COLLEEN COOVER

There's no getting around it—summer makes people stupid. And stupid people quickly become dead people. Do you want to be both stupid AND dead? We didn't think so. That's why you're going to be SMART, and read the Mercury's Summer Danger Guide: the city's only complete compilation of EVERYTHING that will cause or contribute to your gruesome eventual summertime death. Read it, learn it, and for the sake of everything you hold dear, LIVE IT.

SEXUAL PREDATORS!

If you've ever seen Dateline NBC or any local TV newscast, then you already know there are sexual predators EVERYWHERE! In fact, here's a handy and foolproof scientific test you can take right now to see if a sexual predator is nearby. Look behind you. Is there someone standing there? LOOK OUT! THAT'S A SEXUAL PREDATOR! He totally wants to "do" you. He wants to buy you a drink, maybe take you out for a steak dinner, and then parlay his "generosity" into an evening of sexual coitus involving his penis and your vagina. (Or b-hole, if you "swing" that way.) Do not fall into this sexual predator's trap!! If he's going to predator you, then make sure he buys you at least three steak dinners over a course of a month before you go anywhere near his penis—or her vagina, for that matter. Sometimes girls are predators too, you sexist. WSH

FIREWORKS!

Fact: Fireworks kill and maim more people than drunken driving, cancer, workplace shootings, and cholera combined, which is why they are considered by the Centers for Disease Control and the Pentagon to be the single greatest threat to our national security. Put the pieces together, man! Fireworks were invented by the Chinese, America's number-one enemy, and sold around the country on Native American reservations (our number-two enemy), who are slowly plotting their revenge against us for that whole genocide thing. Their plan is working perfectly; fireworks primarily injure and kill young, drunken men with no college education—the exact same group most likely to join the Army, and it's pretty hard to fire a gun at either red army when you don't have any fingers. So think about that this year when you're celebrating our country's independence—every Black Cat you light brings America one step closer to obliteration and enslavement at the hands of our enemies. SM

FRAT BOY GANGS!

When it comes to gangs, those Crips and Bloods get all the glory. But Frat Boy Gangs are the real danger. These roving herds of fraternity knuckle-draggers seem harmless from afar, but given the chance, they'd curb-stomp the Lord himself. Also, while other gangs battle for turf, these frat armies are indifferent to neighborhood boundaries and exist everywhere, from The Pearl to the 'burbs. Often times congregating at sporting events or Incubus concerts, their gang "signs" include an open-handed hand-slap (street name: "High Five") and an oddly homoerotic embrace (street name: "Bro Hug"). While we waste our days reading useless books, these thugs develop actual physical skills, which they later inflict upon us, often times hitting us with our own books. Oh, the painful irony. EAC

OVERCOME BY BODY FUNK!

Admittedly, I'm misanthropic—BUT I HAVE MY REASONS. Reason number one? People fucking stink. And I'm not just talking about the obvious culprits—of course the homeless dude on the MAX with dried vomit for a beard smells bad, and of course the hippies infesting Hawthorne smell as if they soak their filthy dreadlocks in bong water. No, I'm talking about usual, day-to-day people, the sort of people who shower regularly, who wear deodorant, who are smart enough to know to avoid polyester. And yet—every summer, and all across our otherwise fair city—EVERYONE REEKS. At this point—with all that we've learned thanks to society, technology, and various underarm hygiene products—you'd think it'd be safe to leave your apartment and not immediately be assaulted by undulating waves of BO strong enough to knock you on your ass. But it's not. Probably best to stay inside, with a few air fresheners hanging around your neck for good measure. EH

JAIL!

It's common knowledge that crime goes up in the summertime, and while boosting the occasional car or "capping" the occasional "punk-ass bitch" may make you feel "a'ight," what you really gotta look out for is getting caught and thrown in the clink. Overcrowded with your scofflaw brethren, jail is one of the most dangerous places you can find yourself this summer—and I'm not just talking about the food, I'm talking about the drink: pruno. Made from the fermentation of the canned fruit you're getting in the cafeteria, and aged to perfection in plastic garbage bags and empty jugs of bleach, this chunky-monkey, room-temperature concoction will make you glad you've made all those meth connections through your cellmates—so when you get out you can rot a hole right through the part of your brain that stored the memory of its taste. MS

POLE DANCING INJURIES (SWEAT-RELATED)!

Summer means one thing: swimsuit season! And if you've been a little less than angelic about maintaining your New Year's resolution of working out for three hours every day and eating only apples and coffee, you might be scrambling to lose those last 20 pounds. Luckily, the modern urban world offers a plethora of fun ways to burn calories, not least of which is pole dancing, where you can learn to move just like your favorite gal down at Devil's Point. But as the pros know, when temperatures rise, you'll begin to sweat and your grip on the pole can suffer. Consider a little chalk on your palms, ladies—especially those who work the pole for tips—or you may find yourself in a naked heap with a broken neck... a most embarrassing position. MS

RIDING YOUR BIKE INTO A SINKHOLE!

