Young Professionals’ Bill of Rights

As you no doubt recall from Iowa History 101, Governor Torbent Bronistodd signed a proclamation in 1863 that formally re-designated Iowa’s indentured servants as “young professionals” (YPs).

Six years later, the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, and 1.3 million insurance executives relocated to Iowa by 1870 — drawn here, in large part, by Iowa’s vast pool of emancipated YPs who were willing to sit in cubicles doing grueling actuarial work all day, while their corporate overlords hogged all the gourmet cupcakes and good Scotch at their companies’ canteens.yppix

Fast forward a century and a half, when Des Moines routinely rates as one of America’s best cities for Young Professionals. This widely-touted distinction leads ever-growing flocks of fresh-faced college graduates to migrate to Central Iowa, where they nest communally in a networked hive of lofts near Des Moines’ city center, happily buzzing and bumbling about their daily business downtown.

But are things really all that grand in Yupville DSM? Or are the “Old Professionals” continuing to line their personal coffers on the sweat equity of YPs as they’ve always done, without fairly sharing the corporate spoils with those who truly deserve them the most? And if those treacherous old people are still abusing their idealistic professional heirs, then who will notice and respond, given the lack of organized representation for Des Moines’ disenfranchised young MBAs, disempowered Writers Institute alums, dispossessed Social Media gurus, and otherwise disassociated office and information workers?

A mysterious vigilante group calling itself “Young Professionals Correction” has apparently risen to the challenge, recently staging a series of Tweet-friendly flash mob protests in a variety of art spaces, boutique doughnut shops, and life coaching centers hidden deep within the uncharted bowels of the ever-expanding YP Ghetto downtown. Young Professionals Correction organizers have also drafted a “Young Professionals’ Bill of Rights” which has been widely distributed downtown through an appropriated network of empty Juice display stands.

I salute the brave urban guerrillas spearheading Young Professionals Correction, and in a spirit of solidarity, we reprint their “Young Professionals’ Bill of Rights” below — having nabbed a copy after wandering into an isolated branch of the Skywalk while trying to avoid eye contact with a busker.

YOUNG PROFESSIONALS’ BILL OF RIGHTS

Because we prize our liberties, Young Professionals Correction demands that the following rights be maintained for all the hard working college graduates in Iowa between the ages of 25 and 35, upon whose broad shoulders, trim waists, and shapely calves rests Iowa’s future:

1. By virtue of having bachelors’ degrees, Young Professionals must always be hired at an “Assistant Vice President” level or higher.

2. All bars and restaurants in Iowa must offer unique signature cocktails that reflect their special characters and feature top shelf liquors; Young Professionals must receive one such cocktail free with each visit, upon presentation of a pre-printed voucher.

3. Every fundraising gala must have a Young Professional ticket price of no more than 25% of the price that the old people pay, so we can properly support important causes by drinking signature cocktails and being photographed by Juice.

4. Young Professionals’ names have great civic value, so when we agree to let charities list us on their planning committees, that is sufficient justification for us to count such service on our “Young Professional of the Year” resumes, whether we contribute further or not.

5. Juice must print enough color society pages in each issue to guarantee that every active Young Professional in Central Iowa can be featured in at least one group shot per month; failure to appear in at least one Juice photo per month is justification for shunning by peers.

6. Young Professionals can still get social credit for serving Templeton Rye-based drinks until all existing stock is depleted, since we hoarded it at great personal cost while it was still considered cool and collectable.

7. After two months residency in Iowa, all Young Professionals are entitled to found a nonprofit of their own choosing in any field (charitable or otherwise), and to receive whatever State and City funding is required for them to hire themselves as founding Executive Directors; failure to found a nonprofit after two years residency in Iowa is justification for shunning by peers.

8. All bars and restaurants in Iowa must offer trivia nights at least once per month, and old people must be segregated from the Young Professionals who participate, since their knowledge of olden times before the Internet gives them unfair advantage; failure to form or join a trivia team with a clever name involving an alcoholic beverage or sexual position is justification for shunning by peers.

