Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lost in History vol. 49 - The Few, The Proud, The Idiots

My body hurts. My joints ache. My leg muscles occasionally cramp up on me and when I walk from room to room (because I dare not leave my apartment for fear of the real world outside), my hobbled habits resemble those of an old man, bent at the waist, making tiny little footsteps as each hop hurts. My elbows and kneecaps are bruised. I have a nasty blood-red gash on the bridge of my nose and I can’t quite recall how it got there. My clothes (and before that glorious shower, my body) are covered in an impossible combination of flour, sugar, soy sauce, fish guts, sticky rice, blue, green and orange paint, silly string, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, Crisco, blood, sweat, mucus and god knows what else. Ladies and gentlemen, I am an Idiotarod survivor, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It’s More fun than Halloween, New Years, the Black Label Bike Kill and my birthday combined. Unfortunately for me, I’ll have to wait another 363 days for this glorious event to hurtle round again. I think I have post-Idiotarod depression.

The fifth annual Idiotarod was just held this last Saturday on the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn, and is best summed up with a comparative explanation. The original Iditarod is an 1100-mile dogsled race across the frozen tundras of Alaska. Replace the frozen tundras of Alaska with the icy streets of NYC, replace the sled with decorated and disguised shopping carts, replace the dogs with idiots in costume, and replace the necessary supplies one would need to race across Alaska (health supplements, space-age parkas, portable fire) with copious amounts of alcohol and various kinds of sabotage. Every year the route changes, mostly to keep the cops off our trails. Every year it gets more and more disgusting. And every year yours truly throws together a team and runs with the best of them.Started in San Fransisco in 1994, but exported to New York a decade later, the first two Idiotarods were run by Precision Accidents, a loosely-knit group of spectacle planners and organizers. After Team C.O.B.R.A. won in ’04 and ‘05, Precision Accidents passed the torch along to their special brand of madcap genius, and they’ve organized and hosted the two races since. And it is a race, people. An insane, psychotic, brilliant and absolutely revolting race, but a race nonetheless. The starting point had to be changed three times (from four separate points in Brooklyn/Queens to Ft. Greene Park to Chinatown) to keep the good ole boys in blue away from disrupting the event; at no point did C.O.B.R.A.actually hand out directions or checkpoints prior to the race starting; it was just on your mark, get GO! GO! GO! and the race was off.Our team was a hand-selected and hard(ly) trained squadron of ten individuals, dressed head-to-toe in black, sporting a spectacular silk-screened logo and wielding such weapons as (foamcore) nunchuks, (cardboard) ninja stars, (homemade) grappling hooks, a box of soy sauce-wasabi-water balloons and our proudest achievement: a dozen homemade smoke bombs. That’s right, the Staten Island Ninjas were a formidable team of high-kicking, hand-chopping, whiskey-drinking, sake-smashing, sushi-tossing, Wu-Tang blasting bad-ass idiots indeed.

The race itself? Impossible to describe. I remember a lot of flying projectiles. About eight miles in total, dragging a shopping cart, loaded with supplies, heavily fortified with whiskey, picking fights along the way with other Idiots. A lot of fights. An Amish team throwing dried corn. A “Give Peas A Chance” team throwing wet peas. A lot of wigs. Pop culture references galore. Pictures do a million times better than any nouns, verbs or adjectives. In the end, the Staten Island Ninjas didn’t win any officially prizes. (However every year I award myself certain hard-earned titles. This year I won the “Most Aggressive with Total Strangers” and the “Most Makeouts with Pretty Ladies” award, totaling in at 3 and between 3-5, respectively.) However, when it comes to the Idiotarod, everyone’s a winner. Except for the NYC Sanitation Department (see LIH vol. 48), who presumably has to clean up the aftermath.

More picture of the Staten Island Ninjas can been seen on my Flickr page.

(originally published on www.thelmagazine.com)

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