A Pretty Goddamn Good Ode to Flyover Country

Here is the thing about America: There is ultimately no center to anything at all except for the one you make for yourself.


I've been a fan of Splice Today even before that excellent website saw fit to treat Matt Welch and me kindly around the release of The Declaration of Independents, which happened, what, like a couple of thousand years ago, right?

Splice Today is the shoestring-budget brainchild of the bracingly foul-mouthed Russ Smith, who as much as anyone energized the great third wave of alt-newspapers in these United States. He created Baltimore and Washington City Papers and then helmed The New York Press, writing the barely pseudonymous and epically great "Mugger" column and effectively forcing the Village Voice (part of the great first wave of alt-newspapers) to stop charging a buck a copy. (The second wave of the alt-revolution came in the '60s and included pubs such as The Berkeley Barb, The New York Review of Books, and Fuck You: A Magazine of the Arts.)

Russ's son Nicky Smith is a regular presence at Splice Today and as much as I hate to acknowledge any sort of inherited talent or position or title or intelligence or you name it, Smith 2.0 is a damn fine writer and observer of life. I've never met him and I assume he's 10 or 15 or 25 or some awfully young age and from reading his shit over the past few years, I know he's been in bands. That's all.

He's published another characteristically sharp and fun and smart-beyond-his (and mine) years piece about "flyover country." It's worth reading in full, but here's a couple of long grafs that hit me like a tornado siren while sitting at my computer on a beautiful late spring/early summer day in Oxford, Ohio:

Every other time I've been in the Midwest was to play music—Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky. That would be a fatal travel itinerary for most New Yorkers. Oh, there's nothing to do! They're hayseeds! It's boring! No culture! Hayrides and cowhide—get me out of here! The same people who'll tell you off for mis-gendering someone, not donating to their charity of choice, or being "problematic." The same people who major in radical feminism and use the term "townie" without any self-awareness. I was blown away that everyone at Oberlin called the people that actually lived in the town of Oberlin as "townies," and talked about them like they were circus freaks. I'll remember that for the rest of my life, because the laughter comes in waves. Even the colleges where "problematic" emerged from has its own dirt class, locals regarded as ignorant podunks with no sense of style, culture, or worth. Meanwhile, they're carrying on about intersectionality, which is fantastic, but it gets bleak when admitting you fucked a townie is like saying you fucked a goat.

Everyone I know who was raised in the Midwest was dying to get out, and it's easy to understand—in the words of one suburban Chicagoan, "Friday rolls around, you've got nothing to do except go behind the 7/11 and smoke pot. That is not a future, that is not a life." Beaten down by years of that, that majestic sky probably becomes oppressive pretty early. I can't say I've ever spent more than a week at a time in the Midwest, so I'm still in a swoon, enthralled by the vision of platonic America I only saw on TV as a kid—white fences, playing with action figures in your yard, walking around the neighborhood and playing with friends in the woods unsupervised. It's a memory received but never experienced, and I get giddy just thinking about looking out the window in Indiana, or Illinois, or Michigan and seeing sky for miles and miles. It's a privileged position, and I would never complain. But grass is green.

Like I said, read the whole thing.

I am a part-time midwesterner by circumstance not by birth but I feel like I understand the urge to get the hell out of the "dark fields of the Republic" (as Fitzgerald called them in the elegiac final grafs of The Great Gatsby) the first shot you can. It's the middle of things, the heartland, and all that, and you've never felt as peripheral to where the action is until you've spent New Year's Eve in midtown Manhattan. Here's the thing about America. New York (and Los Angeles and Chicago…) is made great not by the people who are born there and raised there but by the bridge-and-tunnel crowd who flock to Gotham the first chance they can. The locals are next to useless because they have no place they'd rather be and they're smug and unmotivated and most of all as parochial as hell. Lou Reed probably wouldn't have gotten electroshock if he'd grown up on the upper East Side instead of Long Island and that would be that. Would Patti Smith (and virtually all the acts piling up at CBGBs) have had the same hunger and drive if she hadn't grown up in Nowheresville, New Jersey? Even the Ramones, once hilariously described by a clueless Brit as "dead enders from Forest Hills," migrated from Queens, for chrissakes.

