By inviting Pulitzer Prize-winning funny man, Dave Barry, to give the keynote at the General Session on Sunday morning, APWA guaranteed that the 2007 Congress and Exposition would start out with a bang–and a laugh.
"As a humor writer, I sit around in my underwear and make things up," says Barry. "Kind of like a consultant."
While the author of more than 25 books is a self-professed non-expert when it comes to public works, he does have a piece of infrastructure named after him. Years ago, when the state of North Dakota was thinking of overhauling its chilly image by dropping "North" from its name, Barry lambasted the notion in his column. As a thank-you, the city of Grand Forks dedicated one of its lift stations after him, and issued a statement comparing his work to the lifting of human excrement.
In an exclusive interview with PUBLIC WORKS, Barry offered up a bit of possible good news for those who miss reading him regularly since his weekly column went on hiatus in 2005–you just might be seeing more of his work in the coming months.
"With what's going on in politics and the Olympics coming up, there's some stuff to talk about," he says.
Barry also related an instance of ingenuity gone wrong, when Oregon highway department personnel were called in to deal with a dead whale that had washed onto a beach in Portland. They opted to dispatch the corpse with dynamite, and the results were less than...well, dynamite. Click here to watch the aftermath.
This article is part of PUBLIC WORKS magazine's live coverage from the 2007 APWA Show. Click here to read more articles from the show.