Rick's List — Plane-Towed Banner Edition

In the summer, especially on holidays like July 4th, Labor Day and National Humidity Day, when the beaches are packed with folks whose only focus is not on having fun but rather on stuff like where to get the best insurance deals, I always look to the sky.

Specifically, I like to spot those small airplanes — the kind John Kennedy Jr. was attempting to pilot when he never made it to Martha's Vineyard — buzzing high above the sea-and-sand, towing helpful banners that provide shrewd advice for swimwear-clad consumers.

Inasmuch as citizens fear I might take my shirt off, no one will allow me, by legal decree, on any of the New London beaches. But I stand 100 yards away — as close as I can advance without being issued a summons — and jot down all the valuable information offered by the plane-towed banners. I do this because, years ago, I recognized a simple fact: plane-towed banners ALWAYS have the best deals.

That's why our cellar is stocked with cases of peach-flavored wine coolers; a free rubber Geico lizard we got for filling out (an ultimately rejected) insurance application; two T-shirts depicting a smiling, pre-gunshot Big Papi after we attended a banner-hyped opening of a club at Foxwoods; and a Post-it Note reminder to visit Clambake Donny's Tavern the next time we're on Block Island.

But it occurred to me: What if plane-towed banners were philosophical or whimsical rather than devoted to pure huckesterism? I mean, there's no profit in what I'm proposing — at least not in the conventional money-to-be-made context. To do this, then, we'd need a philanthropist to supply a plane, fuel and a pilot.

Fortunately, I learned last month — and this is in fact true — that an old friend of mine, who happens to be president of a major oil company, has 24/7 access to the corporate Gulfstream. Like, I think he has a KEY to the damned thing! Put aside for a moment that my friend has never asked me to ride on his Gulfstream. Instead, entertain the fantasy that he'd say, "Sure, Rick, you can use the Gulfstream and our pilot, Colonel Lopez, for anything you want!" Here, then, are some ideas for my plane-towed-banners:

1. "I'm bombing the beach in five minutes! Run for your lives!"

2. "Rick's Crop Dusting Insecticides. Free samples about to rain out of the sky!"

3. "Are 'churlish' and 'peevish' synonyms and are there noun versions thereof, to wit 'churlist' and 'peevisher'?"

4. A really long banner containing the complete and particularly incomprehensible first chapter of Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury."

5. "Attention: This plane is being flown by JFK Jr. Can anyone point us towards Martha's Vineyard? I'm kinda confused up here."


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