Sumosonic - Headstone
Date: Mon 09 Dec 1996 - 16:21:54 PST
FROM THE SPORTS DESK: Institute of Sumo (sports) Policy Taskforce plc
The Words Of Headstone
We're doing the watusi here at the Sports Desk. We're doing the watusi for God and for Sumo. We're doing the watusi because of the Love Tank.
Since we here at the Sports Desk were forced to declare unilateral independence from the rest of the House Of Sumo, we have been obliged to make our way by our own efforts. After making a study of the most prevalent Big Ideas of the last few years, we have arrived at a career path choice which we believe suits us perfectly.
It was the recent spate of newspaper articles about the "Fourteenth Century Model" that really opened our eyes to the possibilities. It was so clear that the minds behind this particular Big Idea were completely addled by vicious disassociation, pharmaceutical recklessness and truly epic indolence, that we here at the Sports Desk instantly grasped that the true vocation for those of our talents and principles was on a "think tank". The staff of the Sports Desk have, accordingly, set up as futurologists. Trust us, we are eminently qualified.
The full story of the establishment, aims, funding and activities of the Institute Of Sumo (sports) Policy Taskforce plc will be available to the reader in the forthcoming essay "Be A Road Scout". Today, however, we are doing the watusi like billy-ho. For today we can unveil the first of our suggestions to attract interest from freely and fairly elected democratic governments around the globe. Today we are in a position to tell the world about The Love Tank.
The initial impetus for this project came from our friends in the Indonesian government. They were having difficulties reconciling the country's image as a tourist destination with some of the unfortunate misinformation being peddled by western newspapers alleging unwarranted armed incursion into East Timor. The usual clichis about repression and injustice were being trotted out, and this was not sitting too comfortably with our clients' promotion of places like Bali as holiday paradise resorts.
It struck us at the Sports Desk that the heart of the problem lay in the fact that the image of repression is such an ugly one. Our thoughts turned to the lovely boulevards of Prague, disfigured in the summer of 1968 by the grim presence of Soviet tanks. It was a natural response to the received perception of armed government intervention, and we knew at once that this perception was the thing that we had to change.
In a subsequent brainstorming session one of our most promising young staffers, Alice Dubcek, came up with the concept of "repression with a human face". With that we were on our way.
In an age of global communication, the problem with putting tanks on the streets is that, within hours, the news media of the world can be showing unattractive and dispiriting images of drab military hardware in inappropriate city locations, outraging not only the international community's moral sensibilities, but also its natural instincts for good urban planning. Of course, removing the offending hardware is not an option when dangerous subversive elements are at large; one has to bit the bullet and deal, head-on, with the central issue of presentation. It was as we considered this problem that we came up with the cause of our rejoicing: The Love Tank.
Older readers may recall a motion picture called "Kelly's Heroes", featuring a conscript hippy driving a tank, which he has customised, presumably for the amusement of the film's viewers. Working from this starting point, we have designed a new livery for the Indonesian army's vehicles.
Each of the army's main units is assigned a different pastel colour to serve
as a base.
Thus a tank from, say, the fourth armoured division would be tricked out in a delicate citrus yellow, while the staff car of the Presidential Guard might be painted a lovely powder blue. * Over the base colour the troops themselves will be encouraged to add further decoration, albeit within clearly designated government guidelines.
The troops are to be educated in art and design by an expert team from the Sports Desk, providing a long-overdue and well-paid sojourn in a holiday paradise for our staff, and a splendid photo-opportunity for the soldiers themselves. It will be that much harder for the terrorist classes to describe as ruthless oppressors men who have been seen on global television daubing lovely pink and mauve flowers on their vehicles.
It will be hard, too, for liberals to convince people that the gaily coloured, flower-bedecked vehicles parked like friendly elephants on street corners are in any way a real threat; indeed, that they are there for any other reason than to comfort and amuse a grateful populace.
The Love Tank is a tank that you can park anywhere. Its supposedly murderous intent is almost impossible to take seriously, especially when the tank is seen on TV. it provides a cheap, effective and environmentally acceptable means by which, at a stroke, governments and armies can resolve their awkward public relations problems.
Since we received our initial commission from Jakarta, a number of organisations have expressed interest in The Love Tank, and we are now looking into the possibility of licensing well-know designs from such famous image-makers as Walt Disney Enterprises, Laura Ashley and the Andy Warhol Estate. One of our major customers is liaising with the national tourist agency with a view to featuring popular scenic landmarks on their police wagons. The military of one ancient central European confederation are considering repainting all their hardware in an instantly recognisable shade of violet. Obviously there are also advertising tie-ins to be negotiated here.
Thanks to the good efforts of the Institute Of Sumo (sports) Policy Taskforce plc the era of The Love Tank has arrived. This lasting contribution to peace and stability is but the first in a series of life-enhancing ideas form the Sports Desk. If we may paraphrase the words of one of our greatest role-models, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what the Institute Of Sumo (sports) Policy Taskforce plc can do for your country."
HEADSTONE 1996 *: Consideration of security prevent us from being specific with regard to