America’s views of the future, and Missoula’s candy-throwing ban 

These days, it seems like no matter where you look, you find just three things: lies, damn lies, and public opinion polls. With the coming millennium, of course, there’s been tons of gossip about what may or may not happen after the click over of the zeroes, along with a good deal of hearsay, conjecture and flat-out fear. But where is the drab, deflating effect of the mainstream media when you need it? Rather than allaying fears about Y2K and beyond, most media outlets are either furthering the hype or just trying to get a bead on how hysterical America has become. Which in itself seems to be a full-time job.

By far our favorite measure of American angst is the newest poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, the Washington, D.C.-based think tank that gauges the relationship between people and the media. In its latest study, America: Past, Present & Future, Pew finds that our country’s vision of future—insofar as it has one—is more creative than you might imagine. Among some of the Pew’s more colorful findings are these predictions of what’s in store for the next 50 years. To wit, 27 percent of Americans believe we will make contact with alien life. Thirty-one percent hold that an asteroid will hit the earth. Forty-one percent say there will be a full-scale nuclear war. And a full 44 percent maintain that Jesus Christ will return to earth by the year 2050. Now say what you will about mainstream journalism—but that would be news.

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It appears Missoula will not be following in the footsteps of the great City of New Orleans any time soon, at least when it comes to parades. This according to City Council watchers, who report that Missoula Police Chief Pete Lawrenson has brought a proposed ordinance to place tighter restrictions on parades, marches and other special events held on city streets and sidewalks. Among the proposed changes are new requirements for liability insurance for event organizers, a suggested list of parade routes, a reduction in the hours that street events (like block parties) can be held and a ban on the throwing of candy and trinkets from moving vehicles.

Why the kibosh on airborne swag? Have area hospitals experienced a rash of Tootsie-Roll inflicted eye injuries and Sweet Tart related trauma following the Shriners’ parades up Higgins Ave.? Has Missoula seen the last of the industrial strength Pez dispensers and stuffed Grizzly footballs to be hurled at the masses to the amplified strains of “We Will Rock You?” Apparently so. Reportedly, the scuffles for truffles at past University of Montana homecoming parades have resulted in a number of injuries, prompting the chief to eliminate this form of recreation, punishable by a $25 fine. But take heart, revelers. Goodies can still be handed out along the parade route, just not tossed from moving vehicles. No word yet on the time-honored custom in the Big Easy of swapping beads for booty.

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