The Hoosierist: Criminal Rinds

The watermelon law, aspiring gondoliers, and Gen Con’s name. Ask The Hoosierist.
Q: I hear it’s illegal in Beech Grove to eat watermelon in public parks. Is this true? 
Michelle P., Beech Grove  
A: In a move that raises The Hoosierist’s libertarian hackles, some freedom-crushing wonk in the Beech Grove junta decided that watermelon rinds stuffed into public garbage containers punctured the plastic bags and made a mess. So now, Beech Grove technically doesn’t allow watermelons in its parks. Not that the cops enforce the rule, because no one—anywhere—has that much spare time. But this isn’t the only U.S. law curtailing our food freedoms. In liberty-hating Marion, Ohio, Big Brother won’t let honest citizens walk backward while eating doughnuts. And in Alaska, the simple, everyday act of offering a beer to a moose is proscribed.


Q: How do you get a job as a gondolier on the Canal?  
Bobby Y., Indianapolis
A: Interested in joining the dynamic, wide-open field of gondola-driving (or piloting, or whatever)? Then the folks at Old World Gondoliers, which handles operations on the downtown Canal, want to hear from you. But only if you possess a professionally trained singing voice and can belt out Italian love songs while steering a 2,000-pound, 38-foot-long boat. “We make it look really easy, but it’s a rigorous job,” says owner Jeff Hutson Favorito. “You have to be passionate about it.” Passionate enough to endure a two-year apprenticeship, that is. It takes one summer to learn the basics of gondola management and another to do all that while crooning for passengers. If you make the cut, you’ll join some elite company: Favorito says there are only about 600 full-time gondoliers in the world.


Q: Where did Gen Con get its name? 
Alan N., Indianapolis 
A: Return with us now to the dark, dark year of 1967—a time before cosplay, Game of Thrones, or worthwhile computer games. That was the year a small group of war-game buffs got together in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to toss the 16-sided dice and (The Hoosierist assumes) wonder about what it might feel like to kiss a girl. That gathering was called, a bit unimaginatively, the Geneva Convention. Since this was also the name of a much-more-famous historical event, it was quickly shortened to Gen Con. The confab outgrew its Lake Geneva birthplace but kept its name, bouncing from one Midwestern home to another before settling here in 2003 and adopting the moniker “Gen Con Indy.” These days it could more accurately be called The Geek Fest That Ate Indy.


The HooiseriStat

Number of U.S. Navy ships named after Indianapolis
The most famous was the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis, which sank 70 years ago this month and has kept the History Channel in business. But you can’t keep a good name down. The newest U.S.S. Indianapolis, a combat ship, is currently under construction.


Have a question about anything Indiana-related? Email it to