MARTY RUSSELL: Beaches will be fine, as long as nobody smokes

Summer is just around the corner and that means many of you are already planning that annual summer getaway with the family. For my family, that often meant a trip to the beach, usually somewhere on the Gulf Coast, packed like sardines into the family car which back then and loaded down got about 2 miles to a gallon. That meant stopping every 50 miles or so to fill up which worked out fine because us kids got even fewer miles out of gallon of soda. While dad was filling up, we were pouring out, literally and figuratively.
But Gulf Coast vacations this summer probably won’t be as idyllic as those we remember as kids and that has a lot of elected officials and business owners in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Florida very angry. They want BP to pay for new advertising campaigns touting alternatives to the beaches in the hope of still luring tourists to the Redneck Riviera this summer.
Good luck with that. The beaches and gulf are the only things that make the coastal region bearable in the summer months. Otherwise it’s just a sauna filled with sand flies and mosquitoes. So unless you’re planning on giving little Timmy a roll of quarters and sending him to the casino, I don’t see a beach-less alternative working.
The problem, of course, is the massive oil spill washing up on the shores which BP is responsible for. BP, which should be forced to change its name to Bad Polluter as a result of the spill, has been trying for a month now to find a way to stop the gusher feeding the oil slick without much success. I’m just waiting for them to announce that they’ve imported a little Dutch boy in a scuba outfit to stick his finger in the hole.
And instead of cutting off our hair and sending it to the coast to make oil-absorbing booms, why don’t we all just send BP our chewed bubble gum and tell them where to stick it?
What I can’t understand is why they haven’t tried the most obvious means of patching the pipe and one that would certainly get Homeland Security’s approval. From the pictures I’ve seen it looks like just a big pipe or duct. So why not duct tape? It’s either that or have scientists engineer a new breed of oil-consuming shrimp. Somebody call Forrest Gump.
Then again, maybe oil-soaked beaches aren’t as bad as they sound. No need to pack a beach ball, you can bat around tar balls instead. And you can forget about the sunscreen. One dip in the water and you’ll no doubt be protected from the sun with an SPF of about 2,000. And sharks? No problem. You’ll be too slippery for them to hold on to.
Maybe the tourism folks need to rethink their strategy for saving the summer.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at marusse1@ olemiss.edu.

Marty Russell