Friday, June 22, 2007

Lots of little places

One of the little thorns in my side of living in Britain is the fact that Britons tend to have a homogeneous view of the United States. A bit like people from New York City, they tend to believe that the great expanse of the country is the same from top to bottom, shore to shore. Meanwhile, they are desperate to tell you how completely different they are from the people living 10 miles down the road.

Yesterday's post about the Watson's girl, and Ordovicius' response got me thinking about regionalism in the United States.

If you live in the United States, what's something unique about where you live? Obscure is good -- if you can think of things that people from other parts of your state wouldn't know about, that's even better.


Chris Cope said...

Texas has Blue Bell ice cream. If you're not from Texas, you probably think: "Ice cream. So what?" But Blue Bell is shockingly good. I think they put crack in it.

Chris Cope said...

Upper Midwesterners have Leinenkugel's beer. Which is made even more regional by the fact that everyone refers to it as "Leiny's."

Chris Cope said...

Minnesotans will refer to a person from Wisconsin as a "Sconi."

Chris Cope said...

Bloomington, Minn., has the institution that is David Fong's. According to legend, it was for many years the only fully-licensed bar in Bloomington -- a city of 83,000 people.

Anonymous said...

I think that on the whole Americans have a similar view of the UK though - that it's all just pretty much the same.
Anyway, I want to play too, but an English version.
Ever heard of Stoolball? It's a sport only played in Sussex.
Breadcakes? Bread rolls in Sheffield.

Christopher Phin said...

Um, is it rude of me to point out that making a generalised statement such as "Britons tend to..." is exactly the kind of broad-brushstroke thing you're railing against?

Chris Cope said...

Chris, But you English people ARE all the same...

heatherfeather said...

washington, dc has a really high tax on cars. it has ridiculously high taxes in general because washington is the entire district - there is no differentiation between city, state, or local government. they also have a really bitchy tagline on their license plates that says "taxation without representation" to "bring awareness" in the district that we don't have a vote in congress. (everyone in the district knows this. people not in the district don't care) also, it's shaped like a square until the part where the potomac separates it from virginia, and on the other side of the river arlington county nearly completes the square. people are even more uptight about the "stand right, walk left" rule on escalators to the metro than they are in NY. chances are good that if you went to high school with an annoying kid from the debate team, s/he lives here now. the metro drivers all pronounce "l'enfant plaza differently" from "leffant" to "el fant" to "elephant" but most use the first.

my high school in southern california is the one where joan baez made her pacifist stance when she was in 10th or 11th grade by refusing to participate in an air raid drill in the 1950s and is just about its only brush with fame (other than david lowry from cracker and camper van beethoven is from there). it is also illegal there to walk with one foot in the gutter and one on the curb. the navel orange was first genetically engineered there.

Peggi Rodgers said...

Here in Northern California we live in a very mountainous area. Someone once said to me Redding is the only place where you can look out the window and see 7 volcanoes in any given direction. And it's absolutely true. Some are dormant but show signs of activity such as mud pots and sulpher springs (not to mention hoards of wee earthquakes) but most are dead. Two of the biggest in California are clearly visible from my house, Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen.

Most people think of California as one giant L.A., but in reality California is very diverse in population and environment. You really can go from surfing in the morning to skiing in the high Sierras in the afternoon!

Anonymous said...

More about the DC area: although even the suburbs are fairly urban, beautiful farm country with roads winding among rolling hills and dense forests is only minutes away.

More about California: only a couple of decades ago Nevadans were jealous of the beautiful concrete highways that met them when they crossed the state line going west. Now, regretably (and state of my birth) most of California looks like a third-world country.

More about Nevada: most Las Vegas residents have never been north of Las Vegas, even though the state consists of almost 110,000 sq. miles, and contains areas of heart-breaking beauty - vast vistas and stark desert.

The Grand Canyon - no picture, painting, or words will ever convey how it feels to stand at the rim.

New York City - the excitement and energy of that beautiful city is well-portrayed in many types of media. What is not captured is the smell. It smells like the town dump. Sorry - just stating facts here.

Owen Hansen said...

Chris, apologies but this is in response to heatherfeather who has so kindly shared a bit of her thinking on my hometown Washington, D.C.

Heatherfeather, the reason we get so irritated about being taxed without representation is that congress has the power to govern D.C. without its consent. Homerule was not established until the 1970s and was recently suspended for a variety of complicated reasons--mostly the agendas republican douche bags--ultimately, though, the same thing could not have happened in say N.Y., El Paso, or Sioux Falls. So, the decisions about how to collect taxes from and how to utilize those taxes rest only partly with the people there who pay them--and I am talking about local taxes--and the limited power we had to decide--a mayor and city council--can be suspended at the whim of a douche-bag republican majority. Why wouldn't that piss off people? Why wouldn't what piss off people? Why, taxation without representation, that's what. What's that? Well, that's what the Revolutionary War was about, sort of. Anyway,

The District has a non-voting representative in the House of Representatives, not a number of voting reps. based on population as in all other states, if not in all other parts, of the U.S. Keep in mind that the HR basically controls the purse so decisions about how to spend your fed. tax dollars are made there. Is is fair that district residents don't have a real say in how their federal tax dollars are allocated? Granted, Eleanor Holmes Norton has been the Rep. there for a long time. Also she can vote in committee. She is not without influence, but please, the situation would not be tolerated anywhere else. No Senators...etc. And why?

One: D.C., historically--thanks mostly to weak Jim Crow laws--has been a majority black city. Please don't pretend that racism doesn't influence decisions about suffrage--the District did not get home rule from the federal government until the 70s! Granted that the recent real estate building boom and some local policies have shifted the demographics quite a bit. One way or the other, D.C. will, in any citywide election--which means national as well--vote democratic. Very few republicans would vote to give D.C. representation because of the definite leverage it would give dems. in congress. Unfortunately, it is that simple.

Finally, D.C. was a square turned on end, until it was decided that Old Town and Alex. really didn't belong and hence the city gets it's awesome blend of hard edges and wavy riparian ripple.

L'Enfant Plaza--who wouldn't love the fact that so many different types of people from so many different places live in D.C. that it is pronounced in so many different ways. Everybody I knew from D.C. pronounced it "Lawfahnt plaza".

With love for and from D.C., even if I don't live there anymore.

Sarah Stevenson said...

Modesto, California, where I currently reside, is the home of E&J Gallo Corporate Headquarters (yup, the wine people). Few people know it is also the hometown of George Lucas, who is the most famous alum of Modesto Junior College. His movie American Graffiti was based on Modesto, and there's a festival here every year called Graffiti Summer. Apparently there are film festivals and such in his honor but he never shows up. There's also a commemorative statue of two fifties-looking teenagers in front of a classic car in downtown Modesto.

A weird little aside to the Graffiti Summer thing: it was evidently curbed in scope for several years because a friend of ours, Ffyona, was stabbed in the leg at the festival when she was 16. (We found this out from her much later.)

I just found this totally random video advertising last year's Graffiti Summer, for your amusement.

Chris Cope said...

Central Valley Doo-Wop Society Annual Revue. Six words that sum up everything that is right and everything that is wrong with America.