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This was a fun piece. I had originally titled it "Impaired Vision" but the editors either didn't understand the reference or didn't care. Often editors are smarter than I am, so I adopted the title given by the CHICAGO TRIBUNE. The essay was written just following the November, 1994 Congressional elections and the dawn of the so-called Republican Revolution.

Cultural Conspiracy by Marty Gallanter

I have confirmed my worst fear. Government regulation has reached a new low.

I had heard rumors about an act of cultural treason, but my first official word came from Officer Paul Barts of the Tyler, Minnesota (pop. 1257) police department. Paul passed on the sad tidings as I climbed down from my Blazer on Main Street just before an expected community visit from Santa Claus on the night following Thanksgiving. He didn't give me a ticket (only the troopers enforced the regulation, he said); but the revelation seriously dampened my Christmas spirit. Still, a part of me refused to believe that such insidiousness was possible.

Fuzzy dice are illegal!

It's true. I conducted my own investigation and found while the law is not aimed directly at the dice, it does forbid the act of dangling them from your rear view mirror.

As my widening inquest revealed, certain rule makers in St. Paul decided that fuzzy dice, hanging on the interior of an automotive windshield, obstruct the driver's vision... therefore are unsafe... therefore are banned. Baby shoes, graduation tassels and even tiny bouncing teddy bears are forbidden under the same regulation. In case you're thinking that this strange phenomenon is the result of some peculiar brain condition connected to extended Minnesota winters, the rule-makers in Albany, Sacramento and Harrisburg, to name just a few, are all part of the same conspiracy.

Yes... that's what I said... conspiracy. Though they banned all sorts of dangling things in an effort to cover their true purpose, I am convinced that it was the dice and the dice alone that the rule makers were targeting.

And though I've yet to check every capital, I can now say with confidence that Rock and Roll stations, all over America, who give away fuzzy dice in trade for answers to music trivia are aiding and abetting law-breakers in at least a dozen states.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't remember hearing anything on the news about a rash of dicey vision-disturbed highway accidents. Still, there must be, somewhere, hidden in the fatality numbers, a tide of shocking fuzzy-dice deaths. If not, why would so many rule-makers choose to place a baby-boomer icon on the banned list? These folks wouldn't make up a regulation without a good reason...

Would they?

Once upon a time, I might have been willing to endure the gospel of "government knows best" and accept this rule along with those that insist we use seat belts or motorcycle helmets. But, fortunately, before I fell into peaceful conformity, I spotted the pattern that reveals the true, hidden agenda of these anonymous stone-faced civil servants.

Until recently fuzzy dice were... well, let's admit it... just plain tacky. Even back in high school, these stupid-looking cubes were only displayed by the guys with black leather jackets and girl friends who wore too much make-up. The culture of the 1950s has not been socially acceptable for years.

I'm not kidding. Consider this; Elvis became an overweight drug addict... Richard Nixon a disgraced liar. A hamburger and malted-milk meal now represents a week's worth of saturated fat and that little short-skirted uniform that the car-hop used to wear when she delivered your edible heart-attack is, without doubt, sexual exploitation. The "Red Menace" is no longer menacing while "cruising" the boulevard in an oversize V-8 is total environmental irresponsibility. Some sociologists even claim that the family-centered society of the era (Father Knows Best, the Donna Reed Show) was a fraud. If these values were real and substantial, the academicians assert, the rebellions of the Sixties would never have happened.

Don't even ask about that pack of cigarettes you used to roll up in the sleeve of your T-shirt.

Now do you see what I mean? It doesn't take Einstein to spot a carefully orchestrated plot, executed slowly over many years with such deliberation that most of us never noticed.

Then, in the 1990s, thanks to the growing popularity of "golden oldies" radio stations, this particular decorative device started to make a slow but steady nostalgic comeback. The bureaucrats could not help but notice that a piece of the politically incorrect Fifties might now be seen dangling from BMW and Volvo mirrors in Los Angeles, suburban New York and Washington D.C. That had to stop. Left unchecked, this 1950s expression of minor rebellion might have led to the restoration of other and greater evils... like plain-white t-shirts (without printing), James Dean movies or even poodle skirts. So the rule-makers did the only thing they could do... they found a barely plausible reason to make the dice illegal.

But even as I reveal their conspiracy, at the very time their diabolical work is exposed to the light of dawn, the foundation of their plot is crumbling... and without my help.

Last November our nation nostalgically cast a decisive ballot in favor of the 1950s, or at least 1950s government. The Republican victory in the House of Representatives (the last one came when Ike was president) promises a less powerful, gentler, smaller government... one without heavy-handed regulations and one with more individual freedom, just like in the Fifties. Only, I hope, better. The last time the Fifties ended, we had to live through the Sixties, and I'm too old to do that over again.

But, if the politicians are truly finally listening to the people, as they claim, it won't be long before I can take my fuzzy dice out of the glove compartment and proudly hang them from the mirror once more.

##

Today (January, 2009) it appears that the Republican Revolution might become just a footnote in history. But you and I know that the Grand Old Party lost its real opportunity to change the American landscape for the good. I'm sorry to say that fuzzy dice are still illegal.

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