Wednesday, September 21

Back Home Again: USA America In A Nutshell, Appropriately, Edition

AS reported earlier, I'm fighting a losing battle with the horizon; even before the Equinox I'm forced to wait until 7:30 in the morning for enough light to safely ride a (lighted) bicycle in the streets, streets which are increasingly filled with drivers who apparently owe their licenses, if any, to the pseudo-Randian takeover of the BMV in 2005. (There are two possible explanations for this. The first is that there are orders from On High, or, in Mitch Daniels' case, Short, in conjunction with Indiana's Okey-Dokey Double-Constitutional Voter ID law, for the Bureau to license white people indiscriminately to balance out all the African-American voter fraud. The other is that malcontented Bureau employees forced, in 2005, to don the Official Worker Uniform of blue golf shirt,--wait for it--khaki pantaloons, and pained* smile, had turned rogue or gone Luddite.) That would include the Carmelite driver--we're coming back to you, Car-mel**--who stopped this morning three feet beyond the intersection of the Monon Trail and whatever side street in the old neighborhoods of Old Town Carmel ™ she was driving on, so she could hold her iPhone up high enough to read the text. And text back, which somehow is against the law in Indiana, though perhaps this does not include Hamilton county.

I was safely in lowered gear and heightened alert; it's a heavy pedestrian area with a couple little street crossings that can be dangerous, and one--the Old Town Main Drag--which can be dangerous and infuriating, so I watch out. This did not prevent me from the loud proclamation of a curse word still considered ill-mannered among the Uppers, and both she and some Carmel-homeless guy (over 19, still living with parents, possibly in or out of college, possibly walking to a local restaurant job, hipster mien; believe me, there are no real homeless people in Carmel. Not for two days running there aren't) replied with shouts, but I couldn't make either of 'em out since I had the iPod on, and was past before they finished their thoughts.

Pardon the digression. It's not like I routinely abuse the privilege. When Mitch "Turns Out Freedom Is Free" Daniels first got hold of the state's infrastructure, he named as BMV director some guy with a retail background, most recently having helmed Galyan's Sporting Goods Empire as Dick's Sporting Goods Empire came into its home market and pushed it off the monkey bars, and made it cry. Within weeks he closed branches (surprise!), removed the clocks from those that remained, and thunk up that dress code. (Asked whether he'd be wearing it, too, he replied that he would, whenever he was working in a Branch.) He also oversaw the utterly incompetent switch to a major computer program overhaul, which had been in the works for several years. It got so bad he was cashiered. These days, truth be told, it's the best it's ever been in my memory, except way back in the day when you could just pick one, wherever it was located, and a quick trip to farm country more than made up for the extra drive. They seem to've done something with all the small-time car dealers who used to clog the system first thing in the morning. Like putting them on the Honor system.

Anyway, with the tardy sunrise I've been watching the local morning teleprompter readers out of some latent masochistic streak, and yesterday, swear to God, there was a story on how Wendy's/Burger King/Waste Management was going to put more meat in their burgers. And today came news--it made me pine for a teletype chattering in the background--that Coca-Cola™ would be offering its flagship product in somewhere between two and five new sizes; the announcer was so excited I never quite got the actual count.

Just tell me where this comes from. Yes, indeedy, it's traceable to the contagion of Happy Talk News, circa 1972, when it was decided that news coverage should not neglect the National Morale and the tonic effects of an adorable dog who fought a fire or traveled a long and mysterious road to return to the house and the family which had secretly dumped him while on vacation 1500 miles away and now had to clench the bowels of self-loathing and never, ever, admit having done so. But the switch to Coupon News and Arby's New Sauce Selections features is of more recent vintage.

Of course, chatter of any sort clenches the bowels in the day's first spasm of Potential Pre-Cancer at that hour. (Or does so for those over, say, 15, which, assuming this is in fact the target audience, explains everything.) But I'm mystified by the process that decides this is the sort of thing The Masses wanna know about before they brush their teeth.

The effect on the unwashed brain at that hour I leave to the Sociology Department, but the signs do not augur well. A commenter on the story at the Star writes:
Many realize that Carmel is a Republican stronghold with many entrepreneurs. When you have a city of this caliber, people come to expect the best. Insurance was offered to the city council members which as Mayor Brainerd pointed out is an option not out of the ordinary in the United States. People who complain about these type of options seem to want the nation to deteriorate to the point where no one is offered benefits. The small minded, if I don't get that then they don't get that, simply overlooks all the factors involved in maintaining competent individuals.

Now first, I'd like to fully endorse Entrepreneur as the Official Republican PC Code for "White". Second, it is perhaps our duty, again, to remind the reader innocent of Central Indiana geography that the Sleepy Burg of Carmel owes its growth beyond the charming two-block area of Old Town to the Interstate Highway System venturing a little too close for its own good. Or ours. Supplemented by the Second White Flight, post-Nixon, the one in the mid-late 70s, the one that jumped the Marion county line in three directions, outside the Eisenhower Circle around the big, Africanizing city, the way one can trace the migration of the Iroquois by the bulge their neighbors made in getting as far away from them as practicable. That's Carmel, Indiana, Entrepreneurial Heaven. It's done a better job than its bucolic neighbors, Fishers and Westfield, of avoiding turning every square inch of fertile loam over to strip malls.

I like Entrepreneur. And Grifter's even better.


* They're actually quite nice, and genuine, practically without exception, at least in these parts.

** Car-mel, accent on the final syllable as with Carmel-by-the-Sea, and not the locally acknowledged first syllable, is 1) one favored way to determine whether the recorded announcer is from out of town, and/or 2) the way the rest of us pronounce it sometimes, with either an implied distain or mock superciliousness, for some reason. I'm not sure why. It's one of those things like "Dead as a doornail" that you just say.


Anonymous said...

You are correct about the lack of homeless people. My offspring (won't mention the sex) concluded that their formative years in Carmel weren't the norm. Also, this is very funny.

Anonymous said...

It's strange to have almost 8 months of the year with four more hours of light after 12 noon than before.

Bruce Webb said...


I attended Noblesville High School in 1971, a time when Noblesville was just a County seat with a Firestone Tire Plant and just developing the upscale new area around Lexington Reservoir (btw one of the sleazier land steals ever pulled off) and Carmel was our rival. And as to upscaling Carmel was 3X was Noblesville was doing and to a person the new people or at least Home and Garden stratum called it Car-mel, So sorry it is and will be pronounced Carm'l until they bleach the Central Indiana pioneer ancestry out of my bones.

So yes the essential douche-ness of CARM'L was already cementing itself in place 40 years ago. Unfortunately the white-flight and subsequent growth that fed Carmel years before it reached Noblesville (not then on anything like a freeway) meant a bigger talent pool for their football and basketball teams. For those DHR readers outside Indiana or maybe too young in these days a dozen ESPN channels alone, H.S. sports was THE entertainment option in the fall and winter, (with a secondary focus on Notre Dame and Big Ten Football (the Colts and Pacers being just a distant pipe dream in those days)). And the thought of losing our edge permanently to those gentrfying cross County rivals too much to take. Hopefully Noblesville got over it.

Anonymous said...

The first time I heard someone referring to Carmel-by-the-Sewage-Plant as car-MEL was about 1977. I asked them if they were visiting from California, because the name of the town wasn't pronounced that way. He insisted it was, and I figured "Oh well, if that makes you feel better about paying too damn much money for your house...".