A necessary evil of any city is the morning commute, but in the Minnesota Experimental City (or MXC), things are done a little bit differently. For starters, if you lived in town you could forget the car altogether, since personal automobiles were to be restricted to the city's perimeter. Not just to ease congestion, reduce pollution, encourage foot traffic, or any of those other pussy hippie concerns -- but because the entire downtown area was to be covered by a temperature-controlled geodesic dome. And that's perfect if you've always wanted to live inside a giant game of Trouble. But it is not without its downsides.
As illustrated here.
Living in a dome doesn't eliminate crime, after all -- there are still going to be rough parts of town. It's like the great man once said: "Just because we're trapped in a bubble, doesn't mean we can't cause any trouble." So what if you live in the dome and you're not entirely comfortable with throwing Junior on public transit to receive his education? Well, MXC has thought of that, too: Instead of going to class, Junior will be practicing lifelong learning -- An educational theory that has children constantly building knowledge throughout their lifetimes, and according to their own wishes, with no compulsory formal education. In theory, this would result in well-rounded children with an eternal passion for all things academic. In practice, it actually results in agoraphobic Level 60 clerics who fly into rages when they see people kissing, as anybody who's known a homeschooled child can attest to.
Cue the furious comments ... now!
This is indicative of the core problem with the MXC: Being a domed city just wasn't enough for them; absolutely everything was to be experimental. From the moving sidewalks to the driverless minibuses, all the way down to and including the poop: In MXC, all toilets would be waterless toilets. So all told, it's probably a good thing that MXC did not come to fruition: The idea of a self-contained bubble full of social-anxiety-suffering fecalphiliacs, where every transport is public transport, is a dystopian nightmare that would terrify Orwell himself.
Illustrated proof that Hell = Other People.
Back in the 1920s, Henry Ford had grown sick of a lot of things: Horse-drawn carriages, Jews, sanity - but most of all he was sick and god damn tired of having to fill Ford Motor Company's tire needs by paying in to the British rubber monopoly. So he did what any other reasonable businessman would do when faced with the rising costs of raw materials:
He had an entire fucking city built in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest.
And then he cut an album.
Fordlandia was born, and with it the hopes of reestablishing a major rubber producing presence in Brazil. The goal was to put out a staggering eight million tires annually, while simultaneously improving the Brazilian workers' way of life. Ford offered to pay his Fordlandia workforce up to 75% more than other East Indies plantations were paying, as well as provide them with free housing, food and medical care. And as an added bonus he threw in a community pool, shops, restaurants and even a golf course. It's like Ford took all that hatred of the Jews, and just shuffled it over into love for the Brazilians. Likely because of their excellent rhythm and notoriously fantastic asses. Who can blame him?
Above: Brazil's primary export.
Unfortunately, Ford also implemented a strictly enforced Midwestern style of living. This extended to every aspect of life, even down to diet: Ford's workers were fed an unfamiliar and inevitably gut-wrenching diet (like hamburgers, which were alien to them and could not be digested comfortably.) There were also mandatory awkward social events like western dances and poetry readings, as well as a 9 to 5 workday - which is fine when you don't live in the tropics. But in Brazil, that translates to toiling under the hot, tropical sun during the hottest part of the day. All of this culture shock resulted in low morale, a high turnover rate and eventually, riots. Not that it mattered much, since the factory supervisors (read: not horticulturalists) that Ford put in charge of the plantation, knew precisely dick about growing rubber trees in the Amazon. As a result, the trees were constantly under attack by insects and disease.
"Experts cost money, Jenkins. Anyone can drill holes into a goddamn tree."
So was it worth it at least? Did all of this turmoil help Fordlandia meet its goal of eight million tires produced? Not even close: Exactly zero tires were made from rubber produced in Fordlandia.
That's right: He missed his production goal by infinity percent.
He'd have made off better paying his workers to steal old tires from dumps.
But perhaps worst of all, this whole thing occurred during the 1920's, meaning it was Prohibition era in the United States. Ford applied this same ban on alcohol -- also throwing in a tobacco ban, just for shits and giggles -- to the residents of Fordlandia, which extended all the way into their own residences. Understandably, Fordlandians really wanted to drink away the shame of that evening's mandatory sock-hop and Frost reading. So to get around the ban, they established a community of bars and brothels five miles or so up the river, called the "Island of Innocence." And that's almost more insane -imagine, a community devoted solely to drinking!
Like all men named Mel, Mel Johnson loved to get hilariously shitfaced. But Johnson didn't love drinking like we do: Like a secret lover, made all the more tantalizing by the taboo of visiting them in the daytime. No, he loved it like a religious zealot loves the Lord: With complete and total devotion. He was so passionate about drinking, that he felt there should be an entire city devoted solely to it. So, in 1950 he began his elaborate plan to build this "lush" paradise. Mel set out to establish BoozeTown.
He was immediately accused of plagiarism by every city in Texas.
BoozeTown was to come about in three stages. First, it would be built as a vacation spot with practically nothing but 24-hour bars and hotels Mel hoped to establish BoozeTown as the exclusive spot for celebrities to overindulge with impunity. Then, once enough revenue was raised from the tourism stage, the next step would be to build an elaborate transportation network, including an electric trolley system to eliminate drunk driving and moving sidewalks to assist the stumblers- because drunk people have no problem mounting moving sidewalks; everybody who's gotten drunk in an airport bar can verify that. Finally, with his vacation spot in full tilt, Johnson would establish the residential communities and focus on growing BoozeTown's full-time population. If that sounds too crazy to believe, keep in mind the concept has already been proven sound, just with a different vice: Gambling.
That's almost the exact path Las Vegas followed on its way to cityhood.
It goes without saying that the police force in BoozeTown had to be unique: Dubbed The Party Police, law enforcement would not be patrolling the streets looking to haul your sloppy ass to jail. In fact, those who had a few too many would merely be escorted home by the friendly officers and tucked in to bed - but not read a story: That's the Bureau of Storytime's job.
Even the city infrastructure touted a hefty alcohol theme. Street names included Gin Lane and Scotch Street, and the city's headquarters would be shaped like a giant martini glass, complete with rooftop olive garden.
Because nothing inspires faith in one's government like having them meet in a giant liquor glass.
Unfortunately, while Johnson was worth a few hundred thousand bucks himself, he by no means had the capital to back up his plan. So he hosted fundraising events (a.k.a. parties) where he liquored up the potential investors before selling them on his idea. But as with almost anything that seems great while drunk, it quickly loses its luster come morning. Johnson was the only one who never sobered up long enough to realize it himself, however, so when the booze wore off of his investors, Johnson was left with nothing. He died in a mental hospital in 1966 after having been diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic.
Pour one (keg) out for our fallen homey.
The founder of Pukesberg and Drunken Assaultville, a crazy person? No!
You're sure to learn more in the brand new Cracked.com book!
For a real live insane city, check out Should I Build in Dubai? Checklist for (Crazy) Architects. Or check out other ways humans are thumbing their noses at nature, in The 5 Ballsiest Ways Man Has Replaced Nature.
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