9. Being a “Young Professional of the Year” finalist or winner is a great, lasting, fully professional honor that will be recognized and valued for the rest of our lives by everybody around us, giving us automatic preferential treatment in job searches, ticket lines, restaurant reservations, and other similar situations; this honor will never, ever, ever be compared to being a prom queen or catching a winning touchdown in high school.

10. Young Professionals reserve the right to act grown up and professional when we feel like it, and to act young and stupid when we don’t; lapses in the latter regard will be forgiven until our 35th birthdays or until we’re no longer cute, whichever comes first.

Why Iowa First?

As the Nation gears up for its globally-admired quadrennial Presidential election process, the spotlight has turned toward Iowa and its inordinately influential “first out of the gate” Presidential Caucus. Of course, haters gotta hate, so there’s plenty of pundits out there at the Crazy Town Press and Courier (or similar rags) who will deny Iowa’s God-given right to bestow its potent blessings upon the most worthy of the competing candidates. Just in case you find yourself locked in an elevator with an Iowaphobe who fails to see the glorious logic and sensibility of this system, I offer the following ten inarguable answers to the question: “Why Iowa First?”

  1. Because Iowa Looks Like America when you watch FOX News.
  2. Because the weather would just be too damn hot and sticky in Alabama that day.
  3. Because an “uncommitted” result in 1976 so presciently launched Jimmy Carter toward a spot on Mount Rushmore.
  4. It’s the best way to fast track President Joni Ernst’s election, an important Biblical precursor to the Rapture.
  5. Because Iowans were the only people in America willing to stand in line to listen to Rick Santorum.
  6. Because Iowa guards the nation’s Strategic Bacon Reserve from invasion by hostile foreign powers, and should be rewarded for its vigilance.
  7. Because it’s important for the President to be able to put a face on all of the Federal subsidies that Iowa collects, while complaining about Federal subsidies.
  8. Because Iowans have clearly demonstrated superior political acuity and discernment each of the six times that they have elected Terry Branstad to be their governor.
  9. Because America could probably use another Bush or Clinton presidency, maybe, and Iowans are pretty okay, sort of, at picking those, sometimes.
  10. Because it would be hard and expensive to re-create another State-wide mass delusion of superior political intelligence.

Iowa Infrastructure Initiatives

Iowa’s legislators are back at work after a refreshing seven-month break from their elected duties, which most of them spent fundraising so they could get elected again in time for next year’s seven-month sabbatical.

One of the legislature’s most pressing annual duties is figuring out how to quickly distribute the tens of billions of dollars worth of Federal subsidies that will quietly flow into the State this year, as they did last year, and as they will next year.

A large portion will typically be doled out to farmers to grow certain crops, while another portion will be doled out to other farmers to not grow certain other crops.

But the best way to tie up the big bucks is to allocate them to massive infrastructure projects that stimulate the economy by generating jobs for campaign contributors, who then underwrite advertising in which our elected officials complain about Washington subsidies to fire up their voter bases.

It’s the Political Circle of Life, writ large. Hakuna Matata!

Here are eight Iowa infrastructure initiatives we can expect to see pulled from this year’s barrel of pork tenderloins:

quadcollider1. The Lamoni Skywalk: Will connect the Iowa Visitors Center at Exit 4 on I-35 to Maid Rite, Kum n’ Go, and the Super 8 Motel. Future appropriations will be earmarked for expansion to Quilt Country and Hardee’s.

2. Grease Trap Pipeline XL: A vast network of plumbing designed to capture all the grease from the State’s fried tenderloin industry and funnel it to Keokuk, where it will be loaded onto container ships, ferried to the Gulf of Mexico, and dumped at sea — thereby assuring that it cannot be recycled to undermine the State’s corn oil production quotas.

3. The Great Wall of Clive: A 10-foot high barricade will be erected around Clive City Limits to clearly identify — for the first time in State history — exactly where the city is located. Future appropriations will be earmarked to build a similar containment around Waukee.

