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February 13, 2009


I’m currently in Utica, New York where I just performed for a group of students at Hamilton College. Utica is one of those upstate New York cities that is exactly what you would imagine it to be, only less. Upstate New York has undergone some difficult times in the last forty or fifty years or so. I’m not sure why. People may have just decided it sucks up here and left. Or, more likely, industry left and the people followed. So what you get is one of those cities that looks like I think all Earth cities will look about a thousand years in the future when we have finally annihilated ourselves and the only evidence left of our existence are the crumbling husks of our former civilization. That’s Utica – the city of a shitty tomorrow, today.

Actually that would be a pretty good way to draw tourists here. Rather than continually attempting to attract new industry to this impoverished area, just repackage its current decomposition as “Future City!” Most Future Cities are sparkling and clean and filled with ultra-modern whirligigs. But that’s only one version of the future. The post-apocalyptic version? The “bird flu killed everybody” version? That’s Utica! I think if you asked a hundred people which version of the future is more likely: shiny, happy people or the radioactive dystopia? Most people probably would say the latter. Because let’s face it, everybody knows our entire species is going to shit. Why not try to make a buck off that fact?

Here’s what you do. You start a whole tourist thing. “Utica: Nightmare City of the Future!!!” People show up. Everybody gets a Haz-Mat suit and a Geiger counter, which never stops pinging. You pile everybody into an old school bus tricked-out like something from “Mad Max.” Right? You put a bunch of burly guards with automatic weaponry on top of the vehicle. Maybe they have crazy tattoos and robotic laser eyes and stuff. You drive through downtown avoiding the bunch of locals you’ve hired to scurry around in the shadows acting like flesh-eating monsters (Think “I Am Legend”) Once in a while, one of the bus guards “shoots” a monster. Green radioactive monster goo splatters all over everything. Everybody screams. Just when they’re screaming, you take their photo, which you sell them to at the end of the tour. Big money maker.

As the idea catches on, you expand it a little. You open restaurants where people forage through an old 7-11. You make giant animatronic mutant worms like from that movie “Tremors.” You open a log flume and a homemade fudge shoppe. Soon, Nightmare City of the Future is a family destination. Maybe there’s a casino. Maybe there’s post-apocalyptic mini-golf. Maybe you get Kenny Loggins to do a show. The possibilities are endless. Soon people are moving here to work the tourist attractions. Soon Utica is a destination again. All because you didn’t try to fight the fact that this town has nothing to offer anybody, but rather you turn that fact to your advantage. The other option is just to blow-up the entire city. Personally, I think it’s a toss-up.


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damn. I thought I had firsties this time, drats.


Seriously, I'd got to that post-apocalyptic dystopia. Dystopias are my favorite topias. Monster goo, flesh eating locals, and 7-11 foraging. It's all my favorite movies, but real life.

You're a genius!


What a funny way to end the evening! Of course, the Uticans may not think so. I lived in upstate New Yawk while I was a nanny many moons ago and it was lovely then. The way you describe it now really makes me miss my Iowa hometown.(not really)


Utica, IL was the main topic of conversation earlier today. I won't tell you why (it's because of it's racist inhabitants who still fly the confederate flag on their store fronts) but I will tell you you just now scared me right into a full blown forehead rash. I hope you're happy.

Other than that, this is a brilliant idea and would make a fun sketch for your new show. Pretty much all of your blogs would. You've got the whole show wrapped up right here. Just copy and paste and throw in some current stuff just before you film. (Thank goodness I know so much about the biz).



Post-apocalyptic mini-golf is an amazing concept. How would it play out though? Radiation zones instead of water hazards? Landmines in the sand traps? Or maybe everyone just gets raped, like in the cult classic film "A Boy and His Dog."

The only thing I know for sure is that there are only 17 holes. No one wins at post-apocalyptic mini-golf.


Reminds me of that episode of the Office (season 4, I think) where Dwight and Michael say "We will burn Utica to the ground."

But yeah, Utica is falling to shit. It's right next to the Adirondacks, though, which is an amazing place. So...that's kinda something it's got going for itself.


When I opened the blog notification email, I thought this was going to be a blog about Urticaria, and I came here fired up to offer allergy advice.

How wrong could I be.


Utica: Nightmare City of the Future? As Tina Fey might say: I want to go to there!


Things like that frighten me because it's so possible.

I don't think I could ever "hang" in a post-apocalyptic world. But you're idea is pretty clever. I might ride that zombie bus. (that's what she said?)


You need to patent that shit. I'd SO go.

Also, the FEEDJIT thing is neat!

Who's in Riverside?


Sounds great and u could add a big "B" to the name and call it Butica: disaster land of the future ;or not

Martin D. Fallswell, of Fallswell, Fallswell, and Bink

I'd bet you could sell that to Universal. Could borrow a few chunks of sarcophagus from the site of the Chernobyl incident, for that authentic "glow" on the performers.

Hey, they'd get hazardous-work pay for it! I ain't no scrooge. There's plenty of bottlecaps to go around.


oh my god, this is crazy... i am from utica, and i didn't know you were just here till i randomly checked this blog. it sounds like you stayed downtown, at the radisson? you are right about everything (as usual).

Gravy McMagnusssson

I am from Utica and you are a fool...
we don't have a 7-11 here.

But everything else you said was spot-on.
This sounds like a good business model to me! I'll get in contact with the city board and we'll see what we can do.

ryan manning

i am from utica. it is depressed. i like hamilton college.


I was getting upset, thinking, if he thinks Utica is depressed in Upstate, he should see Schenectady, where I am from. But then I look it up, and somehow they are doing even worse than we. Amazing! Thank you for putting a positive spin on such a terrible place.

Tone Spliff

Yup...thats Utica...it grows on you if you were born, raised and still live here though.

Im quite upset i missed you.


The Handshake City may seem like a dump, but it has produced many greats. Ron "Superfly" O'Neil was born there. Annette "Sugartits" Funicello. James "Schoolcraft" Sherman. Just to name a few...


Spot on with your assessment of Utica. The city is totally missing an opportunity here.


Ummmm....Hamilton College is in Clinton, not Utica....and we don't have 7-11's in the area. But other than that, you're right!


The great thing about a post-apocalyptic America is that there won't be any jobs or celebrity status for vague talents like Michael Ian Black. Laugh it up while you can; you'll be a nobody in Utica by the next time you visit. In fact, you'll be a nobody everywhere.


That might be the only thing that would make me willingly revisit my hometown... besides my parents, a-hem - of course... hi mom!

-Utica Escapee


You obviously didn't spend any time in Utica or else you are not smart enough to see what we really do have! The museum, Stanley Performance Center, skiing, golf, baseball, close proximity to sailing, swimming, picnicking, hockey. We have houses that have back yards and we're close enough to get where you can be in New York City for the theater or Buffalo for football. We have several ivy league colleges in the area with great athletic programs. You do us a disservice bad mouthing Utica as you did. If you thought it was funny, think again.

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