TALES FROM TINSELTOWN: LA's poor little ditch kid campaign takesthe entire city by stormdrain

Want to be part of the glitz and glamour of Hollywood? Care to join

the hip crowd in La La Land? Here's your chance: Adopt a stormdrain.

LA isn't all about premieres, lavish parties, liposuction and

Cruise-Cruz sightings. We're a real city, with streets, hospitals, used

car lots and, yes, storm-drains. Lots of stormdrains. So many, in fact,

that they carry some 900 billion gallons of toxic Southern California

runoff into our rivers and the Pacific Ocean every year. (Hey, I swim in

that ocean!) That's worse than anywhere else in the US, including New


It seems enough is finally enough, so city officials in Redondo Beach

have launched a PR-fundraising effort to convince folks to adopt a


The campaign was announced with much fanfare at a press conference

attended by major politicos. The money raised from adoptions will go to

heightening public awareness ("Hey, dude, that dirty oil is going to end

up in Santa Monica Bay!"), cleaning the catch basins, and installing

pollution-control devices.

"The adoptions are geared more toward businesses than individuals," said

Mike Shay, who is involved with the new program, "but I suppose

individuals could sponsor one, too." Hell, yeah, we can! There are

plenty of drains to go around.

The cost of adopting a poor little stormdrain depends on the amount and

extravagance of signage and recognition the sponsor is seeking, Shay

informed me. A simple commemorative plaque won't set you back much. If,

however, you want to put in a water recycler, wet bar and Jacuzzi, well

then, my friend, expect to cough up some serious pesos.

Adopt-A-Stormdrain is an imaginative PR plan with an unimaginative


Sure, they're trying to capitalize on the awesome sexiness of the

"Adopt-A-Highway" campaign, but couldn't they have come up with

something original?

A rose by any other name would still be ridiculously expensive on

Valentine's Day, but don't overlook the importance of a catchy label.

Would Engelbert Humperdink have become the legend he is without that

moniker? Hardly.

Still, the allure of the adoption is irresistible. Imagine being able to

drive your date by a drain and announce off-handedly, "See that catch

basin (the terminology alone will impress) next to the fire hydrant and

the bus stop there? That's my stormdrain."

The effect of such boasting? I dare say, I hope you bring along proper


If you never got around to adopting a highway (and how do you live with

yourself if not?), don't let this chance slip by. I'm hoping to get one

in Beverly Hills so that I can paint it, enclose it, and put up a huge

neon sign above saying, "Toxic waste water of the stars! Photos: $4."

Nah, forget it. I'm holding out for the big kahuna: Adopt-A-Dumpster.

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