Cage Fighting, Busted Pipelines, and Hand Grenades…

Originally published in the Grand Rapids Press, August 28, 2010

First, to explain the topics covered:

There was a recent staging of a mixed martial art (MMA) or “cage fight” event here in Grand Rapids, and apparently it was for amateur fighters. And whereas there are regulations and certain safety rules for professional events (like having a doctor on hand), there are none for amateurs. I think that was it. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know exactly what the story is here. When I see MMA, my tendency is to look the other way. Professional, amateur, whatever — it’s all sort of violence porn to me. It hits so high on my “that’s really stupid” scale, that I cannot generate the energy to learn more.

You may or may not be aware that this summer Michigan had its own oil spill disaster. A pipeline burst and spilled an enormous amount of oil (not BP enormous, but still quite substantial) into the Kalamazoo River. I’m surprised I didn’t cover this earlier, but with one cartoon a week you can only get to so many topics (even doubling up like I did with this one). Anyway, this story led the Grand Rapids Press to do what good journalists do and investigate further. (I’ll give you a moment now to put down your web browser and go buy a dang subscription!) The Press found there are lots and lots of pipelines that transverse Michigan carrying oil, gasoline, natural gas, chemicals, and other toxic nasties — what sort of plans are in place to monitor and maintain these? Turns out, not a lot.

And now for a full disclosure: Credit for the live grenades and minefield line in the third panel should go to Garry Trudeau. One of his very early Doonesbury cartoons (and one of the first that I read) involved his character BD joining the Army to go fight in Vietnam. Some officers were testing new recruits and requested a volunteer to go retrieve a live hand grenade for a minefield — BD races forward enthusiastically screaming, “I’ll do it! I’ll do it!” Obviously it stuck with me, and I ended up paraphrasing it. Of course I know I’m likely the only person in the world (other than Trudeau) who could detect my “sampling,” but telling you makes me feel a little less skeevy. Hmmm… maybe I can relate to MMA promoters….


  1. Daniel Schoonmaker said,

    September 4, 2010 @ 12:15 am

    I missed the story in the Press about the pipelines transversing Michigan and how they are expected. Could you point me to them?

  2. John Auchter said,

    September 4, 2010 @ 10:42 am

    I believe this was the related article:

    I’m pretty sure the Press ran the article (or a variation of it) because I remember seeing a map of Michigan showing various pipeline locations. (Pictures. I remember pictures.) A combination of my incomplete mental functions and MLive’s often frustrating search capabilities seem to be preventing an adequate answer….

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