Here's another thing about America, as refracted through every mythical national narrative from the Captivity Narrative of Mary Rowlandson to the Little House books to On the Road: There is ultimately no goddamn center to anything at all except for the one you make for yourself. When you're finally in the city, you assume that somewhere out there in that "vast obscurity beyond the city" (Fitzgerald again) is "the heart of it all" (to use one of Ohio's license-plate slogans). And when you're in the "country," or the suburbs, or some small town where you hear like I do right now the chirping of birds and the growl of three different lawn mowers, you just know that everything worth a damn is happening in cities like Chicago or LA or SF or NY or god help us even Washington, DC. Now more than ever, in an age of intensifying decentralization—of population density, of cultural power, of political power, you name it—the center doesn't hold, or at least not for long. It's like what Bob Dylan, the ultimate troubador not of the American road but of America as the road, said about happiness in an interview with AARP(!): "A lot of people say there is no happiness in this life and certainly there's no permanent happiness…It's like water — it slips through your hands. As long as there's suffering, you can only be so happy." The maestro of "the neverending tour" knows of what he speaks. In America, the tension is between the need to live in a town where the houses are known by the names of familes who lived there for generations (Fitzgerald yet again, Dylan's Minnesotan cousin) and that the only way to live a full life is to be constantly moving and reinventing yourself and where you live, of heading to another joint.

I was born in Brooklyn in 1963, during a period in which anybody who could was getting the hell out (it wasn't just whites but a rainbow coalition of urbanites lighting out not for the territory like Tom, Huck, and Jim but for the rapidly expanding suburbs of New Jersey, Westchester, and god help us all Long Island) and I thank my late parents every day for getting out. And so I grew up in good old Middletown, New Jersey, where you could see the rusting-out Coney Island parachute jump across the Raritan Bay from the ironically named Ideal Beach (sandwiched between a sewage-treatment plant and a World War II ammo dump, it was anything but). The parachute jump stood there like some sort of weird Ozymandias skeleton, a decaying reminder of a time when New York and even Brooklyn of all misbegotten destinations could generate great works and not just despair. You could even see the lights of New York from Sandy Hook, the northernmost ocean beach in the Garden State, at night time and to this day I experience something close to existential despair if I can't see the skyline of a major city from whatever beach I'm at.

The point being: My parents got the hell out of Dodge and I spent my adolescence longing to get back to Dodge, which I did, working and living in New York for a chunk of the mid to late 1980s until I'd finally had enough and then hit the road, first to Philadelphia (a phenomenal place with a bigger chip on its shoulder than the Mandlebaum boys in Seinfeld), then to Buffalo (a mix of internal exile and entry into a vast, untapped civilization), then to LA (where the sun set over the ocean, freaking my East Coast shit and the endless lights of San Fernando Valley prove that Americans can terraform even the most hostile planets), then to Huntsville, Texas (the death-chamber capital of the world, all in the shadow of a gloriously insane 70-foot tall statue of one of the great wandering heroes of U.S. history, Sam Houston), and then Ohio and DC and everywhere in between.

Which is a very roundabout way of saying: It's all flyover country, unless you make it into something else. And make it into something else yet again the day after that…and the day after that.

NEXT: New Initiative Filed in California Puts Pensions in Voters' Hands

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  1. Aiming for that Der Morgen post eh Gillespie?

  2. Hmm I read a biography of Cecil B. DeMille were he argued that the rise of Movies caused the decline of touring theater companies and resulted in the Hollywood and Broadway actors becoming very insulated from the rest of the country.

  3. He’s published another characteristically sharp and fun and smart-beyond-his (and mine) years piece about “flyover country.”

    The central part of the country is so boring that even calling themselves “flyover states” is delusions of grandeur:

    Science Answers Which State Airplanes Are Flying Over The Most

    The states that actually get flown over the most are actually the thoroughly east coast Virginia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.

    1. Does that article also indicate the frequency with which points fly over your head?

      1. Fucking Toronto vacationers fucking up the metaphor!

  4. ” He created Baltimore… City Paper”

    He must be thrilled to see how they were caught trying to cover up rioting and blame it on *violent white agitators*

  5. Everyone I know who was raised in the Midwest was dying to get out
    Says who? I ain’t a leavin till they kick me out.
    In fact, I just moved even deeper into flyover country.


