Saturday, August 25, 2007

To 10 Ways to Know You're Back in Misery

While returning from a recent trip to see family in Detroit, R and I noticed several markers that told us we were back in Misery. Here is the definitive Top 10 Ways to You Know You're Back in Misery (in no particular order):

Anti-Abortion/Pro-Baby Billboards - As we made our way through the St. Louis airport to baggage claim, we noticed the first sign that we were back in Misery was...well...a sign. It was some initiative for people to have more babies or something. I don't know. It had a big photo of some baby and some words about "life" or some crap. Anyway, this was not the last sign on our trek home. I must have counted 15-20 billboards proclaiming life as good, abortion as bad, or a little of both. We saw one sign protesting abortion in all of Detroit, and that was held up by some crazy dude in front of a Planned Parenthood.

Pretty, Young White Girls - Every billboard selling anything from gasoline to hot wings to ski-dos featured pretty, young white girls (mostly blonde with blue eyes). Did the ad agents in this state all go to the same sexist advertising school where they teach the lesson that nothing sells as well as pretty girls with nice smiles? There's one set of billboards for a gas station/convenience store that lines up 3-4 billboards that feature almost nothing except close ups of young girls with bright smiles. It doesn't stop with the billboards in this state, just check out the latest "supermodel" ads from Doc and Norm. Before you know it, organizations like...oh...I don't know...Woodcrest (hipster Christian destination) will feature their more attractive female parishioners on their TV ads...wait...they're already doing that!

Crooked-ass Parking - People in this state do not know how to park. Sure, it doesn't help that so many of them drive gigantic SUV's and the parking spaces are made for Yugo and Smart cars, but it's ludicrous that I can't get in or out of my car every time I go to the Target. Of course, every state has a driving disability. I'm from Ohio, an
d we like to drive just below the speed limit in the left lane.

Ethanol Crazy - This state is crazy about it's corn, and Misery-ans love to fill their gas tanks with it. There are even billboards and depictions on ethanol tankers bashing Middle East oil companies in favor of home-grown corn fuel. Ethanol supporters even promote the fuel as pro-environment alternative. However, they fail to mention that the production of ethanol is extremely detrimental to the environment. Also, the fact that so much corn that is produced is inedible already with so much starvation in the world is somewhat disturbing and misguided. Is ethanol really a good use of our state's greatest resource?

Jesus Christ! - You'd think this was the holy land there are so many advertiseme
nts for Jesus, various churches, and Bible verses. It's not limited to billboards either, there are more "Jesus fish" on the back of cars than there are pictures of Calvin pissing on something. Then there are the churches that come in all shapes and sizes. There's a very good reason that the folks who made Jesus Camp came to Misery. God bless Misery and no one else!

XXX - You'd think that such a pro-life, pro-Jesus state would not have much porn to offer, but this state maintains a healthy dichotomy by supporting both mega churches and adult "book" stores. Giant triple-x's litter the highway. You can get some action all along Range Line Road (don't ask how I know this). I've also heard that a certain message parlor provides "happy ending". I guess babies have to come from someplace.

Racists - I won't pretend that Misery has more racists than any other state, but this place does have its share. There is no other place where this is more evident than on I-70 between COMO and St. Louis. On one side of the road is a place called "Hood's" with a giant white hood sitting out front. Right across the highway is giant white guy holding up the "Hail Hitler" salute. This doesn't even give attention to the Klan rally earlier this year or the obvious racial lines drawn in this town. Misery's statehood was held up over slavery. The state has a racist streak that won't go away.

It's hot! - The humidity doesn't make it any better, but it's too hot for a state that's supposedly not in the south. No one goes outside after 10 or 11. I haven't mowed the lawn in months. People die every year. Also, it is not usual for schools to close because of heat. This place is hot, and that's not a good thing.

Show Me - I know that it's the "Show Me" state, but the overuse of this phrase is ridiculous. Ever since some guy named Vandiver asked for some visual clarification, businesses from organic beef to restaurants featuring scantily-clad waitresses serving seafood to a famous phrase from Tom Cruise are using the obvious catchiness of simply stating "show me".

Mediocrity Rules! - Everything's just...well...ok. The state is famous for a mediocre (at best) beer. The Tigers are celebrated every year as almost winning the Big 12 North and 7-8 games. The Cardinals might win baseball's worst division with a sub-.500 record. The university has laid down a hiring freeze as they still can't find a suitable replacement for their president. Do they even know how to make a hire? Everything here is pretty Midwestern average.

