Tuesday, July 1

"How's The Head?" "Still Bleeding." *

I'M from Indiana, in case that's not abundantly clear, specifically Indianapolis, a state and a city where a massive, collective inferiority complex is on display like bluegrass in Kentucky or bluebells in Texas. This used to sit like a light wool sweater on a crisp night, all snuggly and bemused against the outside world, the close-fit knowledge, warmed to body-temperature, that something in the soil yet had spawned George Ade, Booth Tarkington, Theodore Dreiser, Kurt Vonnegut, and Claude Akins.

I doubt I need to tell you this has not fared well in the current age, unlike, say, teevee-set dimensions, marijuana potency, and women made of plastic. The entire state, excepting The Region, and the Amish, was sold one night to souless international corporate entities like Mitch Daniels. Surprisingly few people realized. Whimsy, gentleness, and humor--where understood--have no place in those types' lexicon, and self-deprecation ranks just above "satire" and just below "eroding real estate values" on their Turn-offs List. Beginning in the late 70s sometime you couldn't swing a cat in these parts--not that I ever would--without hitting something which claimed to be World Class in the Making. We're building Indy's first Five-Star hotel! We're The Amateur Sports Capital of the World! It actually saturated things to the extent that Indianapolis Public Schools once claimed to be building a world-class school system, presumably from baling wire, an Amiga 1000, and a set of Collier's Encyclopedia copyright 1960 (missing Volume 12, KRA-MAF). It is, perhaps, fortunate that such occurances are accompanied by the absence of anything resembling humor, or choking deaths might have skyrocketed.

This was probably excusable in its day; after all, someone was paying Barbara Walters $1 M (in bicentennial dollars) to read aloud, and people were hailing Gene Roddenberry as a visionary. Why not fucking cash in under the circumstances? Never mind that the whole exercise somehow required the creation of a quasi-government entity with taxing powers but no accountability, electoral or otherwise. We're goin' to Mars! dude. Stop bitchin' about the uniforms! Of course this revolting set of circumstances would then be seized upon, and improved--the same way the discovery of gold on the West coast improved relations with nearby indigenous peoples--by a generation which had no conception of things ever being any different, leading to the current mouthpiece of the Capitol Improvements Board ("Cosa Nostra") explaining to his taxpaying audience recently that Indianpolis' positioning itself as The Amateur Sports Capital of the Solar System was pretty much just a placeholder until we could land a Super Bowl.

This, then, is the view from The Crossroads of America, a state which now be trippin' to the extent that the We're Relevant To The Political Process! crapola hasn't fucking let up, not in light of the immediate aftermath, when our voting for Hillary Clinton gave the nomination to Barack Obama, and not in the eight weeks after, as Senator Obama's hopeful and sincere campaign ads compete for time with Mitch Daniels' scared-shitless, baldfaced-lyin' ones.  The local teleprompter readers can't fucking get enough of We're Relevant To The Political Process! which is brought up every time one or the other candidate's plane flies into Indiana airspace. (Although, to be honest, they're having a difficult time working up much McCain enthusiasm, for obvious reasons, of course, but also because another Republican win puts this shit to bed for another forty years.) It never occurs to anyone to ask just how much money these people have, or why, or how much it would take to get them to go away, at least for a decent interval.

Now, just so's you don't think this is simply familiarity-bred contempt, my feeling is that the proper response of any state which has voted Republican for the last forty years, in fact any which went (unequivocally) to George W. Bush twice, is not the generation of artificial excitement and self-congratulation over giving some thought to not electing another one while there's still a Republic left; it's to recuse itself in shame. It's the only real response.

I say all this because--okay, it's only the latest excuse--with my Poor Wife at the controls yesterday I sat through three different reports on Obama's I Will Not Stand For People Questioning My Patriotism, And To Prove It I'll Start Wearing A Flag Pin speech, and every one of the three was introduced by a talking hairdo saying, "Today, Barack Obama responded to questions about his patriotism." One waited for an explanation of who had questioned Obama's patriotism, or on what grounds with full knowledge of the futility of the exercise, just as one waited for some context to explain why a retired Major General who had himself run for the office would supposedly say military service disqualified one from the Presidency. One could wish either, or both, had just left it at Kiss My Ass. One could wonder why anyone would want to be President. One could do worse than to say read Glen Greenwald.

* dimly remembered comic strip from my youth.  The set up is one character saying to the other something along the lines of "That was a brave thing you did, facing a surly mob and saying, 'Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.' "  Second panel wordless, as the two look at each other, then the money shot.


Michael said...

Speaking of yes-we-are-too-world-class hubris ...

I spent a year in Indy in--let's see, I think it was still early in that whole Reagan unpleasantness, say 1982--and I have a fond memory of a TV tourism campaign (why were ads promoting Indianapolis to tourists running on Indianapolis TV? why were ads promoting Indianapolis to tourists? never knew) whose jauntily-tuned jingle ran, "Move over, New York--apple is our middle name!"

Yeah, that would so have convinced me to change my travel plans.

DBK said...

Ya know, I drove though Indiana on my way to where I now live: Minnesota. I can honestly say that I've never been anywhere I was happier to leave, and I've been to Alabama several times. It was unquestionably the worst state I've ever been in, and I came here from New Jersey.

I don't know how you people put up with it. I don't know why you people put up with it. I also don't understand why Iowa floods but Indiana just sorta lays there, unharmed and unchanged. I told Mrs DBK that if we drive back east to visit family, we're looping around Indiana. No way I want to be in that place again.

Hattie said...

As Indiana goes, so goes the nation. At least in a place like that the rot is undisguised.

Harry Cheddar said...

Jeez, DBK, did ya get violated by a crazed gang of corn farmers and Purdue alumni or something?

Jaye Ramsey Sutter said...

If you have to say that something is "world class," it usually isn't. Like people in Paris say it is a world-class city? Of course they don't. It is simply, Paris.

Those are bluebonnets in Texas, not bluebells.

And Wesley Clark stepped in some well piled shit. Obama knew he was going to use the meme that has been floating around on the Internets that a jump in the Hanoi joint does not a president make. Being captured does not qualify a person to be a war hero or a commander in chief. Gore Vidal said it two weeks ago. And people were off and running with it.

It is one of those surrogate statements that allows the candidate to look good denouncing the preplanned comment. Clark of course denied this but then again no one asked him if it was scripted. So of course it was.

But it got sympathy for McCain. And more publicity than the patriotic speech. Obama does play the "I am such a martyr" so well.

Brian said...

As an ex-Hoosier (Fort Wayne), I would say it's a nice place to be from. Fort Wayne at least has a nice city park system :)

Still...even with the fires and the air that is half smoke and half ozone, I would still rather spend a summer in California than Indiana. Let alone a winter. (and, even the Sacramento Valley is an hour's drive from pretty countryside. There is nothing more dismal than the drive from Indianapolis to Fort Wayne in February. )