    1. If he knew you it would make a difference.

    2. Everybody he knows from the Midwest now lives in NY or LA. Just like everybody he knows voted for McGovern.

    3. It’s the goddamned opposite of me. I live in L.A., and while I may soon be moving to SF due to a new opportunity, I want nothing more than to find gainful employment within my industry in Kansas City.

      1. Amen to that. I’m out in Washington state now, but if I could find stable work in my field back in KC, I’d move there in a heartbeat. Not that Washington is bad (I love it here…because I don’t live in Seattle) but I grew up and went to school in Kansas and while it may be a boring place (for some) to visit, it’s an awesome place to live.

      2. And I’ll take any place in the Midwest over that collection of shitboxes and nanny-staters they call New York City.

    4. I’ve heard more than one business manager complain that Ohioans will not accept transfers to other parts of the country.

  6. Friday rolls around, you’ve got nothing to do except go behind the 7/11 and smoke pot. That is not a future, that is not a life


    1. So they move to New York where they furtively smoke weed in front of a Rite Aid. The only kind of “cultural” stuff that ever gets discussed at Reason is movies and tv shows and guess what Duluth has both cable and movie theaters.

      1. There are differences. In NY, you can piss on a cum in a bucket with a bible in it and that will be considered “high art.” In Duluth, if you do that you just get your ass kicked.

  7. hmmmm. I grew up in various trailer parks/low rent/meth production facilities in the midwest and got out as soon as I was able to NYC. Now, as a 43 year old financially secure Jersey housewife/part-time designer, I find myself nostalgic for the place I left behind. Of course, the cure is obvious. A short trip back would resolve all symptoms of homesickness. I did enjoy Smith’s article because it avoided simple caricatures.

    1. I grew up in nowhweresville USA in the middle of the desert. There were no woods to play in, or trees, or… fucking water.

      Then I too got outta dodge and went to the big city. Loved it for over two decades, now I don’t feel quite so attached. I feel more a stranger here now than I did when I first moved here.

      1. I have been a stranger in a strange land.

        1. We’re going to eat you when you die. That’s what friends are for.

        2. So you sit on your hand for a few minutes before oogling the ladies of South Beach from your hotel room on weekenders?

      2. Yep. The stranger in a strange land feeling can overwhelm. I moved class as well as geography and look at my peers as if they’re zoo animals occasionally. But, hey, this is Jersey. They really might be zoo animals. Have you seen Real Housewives of New Jersey?

        A thick skin helps – really a spray on thick skin.

        1. To be fair, the place I live isn’t the place I moved to. Even left-leaning democratic newspaper columnists are beginning…beginning to lament that this is no longer a liberal town with a live-and-let-live attitude.

          1. If liberal newspaper columnists are complaining that might be a good thing.

            1. Meh, sure, there’s some grumbling as they load us into the traincars. Never a mea culpa for voting these people in, though.

              1. Man, you most live in progressive hell. Where u at?

                  1. Ahhh, At least it’s green and there’s water, amirite?

                    1. Natural splendor aplenty. And natural spendor in the city. Which is what holds me here.

                    2. Seattle is quite nice. I don’t really want to live there, in small part because of some of the politics, in larger part because I believe the sun is necessary for life, but I enjoyed the time I spent there.

    2. Now, as a 43 year old financially secure Jersey housewife/part-time designer

      Do you make $3528.47 a week working at home?

      1. Sometimes. E-mail me and I’ll hook you up!

  8. I am a part-time midwesterner by circumstance not by birth but I feel like I understand the urge to get the hell out of the “dark fields of the Republic

    Nick, many a time we’ve implored you… nay, DEMANDED you get out of the goddamned beltway.

    1. Cocktail parties!

    2. What’s interesting is how much people in very large cities think those cities are somehow the “real” America. But the reverse is more true than it isn’t (not to say that “America” isn’t, of course, all of the above). That sort of thinking is reinforced dramatically by the fact that most major media is located in one massive urban center or another.

      Frankly, I think it would do humanity a world of good to decentralize.

      1. Yeah, only 80.7% of the country lives in urban areas. Clearly that remaining 19.3% is more reflective of the country as a whole!

