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Horse Play

Over-the-top Colts fans, the empty governor’s mansion, and transients at the old City Hall. Ask The Hoosierist.

Q: Are there any rules limiting the fan costumes that can be worn at Lucas Oil Stadium? My buddy and I want to go as a pantomime horse.

Barry R., Noblesville

A: Apparently not, as long as you don’t show up in something that’s patently offensive (as judged by the gate staff), cumbersome, or potentially dangerous. If, for instance, you’re wearing a T-shirt that says “Puck the Patriots”
(only it doesn’t say “puck”), you’ll be asked to take it off or turn it inside-out. Likewise, The Hoosierist assumes that if your pantomime horse costume is so absurdly huge that it blocks aisles, you’re not getting in. Nevertheless, the staff is pretty lenient—just look at the body-painted, fright-wigged freaks who already haunt the stands. “We don’t necessarily have any hard-and-fast rules,” says special services coordinator Heidi Mallon. “If it’s legal dress on the streets, it’s pretty much acceptable in Lucas Oil Stadium.”

Q: Several times a week, I walk past the old City Hall that sits vacant at the corner of Alabama Street and Ohio Street. What does the city plan to do with this grand old building?

Stephen I., Indianapolis

A: As far as The Hoosierist is concerned, the stately structure at 202 N. Alabama St. has already found its niche—as The Marion County Home for Wayward Public Entities. Are you a down-on-your-luck civic organization in need of someplace to rest and regroup? Then dump your worldly possessions in a shopping cart (or a bunch of moving vans) and head over to the old Indianapolis City Hall. Having lost its purpose as the center of local government when the City-County Building opened in 1962, the old Hall has muddled along by taking in boarders. Most famously, it served as the stopgap home of the Indiana State Museum from 1962 to 2001, and from 2002 to 2008 it housed the collections of the Indianapolis–Marion County Public Library while its old headquarters got a makeover.

The city solicited reuse plans from private contractors a few years back, which produced the usual batch of pre–real-estate-crash fluff. The Hoosierist says, let the currently empty structure keep doing what it’s doing—serving as a sort of Wheeler Mission for homeless agencies.

Q: Why does the Megabus to Chicago sometimes stop at a random gas station not far from its destination? Why can’t they just wait until they arrive?

Owen T., Indianapolis

A: The Hoosierist, who last rode a bus back in junior high school when his leg would stick to gum on the seat, doesn’t care much for that mode of transportation to begin with. So the occasional long layover must be infuriating. The Megabus apparently makes the Indy/Windy City run 35 times a week, with regular, somewhat random-seeming intermissions included to accommodate federal and company work rules. “In order to comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and our company’s policies regarding driver hours, we use scheduled stops en route to fulfill safety requirements,” says Dale Moser, president and COO of megabus.com. The company manual says that after every 4.5 hours of work, a driver gets a 15-to-30-minute break. So if your Megabus driver suddenly stops for a doughnut and a cup of coffee in Nowheresville, blame the government. Thumb through a magazine, grit your teeth, and bear it.

Q: Since Mitch Daniels doesn’t live in the governor’s mansion, what’s it used for? Is it any cheaper to maintain with the First Family absent?

Celeste P., Indianapolis

A: While some take umbrage at Daniels’ refusal to live in the Governor’s Residence, his absence from the 10,500-square-foot English Tudor at 4750 N. Meridian St. has undeniably saved the state some coin. Julie Kirby, chief of staff for the first lady, Cheri Daniels (and also the residence director), reports that while previous administrations kept a veritable army of butlers, cooks, and housekeepers, the current skeleton staff consists of just one housekeeper and one butler—a 35-year veteran who also conducts public tours of the brick edifice every Tuesday. “I’ve never seen actual figures, but our butler tells us there were five to six butlers, three to four housekeepers, plus cooks [during previous administrations],” Kirby says. “So there were definitely huge staffs in the past. That’s where the cost savings come in.”

Not that the place has been abandoned. The governor conducts meetings there and even stays occasionally, and the first lady keeps her office there. The house is also available for not-for-profit organizations to rent, and state agencies can use it for meetings and retreats. But not for private functions. The governor’s mansion is a state landmark, not a Chuck E. Cheese’s, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for a site for your kid’s birthday bash.

Q: Is the food at Shapiro’s kosher?

Jacob M., Carmel

A: The Hoosierist welcomed the opportunity to stuff his face with latkes while reporting this. He’ll spare you the intricacies of Jewish dietary law other than to mention the need to keep meat and dairy separate, forego forbidden foods such as pork, and operate under rabbinical supervision.

“Technically, we are not kosher by any stretch of the imagination,” says owner Brian Shapiro. “We don’t have pork, but we put cheese on sandwiches, and we have meat and cheese in the same refrigerators.”

Shapiro reckons that keeping kosher would increase the price of your $11.50 Reuben (along with everything else on the menu) by about 50 percent. Actually, it would knock the Reuben off entirely, because kosher rules forbid this abomination, in which corned beef and melty Swiss cheese writhe in sinful congress under sheets of hearty rye.

Illustration by Shane Harrison.

This article originally appeared in the September 2011 issue.