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Issue 12
Fall 2006

Helping America procrastinate since 1636

January 16, 2021
NASCAR Fan Announces Plan to Save the Environment

Darlington, S.C - Elber Fortenberry appears like an unlikely progressive. Standing amidst the dugout of the Darlington Raceway, one of several southern tracks in the Busch NASCAR series, he ostensibly fits right in with the majority of the tobacco-chewing, 'fear the mullet'-hat-wearing, confederate-flag-bearing crowd: On a patch of concrete here he's made a pied a terre of sorts for the afternoon, complete with a folding chair, table, grill, beer cuzies, coolers, wieners, burgers, slaw, biscuits, gravy, and chips. “Gotta love these suckers,” says Fortenberry, sipping on a Miller High Life between mouthfuls of Pringles, “Damn true: Once you pop, you ain't gonna stop.” A Rusty Wallace #2 shirt, with silk-screened advertisements for Snap- On Tools and Sherwin Williams, hangs in his hand while he, shirtless and pale, squints at the sun. “Shoot, it's a hell of a day. Makes a man wanna hang around the cracker barrel a bit more and forget work.” He takes a last, long draught from his beer, some of which soaks his great, bushy goatee. “Alright,” he says, “Let's skedaddle.”

Fortenberry hanging out with his homebodies outside the S.H.I.T.E. tent

We walk to a makeshift encampment just across the dugout. Fortenberry waves to a couple of guys setting up a tent here. “Mi Amigos,” he indicates. When the tent is up and sturdy, Elber's helpers set to taking thousands of pamphlets out of small, cardboard boxes. With the pamphlets positioned on their tent's front table, a white, plastic patio piece with streaks of dried mud on it, the team has a veritable kiosk and are nearly ready for business. “Just a tadpole more,” Elber winks. His friends take a large, vinyl banner out of a flatbed near the area and hang it from the kiosk's uprights. “S.H.I.T.E.” it reads in green, hand-painted lettering. Fortenberry explains, “Stockcar Homebodies Interested in Tendin' to the Environment.” Minutes pass, and the tent sees little action. A couple of kids playing football accidentally throw their pigskin into the kiosk and knock over a couple of stacks of pamphlets. “Hoodlums,” one of Elber's entourage intones, punting the football deep into the dugout. Moments later a staggering man wanders to the kiosk asking about where he can find a “Biffy”, and Elber points him to an apparently popular area just to our left.

In the lull of activity, Elber philosophizes, “You see, we ain't that popular yet. NASCAR folks don't like change that much. We hold hard to chief comforts, you see. It's liberty or death, they say, and for us liberty's not much more than apple pie, NASCAR, guns, trucks, and barbeque. But I don't like where this country's headed one bit. Not an inch worm's worth. That's why I started this here group.”

S.H.I.T.E. spawned from Fortenberry only recently, after a night out with his wife: “Nexxie told me she wanted to see this movie, The Inconvenient Truth. Said it was some documentary or somethin'. 'Hell,' I told her, 'Last documentary I saw was that Super Size Me deal. Damn near laughed myself clean at that good-ol'-boy-lookin'-Spurlock, stuffin' his face with them fries and such. Shoot, maybe this'll be a laugh, too. Let's gitter done.'” Elber pauses impressively, as if pained for a link to the next thought. “Thing is, wasn't what I thought. Wasn't about no hairy-fool eatin' & throwin' up and all. It was more serious, like. All about how we're killin' the trees and nature and such with our ways. Our consumption. Said we're shootin' off all these puffs of smoke to the air and not even givin' a crap. All our cars and factories, gettin' in there and cuttin' up ozone. Makin' a mess and killin' them krill fish in Finland and such. Meltin' salt pillars, too.”

"Lovin' the environment is a lot like lovin' tots. Way I see it, tots is the environment, sort of." -E.F.

Asked how the 45th Vice- President's film inspired his S.H.I.T.E, Elber meditates, “Oh, hell yeah. Got me thinkin' - and feelin' some, too. When I was a boy grandpappy and me went catfishin' in a stream behind our trailer. Had us some good larks there. After the movie I'm thinkin', shoot, we keep doin' this and I ain't gonna be able t' take my pups' pups down the ol' stream.' If nothin's done, them catfish'll look like vermin the size of mountain goats, you know? Either that or charred and dead. Just like them Finnish krill. So I says to myself, Elber, you gotta do your part. You gotta throw S.H.I.T.E. right in people's faces.”