        1. Dude, read my comment: VERY LARGE CITIES. And I daresay that “urban” is very broadly defined in your statistic, wherever it comes from.

          1. He’s referring to the census bureau:


            The United States Census Bureau changed its classification and definition of urban areas in 1950 and again in 1990, and caution is thus advised when comparing urban data from different time periods

          2. That 80% is more than likely what demographers call “metropolitain” areas.

            Which would, for instance, include my friend who keeps sending me videos taken from his Trantula drone flying over a wide open field with woods next to it and an uninhabited beach a 1/4 mile away.

            1. According to the Census bureau Arkansas and Florida had no urban population until the 1850s.

              1. Florida is a young state. The population of Miami in 1910 was less than 6000. Some municipalities here have ordinances that deem buildings that are 50 years old “historic.”

                1. A young state with the oldest city in the country. Florida is… special.

                  1. I’m in St Augustine.

            2. That 80% is more than likely what demographers call “metropolitain” areas

              Yeah, my podunk town of 2500 is technically in a “metropolitan area” but compared to the nearby city it might as well be Siberia. Which is fine, because there’s no way in hell I want to actually live in a large city for the foreseeable future.

          3. Even if you limit it to the 153 cities over 200,000 population, it’s still almost 60% of the country:


            1. Again, do the suburbs count as “urban?” Because I don’t think that is the same thing at all, even in a medium-sized city like Tampa.

            2. And guess where many of those cities are located? Those infamous “flyover” states.

              1. Dear Lord, no!

                I do think a lot of bad things seem to happen in highly concentrated and large cities. High crime, political corruption at staggering levels, etc., but that’s not at all to suggest that bad things don’t happen in smaller locations. And small towns have their own negative features.

                That said, I think that technology may eventually take away the need to have such concentrated population centers, and I think we’d be politically and psychologically better off to live in more dispersed communities.

                1. More than anything else, advances in distribution and shipping will drive population flight away from the cities. People live in cities because it’s convenient. Amazon and FedEx change that dynamic.

                  Never mind that the Internet has made entertainment and socializing so much more accessible for those who who don’t live in urban centers.

                  1. I live in the city because it’s comforting to know that there are some 500,000 women between the ages of 18-27 within a few miles radius.

                    1. I’ll give you that. When I was 24 I couldn’t wait to move to a city with a female population that didn’t tease their hair and let their cigarettes hang off their bottom lip.

                  2. I brought this up in my first episode of Question and Comment Time With Cytotoxic. In Sci-fi futuristic concept art I’m always seeing these mega-cities and I’m always thinking….nah.

                    1. Question and Comment Time With Cytotoxic

                      Does this exist? Is there a youtube channel for this?

                    2. It’s a thing I do in the comments here. Sadly, no YT channel.

                2. It always seemed to me that a better layout from a congestion and public transportation standpoint would be to have fun and entertainment central and business and homes around outerbelts. Although I admit I haven’t put all that much thought into it.

        2. Urban is defined rather broadly.
          Census actually defines it two ways.
          By one definition, the town I now live in is urban., by the other it isn’t. The 80% I think is based on the more broad definition

          Given that the town has a population of just over 10,000 but it’s literally surrounded by corn fields and cows (I smell cow shit every couple days) and about 8 miles to the next closest town, I daresay very few people there consider it even remotely urban.

  9. New York and Albany are named after a slave trading cismale. I demand these microagressing names be changed.

    California is named for a place that does not exist which microagresses against transgendered people. Plus it is a US state because it was conquered by slave supporting cismales which microagresses against Mexicans and blacks. And it benefitted from railroads built by corporate welfare and ill treated Chinese immigrants that despoiled the environment and caused Indians to die in the Plains Wars.

  10. Most of the people in high school and college who complained the loudest about how boring everyone/everything was and how they were going to move to the coast the first chance they got were themselves pretty boring. Then if they couldn’t afford it they’d come back and complain about how much better it was over there.

    1. Ever place is boring if you’re boring, or so my grandfather used to tell me. But, he was right. He was a rancher is SD but one of the most well read men I’ve ever known.

      1. +1 The mind is its own place, and in itself,
        can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.”

