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Paul Turner: Florida man’s got nothing on Spokane man

Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Paul Turner (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

You might have encountered “Florida Man.”

It’s an internet buzz phrase focusing on the misadventures and criminal antics of various thusly described Sunshine State ne’er-do-wells. Apparently, enthusiasm for Florida Man and his comic ineptitude has been sweeping the nation. Which brings up a question.

What about Spokane Man? What’s he, chopped lentils?

Based on use of that phrase in actual headlines and articles appearing in this newspaper, I have been writing about Spokane Man for years and years. And I think it might be safe to say some of Spokane Man’s mind-boggling feats of drunken idiocy rival anything Florida Man has to offer.

You want ludicrously erratic gunplay or the stupidest imaginable disputes with a neighbor? Spokane Man has you covered. You want astonishing feats of driving while stoned or going about in public without benefit of pants? Ditto.

So why does Florida Man get all the love, so to speak? Is being in an inebriated stupor and trying to pet an alligator that much more interesting than trying to abscond with a marmot? Well, I have a theory.

The online blunders and stumbles of Florida Man are all made up. So is Florida. Yes, maybe Jimmy Kimmel is on to something.

Now this might sound like an odd claim, especially since I was under the impression I had been to that alleged state several times. But have I really? Or was I just doing my impression of Spokane Man on a blackout bender?

Let’s move on.

Embracing the season

Because the February snow lingered well into March and past the official start of spring, Spokane is behind schedule in one regard.

We’re getting a late start on “Get off my lawn!” season. But I’m confident we can catch up.

Here’s the thing, though. Nobody actually says, “Get off my lawn!”

At least not that I’ve heard, not seriously anyway. And I have lived here since the 1980s.

Yes, I’ve proposed more than once over the years that the expression be named our official civic motto. But only in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way. It might show we have a sense of humor about Spokane’s arguably outdated reputation for being a tad uptight.

(Though, to be honest, I still prefer something said to me by a cyclist in a pack of faster, younger riders as I was pedaling my way downtown: “You’re welcome to join us.” I love that. What could be more inviting? Let’s have T-shirts made.)

But getting back to “Get off my lawn!”

I’ve always held out the hope that, if I did say that to some neighborhood youth, the pint-sized delinquent would immediately realize I was trying to be amusing. It’s remarkably satisfying when something you say cracks up a 7-year-old.

We had the windows open the other day and I heard a child outside laughing. What a marvelous sound. But I digress.

When I was a kid, we had a neighbor named Mr. Kirsch. He didn’t demand that we get off his lawn. Instead, he threatened in a gruff voice to call the Highway Patrol. Never the municipal police or the Grass Protection Squad. It was always the Highway Patrol. Perhaps he was a fan of an old Broderick Crawford TV show by that name.

I would eventually come to realize that Mr. Kirsch was an accomplished suburban humorist, seemingly right out of the pages of Mad magazine.

But would those encountering “Get off my lawn!” as Spokane’s community slogan see the humor in it? Perhaps. But maybe not.

Still, it might be entertaining to poke fun at the image of Spokane being populated by grouchy old fist-waving coots. You know, something that suggests we can take a joke.

Or I suppose some might assume the message is directed at dogs.

In any event, at least for the time being, we’re no longer tempted to say, “Get off my snow!”

Speaking of Spokane

What should be this city’s graphic symbol?

The falls? A pothole? The Monroe Street Bridge?

We might not all agree. But I think it ought to be a graphic depiction of a waiting room at a medical specialist’s office. I mean, that’s why people in the region come to Spokane, right?

Now, just how exactly one might illustrate that is an open question. I’m thinking maybe a drawing of someone covering his ears because of a blaring TV that can’t be turned down.


End note

I wonder who around here has the greatest number of tiny, almost imperceptible burn scars as a result of accidentally touching hot surfaces in the oven or on the stove top. Surely, to be a contender for this honored status, someone would need to have about 1,000 of them. Right?

Columnist Paul Turner can be reached at