The key to a successful free market, I have come to believe, is the intern. The economics are simple: high output, no overhead. These conditions allow for people in management to focus on the more important tasks of modern business, like finding cheap permanent labor to fill the holes when the freebies hit the road. The Clinton Administration sensed this when it initiated the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. Any small businessperson understands to break the back of the intern any chance he gets. Good business comes at the expense of someone. Why not chalk it up to a learning experience and move on, you dragon slayer? 

More often than not, there are interns at the Fourth Street headquarters of LEO Weekly, buzzing around with their grunt work — event listings, basic research for a news story or two, the occasional transcribing of tape — and generally constituting the background of our modest newsroom. We ask for their ideas and then shoot them down, often without discrimination. We assign them a story and then rewrite 75 percent of it, often without consultation. We offer them a parking pass, free lunch after three months and the novel idea that by simply hanging out in the same room as us, they are learning something useful. 

Frankly, we don’t think much about our interns. But we think a lot of them. 

This summer’s bunch — Jess Mahanes, Aaron Frank, Cassie Book, Caitlin Bowling and Jane Mattingly — are a particularly bright crew, as dedicated to this newspaper as we who draw a paycheck. We figured they deserved a cover story at the very least, so we contrived one: Comb LEO’s community listings for something unusual or extraordinary, then write about it. It didn’t have to be earth shattering, just a little weirder than your average after-school special. Oh, and try to have a good time. 

What follows is their long, strange trip into River City places and spaces you’ve probably never been. We hope you enjoy. If not — hell, it was free anyway. —Editor