Unreal: How long have you been a van-conversion specialist?
Doug Kriete: I've been involved in vans for twelve years.
Have you witnessed a noticeable spike in van conversions since the 9/11 terrorist attacks?
I have seen somewhat of an increase, but no spike. I'd say we're about five to seven percent up.
Are pimped-out vans as cool now as they were during the A-Team's peak popularity?
No, what has happened is they've gone much more mainstream. There are basically two buying groups: soccer moms that have two or three kids, and the 55-and-over crowd who want to travel and aren't ready to buy the $250,000 RV camper. These vehicles, very candidly, are good at two things: movin' kids and takin' trips. The van buyer is more of an independent thinker. They're not just buying an SUV and minivan because that's what everybody's got. It gives you better gas mileage than any SUV out there. I've gotten 23 mpg out of these things.
What will it take to enable the great state of Missouri -- currently ranked ninth among states in van-conversion sales -- to catch third-place Illinois? Would Chicago have to secede and form the 51st state of North Ditka?
Yeah, that's what needs to happen. They've got, what, 4 million people concentrated with, relatively speaking, good income. And these people take trips.
Can conversion vans be considered a naturopathic Viagra substitute? Is there a conversion package that you market as "The Bone Zone"?
No. Granted, we'd love to be able to have the 22-year-old college kids see these as a good value, but we don't.
Along the same lines, do you have a package that you call "Party on Wheels," wherein the casual road soda fiesta becomes a seriously mobile fender bender?
No. It's extremely straight-laced people buying them.
Why does Dave Sinclair stand behind a podium during his TV commercials? Is he naked from the waist down?
To the best of my knowledge, he is fully clothed in a matching suit. In fact, I've never seen him wear a sport coat.
Knowledge Is Power
How long a leash are we St. Louisans on, anyway? Consider these entries from the city's municipal code (pared down for the sake of clarity):
- Spitting upon any sidewalk or upon any walk in any park or public place is a misdemeanor.
- No person shall practice within the city the avocation, profession or art of fortuneteller, clairvoyant, spirit medium, necromancer, seer, astrologist, palmist, prophet or other like crafty or occult art.
- It shall be the duty of all employers of females in any mercantile business or occupation to provide and maintain suitable seats for the use of female employees.
- No person, firm or corporation shall own, possess, use, distribute or sell any kite which can conduct an electrical current.
- It is unlawful to bring into the city a pauper or insane person who is likely to become a charge upon the city.
- It shall be unlawful to conduct any sale in the front yard of a residential property.
- All personal pick-up trucks shall have no advertisement or writing displayed thereon except that which the truck manufacturer, or the dealer who sold the truck, routinely places on trucks.
- No barbershop shall remain open after six-thirty p.m. on the following days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday of each and every week.
- It is unlawful for any person to conduct, operate or participate in a contest of human endurance in the city.
- No public dance hall shall permit the use of any immoral, profane or indecent language or to allow or permit any indecent act, such as dancing couples assuming vulgar or suggestive positions or performing vulgar or suggestive movements.
Regarding your comment in the June 9 Riverfront Times that "[i]t's nice to have a substantive question rather than the prurient merde I've gotten so far":
Where do you get off saying other people's letters are shit? You're writing a column about relationships. You can't say, "This letter is shit," and toss it! If you don't like what you're getting, quit.
Another thing: In the previous column, the June 2 one in which you were asked your opinion on anal sex, you called the person who submitted a letter to you an "asshole." Where do you get off? You're offering your opinion on a question, not on the questioner or their political background, you pompous ass.
It seems the Riverfront Times will let anyone into their midst to gain some form of popularity. I guess it's true: The RFT lets loser hack writers on because -- drum roll -- they really have hit rock bottom.
Thank you for your kind letter. It's always nice to hear from another one of our Republican readers, literate or not, and pretty much the only person in the city who doesn't seem to love my column. In answer to your questions and comments:
I meant "prurient merde" as a compliment and to make the point that I don't mind answering questions about sex, even if it's a little embarrassing and I get some flack for it being an elected public official and all, but I was pleased to get a question about relationships, where I think my real strengths lie.
Actually, the writer of the June 2 called me an "asshole," not the other way around. You'll have to learn to read better; it's going to be on the test, man. And I'd call you an asshole, but that would be wrong, and you'd probably get confused and think that you called me one and then get embarrassed and have to apologize.
If you can't understand this letter, feel free to have someone explain it to you. And write again any time. Really? Not really.
Which brings me to something I'd actually like to discuss: the sex scandal that ended Jack Ryan's Senate campaign in Illinois. The search for sexual novelty is almost always a bad sign for a relationship, and like other addictions, it is never satisfied and almost never controlled. Judging from the four or five love relationships I've been in, if the feelings are sweet, the affection is always special, always a blessing and never boring, no matter how simple. Like out of bed, if you're together, it's all good.
Generally, I think public officials' private lives should not be fair game for the media unless there are clear lessons about character to be drawn, but as there are no laws limiting such disclosures, they will be made. Are there character lessons to be learned here? To the extent you can believe the testimony, he did seem selfish and insensitive toward his honey, and if you're going to treat her like that, how will you treat the voters?
Finally, as for the S&M aspect of the allegations: as Madonna sang, "Hanky panky, I need a good spanky." What Republican doesn't deserve to be beaten for the way they treat the American people? It's nice to see a Republican at least trying to enjoy himself, for a change.
Address matters of love and lust to firstname.lastname@example.org, or stamp and send to Bill Me! c/o Riverfront Times, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130. You can also call 314-754-6411 and leave a voicemail -- but only if you promise to speak in a husky bedroom voice.
Trolling for Endorsements
Thirty-year-old Jeff Smith is one of approximately eighty-five thousand candidates seeking to replace Dick Gephardt in Congress next year. He has no elective-office experience, but he does have the endorsement of former Felicity actor Scott Foley. So he has that going for him. Sort of.
Unreal: So, Scott Foley endorsed your campaign? Have you been able to sleep since?
Jeff Smith: No. The entire campaign staff is abuzz.
You're 30. Scott Foley has endorsed your campaign for representative, which includes thirteen candidates. Scott Foley used to be married to Jennifer Garner, who was in the movie 13 Going On 30. What significance does this hold?
I think there's cosmic significance. It's too deep for me to comprehend personally, but I know that it's significant.
Is your candidacy more like Keri "Felicity" Russell's short hair or her long hair?
Long. I think she looked like a sheared dog when she cut it short.
Since Scott and Jennifer Garner have gotten their divorce, has she taken an official stand on your candidacy?
That's a good question. I don't know the answer.
If Jennifer would only endorse you on the condition that you threw Scott out on his ass, would you?
I'm always loyal to my [supporters]. That said, she's quite an attractive woman, so I'd have to consider it.
Which would you say was the better show, Felicity or Charles in Charge?
The last episodes of Felicity involved a bizarre series of events that seemed to violate the time-space continuum. Will your candidacy violate the time-space continuum?
If you do not win your party's nomination, do you promise not to go on a berserk rampage, gunning down the residents of the city and defecating in the streets?
Depends if the office toilet is stopped up. As far as guns, I'm staunchly against concealed carry, so I would never do such a thing.