Old school saturday: RAMP magazine

In 2003 I did some brief writing for this measly FHM spin-out called Ramp you’ve never heard of, but it was basically Maxim with cars. It was an era when lads’ mags were exploding even as print had begun to implode, so it only made it a few issues. I remember the editors being pretty nice guys, though. Then again I only got paid for half of what I turned in, so…chalk it up to kill fees, I guess.

I got paid for about half of what I wrote, but only one of the three blurbs they commissioned made it to print, so I figured I should take what I could get. Here are the three pieces I sent them. Note that my writing style here is something akin to a British daily tabloid:

FEMA – Mount Weather article

–In rural Virginia, a government-in-waiting prepares for disaster.
–America’s underground city hopes for the best, prepares for the worst
–Where to run during the inevitable breakdown of society.

The guard stares at you, one hand resting casually on his sidearm, “Turn it around,” he barks. Driving away, you wonder what was behind that razor-wired fence.

You stumbled onto Mount Weather, the hush-hush base of operations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA lists eight disaster response divisions based in Mount Weather, but if all they do is manage flood relief, why the secrecy?

Because of nuclear war: the mother of all federal emergencies. In such a disaster, the President relocates to Mount Weather, or rather, to FEMA’s underground city below Mount Weather. In fact, the location is the hideout in any national emergency. When Dick Cheney was whisked to a “secure location” on September 11th, it was likely Mount Weather. And if politicians don’t survive a catastrophe, the mountain hosts a duplicate government with Cabinet members ready to fill in for their publicly appointed counterparts.

Conspiracy theorists love Mount Weather; it confirms their fears. A Senate subcommittee in 1975 discovered that Mount Weather kept information on at least 100,000 U.S. citizens. In certain situations, FEMA is authorized to seize roads, supercede Congressional authority, and even suspend the Constitution, with no requirements to restore it. That’s a scenario to give any X-Files fan nightmares about black helicopters.

High IQ Sperm Bank article

–Cream of the Crop
–Achieving Climax
–Iced Cream Man
(alt: Ice + Cream + Man)

–Calling all renaissance men: Nevada sperm bank wants you
–Got an extra 50 IQ points? Need an extra 50 bucks?
–Pencils down! Sperm bank takes from test-takers’ testes.

Men of quick wit and quicker sperm will be glad to learn of Heredity Choice, a Nevada sperm bank run by Paul Smith and his wife Adonna Frankel. The not-for-profit organization collects samples from men with, um…a leg up to produce hundreds of ideally talented children. Their collection of superior semen includes samples from two notable physicists and a prominent politician.

Can’t tell a gluon from a gluino? Don’t fret. The bank seeks athletes and artists as well as Einsteins. But hide Dad’s police record; Heredity Choice studies family history for other traits you might pass on, like color-blindness or enjoying Rod Stewart.

Has Smith ever donated sperm? “If I told you, I’d have to kill you,” he chuckles. We’ll take that as a “Yes. Oh JEEZ, yes!”

“If they’re not happy with their baby they can return it for a full refund,” quips Adonna. None yet: repeat customers and word-of-mouth account for most of their business. Lesbian couples use the clinic to produce half-siblings.

Thank you, come again!

Celebration, FL article

–Mouse House
–Sappiest Place on Earth
–Creepiest Place on Earth

–Sacrificing the American dream to resemble it
–But where’s the monorail?
–Warning: moving here severs all claims to masculinity

The turn-of-the-century homes huddle in condensed rows with trim yards surrounded by cheery picket fences. But the fences—like the nostalgia—are plastic.

Welcome to Celebration, FL, Disney’s privately owned community, where your house can only be certain colors, your lawn can only grow a certain height, and your car can only sit in the driveway for 24 hours. Nor is it just appearance; noisy pets can be kicked out of town.

Residents are happy to trade autonomy for sentimentality; homes in Celebration cost more than comparable properties, and there’s a waiting list to move there.

Even the inside of the home – if it can be detected from outside – is governed by the homeowner’s agreement: the cultishly-named Declaration of Covenant. The Covenant codifies everything from plant life to satellite dishes, and is drawn up by the Disney-appointed Celebration Board.

Still not creeped out? Check out the daily parades and holiday snow generators (remember: in Florida).