Concern yourself! Last December, a 21' x 16' sinkhole opened up at the corner of SE 16th and Oak, swallowing an entire city maintenance truck without warning. Scientists say we can expect many more unexpected holes to open up in Portland as our sewage system continues to age—wearing away the very earth beneath our feet thanks to the cruelly ironic leaking of our collective urine and feces! Just pray you're not riding your bike to the vegan grocery store when the next one opens up... or you can say good-bye to soybean tamales, and hello to a neglected, disgusting drawn-out death in a shitty-pissy sinkhole! O, the horror! MD

STRONG RIVER CURRENTS!

Our local rivers have some freakin' strong currents (currents that gain super strength after it rains—which happens occasionally in Portland). We're talking up to eight knots! I looked at stream velocity and flow charts and did some calculations, and discovered I have no idea how fast that is. But I do know one thing—you are not a salmon, and you cannot swim against such a current. You and your finless, spindly little body will drown (especially if you have a lot of tattoos and drink Coors Light). AJR

SHOOTINGS—CONNECT THE DOTS!

Think you're safe from being killed in Portland? Not according to the Portland Police Bureau's online "CRIMEMAPPER," which uses satellite technology to pinpoint homicides within the city limits over the last 12 months. Disturbingly, 21 murders-most-foul show up, from SW Portland through downtown, and all the way out east. More disturbingly still, if you connect the dots for the deaths, you'll discover they form an exact likeness to a map of Great Britain. Sinister coincidence? Or worse...?

Much worse! Under no circumstances must you go anywhere near any of the bullet holes on the map—or any British people for that matter, since they are clearly behind some conspiracy to revoke American independence... one Portlander at a time. Take special care: Not all Portland's homicides are swift, painless shootings—you may also be stabbed, beaten, bludgeoned, stoned, or even whipped to death. Our advice? Stay in the suburbs and die a purely existential death! Avoid foreigners! Worry! MD (TKTK—See pg. TK-TK for maps.)

THIRD-DEGREE SUNBURN!

Al Gore talks about global warming... but he never mentions its horrific uninvited cousin—third-degree sunburn! These days the suns rays are extra hot, and increasingly dangerous (because of the global warming... duh). Forget about aloe vera or ice pack remedies—that stuff is like lemonade to third-degree sunburn, which turns your skin past red and blistered, to white, brown, yellow, or black, with lots of swelling and a destroyed dermis. Sexy! Note: Thanks to sunstroke, you may first experience confusion, delirium, or coma—increasing your chances of ending up like a walking slice of burnt toast. The upside? Third-degree burns are often painless—thanks to scorched, dead nerve endings! AJR

SIGNATURE GATHERERS!

The initiative petition process not only puts lawmaking in the hands of nitwitted hillbillies, thereby endangering everyone's future, but it's also a very real and immediate threat to your personal safety. First, when you sign a petition, you give your name, address, and signature to a person whose best job prospect is standing on a street corner with a clipboard making minimum wage. You might as well just hand them your credit cards and car keys while you're at it, because by the time you walk to the next corner, your bank account will be wiped out. But if you do the smart thing and try to avoid them all together? Guess what—you're dead. They won't take no for an answer, and will chase you like zombies until you make a wrong step and get ground to hamburger under a speeding MAX train. Democracy's great and all, but remember: Corpses can't vote. SM

MT. TABOR EXPLOSION!

Who doesn't love the dog park—canines fetching and frisking about under the beautiful July sun—but right below the surface of the idyllic Mt. Tabor you know and love is an effin' hotbed of heart-stopping danger! Mt. Tabor, the dormant volcano in your backyard, is capable of spewing hot molten rock, ash, and gases all over everything you hold dear. That's right, because of a couple wonky tectonic plates Fido will die in a fiery blast of molten magma! So this summer when you're out walking the pooch, better wear your asbestos tracksuit and pray to the heavens that you don't end up a well-preserved pyroclastic mummy, to be unearthed by future archeologists who will academically refer to you as the "Dog-Walking Lady." CF

SCORPIONS!

While most Americans believe their demise will come from either a rogue wave, heart disease, or in the jaws of a polar bear, in fact, scorpions are what people should really be afraid of. Do you like wearing shoes? Sure, we all do. But while you slumber, these crafty arthropods sneak into your Nikes and lie in wait to strike at your feet. While their toxic venom doesn't technically kill you, it hurts like a sonofabitch, with a throbbing pain so great that even the swiftest of deaths cannot come quick enough. What's that? You'll just stop wearing shoes? Whatever, hippie—your bare feet will be even easier targets, especially to the Bark Scorpions, whose sting is the worst of them all. Of course, they are only native to the Southwest; at least, they were until globalization took over. Now they're probably in your house, storing up venom to inject into your tender skin. Nice knowing you, sucker! EAC

HOT DOG POISONING!

What you need to know about hot dogs this summer: (1) As the harsh rays of the summer's unrelenting sun beat down upon your half-eaten ballpark frank, microbes are rallying around your intestinal walls, gaining in numbers and staging a raid on your fragile bloodstream. (2) As the incubation period of your hot dog gluttony progresses, the first cramp will hit you like a roundhouse punch to the stomach. (3) Prepare yourself for a visit to the stadium shithouse, as your poor ravaged body undergoes a battery of vomit, diarrhea, and the ever-popular gastroenteritis. (4) Your baseball-watching companions will wonder where you've wandered off to, but as you lie with your face on the cool tile floor you'll have a gut feeling they'll be joining you soon. CF

OVERHYDRATION!

