Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Larry Craig restroom a Minnesota tourist attraction!

From the New York Times, for God’s sake:

Fateful Bathroom Draws Crowds of the Curious

Andy King/Associated Press


…Since Aug. 27, when the arrest of Mr. Craig became known publicly, the restroom has become a source of amusement for travelers and employees at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Some pose for pictures before the outer door. Others enter to zoom in on the light-blue stall the senator used, the eighth of nine in a row. The undercover officer who arrested Mr. Craig was in the stall to his right, the seventh stall.

Foot traffic outside the restroom, which is just off the central food court, has quadrupled, said Rosemary Zeno, who works at Royal Zeno Shoe Shine next door. Ms. Zeno says she fields some 50 questions a day about the bathroom. “It’s ridiculous,” she said. “They need to cut it out.”

Disgraceful. At a time when the state is so starved for cash that it lets a bridge collapse, Minnesota governor and GOP vice-presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty is letting another key revenue opportunity slip through the state’s hands, here.

Now is the time to jump on this one. Pawlenty should sign an executive ordering setting up a booth outside the restroom, with a state parks official staffing it to answer questions and hand out brochures. Eight bucks if you want to take the tour. That’s a very busy airport, a lot of people stuck there waiting for cancelled Northwest flights and connections. We could make a bundle.

It’s a prime location. $8.00 a head, groups of ten, maximum, with the ranger giving a twenty minute presentation: the biographical background on Craig, Sergeant Karsnia, brief history of the sting operation, re-enactment by the ranger and a volunteer from the group to play Karsnia in the next stall. Brief account of the arrest, Craig’s statements during interrogation, update on the political and legal aftermath—give everyone a chance to sit in Craig’s stall—then “thank you for joining the tour,” and bang! “Next group, please.” It’s a beautiful thing, the ranger doesn’t even have to stop to give out directions to the restrooms.

It might end up being like Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, where you go to compare your footprint with those of the movie stars, set in concrete. You could go on down to the restroom and sit in a stall and compare your stance to Larry Craig’s.

Let’s see–- three groups of ten an hour–that’s $160 bucks an hour. People are stuck there all night, so pretty steady traffic. You could do advance bookings via Gray Line, other tour companies, offer the tour as an add-on via online travel services like Expedia and Travelocity. That’s an international airport; they get all the KLM/Northwest flights from Europe. You could get groups of Dutch, French, Belgians, whatever—all those people speak English now; the dollar is weak and they’ve got nothing to do in the airport; I’m sure they’d love to hear the story.

Now the $160 an hour doesn’t sound like much, but after two tours you’ve already paid the tour guide’s salary, the rest is gravy. And these people have to eat, right? Right there, bars and restaurants, we’re golden. And then you’ve got the souvenirs, memorabilia. Get your picture taken next to a life-size cardboard cut-out of Craig, standing in front of the restroom. T-shirts: “I sat in Larry Craig’s stall and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”–that’s twenty bucks a pop. “Ten per cent of every item sold goes to fund infrastructure repair in Minnesota.”

I don’t see any downside to this one at all. We’re already getting free press in the NYT, for Chrissake’s! Get a move on on this one, Pawlenty! Hop to it!



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