Lawrence and Douglas County

Lawrence and Douglas county

Mayor says it’s time for nonsense

Highberger’s proclamation will celebrate Dadaism

December 24, 2005


Lawrence residents, pay heed to what your mayor has to say - "zimzim urallala zimzim urallala zimzim zanzibar zimzalla zam."

No, really.

Mayor Boog Highberger wants to awaken Lawrence to the wacky world of Dadaism, an early 20th century art movement that embraced chance, randomness and nonsense. On Tuesday, Highberger will proclaim International Dadaism Month at the city's weekly commission meeting.

As part of the proclamation, Highberger will utter the "zimzim" phrase, from a poem by Dada founder Hugo Ball, the late German author and poet. The words have no meaning, which Highberger said is the point.

"I just think it is good to acknowledge that there is a place for chance and nonsense in every healthy lifestyle," Highberger said.

Confused yet?

Dadaism - more frequently called Dada - was an international art movement started during World War I in Zurich, Switzerland. Most scholars generally agree that the movement - with its art that often featured random shapes and images and its poetry that made use of nonsensical phrases - was started to express the confusion felt by many as World War I raged, leaving carnage in its wake.

Mayor Boog Highberger will proclaim International Dadaism Month at the city's weekly commission meeting Tuesday.

Mayor Boog Highberger will proclaim International Dadaism Month at the city's weekly commission meeting Tuesday.

'Lawrence is the place'

In Dada spirit, Highberger did not select a specific month to celebrate Dada. Instead he's proclaiming International Dada month as Feb. 4, April 1, March 28, July 15, Aug. 2, Aug. 7, Aug. 16, Aug. 26, Sept. 18, Sept. 22, Oct. 1, Oct. 17 and Oct. 26. Highberger selected the dates by rolling dice and pulling numbers from a hat.

John Pultz, an associate professor of art history at Kansas University, said the idea of a government celebrating Dada is an interesting one.

"If any place in Kansas is going to do it, Lawrence would be the place to do it," Pultz said.

At first, Pultz said he wasn't quite sure what to make of the idea of a proclamation, but then upon further reflection he said today's world might need a dose of Dada.

"I could almost see a reason to do this to bring some levity into all the polarization that is going on in our world today," Pultz said, mentioning the sharply divided opinions on the war in Iraq and the debate over evolution. "It is almost like it is kind of an unhappy time."

So, did Pultz hit on Highberger's motivation? Not exactly.

"I wish I was that profound," Highberger said.

The mayor also said he wasn't trying to make a political statement about the war in Iraq, though he is interested in the parallels between today's times and Dada's birth in World War I.

Highberger said his motivation isn't quite as complicated.

"It might just be a prank," Highberger said.

No laughing matter?

He said the proclamation would inject a little fun into a year-end meeting that otherwise is full of routine business items. And he said he thought several of his friends in the International Mail Art Network would get a kick out of it.

"I guess I'm just trying to be faithful to my roots," said Highberger, who dabbles in "postage stamp" art, which features paintings in the shape and size of postage stamps.

He added that Dada might be useful in promoting the value of an open and active mind.

"A lot of Dada events leave the interpretation open to the observer, and it seems like there is some of that going on here," Highberger said.

Not everyone is sure what's going on, though. Reaction to Highberger's proclamation on Friday afternoon drew a mix of reactions from people on Massachusetts Street.

"It sounds like a waste of time to me," said Joe Hutchens, a Lawrence construction worker who said the issue would provide another reason for other Kansas communities to laugh at Lawrence. "It seems like the City Commission would have something better to do than that."

Some people, though, took a live-and-let-live approach.

"I think it is probably higher education," said Michael Levy, a rural Lawrence resident. "My daughter is an English major, and I think she would probably say something like, 'This is expanding our mind.'"


Ragingbear 12 years, 6 months ago

No occifer, I'm not as think as you stoned I am pony!

mr_sassy_pantsss 12 years, 6 months ago

Wait a minute.... pass me the fatty.... okay now this nonsense makes perfect sense to me.

beer_N_cigarettes 12 years, 6 months ago

Did you catch that statement "just trying to be faithful to my roots". Party on, dude.

corporate_sleaze 12 years, 6 months ago

Forget ID, forget Evolution, I'm going with pure Dadaism.

lunacydetector 12 years, 6 months ago

Formal Definition: A western European artistic and literary movement (1916-23) that sought the discovery of authentic reality through the abolition of traditional culture and aesthetic forms. -google

...only a 'gentle anarchist" could come up with recognizing this movement. speaking of growth=no growth, new urbanism=old urbanism, gentle anarchist....i'm sort of beginning to understand -not.

is 'dada' and 'lala' one and the same? i'm living in lala land, now i get it.

nothing like an eye opening booger to start your day off right.

born1980 12 years, 6 months ago

Its like there could be a whole universe in my thumb...dude thats deep boog. Forget plowing the streets or insane housing prices, this is much more important.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 6 months ago

What the hell...go for it... You are a good man Boog. Few would have the backbone to go public with such great and verified nonsense.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 6 months ago

Well, the 93 cents of city funds he might have expended on this will have one clear effect-- it will expose all of those on this board with zero sense of humor.

erichaar 12 years, 6 months ago

Time to get the Progressive Lawrence Campaign out of office.

blessed3x 12 years, 6 months ago

Lawrence is so filled with nonsense now, who could tell when the new nonsense started?

blessed3x 12 years, 6 months ago

Was Boog on the clock when he came up with this garbage?