        1. He was also a Presbyterian of the Calvinist type.

          1. That’s OK, he sounds like a stand up guy.

            1. (at first I thought you were calling *Milton* a Calvinist)

      2. “Every place is boring if you’re boring”
        wise words

  11. Doesn’t moving into cities create sprawl? And didn’t the prog hero Mao force all sorts of people outside of the cities?


  12. you’ve never felt as peripheral to where the action is until you’ve spent New Year’s Eve in midtown Manhattan.

    What the fuck is that even supposed to mean?
    Good grief.

    1. It means you’re supposed to feel more special when getting trampled by throngs of shitheads.

  13. Ever place is boring if you’re boring

    The End.

    1. It’s funny how some of my best times and meals have been in hole in the wall bars and diners or out in the middle of nowhere enjoying peace and quiet..

  14. So between NYC and DC which one is kale?

  15. Nick is smoking the good stuff. And it’s not even Saturday…

  16. I’m just thankful that, thanks to Nick, there is finally some original content on Hit and Run, even if it is in conjunction with another site.

  17. There is absolutely nothing in Ohio. Just stay in NY and LA.

    1. “Ohio: Nothing to See Since 1803”

      /my t-shirt I bought one of the times I lived there

      1. Yeah, my ancestors arrived in Zanesville around then which is where my dad is from. It was the State capitol for while not long after.

  18. OT: Lately been thinking about getting into cyber security. Seems like everyday there is a story like this.


    1. That link is doubly impressive since OPM is still largely paper based.

      If you want to work in that field, you’ll probably need general programming experience first. Especially if you want to work for the badasses.

      1. Interesting site. Thanks.

  19. “‘Female Viagra’ gets nod from FDA advisory committee”


    1. pot?

      1. No, and before you ask, it’s not E. L. James novels either.

  20. ewwwwwww!


    1. No thanks

    2. With the NSA winding down bulk collection, govt needs another way to get leverage on people.

  21. REGION WAR is literally one of the dumbest fucking things a person can engage in. “I’m better than you/you’re worse than me because GEOGRAPHY and LOCATION!” Oh, and because people love to segue it into KULTUR WAR, of course, which is the dumbest thing a person can engage in.

    Holy fuck REGION WAR is tedious beyond all belief. I’m so glad that people here are above it. So glad. Wait a second…

    1. I’m pretty sure that’s just a Seattle thing. jk

      1. Honestly, I blame Paul. So does his mom, just between you and me.

        1. I can never understand anything Paul’s Mom is saying cause her mouth is always full.

          1. I have the same problem with her. Doesn’t everyone?

            1. Let me remove the gag ball and you can ask her yourself

    2. Yankee asshole

      1. I really can’t argue with that, other than to say: you don’t really need the Yankee part.

        1. But it makes me feel better because I’m not a Yankee and that means I’m better than you.

          1. Now you’re getting it! Isn’t REGION WAR fun?

            1. It’s. .. it’s. .. wonderful

            2. My sports team is better than your sports team.

              1. But “my” sports team is better than “your” sports team!


                Where did I go just now?

              2. Well my sports team beat yours. Now all the regions are gonna start crackin wise about your mama.

    3. Spoken like a true Seattleite peace of shit. Why don’t you go jump off your giant stupid needle you guys have out there instead of a real building, Epi? It’s all that you deserve.

      1. It’s a real building! There’s a massively overpriced restaurant at the top and everything!

        Now, the mystery apartment on top of the Smith Building…that’s a different story.

        1. It is overpriced but I thought it definitely worth going both times I’ve been out there just for the view. The rock museum below is pretty lame but the Hendrix stuff upstairs is worth the price of admission.

          1. It’s a great view but you don’t have to pay the absurd prices at the restaurant to see it, you can just do the observation deck. I am also no fan of the EMP. The Scifi Museum that is in the same building isn’t bad but it’s pretty limited.

        2. That’s a really cool apartment.

          1. I know, I completely want it. I bet their rent is stupid low too.

    4. Look at how smug seatlelites are people.

  22. Note to Reason programmers: Get rid of the damn swipe to change pages functionality. Nobody uses it and is annoying as hell.

      1. Cubed

  23. Someone mentioned Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace in the other thread, so I thought I’d post my favorite scene – a rant about Scotland for the ages.