There are big plans for S.H.I.T.E., despite the operation's current, modest scale. “Yeah, see, there's this grand scheme. First, got these here buddies on board. They like they're huntin' and don't wanna see Bambi croak no time soon. Anyhow, we're handin' out pamphlets here, kinda subversive like, talkin' 'bout how HARVARD SATYRICAL PRESS ISSUE 12 - FALL 2006 14 UPDATE ON THE ENVIRONMENT NASCAR Fan Announces Plan to Save the Environment Fortenberry hanging out with his homebodies outside the S.H.I.T.E. tent NASCAR could be a lil' greener. We're just floatin' ideas now and getting' people on the bandwagon. Hope to build a grand coalition, you know. Maybe get them higher-ups t' make some changes. So we're standin' with our S.H.I.T.E., right in the dugout. People laugh and take a gander.”

Elber, who recently traded in his old Caterpillar steeltoes for Simple hemp clogs, smiles to passers by and hands out pamphlets. Most take them indifferently and let them fall to the ground, new additions to the dugout ground's assortment of strewn bottles, wrappers, condoms, and greasy, used napkins. Some accept the pamphlets interestedly after stopping to look at the huge 'S.H.I.T.E.' sign, the pseudo-fecal ring of which Fortenberry claims has a magnetizing effect on the NASCAR circuit's “down home, red state folk”. The pamphlet Elber hands out is decidedly unscientific. Though its ideas stem primarily from Mr. Gore's recent, enviro-embracing, empirically-driven production, it fails to properly cite the increasingly significant body of research detailing the effects of human consumption on the Earth. Elber acknowledges this deficit, rationalizing, “People 'round here don't care much for that hogwash made by wizards in their soap towers. Country folk want simple answers to simple problems.”

A prototype beer-fueled NASCAR designed by Fortenberry

Which brings us to Fortenberry's solution to the current global warming policy dilemma: “Beer Fuel,” Fortenberry proposes, unabashedly. NASCAR, he argues, has a critical opportunity to take the moral high ground by using the suds consumed by traditional racing enthusiasts to power its race cars. Theoretically, such consumptive alteration could lessen NASCAR's greenhouse gas emissions and American dependence on foreign oil, seen by many in Washington as a crucial factor in advancing in the war on terror. “It's possible,” Elber claims, “The French are makin' it outta bad wine. You got scientists over in Idaho, Wyoming, and such makin' it outta switch grass. Them new fuels ain't releasing all them dioxides and CFCs and such into the ozone. They're not killin' it like gas does. So I say, 'Let's kill two birds with one stone: Let's drink our booze and use leftovers for fuel.' What better way to get people revved-up for NASCAR than to drink same stuff's sittin' in them machine's fuel tanks? It'd be like closer to God, you know? Like sippin' on the same stuff's next to Matt Kenseth's keister? Ain't no woman I know gonna refuse that drink, let me tell you. Plus, ain't no way all that Natty Light, Genesee, and such produced each year's always bought. Swear I've seen cases o' Schlitz sittin' in my pal's liquor store for at least two decades. Just catchin' dust. Take it off the shelve, by golly, and get it runnin' cars. Help the war effort and trees at the same time. Bam-Bam, you know?”

Not all of Mr. Fortenberry's ideas sit well with traditional NASCAR devotees. Within forty-five minutes of work, no less than a baker's dozen pass Elber, a selfproclaimed 'Folk Hero' around racing circles, and shout various epithets including “Yankee”, “carpetbagger”, “Tree Hugger”, “Ralph Nader”, “Granola Democrat”, and, perhaps most unpalatable, “Koala F**k*r”. These taunts do not phase him, however. “People get loony, but times change,” he says. When asked about the assumed strong correlation between NASCAR-Dad-ism and Scorched-Earth-Republicanism and his group's potential to muddy the proverbial water, Fortenberry remains dismissive, “Listen, I voted for Bush, both times. Most of my friends did, too. But I says 'pootch's hootch', though. I like tots. My friends like home fries. That don't mean we don't all like taters, you know? People's people. I ain't here to cause hell. I'm here to spread a message.”

People gravitate toward and respond to the truth, Elber thinks. “It ain't a red state or blue state thing. Some people here be shootin' their mouths sayin' just 'cuz I'm talkin' 'bout savin' a little oil I'm gonna start smokin' grass and questioning the Second Amendment. Hell no. It's all about the future and having streams with big, healthy fish and clear, blue skies. Who wants skin cancer and four-eyed buffalo? I mean, America's where the buffalo roam, right?” Though Elber currently has no criteria to gauge the success of his campaign, there are already hints of its progress. “Some people come up to me and say, 'Elb, I think you got somethin' here.' You believe me: It's in the air. The wind's are a turnin', and the moment people really get a whiff of my S.H.I.T.E., they're gonna beg for more.”  HSP 





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