Now, I could go on and on about Misery's key characteristics and shortcomings. There's the lack of ethnic food (and ethnicities), loads of contradictions (which are implied throughout this post), and an unawareness of space (related to the parking issue). However, I've bashed the state I'm enough...for now. Every place has it's identifying characteristics that let you know you're not in Kansas anymore...or Ohio. There will be time to revisit the state I'm in.


Mike C said...

I totally agree about the mediocre thing. Bud is the best of the big brews, but that's not saying much. I boycott Schlafly on principal (the owner is fascist-right wing). And Boulevard is good for a sip or two. It's not disgusting, but not that great either. That's why Flat Branch is #1!

I think Misery has historically been a transitonal place, sort of a layover until people could get to greener pastures. I think other than the Missouri Compromise, the most historically significant things that have happened in the state are the start of the Lewis & Clark expedition, the starting place of the Pony Express, and the start of the Oregon Trail (source of the best video game ever.) Is it a coinidence that 3 of the 4 most significant things in the state's history have involved getting the hell out of it? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Regarding racism in Missouri... (miz-zur-ah as they say where i'm from). It's pretty bad here... They don't call it "Little Dixie" for nothing. The county of Callaway seceded (sp=drunk) from the Union during the civil war, not because the needed slaves to work the land, no, they had plenty of lazy ass white people to manage, but they didn't like how different everyone else was. No one was going to get any rights, Chinese, African, Mexican, Irish, didn't matter... only standard whites were going to rule in Callaway. That's why Kingdom City exists. It's the Kingdom of Callaway.

While this is bad, and the legacy has never been amended and too many people haven't been told that racism is soooo 19th century, I grew up in the Bootheel. I'm lucky that I didn't end up wearing one of those giant hoods. It is a bad place where all black people are second class, they live in differnt towns, mostly go to different schools and otherwise aren't allowed much contact with the white farmers they work under.

Before the bootheel, i was born in georgia, where the Klan would have fundraising carwashes (shit you not) just like cheerleaders in bikinis, except white guys in full outfits directing you to the wash and handing out propaganda.

God, what a fucked up life.

Jenny said...

these things can seem depressing, to be sure. but it's also interesting to me how much these mid-western cultural details are connected to class issues. having been raised in a blue-collar, mid-western, anti-abortion, bible-loving family, i understand this connection all too well.

people who have no economic power tend to cling to religious/cultural forms of power. feeling like you know THE TRUTH comforts those who are not able to circulate very far otherwise. the church and its causes offer meaning where none might otherwise exist in people's lives.

so...yeah, the cultural results make for easy targets. but part of the 2000 election was arguably lost by a political left who felt too disgusted by this culture to even try to understand it. (read _what's the matter with kansas?_)

as for racism--"show me" a place that doesn't have structural racism built into the fabric. it's everywhere. and it is complicated. that's another issue often tied to class and a lack of power.

the beer does suck, though. did mike say BUD???

comoprozac said...

Thank you all for your insights and for not jumping on my case too quickly for bashing the great state of Misery.

The beer is still just OK, and I prefer PBR any day to Bud. Interesting historical tidbits, though.

Isn't the Boot Heel really just a little bit of Arkansas in Misery? I bet those hoods came in handy while drying windshields.

I do recognize Jenny's points. In fact, I feel the same way. I was just bashing this place to keep up with the whole "Misery" thing and to provide you all with a little humor.

These are collectively the best responses I’ve to this blog in its short history. Thanks!

Raymond Cummings said...

Sounds like Misery needs more "Addicted to Porn? dial 1-800-whatever for help" billboards. PA has a couple little signs w/r/t this. mostly it just amazes me that one can be addicted to porn, that it's something that can be classified as detrimental to enough people that a service to "cure" it can be advertised at all anywhere.

Anonymous said...

I hate this state... No mountains or deserts. I agree with you entirely. I would have added the point: No Mountains (The ozarks do not count)

And yeah, the Boothell is basically Arkansas, the whole point of it was that when the state's boundaries were being laid out, one man didn't want his mother to live in Arkansas, so he dedicated two counties to keeping her out of that particular hell.

Mike C said...

I think you should do what you suggested at the end of your blog--revisit each state you've been in. Get a bit o' that Sufjan thing goin' on, you know?

planbreaker said...

re: XXX--On the drive from IL to KS, I'd always get a kick out of the many, many porn and "massage" palaces along I-70. Sadly, I think my favorite has gone out of business. Halfway between Columbia and Kansas City was the "Asian Massage and Grocery Store."

Anonymous said...

re: Asian Massage and Grocery Store--The store is still open, but the whorehouse got busted.