Most adults are well aware of the summer health risks posed by dehydration. Insufficient fluid intake desiccates the cells of the body, devastating delicate mucus membrane tissue and transforming urine emission from a cheerfully burbling stream into a polluted, festering sludge. But before you rush out to stock up on bottled water, consider this: Not only do chemicals leach from plastic bottles at levels far exceeding those found in more strictly regulated tap water, but the dangers of drinking too much water could surpass even the threat posed by dehydration. Overhydration occurs when so much liquid is consumed that the cells of the body fill beyond their absorptive capacity, causing sodium levels to plummet dangerously. The result? Disorientation. Seizures. Coma. Death. So this summer, think twice before you start guzzling: Overhydration (and your gruesome demise) could be just a few sips away. AH

OLD PEOPLE!

The problem with old people is that they're everywhere. Senior citizens love to vote, yak about their ugly grandkids and eat steamed carrots—but why can't they do these things far, far, away from us? Perhaps underground somewhere? Or on an island? But not a nice one... maybe one of those leper islands? We're young, healthy, and our bodies are firm to the touch—so why do we need the elderly to bring us down to their level? Gramps, you had your run, but the sun is setting, so why don't you just 23 skidoo into that pre-paid plot of yours? Scientific fact: If you stand close enough to an old person you can hear the gentle death rattle of The Grim Reaper coming for them. But beware! If you stand close enough to them, he might just get you too! EAC

DEATH FOUNTAINS!

August 8, 2004. Wednesday. Sean Haines knew the Skidmore Fountain was dangerous—he was old enough to read the warning signs—but the day was hot, and the water coolly, fatally seductive. And so at 3:14 on that sweltering afternoon, the eight-year-old made the last mistake of his short life: He stepped into the fountain. Immediately a jet of water struck him in the chest, knocked him off his feet and sent him spinning. Before he could get up he was hit by another jet, and then another. The boy's limp body was flung around the fountain like a battered, bloody Raggedy Ann doll until coming to rest, crooked and broken, in a heap on the ground. Water filled his mouth as his life swirled down the drain.Did you know that Portland's fountains claim between 13,000-27,000 lives every summer? Well... they do. This summer, make sure you talk to your son or daughter about the dangers of public fountains. Otherwise? Your child could be next. AH

IDLE TEENAGERS!

For adults over the age of 25, there is nothing as horrifying as the sudden appearance of a group of idle teenagers. That's why I like to hide behind a potted palm at the mall food court to stealthily observe these pre-adult layabouts in their natural environment. They tend to congregate in large groups—talking on cell phones, "text messaging," or listening to illegally downloaded music on their MP3 pods. The boys wear clothes that are three sizes too big, while the girls' clothing is three sizes too small. They are pottymouths, using such phraseology as the "f-word," the "b-word," the "mf-word," the "c-word," and the "mfcssob-word." Like the vicious Velociraptor—they can't see you if you don't move. However, if you are approached by a group of idle teens, the best course of action is to roll up into a fetal position, and sob quietly. In the worst-case scenario, try saying, "Hey! Any of you kids want to try my Dr. Pepper lip balm?" Usually, they'll scatter like birds. WSH

RIDING ON THE TRAM!

The tram: That glorious silver bubble that gallantly serves all of Portland by carrying three incredibly wealthy OHSU doctors to and from work every day! What a marvel! What a sight! What a DEATH TRAP. As you board, things seem fine—but soon, as you're dangling thousands of feet in the air, the wind shakes this frail, inescapable steel ball of death, and your ears hear the whining strains and staccato pops of wires above, punctuated by the torturous squeal of slowly rending metal, all of it overwhelmed by the relentless, heartless, vicious pull of gravity. As you and your traveling companions tighten your grips and clench your teeth, you'll realize that it's a long way to fall, and that you don't want to die surrounded only by three incredibly wealthy osteoporosis specialists. "Not here!" you'll cry. "Not like th—!" And then the tram will land, with a scream of steel and pavement, shattering metal and glass and bones, your blood splattering over the asphalt before it languidly trickles into the street gutters, your girlish cries of terror still echoing in the air. The moral? Don't take the tram. Walk instead. EH

WALKING UNDERNEATH THE TRAM!

Oh, you think you're so goddamn smart, don't you? "Take the tram? How preposterous! That thing's a death trap!" you told your friends, shortly before your fateful, ill-advised jaunt through SW Portland. "Besides, it's a lovely day! I'll walk!" But too late, you hear the snap of cables high above, and there's the sound you prayed you'd never hear—the piercing whistle of something very heavy and very shiny plummeting through the air—and an ovoid shadow is cast down, darkening the sight of your "lovely day." It all unfolds as if in slow motion—the metal glints above, the world stops, goes silent, and it would all have a sort of surreal beauty if your feet didn't feel bolted to the sidewalk. But even if they would obey, you have no time—the tram is already upon you. EH