4. The Cedar Rapids El: A raised roadway system that will ensure soy, hog and corn truckers have unimpeded access from Waterloo and points north to the Iowa 80 Truck Stop whenever Cedar Rapids is underwater.

5. The Burj Fort Dodge: A 635-foot office and residential tower in Webster County that will become Iowa’s tallest building. The Arabic name honors the strong cultural ties between Fort Dodge and Al-Shuwaib, its sister city in the United Arab Emirates. Future appropriations will be earmarked to house the Terry Brandstad Gubernatorial Library and Mausoleum in the tower. The Governor for Life will be embalmed after his passing and will lie in public display on the highest floor for 1,000 years.

6. Tinywood: A vast, Branson-style family entertainment complex designed to celebrate the life of Tiny Tim, who lived in Iowa for five years — making him a local son per the same statutes that allow John Wayne, Mamie Eisenhower, Johnny Carson, and countless others to be honored as Great Temporary Iowans.

7. Loess Hills Slope Easement: An important civil engineering project running from Sioux City to Council Bluffs that will bulldoze the steep, sandy hills on the State’s western border, thereby eliminating early inconveniences faced by RAGBRAI riders. Future appropriations will be earmarked for the Black Squirrel Golf and Recreation Complex, honoring the memory of the unique rodents that will unfortunately have to be exterminated as part of this project.

8. Quad Cities Super Collider: A massive proton smasher will be erected alongside I-80 and I-280 around the Quad Cities, taking advantage of gravitational pull exerted by the high speed traffic that already circles that route, never stopping within it.

Iowa Art Crisis 2: The Creative Rehabilitation Program

Continued from yesterday’s story: Central Iowa’s arts community continues to roil in the aftermath of the Bad Art Reviews Blog’s (ed. since shut down) violent disregard for the State’s Code of Niceness. In an effort to preemptively ward off an epidemic of post-traumatic stress disorder among the region’s creative caste, the newly-empowered Iowa Ministry of Artistic Compliance has established The Creative Rehabilitation Program to nurse wounded artists back to health. The program mirrors a “Big Brothers/Big Sisters” model, with struggling, disenfranchised artists receiving hands-on mentoring from wealthy arts patrons, all of them hand-selected by Governor Brandstad from among his wide circle of friendly GOP arts enthusiasts. Let’s drop in on a session as Cardinal Mutual Casualty Company’s Chief Operating Officer, Bode P. Chatsworth — a well-known collector of large metal objects and signed sports memorabilia — meets with two artists fished from the wreckage of their heretofore peaceful cultural pond:

whitemanartElliot Gruver, Graduate Student in the Arts: I don’t want to get too heavy on you, Mr. Chatsworth, but I’ve never been more confused in my life.

Bode P. Chatsworth, COO, Cardinal Mutual Casualty Company: What’s on your mind, kid? Go ahead and spill it. You know that we love to be entertained by others’ misery here. That’s what this whole “Big Rich Art Brothers” thing is all about, yes?

Elliot Gruver: Well, I guess you sort of put your finger right on the heart of my problem, Mr. Chatsworth. My issue is that I’m just a little put off by the whole notion of what makes for “good art.” It often seems that “good art” means exactly what you just said: comfortable people getting off on other people’s misery. That makes me think that in order to make “good art” for the people who have the time to appreciate and afford it, then I have to take a vow of misery and angst. But, you know, Mom and Dad are paying a pretty penny for me to be in a Master of Fine Arts program, and I really just don’t have much to be sad about. So is my art worthless? And do I need to find things to be unhappy about if I want it to have value?

