The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, April 17, 1996, Page 5, Image 5

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    Driving desire
License dangerously easy to get in America
During their summer vacation in a
small Midwestern town, three
Finnish friends of mine decided to
rent a car and drive to New York
City. At that time, only one of them
was old enough to rent a car.
Ironically, he also happened to be
the only one who did not have a
driver’s license.
For a while, it seemed they would
have to give up their plans, but
someone suggested that Joni, the guy
without a license, could take the test
and get one. Joni thought the idea
was ridiculous because he had never
driven a car in his life. But he
decided to take the test anyway, just
to see what it was like.
So Joni went to the testing
station, guessed or reasoned out 15
of the 20 multiple choice questions
and was ready for the driving test in
10 minutes. He confessed that he
had never driven a car with auto
matic transmission—which was
true enough — and the instructor
was more than happy to explain how
to start and where reverse was.
The driving itself was pretty easy
because Joni still remembered how
to drive bumper cars in amusement
parks, and also because it was early
afternoon with practically no traffic.
After 15 more minutes, Joni had an
American driver’s license. He and
his friends went directly to the rental
office, and the next day, they hit the
road to the East Coast.
Had Joni caused a fatal accident,
the story would make a nice moral of
the importance of knowing one’s
limits. Luckily, Joni wasn’t a bit
interested in driving without more
experience, and his friends drove
safely to New York. However, Joni
already had driven once — in the
test—and found out how much fun
driving could be. Back in Finland, it
took him six months and $2,500 to
get a valid license.
Veera Supinen
“Getting a drivers
license is a huge
business in
, Scandinavia; it takes
time, work and
money. ”
Getting a driver’s license is a
huge business in Scandinavia; it
takes time, work and money. Most of
us get the money from our parents
and relatives when we turn 18 or
graduate from high school. Once
we’ve got the money, we go to a
driving school and have at least 30
lectures on cars, traffic rules and
driving theory. We also take about 30
driving lessons, which include driving
downtown, on highways, in dark and
in winter conditions. The written exam
is impossible to pass unless you have
attended all of the lectures and studied
hard by yourself, and 1 know only a
few people who have not failed in
their first driving test. If and when you
fail, you liave to take extra lessons,
which can raise the total costs to
$3,000 or $4,000.
Private driving schools practically
have a monopoly in Finland as well as
in other Scandinavian countries. It’s
possible to take lessons from your
parents, but in the final driving test,
instructors are more demanding and
strict with those who have learned at
home. The same goes with people
who have foreign, especially Ameri
can or Canadian, driver’s licenses.
In the United States, I’ve started
to appreciate my driving instructors
and their “trivial” teachings. For one
thing, they emphasized how danger
ous it was to be intoxicated while
driving by showing us a countless
number of videotapes, newspaper
clips and statistics.
Thanks to those repeated
warnings, it is very rare that people
my age drink and drive in Finland.
We also know to drive especially
carefully, or not at all, when we’re
tired or sick or when the traffic or
weather conditions make driving
trickier than usual.
In many ways, driving is safer
and easier in the United States than
it is in Europe. Americans are
generally good and polite drivers,
streets are broad and well taken care
of, and American cars are just as
foolproof as we’ve always been
told. On the other hand, it also can
be more risky. Distances arc
enormous, cities huge, weather
conditions often extreme, education
poor or nonexistent, attitudes
indifferent and the number of cars
higher than anywhere. People often
drive cars that wouldn’t pass regular
quality checks, which are mandatory
for every car in Scandinavia.
The irony is, of course, that these
laws and regulations aren’t as badly
needed in Scandinavia as they are in
Unlike Americans, Scandinavians
don’t need cars. Public transporta
tion is functional and takes us nearly
Supinen Is a Junior history and Ameri
can Studies major and a Dally Nebraskan
Rolling jock
Inexperienced in-line skater left belly up
I don’t know if you are aware of
this or not, but there’s a new sports
fad that’s sweeping the nation. I am
not alluding to “Midget Rolling”, a
popular sporting event in Texas in
which a midget is maliciously rolled
down a hill in such a manner that he
bites his shin at least four times, but
rather, Rollerblading.
