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Northless Dakota: A New Direction?

July 15, 2001|MARTIN MILLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A North Dakota group seeking to bolster the state economy recently proposed changing the name of their state to "Dakota." Supporters, whose ranks include a former state governor, feel the deletion of "North" will help erase the state's image as a "frigid, treeless prairie." Here's a look at the possible fallout if the proposal is ultimately a-dopted.

South Dakota--South of the Dakota border, citizens of the Mount Rushmore state get a good laugh out of their northern neighbor's latest folly. (Their first folly being living in North Dakota in the first place.) Going "North-less" won't persuade anyone that your state is not a "frigid, treeless prairie," South Dakotans say. No, to do that, you have to drop "Dakota." South Dakota immediately becomes "South."

New York--Anyone who has visited "New" York knows their York isn't so new. In fact, parts of the state are kind of ratty-looking. The Empire State finally sets the record straight with a mind to attracting a new group of tourists--wine connoisseurs. It changes its name to "Finely Aged York."

North Carolina--Following the former South Dakota's lead, North Carolina cuts "Carolina" from its state marquee, believing the word is too closely associated with emphysema. "A Lil' North in the South" becomes the state's tourist slogan.

New Hampshire--Rattled by the "New" York business, denizens of the Granite State take a long hard look at themselves.

On the one hand, they realize their Hampshire isn't new, but they've maintained it extremely well and, indeed, it could safely be described as "shiny."

On the other hand, no one knows what a Hampshire is. The debate stalls on this point and the name remains the same.

California--Through a complicated multibillion-dollar bond deal, Walt Disney Co. purchases the state and starts making changes.

The company's first move is to put Mickey's face on the flag and rename the Golden State "Disney West."

Florida--Through an uncomplicated financial deal involving a lifetime guest pass to DisneyWorld, free parking and a handshake from Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida is re-christened "Disney East."

Nevada--The Silver State, overwhelmed by a skyrocketing population and too many tourists, seeks to reverse the trend by changing its name to "Big Nuclear Waste Dump and Bomb Test Site." As an added precaution, the state presents its new nickname: "The Radiation Sickness State."

Wyoming--Seizing on the confusion created by the former Nevada, the Equality State adopts "Nevada" as its name, hoping to attract newcomers and easily lost tourists.

Arkansas--At long last, officials feel comfortable deleting "Ar" from the state name. Said one state official, "We're not in Ar-Kansas anymore!"

Oregon--It's now Aroregon. No one knows what that means, but it wasn't like the definition of Oregon was exactly common knowledge either. Said one state official: "I think we're sending a message to people and that message is any time we can add another vowel followed by a consonant to our state name, we're going to do it."

Kansas--The Sunflower State declares war on the state formerly known as Arkansas.

Minnesota--To ensure its state name is always pronounced as it should be, the Gopher State begins calling itself "Mini-Soda." Moments later, Gov. Jesse Ventura declares its capital to be "Pootie Tang."

Mississippi--Declaring itself a national sanctuary for married women and their families, the Magnolia State becomes "Mrs. Issippi."

Alabama--On a lark, state legislators agree their new name should be "Alabama Dama Ding Dong." On another lark, they rename their capital "Shoo-Be-Doo-Be-Doo-Da-Day." After that, legislators run out of larks.

North Carolina--Their friends at Philip Morris Co. file a lawsuit against the new state name claiming it makes emphysema "seem like a bad thing," and demand the state's original name be reinstated. State officials bow to the demand after learning tourists have begun to bypass the state because they believe it to be a "frigid, treeless prairie."

Alaska--Showing the same fortitude that enables someone to settle in a land where the sun doesn't shine for weeks and where temperatures can remain below freezing even in summer, the Last Frontier renames itself "North Alaska." "We are a frigid, treeless prairie," said the governor. "That's what we are, that's all we are, all right?"

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