In February of 1990, I xeroxed 2 pages of the New Yorker magazine, to hold onto what I considered one of the funniest pieces of writing ever. It was titled Coyote V. Acme and was penned by regular New Yorker writer and NJ resident, Ian Frazier. In a nutshell, and I'll post part of it after the jump, Wile E. Coyote, plaintiff sues the Acme Company for product liability and the injuries he sustained over his career at Warner Brothers Entertainment. It's written in legalese and describes so well some of the cartoons and shenanigans involved, that you'll be able to be there with Mr. Coyote when he endures a violent feet-first collision with a boulder. Frazier published a book bearing the same name in 1996; a collection of his short humorous pieces, and has other books to his name, some humor collections like Coyote V. Acme, others full length adventures. I was reminded of the original piece the other day and wanted to share some of it, since it's been sitting xeroxed in my file cabinet in the FUN folder for decades. Ian's books are available through several online retailers. This time of year can be one of reflection and I'd like to look at the attempts of Mr. Coyote to capture his prey over the years, and the purity of his actions. Wile E. Coyote; Genius, and at some point in the Roadrunner cartoons, upgraded to Super Genius, was dedicated and single minded. He'd have made a great employee at the time of his upswing into the public eye. He was inventive beyond belief, and even when the same item would malfunction three radically different ways, he would remain a loyal customer of the Acme Company. Brick and mortars would die for a shopper like him! He is a reminder to all of us that perseverance and hard work pays off, or at least keeps you gainfully employed, and that there's a super genius lying in wait inside all of us. Perhaps it just takes an anvil to the head! There was a response to the article published in 1995, I'm not certain of the source, which more or less takes the stand that since our beloved Mr. Coyote quite often looked directly at the camera before sustaining injuries that the Acme Company's products caused, that he was faking the extent of his physical damage. Imagine that!
Coyote V. Acme In the United States District Court, Southwestern DIstrict, Tempe, Arizona. Case No. B19294, Judge Joan Kujava, Presiding. Wile E. Coyote, Plaintiff -V- Acme Company, Defendant
Opening Statement of Mr. Harold Schoff, attorney for Mr. Coyote: My client, Mr. Wile E. Coyote, a resident of Arizona and contiguous states, does hereby bring suit for damages against the Acme Company, manufacturer and retail distributor of assorted merchandise, incorporated in Delaware and doing business in every state, district, and territory. Mr. Coyote seeks compensation for personal injuries, loss of business income, and mental suffering caused as a direct result of the actions and/or gross negligence of said company, under Title 15 of the United States Code, Chapter 47, section 2072, subsection (a), relating to product liability.
Mr. Coyote states that on eighty-five separate occasions he has purchased of the Acme Company (herinafter, "Defendant"), through that company's mail-order department, certain products which did cause him bodily injury due to defects in manufacture or improper cautionary labelling. Sales slips made out to Mr. Coyote as proof of purchase are present in the possession of the Court, marked Exhibit A. Such injuries sustained by Mr. Coyote have temporarily restricted his ability to make a living in his profession of predator. Mr. Coyote is self-employed and thus not eligible for Workmen's Compensation.
Mr. Coyote states that on December 13th he received of Defendant via parcel post one Acme Rocket Sled. The intention of Mr. Coyote was to use the Rocket Sled to aid him in pursuit of his prey. Upon receipt of the Rocket Sled, Mr. Coyote removed it from it's wooden shipping crate and, sighting his prey in the distance, activated the ignition. As Mr. Coyote gripped the handlebars, the Rocket Sled accelerated with such sudden and precipitate force as to stretch Mr. Coyote's forelimbs to a length of fifty feet. Subsequently, the rest of Mr. Coyote's body shot forward with a violent jolt, causing severe strain to his back and neck and placing him unexpectedly astride the Rocket Sled. Disappearing over the horizon at such speed as to leave a diminishing jet trail along its path, the Rocket Sled soon brought Mr. Coyote abreast of his prey. At that moment the animal he was pursuing veered sharply to the right. Mr. Coyote vigorously attempted to follow this maneuver, but was unable to, due to the poorly designed steering on the Rocket Sled and a faulty or nonexistent braking system. Shortly thereafter, the unchecked progress of the Rocket Sled brought it and Mr. Coyote into collision with the side of a mesa.
Paragraph One of the Report of Attending Physician (Exhibit B), prepared by Dr. Ernest Grosscup, M.D., D.O., details the multiple fractures, contusions, and tissue damage suffered by Mr. Coyote as a result of this collision. Repair of the injuries required a full bandage around the head (excluding the ears), a neck brace, and full or partial casts on all four legs. Hampered by these injuries, Mr. Coyote was nevertheless obliged to support himself. With this in mind, he purchased of Defendant as an aid to mobility one pair of Acme Rocket Skates. When he attempted to use this product, however, he became involved in an accident remarkably similar to that which occurred with the Rocket Sled. Again, Defendant sold over the counter, without caveat, a product which attached powerful jet engines (in this case, two), to inadequate vehicles, with little or no provision for passenger safety. Encumbered by his heavy casts, Mr. Coyote lost control of the Rocket Skates soon after strapping them on, and collided with a roadside billboard so violently as to leave a hole in the shape of his full silhouette. -Ian Frazier, The New Yorker, February 26, 1990, p. 42--43.
Other titles that have potential:
Not described in this piece, but still one of the most elaborate fails ever....