    “The cabin crew suggested we all go out and club it. I had no option. It was that or one of their B&Bs;. I figured it’d be safer on the streets. For the first time ever I saw the Scotch in their natural habitat, and it weren’t pretty. I’d seen them huddling in stations before, being loud but? this time I was surrounded. Everywhere I went it felt like they were watching me; fish-white flesh puckered by the Highland breeze; tight eyes peering out for fresh meat; screechy, booze-soaked voices hollering out for a taxi to take ’em halfway up the road to the next all-night watering hole. A shatter of glass; a round of applause; a sixteen-year-old mother of three vomiting in an open sewer, bairns looking on, chewing on potato cakes. I ain’t never going back? not never.”

    Plus Scotland is like the flyover country of England so it’s almost kind of relevant to this topic.

    1. Dude, have you heard of Danger 5? It’s insane in that Garth Marenghi/Richard Ayoade style, but more consistent and also even more absurd. Plus the girls are hot (especially Ilsa, oh man) and, as always, KILL HITLER!

      Highly recommended, but also understand it’s one of those insane shows where you’re pretty much done for the day after two episodes max. It’s just too ridiculous for any more.

      1. Is that where those references you’re using are coming from? I’ve seen that show featured a hundred times on Netflix, guess I’ll watch it now.

        1. If you like intentionally absurd shows, you will like Danger 5. Because it’s REALLY absurd. Nazi dinosaurs? Hitler’s dog? It’s all there, and more.

        2. I’ve seen that show featured a hundred times on Netflix, guess I’ll watch it now.

          Same here.

          Epi, I may just have a new show to associate you with. Thanks for taking the plunge first so that you could tell us about it and allow us not to risk anything ourselves!

          1. Fucking god damn free rider assholes!

            Have I also recommended Bojack Horseman? It’s not at all similar to Danger 5 though.

            1. Ehhh…I tried it. Just couldn’t get into it.

              While I have your attention, what do you make of Time & Eric?

              1. I’m just about to go out to the pool, but to answer your question: I like Tim and Eric. They can be really funny and absurd and some of their skits are extremely laugh-out-loud funny. They’re especially fun stoned. But I can only do a little before I need to return to something with a plot.

                1. Hmm.. I just don’t’ get them. I no do the drogas, so that’s not an option. But, the Adam McKay/Funny or Die crowd has really taken to them, and I just don’t see what it is that makes them so desirable.

                  They seem to operate on “weird is funny”, and, to me, they seem to try an offer up a kind of “mediocrity! Isn’t that hilarious?!?” attitude.

                  I dunno…But, anyway, I’ve been curious on your take on them, but hadn’t remembered to ask.

                  1. This.

    2. “flyover country of England”

      Ugh, the only ancestors I have from England are from Scotland. So they move from England’s midwest to the US midwest. Way to dream big, guys.

      1. It could have been worse – they could have been those filthy Ulster Scots who moved to Appalachia and spent the next 200 years engaged in coal mining and incest.

        1. Don’t forget the moonshine and snake handling

          1. ….and the fightin’ with the neighbors in the next state over from a different clan….

            1. *Spits on front porch*

              Damn straight

        2. I’ll have you know my Ulster Scots ancestors who moved to Virginia engaged in no coal mining nor incest (nor slave-owning having confirmed that with a property tax record at a geneological center in Virginia, or at the very least they didn’t pay taxes on it so either way good libertarians). They were farmers and distillers until they moved west in the 1860s, originally settling in Missouri.

          1. So. not TRUE Ulster Scotsmen, then…..

            1. I observe what hath been accomplished there

              1. Oh, aye that…

        3. My *real* last name (surname) is one half of a famous Appalachian feud family. Countless awful t.v. movies/series have been based upon it – the last staring *ughhhh* Kevin Costner.

          1. That seems pretty cool to me, but I guess I can see how it would get old after awhile

        4. True, that sounds horrible. The incest sounds bad too.

    3. I loved Scotland, though Glasgow was itself largely a shithole. I liked Edinburgh, but the real treat for me was the west coast and the Hebrides. I plan on going back sometime and making trips north into the highlands and Inverness.