Bode P. Chatsworth: Nonsense, kid! You’re just showing your youthful naiveté when you say things like that. Look, back before I became a successful insurance executive and collector of large metal objects and signed sports memorabilia, I was a wannabe artist too, and like you, I thought that my misery made for better art. But when I look at my stuff from back then, it’s generally not better or worse than anything else, it’s just more miserable. Misery doesn’t equal quality. It’s just that when people are miserable, perhaps they invest more value and import in their art than they do when they’re not. The art symbolizes their struggle, and maybe they fight harder for their art because of that. But that’s an issue of promotion, not of quality. And, frankly, sometimes the stuff people do that isn’t based on struggle can be far more profound and less obvious than the more angst-ridden stuff tends to be.

Elliot Gruver: But does angst-ridden art always have to be obvious? Can’t art be angst-ridden and subtle at the same time?

Bode P. Chatsworth: Well, what the hell would be the point of “angst-ridden and subtle”? Sure, you can be angst-ridden in your life, and subtle about it in your work, but who would be able to tell the difference? Would you have to code it into your titles: “Still Life with Fruit and Yarn (Composed While Suffering an Existential Crisis in a Sioux City Squat)” or “Sunrise Over Dubuque (Where Some Immigrant Somalian Babies Suffer from Worms)”? If you believe that suffering leads to angst, which then leads to “great art,” then you can’t make “great art” without such suffering, and you should just move out to a nice cardboard box now and have your folks send your tuition checks directly to me. But that’s a false model. You really don’t have to choose between art and happiness. Comfort level is not tied to how profound someone’s work can be.

Charlotte Mondamin, Working Artist: Oh, I can’t take it any more! Listen to you two go on about angst and art! What a pair of pretentious poseurs you are! And you’re missing the big picture completely. Listen: angst is an emotion that’s exclusive to the privileged class. When you are hungry, homeless, sick or poor, you don’t have time or energy to feel sorry for yourself because you don’t feel like the world understands or appreciates you. So buck up and quit wallowing. Go spend a night in a dumpster without a coat and see how bad your petty boo-hoos feel tomorrow.

Elliot Gruver: Don’t dismiss my feelings just because I’m a child of privilege! I didn’t choose to be born in comfort!

Bode P. Chatsworth: C’mon, Charlotte, you’re not really going to trot out that stale old canard, are you? I mean, sure, we should all be doing cartwheels because we’re not in a labor camp in North Korea waiting for a rat to jump out of the hole in the ground where we shit so we can kill it and eat it, even though we’ll be beaten by the guards for doing so. I’m convinced! Life is suddenly beautiful to me! Thanks for the wisdom!

Charlotte Mondamin: It is not a stale argument, you creep. Life’s what you make of it. If you’ve got a house, a family who loves you, and money for food, then you’re doing better than 90% of the human beings living in the world right now, including me. If you choose to be a spoiled crybaby because nobody understands your art, Elliot, then that’s your problem, not society’s, not your parents’, not anybody else’s. It’s just wrong to try to find things in life to be unhappy about just so that you can make “better” art that allows well-off boobs to feel even better about themselves because they embrace your false suffering. What do your type have to be unhappy about anyway?

Bode P. Chatsworth: Please, Charlotte. That’s just dumb. People with all of those things can be unhappy if their jobs are not fulfilling, their personal lives are in disarray, or their financial futures are uncertain. Having stuff doesn’t make you happy. If it did, celebrity gossip columns would be far more boring than they already are. Do you really think there’s some sort of happiness line, where if you make over a certain amount per year, you’re not allowed to be sad?

Charlotte Mondamin: Look, the more you make, the more you can do whatever you want with fewer and fewer consequences. I’d certainly rather be sad and rich than sad and poor, because sad and poor means that you also have the pressure of basic survival while being unhappy. So, yes, once you have your basic survival needs met, you really shouldn’t be whining about being sad. Your sadness becomes meaningless. You can buy something to make it better. Or you can use your ample spare time to make some art, in which you subtly embrace the fantasy angst that eats at your comfortable, benumbed brains.