Your tax dollars at work. You should be so proud.

classclown 12 years, 6 months ago

Seems to me the nonsense started a long time ago. Back when Boog and the city council took office. Maybe he was to caught up in his Dadaism to notice.

That's really groovy man.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 6 months ago

Come on, classclown, I'd expect at least you to have a sense of humor.

Ann Hamil 12 years, 6 months ago

Not only will it expose those with no sense of humor, but those who are rabidly opposed to expanding or examining their own frames of reference one iota. Happy Holidays!!! (Now go back to fighting in the nonsensical, nonexistent "War on Christmas". )

classclown 12 years, 6 months ago

I do. And I think if Lawrence wants to dedicate itself to nonsense and be wild and wacky we should go all out.

I propose that all street lights be replaced with lava lamps.

All downtown businesses paint a realistic looking doorway to the front of their buildings so people walk into the wall trying to enter.

Paint potholes in the streets so motorist won't know if it's a real one or not and see if they should try to drive around it or not.

All statements made by city officials whether oral or written be done in prose.

All streets be redone so there are no through streets. Make it like like a maze.

I'm out of ideas. Anyone want to add to this?

Kookamooka 12 years, 6 months ago

I LOVE IT!!! THIS IS AWESOME! Finally, Lawrence is resembling Lawrence again! I love this place! I was so convinced I was going to have to move to Columbia because of the Ultra conservative opinions expressed on this log but you know what....NO WAY AM I MISSING OUT ON CELBRATING DADAISM! So...I guess I'll have to stick around. Sorry!

Hong_Kong_Phooey 12 years, 6 months ago

Please...don't rush to judgment "Kookamooka".

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 6 months ago

The campaign against through streets was successfully completed decades ago.

I'd really like to see real butter in taxis.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 6 months ago

I should give proper credit to National Lampoon Radio Hour for the above idea.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 6 months ago

While I'm at it, my JW blog handle comes from the title of Firesign Theater's "We're All Bozos on This Bus."

Follow the yellow rubber line.

Godot 12 years, 6 months ago

Dadaism was a really short-lived fad. It wasn't even strong enough to define a generation. Leave it to Boog to land on that one.

Lets make sure Boog is not involved in hiring the new planning director.

Godot 12 years, 6 months ago

Actually, though, it is a good marketing ploy. Lawrence will be all over the internet again.

Adding to the list of what to do on Dada days: allow preschoolers to paint a public building any way they choose, then leave it that way; reverse some, but not all, of the one-way streets; change the colors on some of the traffic lights; block off all but one entrance to the roundabouts; print the JW from right to left, but only every other sentence; announce that there will be a parade, but leave out the time and place get a group of people together who do not understand one another and have them plan the future development of Lawrence......oh, wait, that happens all the time anyway.

KsTwister 12 years, 6 months ago

"You're Fired".........Donald Trump no-Citizens of Lawrence Yes.

mefirst 12 years, 6 months ago

okay--i'm a "progressive" and even I find this a little nonsensical. Boog clearly doesn't understand that his critics will use this against him. What kind of a response is he expecting from people? Geez, dude...

Fred Whitehead Jr. 12 years, 6 months ago

Ha, Ha, Ha!!!!!! The Journal-World has FINALLY found a story they can get a grasp on. NONSENSE! What a public admission!! Yeah, Boog, lets have some more nonesense, I am bored with round-a-bouts to nowhere, street obstructions to improve the ever-increasing traffic problems and flow, morons who try to make mythology public policy and law, inadequate street lighting, and lunatics like Fred Phelps committing child abuse on public streets without penalty. Lets get some REAL nonsense going in the city, how about a roundabout with center islands at 23rd and Iowa and just approaching the bridges at 6th and Mass? Get your cereal-box degree holders in the traffic division on this one, o.k.? It will be a great story on the national news.

Aileen Dingus 12 years, 6 months ago

Classclown "All statements made by city officials whether oral or written be done in prose."

Nah- interpretive dance. grin

born1980 12 years, 6 months ago

Please Boog don't STREAK THE QUAD! Man is it cold outside.

bthom37 12 years, 6 months ago

Noon Blue Apples?

