Washington University is catching beaucoup flak for giving an honorary degree to Phyllis Schlafly, who has worked since the 1960s on conservative causes and was the chief opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment.
Unreal's perplexed. So Schlafly believes the missus belongs at home. Is that really cause to go all "sista girl" on the alma mater? Phyllis Schlafly has local ties. People outside St. Louis know her name. Chancellor Mark "They Don't Call Me Wrighton for Nothing" has simply stepped up to pick up the slack for the St. Louis Walk of Fame — which exhibits just the sort of narrow-minded prejudice that Schlafly-hating liberal blowhards seem to endorse.
In the interest of inclusivity, Unreal has drawn up a list of potential honorees that could keep Wash. U. busy at commencement time for years to come:
Russell Bliss Made the town of Times Beach synonymous with poison. Bliss sprayed dioxin all over the town's roads, and people had to evacuate. Yet he was never convicted of a crime. If it weren't for Russell Bliss, would Americans even know how dangerous dioxin is?
James Van Cleave As president of St. Louis-based Buck's Stove and Range Co. in the early 1900s, fought long and hard against the American Federation of Labor, which had led a boycott for a shorter workday.
Michael J. Devlin Serving 74 life sentences for kidnapping and abusing two boys. Not the most original of heinous crimes, but wow, what a ride this story gave Devlin's employer, the fine St. Louis eatery Imo's Pizza. An honorary degree in hospitality management, perhaps?
Satan Showed great tenacity in 1949, as Jesuit priests tried to exorcise him from a thirteen-year-old boy at Alexian Brothers Hospital. Thanks to the Dark Prince, St. Louis will forever be remembered as the inspiration for the 1971 hit film The Exorcist.
Michael McDonald Blue-eyed soul singer from Ferguson already has a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Crossover appeal's only fitting for the man who wrote "Takin' It to the Streets."
Stagger Lee Shot Billy Lyons in 1895. Stagger Lee shot Billy, oh, he shot that poor boy so hard that a bullet went through Billy and broke the bartender's bar.
Good Bill Hunting
Perhaps not coincidentally, Unreal was planning a weekend of shooting with the children when a press release from Matt Butler addressed "Dear Hunting Enthusiast," shot through our inbox. Butler, a 38-year-old U.S. Army major currently residing in Leavenworth, Kansas, is an avid hunter and a father of three who has written Billy Goes Hunting, a children's book (with online downloadable coloring pages!) that seeks to explain a great American generational pastime. Butler's e-mail said his is the first kiddie tome ever to explore the subject, which prompted us to fire off an interview request posthaste.
Hey, Unreal loves pioneers of all kinds. So shoot us!
Unreal: Ted Nugent has endorsed your book. That's really something! Did you get that over a day of bagging deer with the kids?
Matt Butler: [Laughs] It was a couple of connections that we had.
What do you like to hunt?
My two favorite hunts are deer and turkey. But I've done some exotic hunts, too.
You mean like in the red-light district?
[Laughs] Not that. I've shot an Asiatic goat, and a Corsican sheep.
Wow! Tell me about the first time you had to explain to your daughters that you'd blown the brains out of an Asiatic goat.
Well, I've never blown the brains out of any animal. And I don't know that I ever sat down and went through the hunting process with them. That was part of my mistake. We were living in D.C., and one of my daughters came home one day with a lot of questions about hunting and killing the animals, and we had a discussion, but then I looked for a book on Amazon.com to explain the rest of the story, like the environmentalism involved in hunting, and the financial impact of the sport and the way we preserve our natural resources, and there was no such book. So I decided I should write it.
And PETA hasn't threatened to bow-hunt your children or anything?
[Laughs] Well, that would be rather anti- their nonviolent stance. We did get an e-mail from them, though. It was very nonthreatening.
Have you taken a position on deer hunting in suburbia?
I have. I actually participated in one of the pioneer programs that addresses that right here in Leavenworth. You're paired with a landowner who has a large enough piece of property where you can hunt safely. Most of the hunters, after they fill their fridges, give the meat to the local soup kitchens. There are many positive trickle-down effects from these programs.
So what's next, Billy Goes to the Taxidermist?
[Laughs] No, but I have had some inquiry about a topic like Billy's First Rifle. The idea is to elaborate on appropriate gun handling. Most of our discourse about hunting is defensive. We need to tell people about all the good that comes from hunting.
The Whites of Their Doe Eyes
Unreal loves the thrill of the hunt, the suspense of the stalk, the opportunity to drink a case of beer and discharge a firearm. Too bad we hate leaving the house to do it. That's why we were so excited when the city of Maryland Heights recently legalized hunting within city limits! Nothing beats propping your rifle on the front porch and waiting for your prey to come to you. But before we headed to Bass Pro to arm ourselves to the teeth and slather our Adonis-like bod with doe piss, we rang up the mayor of Maryland Heights, Michael Moeller, to draw a bead on the new regulations.
Unreal: Can we just set up our tree stand on top of a strip mall and let the arrows rain?
Mayor Michael Moeller: No. First of all you have to personally get a permit from the police department, and you have to show proof that you have permission from the landowner to hunt on the ground. You can bow-hunt on areas that are a minimum of three acres with the approval of the chief. For instance, somebody says, "I want to hunt on Joe Blow's parking lot." The chief is going to go look at the area and say, "No, you can't do that."
Was there any concern about, say, stray bullets?
Absolutely. You cannot hunt with a rifle. You can hunt with a muzzleloader or black-powder rifle and you can bird-hunt dove and turkey in areas in the river bottom with a shotgun. There's no thirty-ought-six or those kind of rifles.
What about handguns and automatic weapons?
No, you can't hunt with those.
I bet you get enough stray bullets from the city of St. Louis anyway, right?
Well, not any that I'm aware of.
What about disposal? I mean when Unreal was a lad, the guts just got left on the ground.
You can't — oh no, the Missouri hunting regulations address that part of the issue. You and I just can't go out and decide to hunt deer and kill and leave 'em lay. That's an offense that the Department of Conservation deals with.
Have you thought at all about turning Maryland Heights into a hunting destination? I mean, you have the Aquaport and the Sportport, why not the Deerport?
No. Most of the people that hunt in the bottoms area are landowners or friends of the landowners. There's no large hunting clubs or those types of things in the bottoms.
Town & Country legalized hunting in the city a while back. Maybe you can lure some of their businesses away.
[Laughs] I don't look it at this as a boon to the economy or anything. It was just a thing we needed to regulate and deal with.