It is truly an exhilarating sport.
Rollerblades are unlike conventional
skates in that they have only one
line of four wheels harnessed to the
boot. A person can reach enormous
speeds with one mere stroke of the
leg, and the tricks that can be
accomplished are spectacular.
That’s why, when a buddy of
mine who works at Play-It-Again
Sports invited to me to go
Rollerblading, I told him to “go
have his way with a hen of some
You see, I have learned that
when people ask me to participate in
a sporting event, there is always a
hidden agenda involved. Usually, I
am only invited so that others can
enjoy watching me run around
aimlessly and, eventually, fall so
violently that my entire shirt flees
my torso and exposes my abundance
of belly.
In my friends’ eyes, that’s all I’m
really good for.
So you can see why I was a little
timid when asked to give
Rollerblading a shot. (Don’t worry,
I know I wouldn’t be a true idiot if I
learned from past mistakes, so I
gladly accepted the offer.)
By the time we got to the store
that rented Rollerblades, there was
no turning back. Now, whenever I
saw people Rollerblading on TV,
they never wore helmets. Their
glistening 17-year-old bodies only
had shorts and skates on, with the
occasional appearance of a nose
I NEVER saw any of them in the
dork outfit I was wearing. They
gave me knee-pads, (Which I
mistakenly wore on my elbows)
Steve Willey
"... if there is a campfire
in a 3,000yard radius,
according to the guy
rule book, we MUST pee
on it. ”
elbow-pads (which I purposely
stuffed in my underwear), a helmet
and wrist guards.
I don’t know about you folks, but
I typically don’t like doing things
that require so much protective
equipment. It usually is a good
indication that one of two things are
about to happen: l) your chances of
running into something arc VERY
high, or 2) you are about to be
I was nervous, but willing.
Amazingly, I was able to stand right
up in the Rollerblades. It was
actually EASY! Unfortunately for
me, in order to get the true enjoy
ment of Rollerblading, my friends
informed me that I must “roll”
several thousand miles.
It was difficult at first, but soon I
was able to propel myself rather
easily. I had a steady, rhythmic
pace, and although elderly “power
walkers” were passing me, I was
content with my progress.
Then came a hill—a downward
sloping one with a beckoning
intersection at the bottom.
Instantly, I began a rapid descent.
At first I began passing walkers, but
as my speed increased, I passed
joggers, then bicyclists, and finally,
cheetahs. I was moving at a phe
nomenal pace. My buddies, who had
neglected to tell me how to stop,
attempted to wave away the crossing
Spectators began to congregate.
The crowd on the bike trail parted
as I approached the intersection.
The oncc-blinking “Don’t Walk”
sign was now a steady stream of red
letters. Mothers turned their children
towards their laps. Fathers cupped
their mouths. Somewhere, teen-age
boys were lighting their farts. An
awesome hush fell over the crowd.
Suddenly, as if a volcano had
erupted, the hush turned to a cheer. I
opened my eyes and unclinched my
jaw. Miraculously, I had made it!
For you non-male readers out
there, you should be advised that all
men follow a guy rule book. We are
forced to do certain things in certain
situations. For example, if there is a
campfire in a 3,000 yard radius,
according to the guy rule book, we
MUST pee on it.
And in the event of expressing
joy and relief simultaneously, as in
my case, I HAD to strike the
Heisman pose. 1 failed, however, to
remember that the guy rule book
clearly stated not to do this on
Instantly, my left foot, which
never had any intentions of cooper
ating with the pose, flew from the
concrete, and sent me, predictably,
into a violent tumble without my
My friends laughed, attractive
women vomited, law-officers
threatened to arrest me unless I “put
on something.”
And I learned my lesson.
Never again will I accompany a
friend on a stupid sporting excur
sion. Unless, of course, I’m asked.
