Sunday, December 21, 2014

Bob Dunning: 101 uses for that thing that’s not a tank


From page A2 | August 26, 2014 |

The unofficial contest to find a suitable use for the Davis Police Department’s cherished new Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected $689,000, 20-ton tank-that’s-not-a-tank continues unabated.

I haven’t seen this much excitement in town since the day they announced they were cutting the number of letters in the town’s name exactly in half. That and the time they installed the city’s first-ever stoplight at the old junior high school on B Street and residents gathered one warm summer evening trying to figure out what “yellow” meant.

While officialdom keeps referring to it by the unpronounceable “MRAP” — Vanna, could I buy a vowel? — I think it’s time we all agree to just call it a “tank,” even as the police insist it’s not tank.

Listen, if Mayor Dan Wolk says it’s a tank, it’s a tank.

Unfortunately, since this behemoth basher gets somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 gallons to the mile, the city’s goal of carbon neutrality by the year 2020 has been set back to an unspecified date in the 22nd century.

But that shouldn’t stop us from putting Tommy the Not-a-Tank to good use in the interim.

Perhaps the Police Department could officially sign up for Uber duty and help off-duty officers pick up a little pin money on the side.

Or you could be the first student at Davis High to rent the MRAP for you and your friends on prom night.

Aggie football boosters might want to take it on a road trip to Montana, or perhaps plan for an ultimate tailgater in the eucalyptus groves surrounding Stanford Stadium.

Which brings me to my friend Nancy, who sat down with her husband and came up with a whole laundry list of valuable uses for our town’s newest resident.

Nancy does voice a concern that she hopes the PD addressed before agreeing to add The Tank to its arsenal: “When deployed on a mission, will it take up too much of its own lane and cross into the bike lane?”

Well, let’s just say Tank-alike will not be allowed in the green “bike boxes” on Fifth Street.

Adds Nancy: “As a city, we need to institute some kind of matching program. Since the Feds gave us this gift for free, we citizens should step up to the plate and provide the accessories — ‘Duck Dynasty’ floor mats, a voice alarm that says ‘Step away from the vehicle,’ camouflage ‘Police Line — Do Not Cross’ tape, a couple of cans of pepper spray and finally, what would an MRAP be without a bike rack?”

Nancy was clearly sleep-deprived while coming up with her suggestions to aid the city she loves.

“Park it in Rainbow City for the kids to play on or use it as a kid-friendly regular attraction to lure more families to the Farmers Market.”

Ah yes, the Tank to Fork movement.

“Enter it in a monster truck rally.”

It’s not a truck, Nancy, it’s a tank. Even if it’s not a tank.

“Use it as an ice cream truck.”

Yeah, but instead of “The Monkey Chased the Weasel” as the truck’s obligatory catchy tune, how about the “Caisson Song”?

“Park it at UCD to forever commemorate the spot where students were pepper-sprayed.”

Nancy, Nancy, Nancy. This is a city of Davis tank. UC Davis can come up with its own armored vehicle for its self-induced problems.

“Paint it blue and gold for Picnic Day for the parade marshal’s vehicle and also let it lead our tree-lighting parade.”

You are really starting to mess with some hallowed traditions here, Nancy.

We could also fill it with Sacramento River water to be delivered to our thirsty and rapidly declining front-yard city trees, turning a military tank into a water tank.

As Ken, a longtime resident, notes: “I suggest a contest to ask readers to submit ideas.”

Great suggestion, Ken. And the winner gets to take the tank to Yosemite for the weekend.

Still, it’s hard to top the words of C.B., who says it’s time to find some sort of crowdfunding site online “to secure $6,000 to return the MRAP to DOD.”

Adds C.B. succinctly: “She wrote upon it, Return to sender, address unknown, No such number, no such zone.”

Amen, my friend, amen.

— Entries to the Contest to Replace the Above-Pictured Columnist are due on Monday, Sept. 8, at 5 p.m. Entries, between 400 and 800 words, can be emailed to and should include a short biography and mug shot of the author.



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