Tuesday, August 08, 2006

When you think you're all alone...

One of my roommates has absolutely horrible taste in music. What makes it funny, though, is that he has no idea that i'm in the next room and he's singing along with it at the top of his lungs. To be polite, lets just say--he's no Frank Sinatra. Hell, he's no Shakira either. He wouldn't even do well in Milli Vanilli.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Adventures in Arkansas

I've just returned from a four-day sojurn in the depths of the American heartland, accompanied by the greater majority of my paternal extended family. The purpose was simple--to welcome my uncle's new wife into the family. The execution thereof was somewhat more difficult, as Tia Olivia is Panamanian and does not speak English. (its okay, my uncle speaks Spanish--its not like he just shanghaied her. No really! he was in the Peace Corps down there and they met in an internet cafe.) (damn i miss my Mac--i don't remember the numerical code for making an accent acute over the final e in "cafe")

Arkansas is one of those lost, pathetic places that started off poor and lost money from there. Travel magazines may refer to its "untouched, rugged beauty" but all it really means is "none of these toothless hill people have the know-how, much less the funding, necessity, or will, to build a skyscraper." Main routes throughout the Ozarks are dotted with failed townships and empty, collapsing aluminium buildings--"welcome to Shirley, population 64." 64 inbred, illiterate, God-fearing, Bush-loving fourth grade dropout voters who work hard in the field every day only to find that the soybean yield is low again this year and Tyson chicken farms are driving a hard bargain for their land. Arkansas is a state that is trapped in 1934--they never really pulled clear of the Depression and as a result education, art, and haute cuisine have suffered crushing blows.

My grandma's town--a vast Ozark metropolis with a population of just over 2,000--has three main hangouts for kids of all ages: church, the retirement center, and the world's cultural mecca, Wal-Mart. You simply can't go a day without braving the scorching asphalt of the Wally World parking lot to enter upon a trove of flimsy plastic furniture and dye-injected, guest-worker picked vegetables.

At the village Wal-Mart you are apt to encounter absolutely everyone who isn't comatose in the entire county. And a few of the comatose ones too. The teenage, morbidly obese, makeup-caked moms of three tend to congregate in the lingerie department. You'll find the young, lean, tanned, slack-jawed farm boys near the back in the firearm department, but don't linger--they all turn a glassy stare on any woman who dares venture back there (much like cattle when a car turns down their stretch of road.) The pasty, duck-footed, dangerously obese (and dangerously emaciated) middle-aged men can be found in the automotive department, mindlessly comparing prices on plastic hubcaps in their "git-r-done" printed tee shirts and hunter orange ballcaps. Everyone else wanders around the store in dumb-struck amazement at the sheer quantities of corn syrup and trans-fat available on the shelves, with which they can stuff their quivering cheeks the moment they get home.

Speaking of Wal-Mart: MACINTOSH! SHAME ON YOU! they've sold out to the corporate demons and now allow their white-earplugged mini status symbols to be peddled by the very Man their initial tree-hugging customer base so vehemently rejected. I'm disappointed.

Yes, Arkansas. The land that time forgot. The unpolluted breadbasket that may be the only place left standing after the rest of the world finishes shooting itself in the face with overpopulation and consumption of fossil fuels. But until that time, it will continue to be a beautiful state inhabited by a bunch of mindless, bigoted jerks who don't deserve it.