Bode P. Chatsworth: Gah, you bore me! Enough! I don’t need all of this misdirected anger and needless confrontation from the likes of you! I’d much prefer to spend time with comfortable people in search of a little angst to fire their creative furnaces. C’mon, Elliot, let’s head over to the corporate canteen and see what they’ve got stashed away there behind the bar, crack a bottle of somethin’ somethin’, smoke a couple of cigars and figure out how best to balance your emotional and artistic aspirations. The keys to the Jaguar are on the end-table there. You can go warm it up for Old Uncle Chatsworth, since it’s a nippy night out tonight. And be careful not to step on any hobos. There’s a good kid. You got a future.

CONTINUES IN PART THREE

Legalize It, Iowa!

Pragmatically progressive Iowa was well ahead of national trends in legalizing same sex marriage, so I am somewhat befuddled as to why our legislators, courts, and voters have not also been in the forefront of the national movement to decriminalize marijuana.

We’re a farm state, for God’s sake! We can grow anything here! And just imagine what DuPont-Pioneer could do to THC levels and bud yields with a little bit of their hey presto proprietary genetic tinkering! It’ll only be a matter of time before Des Moines Ditchweed, Council Puffs, and Anamosa Gold are famed coast to coast as America’s greatest legal highs!

Also, once the national winds of change finally blow down the barn door of regressive drug laws, you know that there will be plenty of marijuana growing subsidies available, and Iowa’s business community loves few things better than a chance to suck on the Washington sow when a fresh teat pops into view.

If that’s not enough to make you put a NORML bumper sticker on your car, here are 15 more reasons why Iowa should legalize it, now:

  1. State work day would end at 4:20 and April 20 would be a great new State holiday.
  2. It will give RAYGUN lots of ideas for a whole new line of t-shirts, coffee cups and post cards.
  3. It’s a good way to mask the unfortunate smell of hog confinements around the state.
  4. Munchie-crazed patrons might finally be able to eat an entire dinner order at Zombie Burger.
  5. Iowa Weed will have much better free samples at Farmers Market than Iowa Wine can offer.
  6. It will make all the jam bands at 80/35 less annoying.
  7. Watching Terry Branstad spark a fatty in the name of Iowa state pride will be much more fun than watching him eat pink slime.
  8. Just imagine the gourmet opportunities for serving weed with LaQuercia Prosciutto and Maytag Blue Cheese.
  9. It will provide a third crop for highway travelers to stare at while driving across the state.
  10. Walcott’s Iowa 80 Truck Stop would become the Burrito Capitol of the World.
  11. Legal weed might encourage University of Iowa students to drink less. Maybe. Well, nah, scratch that one.
  12. You’ll finally be able to make a real meaningful “connection” at Greater Des Moines Young Professional Connection.
  13. No one from the eastern half of the country will ever need to drive to Colorado again.
  14. Best State Fair Ever . . . EVEN BETTER!!!!
  15. We recently elected Steve King and Joni Ernst, so we must need something to make us Iowa nicer again.

Iowa Legislature Considers New State Motto

Iowa’s State Motto — “Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain” — sounds like it could have been whipped together for a contemporary Tea Party rally, but it actually dates back to 1847, and it reflects the difficulties that Iowa encountered on the road to Statehood.

With over a century-and-a-half of prosperity under Iowa’s collectively expanding Sans-A-Belt slacks, and with statehood safely secured, Iowa legislators are now pondering whether it’s time to create a more meaningful 21st Century motto for the state. Here are ten top contenders (developed by a consortium of Des Moines’ leading marketing and advertising agencies) as the 2015 legislative session gets underway:

Plus Frumenti (More Than Corn)

From Subsidy Springs Prosperity

Castrantur Tyrannus Sicut Solent Sues (Castrate The Tyrants Like Pigs)

In Terry We Trust

Semper In Vertice Missourum (Always on Top of Missouri)

You Flyover, They Drive Through, We Stay Here

Anglicus Quondam, Nunc Hispanicus (Once English, Now Spanish)

Mostly Modest, Always Nice

Ditat Deus, Pauper Obama (God Enriches, Obama Impoverishes)

Thank God for Indiana