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« Times leaks Superman's identity | Page One | Saddam's hunger strike »

Tunnel vision

By John Breneman

I almost called in sick today. My excuse? Post-traumatic ceiling tile syndrome.

Sorry. Humor is how I cope when life gets weird and ugly, like it did for that poor woman – Milena Del Valle, Jamaica Plain mother of three – killed in Monday night's tunnel tragedy.

See, I drive to the Boston Herald each morning from New Hampshire , where there's no such thing as people being squashed in tunnels by massive chunks of falling cement. Sure, we Granite Staters relish our right to "live free or die." Just not in $14.6 billion taxpayer-funded death traps.

And not to get all "I used to drive through that tunnel every night" on you, but I used to drive through that bleeping tunnel every night – back when they were shutting down the Interstate-93 mine shaft so the late shift could plug those leaks and squirt fresh Super Glue on the mammoth concrete slabs hanging over our heads.

Big deal. I've come to understand that risky four-wheeling has been a special part of the Massachusetts experience since old Sam Adams got pulled over for hitting the homemade hooch in his horse and buggy.

I try to join right in on the whole "Boston driver" thing – the honking and cursing, the mad weaving and artful dodging, the coming to a complete standstill in the middle of a crowded freeway.

It's still full speed ahead when I whiz over the Charles and into the mouth of the Tip O'Neill tube each morning. But I think I've subconsciously added a few inches to the buffer between my front bumper and the other guy's tailpipe.

For us nervous New Hampshire commuters, it's good to know Gov. Mitt Romney has got our back. Why, after interrupting his vacation to stage that whack-a-hack press conference for Big Dig bigwig Matt Amorello, he rushed back to his Lake Winipesaukee command post faster than you could say "political opportunism."

In his memorable "Something happened" speech, Mitt bravely called for the hapless Pike head's head on a pike. The boys in Iowa sure will be impressed by his knack for turning tragedy into phony tough talk.

Well the probe is under way and someone will pay. Public Enemy No. 1 is Amorello Slim. Best guess for No. 2 fall guy?

Investigators will undoubtedly be taking a hard look at Ted Williams. It's sort of his tunnel, right? If that bigshot hadn't been so busy getting swindled by his jerk son, he might have found time to make sure that lousy thing lived up to his good name.

Now the legendary Red Sox slugger has this hanging over his severed, frozen, hermetically sealed head – half-baked media reports linking him to the unconscionable death of an innocent mom at the hands of greedy corporate highway barons, porky bureaucrats and finger-pointing pols.

Frankly, Ted doesn't need this baloney. Maybe the feds can pin it on Whitey Bulger. Better yet, Billy Buckner.

Mitt won't emerge unscathed. Count on a whole new batch of Mitt 'n Run jokes. Did you hear the one about the scariest Hub highway hazard of 'em all? The constant threat of being mowed down by a limo racing Romney to his next out-of-state photo-op.

Anyway, some say part of the charm of Boston driving is never knowing when the scaffolding might come crashing down or the roof might cave in. Maybe they should post some new signs. "Danger: Falling Three-Ton Symbols of Criminally Misspent Public Funds."

Posted on July 14, 2006 8:23 AM | Permalink

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