Part 34: Fit The Thirty-First : Greed Is Good But Black Is Beautiful
Fit The Thirty-First : Greed Is Good But Black Is Beautiful
Funkytown's semisesquicentennial celebrations were well underway, and strangely enough, we actually got some stuff for it.
Though these were due more to the city's size, which had of course hit the 250,000 mark quite recently.
The offers were a Medical Research Centre, which we had to pay for, and a Stock Exchange, which we didn't.
First up, Greta gave me the details about the latter, which had been granted to us on account of the increasing importance of Funkytown to the national economy.
And for some reason it was Old Bat who came in with the proposal for the medical facility. Maybe she wanted to live forever, after all, who didn't?
Advisor for the Bloody Obvious was in favour of the idea, of course. At this point I wasn't even that into interacting with the population, a grunt here, a grunt there, and the deal was approved.
The catch was that the Centre would cost the city §75,000 to build, we wouldn't be able to build it straight away but if I held back a little on other projects over the next few years we would have it before too long.
At least we didn't have to hold back on the stock exchange.
Just a few apartment blocks were levelled to extend the commercial district, and the new stock exchange was placed in the midst of it.
It was decided that the exchange would be named in honour of local boy made good, Illuminatus Vespucci, who made his fortune from various enterprises including arms dealing, drug smuggling, and the mass production of hula hoops. Other cities would have disowned the man but the Machiavellian merchants of Funkytown had no qualms about claiming Vespucci as one of their own.
The next section of the Hume Highway was built piecemeal, to act at first as a local link between Firetop Reach and its nearby factories.
It would be linked with the existing highway before too long, but with a lack of development between the two sections that could wait.
At the other end of the spectrum, the ridge adjacent to Westshore began to be settled; this would be strictly low-density, and the view of the city had the potential to attract some quite wealthy residents.
Christ, why couldn't she die already? Was there a queue to get into Hell or something?
Why don't you just drive?
Because I'm oooollld, young man.
Actually I'm about 117, and counting. I don't look a day over 40! (Hey Moe!) And in fact Moe's about 340, apparently. He still drives. Don't you old boy?
That's right, nothing better than a nice drive around town. You wanted me for something?
Yes, Granny can't drive so she wants shuttle buses to pick her up and drive her three blocks to her nearest bus stop so she can catch another bus.
Wow, that's not bad idea Wal!
That's stupid. Not gonna happen.
You're a horrible, horrible man, Mayor Bunkley.
Oh just die already.
No. And another thing, I keep getting brownouts.
Jesus Christ, why are you telling me that, take that up with your doctor. There is such a thing as too much fibre.
No, I meant the lights in my house. They flicker and sometimes just go out.
Oh. Not the nuclear plant!
Things weren't too drastic yet, but in this case I needed to err on the side of caution.
Another plant was built straight away, next to the first one. I wondered if they would be friends.
One night, I got woken up by an earth tremor.
"Oh shit, not again", was the first thing I thought, but this time the fault struck mercifully clear of most of the city. Some houses near Firetop were damaged, but the fires were put out very quickly.
By the time I got out to inspect the damage, most of them were already out. The lessons that were learnt in 1934 were applied very effectively over 40 years later.
Maria actually acted like it was no big deal for a change.
Geez we were lucky.
So lucky that we got 251 stinking Simoleons in disaster relief. Well, so be it.
With things very quickly back to normal, the freeway was extended a little further.
And more houses sprang up amongst the trees on Conny's Ridge.
And as was routine, I had my regular meeting with Randall. The colleges were all full, once again.
Err, Randy, what is that on your head?
My hair. You gotta problem wi'dat honky?
Then keep it that way.
What has gotten into you?
I'm tired of your oppression. I'm tired of you keepin' a brother down.
I ain't keeping anyone down, Randall, you know that!
Then Randall stared at me very intently.
Wal. Repeat. After. Me. "I'M BLACK AND I'M PROUD"
Err, I'm black and I'm proud.
I'm BLACK, and I'm PROUD!
Can't hear you dude. Again!
I'M BLACK AND I'M PROUD!
And then he cracked up laughing. By this stage Beryl was in the room and staring at the both of us as we've both grown extra heads.
Nothing, friend. I'm just messing with you.
1977 rolled around, and with it punk music hit the mainstream in a nova burst. Disco, however, saw no signs of letting up yet.
And of course, we now had the funds to build the Medical Centre.
It was located fairly close to the airport near Greenfield, as a compromise between accessibility to most of the population without it neighbouring any houses. We couldn't have the screeching of monkeys keeping people awake at night, you know.
Not much cash was left over after that big expense, but we had one or two other things we could do. A small, inexpensive ordinance to encourage people to compost their kitchen scraps was enacted.
And Bunkleyville saw its first expansion in decades, as a narrow strip was developed near The Nose, as the headland was known from early on.
And across the town, things kept growing and growing.
For some reason Malcolm kept turning up to bug me to zone more land after I'd done so, but then he was always a little behind the mark, no matter how entrepreneurial he thought he was.
Samson also came in with a petition, this time to enact a Neighbourhood Watch scheme.
I thought it was getting just a little close to encouraging vigilantism, but Maria assured me it was nothing of the sort.
I figured I might as well approve the idea, and see how it went. Crime was already quite low in Funkytown these days but every little bit helped.
With the medical centre built, not much was left in the kitty through 1977, but 1978 was here before too long.
The Nose area was expanded a little more, taking up all of the flat area between the shore and the nearby hill. I wasn't sure what I'd do about that as it was more of a plateau than the hills to the north of the city. Part of me just wanted to keep it open land, and perhaps have a tunnel built underneath it, if I could work out how to do so.
Two other major works were completed. The missing section of freeway was connected, cutting travel time between the city centre and West Firetop significantly.
And another subway line was begun north of the city. It would probably loop all the way around from Westshore, through to Firetop and Pompeii.
Another section of freeway connected the city with Achewood, which might also mean another boost in business. I felt that some kind of T intersection could also be established to make a second freeway connection with City Name, but as to how that was going to be done I had no idea. I had Moe on the case to investigate the best way of doing so, however, and he would report back with some possible solutions.
A new college was built at Firetop Reach, making the fourth in the city.
To take advantage of the freeway extension and to ease the demand for factory space, more of West Firetop was given over to factory. With a bit of luck we would also attract some workers from Achewood as well.
And then something bizarre happened during the new works out past Bunkleyville. Someone broke The Nose.
Apparently, when the bulldozers went out to plane the area for a new road that would run alongside the beach, when the edge of the hill levelled, and The Nose actually grew, dramatically changing its shape. I really couldn't credit it, and assumed that it was yet another manifestation of the unusual nature of the geology underlying the area. After further investigation it was decided that the landscape was in fact more stable, so it would be safe to keep building around there.
With the freeway works pretty much completed, bar for one last section, I was glad to see people using it.
As the 1970s ended and 1980 clocked in, who knew what else lay in store for the city.
Early in the new year, a song came on the radio with words that caught my ear. I asked Rasputin, my chauffeur to turn it up. The tune was a little chintzy, but the beat got even my honky ass moving, and the words couldn't have been better written.
Talk about moving...
Rasputin said, "you think that's got a good beat, you oughta check out the song they wrote about me!"
"You know, Razz, we gotta get a mirror ball in here."