Gay Zion! Sodom for the sodomites!

CalGal 12 years, 6 months ago


That's the Dada spirit! Just don't go snortin' 'em all by yerself.

cosmicg 12 years, 6 months ago

This story made it on I'd post a link, but apparently we can't do that?

Ragingbear 12 years, 6 months ago

Fritos! Fritos! Fritos! Fritos...... Wait, what was I talking about? Oooh, munchies.

shanefivedyes 12 years, 6 months ago


Ember 12 years, 6 months ago

heh... his 'month' is only 13 days long...

Godot 12 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the Fark link. That is some funny stuff. I learned new stuff about Boog, too.

audvisartist 12 years, 6 months ago

And for more information on Dadaism...

And I quote... "Those who participated in Dada were attracted to a nihilistic point of view (nothing achieved by mankind was worthwhile, not even art), and created art in which chance and randomness formed the basis of creation."

Ragingbear 12 years, 6 months ago

Heh. We made it onto Fark.Com... Lawrenece is famous man.

kansasboy 12 years, 6 months ago

Thats it I'm outa here packin' my sh*t and moving on. "Thanks for all the fish..."

Ragingbear 12 years, 6 months ago

Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger Badger MUSHROOM MUSHROOM!

mr_sassy_pantsss 12 years, 6 months ago

You're on the right track Raginbear.

Boog has to have some Mushrooming going on.

foodcritic 12 years, 6 months ago

I voted for Boog and I'm proud of it. For the haters - why do you live here? Please move - you have most of the rest of this country to live in so why would you choose to live here? Please move - there's lots of land all around you.

Thank you Boog for making me smile and reminding me of why I moved to Lawrence.

Happy Holidays everyone!!

shanefivedyes 12 years, 6 months ago


Godot 12 years, 6 months ago

My Christmas guest took me for a driving tour around Lawrence today, and he commented on the number of potholes. Why would a town with the resources Lawrence has allow the roads to be in such bad condition? he asked.

I replied, "That is the product of having an anarchist dadaoist for mayor. Don't force anyone to fix the roads, and enjoy the random beauty of nature's destructive power."

December 26, 2005, is the first day of Dada month in 2006.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 6 months ago

So, if he were a non-dadoist, non-anarchist, Boog would be out there with a whip over chain-ganged road repair crews.

I believe you have the beginnings of your campaign platform, Godot. Does Regressive Lawrence Campaign have a web address yet?

selffan 12 years, 6 months ago

miz miz miz miz moorhsum moorhsum moorhsum regdab regdab regdab regdab regdab regdab regdab regdab regdab regdab kwahyaj klahc kcor but oskeewowow rules

norm 12 years, 5 months ago

Why is this entire matter "news". They "mayor" says it's time for nonsense? Hello: What has his leadership of the City of Lawrence produced thus far with the junta of three? NONSENSE is what.

BOZO: Don't bother to retort. You're a one tune tommy and an apologist for your own. The town's in a mess; has been; and shall continue to be as long as partisan actions take place. (That includes YOUR buddies AND the "other" side). Me? I'm just an excluded outside observer.

I've volunteered for all manner of mayoral appointed slots....from both YOUR side and THEIR side and because I'm on NO SIDE, I'm EXCLUDED.

Carry on. Dadaism indeed. Why don't we all just get drunk and pro create?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 5 months ago

I'm not an apologist. Where did I apologize, and what did I apologize for?

Sorry no one wants to play with you, Norm. But maybe it's not their fault? Maybe it's your fault.

Nah, that can't be it. Maybe you should just get drunk.

MonkeyButt 12 years, 5 months ago

Greetings from Brooklyn, NY!

Wow -- I just stumbled on this story on the internet. Just when I thought it was time to give up on the Red States entirely, you guys throw us a curveball. What's the matter with Kansas? Nothing a little good old Dadaism can't fix.

Epater la bourgeoisie? mais oui!

dyetter 12 years, 5 months ago

As a long-time resident of Lawrence's rival college town, Manhattan, I want to assure you all that we in Manhattan regard your mayor's recent proclaimation as absurd.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 5 months ago

Of course it was absurd, but I'm curious how you got elected to speak for Manhattan. Or is that the "royal we?" (It would explain why purple is so popular out there.)

jealous_observer 12 years, 5 months ago

believe me, Ã feel for the mismanagement of municipalities...but my guess is no matter who was in charge there'd be problems , you know pesky issues like roundabouts and potholes. Hats off to the supporters of Boog.... anyone without a sense of humor can indulge in new speak,,,, I know, I know whats my business? I live in a most dada city.... Boston. Roundabouts, terrible signage, unbelievable potholes and huge parking fines, to name a few issues... and a simulated public servant for governor!! I can imagine the uproar if our mayor declared such a thing while posing in front of the big dig!!

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