Thirsty for the Great Lakes

Thirsty for the Great Lakes

Remember the comedian Sam Kinison? It’s fine if you don’t. In fact, I would advise against YouTubing him. (And I disclaim all responsibility if you do.) But back in the 1980s he had a particularly edgy standup bit about world hunger and Western popular reaction to it (Feed the World, USA for Africa, etc.). As was his style, Kinison suckered you in with a low-key, seemingly reasoned assessment of the situation, then, BANG!, smacked you upside the head with a loud, audacious screaming rant. In this case, he went from sympathetically describing the plight of starving people suffering in deserts to highly suggesting they were stupid for not moving to where food can be grown: “WE HAVE DESERTS IN AMERICA, TOO, BUT WE DON’T LIVE IN THEM!!!”

This routine was one of the first things I ever heard described as “politically incorrect.” It most definitely was. But unlike some politicians who “tell it like it is” and “say things others are afraid to say,” Kinison was crossing lines for laughs, not votes. I think that’s an important distinction.

The bit is also funny because it’s wrong. Americans do in fact live in our deserts, and we’ve done nothing but accelerate that population over the past 30 years. Unlike poor countries, we have been able to beat nature with air conditioning and water pumping. Continuing to condition the air is not a big problem. But deserts are deserts by definition because of limited fresh water supplies. It’s no wonder that the parched southwest would cast its thirsty gaze toward our abundant Great Lakes.

I say too bad. We’ve already been kind enough to share our Vernors with the rest of the country. If they want water, they’re gonna have to move here.


  1. Joseph A Kadzban said,

    June 24, 2016 @ 9:48 am

    Great view on this, John. I, too, think they should cast their eyes elsewhere for their Vernors. Oh, and their water too. Like maybe MOVE OUT OF THE DESERT!!! Good old Sam.

  2. Mert Neitzke said,

    June 24, 2016 @ 12:26 pm

    Great cartoon – it’s hard not to feel defensive of the Great Lakes when you live in a land surrounded by the lakes …maybe we should build a giant wall around them! And thanks for the added benefit of hearing screamin” Sam echoing in my mind’s ear, the problem is I keep hearing him scream something about Dr. Ruth and Annie Oakley! (note: tried to post this on the michigan radio site, but I never received my verification email)

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