. The mayor of the town of Pillsbury...
PESCA: Expressed as a percentage, by the way, what is that?
MARTINEZ: Zero. And the mayor of the town ran unopposed. His name is Darrel Brudevold, and you'd think someone would have voted for him, maybe. Him? No. His wife? No. She was running unopposed for an alderman seat, actually. She didn't vote either. Brudevold says half a dozen people usually make it to the polls, representing about a quarter of the population of the county.
He explained, look, everybody has got a job, and they're busy. It just worked out that nobody seemed to go down there to the polls, and he was busy tending crops. His wife runs a beauty shop and is the town's postmaster. He figures he'll be holding on to his job, but he's asking state election officials what he should do.
PATRICIA MCKINNEY: Yeah, I mean, you'd think that there might be some issue with voter law saying what to do if nobody shows up.
PESCA: Well, the Brudevold family seems a little overextended there, don't they?
MARTINEZ: They do, yeah.
PESCA: He will appeal to state election officials, who are Darrel Brudevold.
MCKINNEY: Yeah, it's like that "I Love Lucy" episode where they go to that little town and the one guy does everything, you know?
MCKINNEY: That's just me.
PESCA: And then they eat pies off the factory floor.
MARTINEZ: Yes, yes.
PESCA: You could be spending your next vacation on beautiful Alcatraz Island. The National Park Service is considering adding an upscale hotel to the site. Alcatraz is San Francisco's second most popular tourist attraction after the cable cars. That's a tourist attraction? That's the way to get to other tourist attractions. I don't think that should count.
One point five million people visit the cell blocks every year. The hotel idea is a part of a new general management plan figuring out how the island is going to be used and renovated for the next 20 years. Many proposals have been made for the site since the notorious prison closed their doors there in 1963. Casino, another prison - how did they come up with that one? Very creative.
But the island's designation as a historic landmark set within a national park has made development difficult. Overnight guests would have access to the parts of the island tourists can't now get to see, the cinema, the bowling lanes. Hotel goers will not be sleeping in cells. And as we know, to get off the island, you have to chase a fireball.
MCKINNEY: Wait, wait, wait. I have a theme song.
(Singing) You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.
PESCA: It would be better if it was sung to the tune of Hotel California.
PESCA: But you know...
MARTINEZ: You can't get everything you want.
MCKINNEY: I think that was pretty close.
MARTINEZ: You were good.
MCKINNEY: All right, so I have a story out of North Carolina, where the DMV issued a plate, a plate, to a North Carolina woman using the letter sequence W-T-F, which, of course, as all of us tech-savvy people know, stands for, what the falafel?
MCKINNEY: And apparently, of course, this lady didn't know what WTF meant and it took her grandchildren giggling at her car before she found out what that meant, and that got her all upset. Her name is Mary Anne Hardy and she's 60 years old. She said she felt very self-conscious when driving to school or church, so she made a case to the DMV commissioner, who ordered that she get a new plate for free, and then turned around and made the same offer to nearly 1,000 people who also were issued WTF license plates.
PESCA: Now, her appeal to the commissioner, what three words did her - what form did that appeal take?
MCKINNEY: How about, OMG?
PESCA: Doesn't every three letters, you know, stand for something dirty on the Internet? Haven't we gotten to that point?
MCKINNEY: No. That sounds a project for you, Mike.
MARTINEZ: You don't want to LOL in public.
MCKINNEY: But so listen, anyway, of course, that sent us looking for more letter combinations, and there's this website called coolpl8s.com. They spell plates with an eight, because that's what the cool kids do. And so their list of top 100 vanity license plates, one of my favorites actually is from the state of Virginia and it incorporates - you know how a lot of license plates have stuff on the side? So this has the letter V on the left side, so somebody got very clever and added on the letters A-G-I-N-A. Vagina, there you go.
MARTINEZ: Oh, I see. Maybe they have a hard element.
MCKINNEY: A couple other ones. G-L-B-L-W-M-R, for global warmer, and that's on a giant Winnebago.
PESCA: How about no votes for that mayor in North Dakota?
MARTINEZ: Exactly. In Minnesota - let's go to Minnesota now. Jake Deitchler has become only the third high-school wrestler in history to make the U.S. Olympic team. It's pretty amazing. He's 18 years old. He's put a huge upset to do this. He beat a guy named Harry Lester, one of the best Greco-Roman wrestlers in the world. And Deitchler has won three state championships and he's been training really hard.
He thought he might have a chance, and this weekend, he did it. A person his age hasn't been on the team since 1976. And he said, people say I'm not a very realistic person. To tell you the truth, it doesn't really matter if I can do things like this. So, Deitchler is continuing the proud tradition in Minnesota. At least one man from the state has made the Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling team every year since 1968. It's a pretty great story.
PESCA: Interestingly, you know who aren't that great at Greco-Roman wrestling?
MARTINEZ: The Grecos or the Romans.
MCKINNEY: Or me. I can't do it either.
PESCA: And that is your Ramble. These stories and more on our website, npr.org/bryantpark.
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