If You Wanna Run Cool

Municipal codes keep fortunetellers, prophets and paupers out of St. Louis, Jeff Smith's campaign violates the time-space continuum, and Bill Haas fights back; plus, if the conversion van's rockin', don't come knockin'.

With the summer road-trip season upon us, it's not rocket science to surmise that gas is freakin' expensive. And conversion vans, generally speaking, get better gas mileage than sport-utility vehicles, folks, which means that Missouri -- a state long hip to the van plan -- stands poised to make conversion vans the new black. With this in mind, Unreal asked Dave Sinclair Ford van specialist Doug Kriete to weigh in on the phenomenon.

Unreal: How long have you been a van-conversion specialist?

Doug Kriete: I've been involved in vans for twelve years.

Poor Dave didn't sell this "extremely straight-laced" 
couple their "Party on Wheels" package. Dave is 
wearing pants, though.
Poor Dave didn't sell this "extremely straight-laced" couple their "Party on Wheels" package. Dave is wearing pants, though.
Mike Gorman

Have you witnessed a noticeable spike in van conversions since the 9/11 terrorist attacks?

I have seen somewhat of an increase, but no spike. I'd say we're about five to seven percent up.

Are pimped-out vans as cool now as they were during the A-Team's peak popularity?

No, what has happened is they've gone much more mainstream. There are basically two buying groups: soccer moms that have two or three kids, and the 55-and-over crowd who want to travel and aren't ready to buy the $250,000 RV camper. These vehicles, very candidly, are good at two things: movin' kids and takin' trips. The van buyer is more of an independent thinker. They're not just buying an SUV and minivan because that's what everybody's got. It gives you better gas mileage than any SUV out there. I've gotten 23 mpg out of these things.

What will it take to enable the great state of Missouri -- currently ranked ninth among states in van-conversion sales -- to catch third-place Illinois? Would Chicago have to secede and form the 51st state of North Ditka?

Yeah, that's what needs to happen. They've got, what, 4 million people concentrated with, relatively speaking, good income. And these people take trips.

Can conversion vans be considered a naturopathic Viagra substitute? Is there a conversion package that you market as "The Bone Zone"?

No. Granted, we'd love to be able to have the 22-year-old college kids see these as a good value, but we don't.

Along the same lines, do you have a package that you call "Party on Wheels," wherein the casual road soda fiesta becomes a seriously mobile fender bender?

No. It's extremely straight-laced people buying them.

Why does Dave Sinclair stand behind a podium during his TV commercials? Is he naked from the waist down?

To the best of my knowledge, he is fully clothed in a matching suit. In fact, I've never seen him wear a sport coat.

Knowledge Is Power

How long a leash are we St. Louisans on, anyway? Consider these entries from the city's municipal code (pared down for the sake of clarity):

  • Spitting upon any sidewalk or upon any walk in any park or public place is a misdemeanor.

  • No person shall practice within the city the avocation, profession or art of fortuneteller, clairvoyant, spirit medium, necromancer, seer, astrologist, palmist, prophet or other like crafty or occult art.

  • It shall be the duty of all employers of females in any mercantile business or occupation to provide and maintain suitable seats for the use of female employees.

  • No person, firm or corporation shall own, possess, use, distribute or sell any kite which can conduct an electrical current.

  • It is unlawful to bring into the city a pauper or insane person who is likely to become a charge upon the city.

  • It shall be unlawful to conduct any sale in the front yard of a residential property.

  • All personal pick-up trucks shall have no advertisement or writing displayed thereon except that which the truck manufacturer, or the dealer who sold the truck, routinely places on trucks.

  • No barbershop shall remain open after six-thirty p.m. on the following days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday of each and every week.

  • It is unlawful for any person to conduct, operate or participate in a contest of human endurance in the city.

  • No public dance hall shall permit the use of any immoral, profane or indecent language or to allow or permit any indecent act, such as dancing couples assuming vulgar or suggestive positions or performing vulgar or suggestive movements.

Bill Me

Regarding your comment in the June 9 Riverfront Times that "[i]t's nice to have a substantive question rather than the prurient merde I've gotten so far":

Where do you get off saying other people's letters are shit? You're writing a column about relationships. You can't say, "This letter is shit," and toss it! If you don't like what you're getting, quit.

Another thing: In the previous column, the June 2 one in which you were asked your opinion on anal sex, you called the person who submitted a letter to you an "asshole." Where do you get off? You're offering your opinion on a question, not on the questioner or their political background, you pompous ass.

It seems the Riverfront Times will let anyone into their midst to gain some form of popularity. I guess it's true: The RFT lets loser hack writers on because -- drum roll -- they really have hit rock bottom.
Bill Me!

Thank you for your kind letter. It's always nice to hear from another one of our Republican readers, literate or not, and pretty much the only person in the city who doesn't seem to love my column. In answer to your questions and comments:

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