MAD DOG: Very, Very Bad Ideas

If there’s one thing we as humans never seem to be at a loss for, it’s bad ideas. You can tell because there are so many more of them than good ones. For every electric light bulb there are five George Forman Lean Mean Who-Needs-‘em Machines. For every Battle of Yorktown there are three Waterloos. If ideas were scales they’d be so out of balance the Department of Weights and Measures would shut the world down for cheating ourselves.

Recently, the National Rifle Association held its 129th annual convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. This in itself isn’t such a bad idea. After all, I rather like knowing that so many of its members are in one place and that it’s on the opposite side of the country from me. But in amongst the meetings, seminars, and exhibition hall displaying more arms than an octopus family reunion, executive vice-president Wayne LaPierre announced that the organization is planning a theme restaurant and megastore in Times Square.

This pretty much defines bad idea. NRA members or not, are there really many people who think dining in a restaurant themed around guns and rifles is a good idea? Somehow the thought of ordering a Smith & Wesson 38 Ounce Special Hamburger and washing it down with a Colt .45 malt liquor doesn’t sound like a lot of fun to me. And couldn’t it be dangerous to belly up to the bar and ask for a shooter? You’d probably get a room full of volunteers and that would be dangerously close to conspiracy under existing federal law. God help anyone who asks for six shooters, someone’s bound to misunderstand and launch into a lecture about how the new Glock 9mm is a vastly superior weapon.

They won’t be selling guns or ammunition at the unnamed restaurant and megastore (I hereby donate the name "Up in Arms Cafe" free of royalties and credit). They will, however, be selling plenty of outdoor and camping equipment bearing the NRA logo, so if you see people walking around the street wearing blaze orange hunting vests with a big DKNY on the back it has nothing to do with Donna Karan, it probably stands for Deer Killer Near You. And since the NRA, like the casinos in Las Vegas, know that it’s important to be family-friendly ("C’mon kids! Have your next birthday party at the Bang-Bang Cafe!") they’re planning on having an arcade with virtual shooting games. Wisely, they’re not going to call them shooting galleries since they don’t want anyone confusing their restaurant with Heroin Heaven down the block.

See, it’s not the fact that they’re opening a restaurant that’s such a bad idea, it’s that we need another theme restaurant like Tommy Lee needs a new video camera. We’re already overloaded with theme restaurants. It used to be there were just a few of them, mostly seafood restaurants where the servers dressed up like pirates and a chain named after owls where the waitresses dress like sluts. But then the Hard Rock Cafe hit the scene and ever since there’s been an onslaught of restaurants based on sports, record labels, fashion models, motorcycles, submarines, and even Baywatch. Did someone in the NRA let their newspaper subscription lapse and not hear that the Planet Hollywood chain, with all its star power, has been shrinking faster than Arnold diving into ice water? Besides, there’s already a chain of fast food joints called Bullets, how much of this do we need?

Speaking of Planet Hollywood, it’s no surprise their idea didn’t work since Hollywood’s not exactly known for its good ideas. Take the upcoming fall TV season which has just been announced. Boy, do we have a lot to look forward to. Well, as long as you have a death wish you want to fulfill using boredom as the weapon. It’s not enough that half the new shows are creatively named after their star -- The Bette Show, The Jamie Foxx Show, The Steve Harvey Show, The Michael Richards Show, Schimmel, The Steven Weber Show, and Geena -- but they’re actually bringing back The Fugitive. Now there’s a concept. Let’s take a TV show that was turned into a movie and make it into another TV show. Can The Fugitive theme restaurant be far behind?

While you’re sitting around waiting for Richard Kimble’s mid-season replacement you might want to light a few candles in the hopes that CBS and Menahem Golan come to their senses. It turns out both parties have independently had what they think is a good idea: a movie -- or a miniseries if we’re real lucky -- based on the Elian Gonzalez story. Two of them. This is actually a great idea because there’s no doubt the three people in the country who aren’t sick to death of this story will tune in. Probably while eating their home-delivered Second Amendment Cafe Road Pizza Supreme™.

Then we have the Blair Witch Project. That in itself wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, though there are a lot of people still sucking down Dramamine who might debate the point. No, the truly bad ideas cropped up afterwards, once it was successful. First, someone decided to make Blair Witch Project II. With a different director. Then two Sega theme parks in Japan opened attractions based on the movie. I haven’t been there but I have a feeling the idea is to make you so dizzy you don’t know what you’re saying so you tell your friends they have to go on the ride too. Why would Hollywood, after all these years, still feel the need to avenge Pearl Harbor?

There are more bad ideas. Plenty more. In fact, it’s starting to feel like bad ideas are one of our richest natural resources. Hopefully the government won’t catch wind of this or they’ll decide they should be protected. This would be one of the worst ideas yet. After all, it’s good ideas that are the endangered species.

More Mad Dog can be found online at

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