Willey Is a Jaalor ag-Joaraailsm
major aad a Dally Nebraska! colamalst
People must demand
more from movies
Recently, the hot topic in
Hollywood and the media was
People’s absolutely stunning
discovery that — who’d have
guessed it?—racism exists in the
movie industry. Among the
observations were that black folks
are sick of films that paint them
as obscene, predatory or sex- or
drug-crazed simpletons. They
crave high-quality movies about
black love, relationships and
everyday lives.
Or that’s what I thought after
reading the most recent film
grosses. They revealed Fox
sitcom star Martin Lawrence’s'
new film, “A Thin Line Between
Love and Hate” — whose hero is
an obscene, sex-crazed simpleton
— to be a hit. The James Earl
Jones-Robert Duvall dramedy, “A
Family Tiling,” is not.
The feeling seemed validated
by my chat with a young, black
movie fan about what she wants
in black movies as opposed to
what she actually pays to see.
Miatta David, a New York
University freshman from Silver
Spring, Md., loves movies so
much that she sees one flick per
Black films, David complains,
are “so repetitive... about low
income homes with no father
figure, where you go outside the
door and either get killed in a
drive-by or offered drugs. I’m
tired of it.”
Then I asked David her
opinion about recent, stereotype
busting black-oriented films, such
as “Devil in a Blue Dress.”
“I didn’t see that.... My
friends said it was kind of
ooring, snesaiu.
“Once Upon Time, When We
* Were Colored”?
“It looked like a good movie,”
said David, “but it’s not playing
around here.”
“A Family Thing”?
“I haven’t heard of that.”
Her words — and the healthy
$9.3 million first-weekend take
for “A Thin Line Between Love
and Hate” compared with the
paltry $2 million for “A Family
Tiling” in its second weekend —
are telling. Reviewers over
whelmingly skewered “Thin
Line,” about a playboy’s comic
comeuppance, and recommended
“A Family Thing,” about a white
Arkansas man’s unpleasant
discovery that he’s half black and
has an African American brother
in Chicago.
One could conclude that some
well-meaning black folks’ oft
stated desire for quality films is
just talk.
But hey, you can’t trust the
media — especially since black
audiences often disagree with
critics, who overwhelmingly are
white. I had to see for myself.
Actually, I found “A Family
Thing” better than described by
critics, some of whom carped
about its “sentimentality”—
clearly any film that shows the
races groping toward something
other than mutual contempt is a
fairy tale. Sharp, funny and
surprisingly plausible, the movie
sensitively deals with such
Donna Britt
“Just because millions
of folks, white and
black, swim willingly
in swill doesn't mean
we have to pour
another drop into the
underexplored subjects as the
once-common tragedy of white
men raping black women, and
how blacks and whites forged
friendships even during Jim
Crow’s heyday.
“Thin Line,” I discovered,
isn’t quite an unmitigated
disaster. I’m no Lawrence fan,
but the audience I saw “Line”
with had fun. Lawrence’s riffs on
some brothers’ lame lines were
on target; his film’s lesson that
commitment is cool and love
should never be faked is fine —
and may be heard by folks who’d
never see a sweet movie like “A
Family Thing.”
So why am I disappointed?
Because we as a people — and
even Lawrence, whose career is
buijt on crudeness — deserve
better. So many critics of “Thin
Line” complained about its
rampant use of the F-word that I
counted — and came up with a
whopping 65 examples. Just
because millions of folks, white
and black, swim willingly in swill
doesn’t mean we have to pour
another drop into the pool. Little
kids, like the dozen I noticed
accompanying their parents to the
R-rated “Thin Line,” see this stuff
and perpetuate the behavior such
entertainment celebrates.
I mean, really. Can our
community afford even an ounce
more vulgarity? Can’t a bankable,
entertaining comedy be made using
the F-word, say, just 25 times, or
even none?
Black folks know better than
anybody—as shown by the fact
that even the most foul-mouthed
rapper invariably attributes his
success “to my main man, God” —
there’s a higher order of right and
wrong to which we are accountable.
The more we ignore it, the deeper
our community and our nation will
It’s never just a black thing, a
money thing or even a family thing.
Demanding better — for our kids
and ourselves — is a love thing.
And the right thing.
(C) 1996 Washington Post Writers Group