PORTLAND, ORE. — I have some controversial ideas that deserve immediate nationwide attention, so I think now is the right time for me to enter the arena of rap music. The rapper known as Eminem is getting plenty of media coverage these days, and my plan calls for hitching a ride on his publicity bandwagon.
Eminem is said to enjoy being provocative, and several songs on his latest compact disc have been criticized as violent and disparaging toward women, gay people, and I'm not sure whom else. Despite the uproar, "The Marshall Mathers LP" has sold 8 million copies and garnered several Grammy Award nominations. That's the kind of buzz I hope to generate by calling myself "EmEmEm" and recording a collection of edgy, hard-hitting tunes about the urgent need for better roads and driving habits.
Yes, I really said that. I know highway safety sounds like a dead-end discussion, and it never shows up on anyone's list of hot-button topics.
Americans are easily agitated about government spending or utility deregulation, but the impact of such big issues on your daily life is small compared to what might happen whenever you get behind a steering wheel.
During the past few weeks, I have narrowly avoided being pulverized by other cars that ignored stop signs, drifted across the center line, or came up behind me at warp speed. But these anecdotes don't resonate with the public because they are routine occurrences for most drivers. I need the intensity and iconoclasm of rap to energize the debate.
One of my new songs is tentatively titled "Takin' You Down, Clown!" and will ridicule speeders who act as if they are heading for the checkered flag at Le Mans, France, weaving in and out of traffic without ever using their turn indicators. The lyrics also include an impassioned plea for increased federal spending to place thousands of unmarked patrol cars onto the Interstate Highway System.
Another tune called "Don't Stall the Wall" urges George W. Bush to rethink his massive tax cut and use part of the surplus to pay for concrete dividers down the middle of every country road that has a posted speed limit of 35 m.p.h. or higher. The sight of oncoming vehicles whizzing past me with only inches to spare is a daily source of high anxiety.
For the automobile companies, I will include "Dream the Machine," a raucous invitation to start producing cars that have built-in communication devices such as neon signs that pop up from the rear bumper and advise the person tailgating me to please back off.
Perhaps I can even convince Eminem to join with me in this effort as a way to placate his critics by demonstrating a commitment to socially responsible behavior. We could title our collaboration "The Marshall Motorist LP."
I have dreams of performing onstage for huge crowds of safe-driving fans. But in reality, I know this quest is just a slow trip down a long, lonesome highway.
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