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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Me, mocking city officials, and vice versa

Charlie Schmidt admires Doug Clark’s face while Clark, background, listens to  Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin read a proclamation Thursday.  (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Charlie Schmidt admires Doug Clark’s face while Clark, background, listens to Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin read a proclamation Thursday. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

The public unveiling of the Dougbench – my very own bus bench advertisement – was just about the most fun I’ve had with my clothes on.

We laughed. We sang. We mocked authority.

We ate Twinkies …

The frivolity unfolded noon Thursday on the southwest corner of Broadway Avenue and Jefferson Street, which is dangerously close to the Spokane County Courthouse and our local cop shops.

I’m attributing two reasons for the event’s sizzling success.

1. About 50 or so good-hearted souls braved the cold, windy weather to attend the ceremony. (This would have been really embarrassing if nobody showed up.)

2. No cops wandered over from the Public Safety Building to engage in billy-club crowd control or light me up with Tasers like an after-dinner stogie.

As I’ve said in columns past, I decided to get an ad as a social comment as well as shameless self-promotion.

Call it a protest of the city’s nitwit war on bus bench advertising.

Sheesh. With all the energy Spokane Mayor Mary Verner and her Oompa-Loompas have expended on this issue, they could have done something worthwhile. Annex Spokane Valley, say.

The mayor is in such a lather about bus benches that she’s now – stand back, folks – formed a committee to study it to death.

Whoa. Scary.

But getting back to our Dougbench program …

Joe Brasch, my buddy and guitar ace bandmate, played some hot leads while I sang a few of my original songs about some of Spokane’s tourism draws.

You know, like the Gypsy curse hanging over the city.

Charlie Schmidt, my amigo and creator of the Dougbench artwork, provided the beats on his bongo box.

Then came the big lift-off.

Kudos to Nancy McLaughlin. The Spokane city councilwoman showed up right on time and with a prepared speech.

She also graciously volunteered to help me remove a temporary cover that had been placed over the Dougbench, along with American-flag helium balloons.

(Mayor Verner didn’t show despite the personal invitation I delivered. This woman really needs to readjust her priorities.)

Cue the wild applause and enthusiastic cheers.

The Dougbench ad features my oversized, smirking face along with the words: “Wake Up and Read Me.”

I handed McLaughlin the microphone so she could address the crowd.

“You’re a brave man, Doug, because there are some who might suggest that this face, uh, I mean advertisement, is visual blight.”

Huh? Did McLaughlin confuse the Dougbench unveiling for open mike night at a comedy club?

She kept going.

“… Has anyone suggested that they are probably going to need to hire 24/7 security to keep your bench in acceptable condition for the city?”

“… Since this is the National Day of Prayer, I’d like to suggest that we all take a moment to pray for Doug’s, I mean, the bench’s safety, as I’m sure it’s going to need it.

“… And let’s pray that this advertisement will help stimulate business for The Spokesman-Review because I have no doubt that they need it!”

Yowza. Who knew McLaughlin was so funny?

Thanks also to Councilman Bob Apple. It was nice of him to come down, too.

Council President Joe Shogan sent the following excuse for not being there.

“I got caught in a meeting. … At any rate, like I said, if you want to sell the opportunity to sit on your face for a buck each for the food bank, then I will be there.”

What a guy.

I can’t tell you how exciting it is to now have my own bus bench ad.

Since today is Mother’s Day, I plan to let my mom sit on it as her present.

I just hope urban terrorists haven’t embellished my photo with devil horns or a Hitler mustache. My sweet mom is 86 years old. A shock like that could be too much for her.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at dougc@spokesman.com.
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