      1. Went over several times to compete in the World Pipe Band Championship. Glasgow is indeed a shithole, but…great fish and superb pipers and pipe bands. Like Edinburgh and Stirling/Bridge of Allan a LOT. Highlands – epic.

        Nice people. Silly ethnic garb, but that tends to be the rule, eh wot?

      2. Inverness is actually very nice and surprisingly cool. And then you can go up the loch and visit Castle Urquhart.

        1. I have heard. I was only in Scotland for a little under a week and my primary goal at the time was going to Islay for the Feis Ile. To quote Ron fucking Swanson:

          There is actually one place in Europe worth seeing: these tiny islands off the coast of Scotland, where God’s chosen elixers are distilled, barreled, and prepared for consumption. This is worth the trip.

          It was my divorcemoon so sampling the finest spirits man has ever produced was among my chief goals. Checked off a huge bucketlist item there.

  24. Yeah. My sister and I – both born and raised in the same dinky, mid-Michigan farn town – chose utterly differently. She’s lived in Sao Paolo Brasil, Capetown, South Africa, checked into doing a stint in Poland in the 80’s, lived about 15 years in Manhattan, and now resides in downtown BAHston.

    Me? I’d move back to Hometown, USA tomorrow if they didn’t have, like…50% unemployment, just like when I grew up there (I always had a job – weird).

    And we’re living in Mrs. Almanian hometown, where we’ve raised three chirrens, cause it’s a lot like….where I grew up.

    So – different strokes. Go figger.

    AND MY SPORTS TEAMS….haven’t beaten anyone else’s in a while….so…SHUT UP!

    1. What is life like there? What do you do on the weekend?

    2. Your Lions and my Chiefs play in London this season. That is the matchup with fewer playoff wins in the last 30 years than either the Bills/Jags or Dolphins/Jets, the other two London games.

      1. Wow – that game has sadness and low viewership written all over it, even now

  25. Anywhere can be “THE” place. The wife and I enjoy almost everywhere we travel: Prague, London, Madison, Oxford (Mississippi!), and Charleston, Illinois, which has a neat restaurant and a neat used bookstore (we love used bookstores). We liked Texas, tho’ I must say, Texans (as well as NY City denizens) are overly proud of where they live. I can’t help but remember the old story about the couple who didn’t like the people wherever they lived……….. It’s a wonderful, interesting world out there. I don’t care if you’re in Indianapolis or Paris, there is value there; and looking down at “fly over country” says more about you than it does the flyover country.

  26. I’ll just light this, drop this on the porch, and ring the doorbell before leaving the computer:

    “Bloomberg News ran a happy news story this week about the “surprising” development of Republicans joining Democrats in their effort to end our “incarceration generation” by the simple expedient of putting fewer criminals in prison. (Lots of good ideas involve ham-fisted, Johnnie Cochran-style rhymes.)

    “And Bloomberg wasn’t just talking about the media’s usual lickspittle, Sen. Rand Paul….

    “Evidently, Americans need to patiently explain to elected Republicans — who are too busy hanging out with their Chamber of Commerce friends to have any idea how the world works — that no judge is going to waste prison space on a guy selling a joint….

    “The reason so many plea bargains involve firearms and drugs isn’t that those are the perp’s main crime: It’s because guns and drugs aren’t human beings who can make lousy witnesses, leave the jurisdiction, die or be intimidated out of testifying. Possession offenses are the very least the prosecutor can demand in a plea bargain and the quickest way to get bad guys off the street.”


    1. I’m sure whatever she has to say is ugly and stupid, like she is, and her prose for that matter.

    2. The reason so many plea bargains involve firearms and drugs isn’t that those are the perp’s main crime: It’s because guns and drugs aren’t human beings who can make lousy witnesses, leave the jurisdiction, die or be intimidated out of testifying. Possession offenses are the very least the prosecutor can demand in a plea bargain and the quickest way to get bad guys off the street.

      She’s actually absolutely right on this bit, but she’s missing something important there: much of these violent acts are committed as a consequence of those drugs in possession themselves being illegal.

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  28. Good read.

    My mind is made up that I never want to live in a huge city like NY, Chicago, or LA. Ohio might sound boring to some, but I enjoy the relatively low taxes (compared to big cities), permissive gun laws with plenty of places to shoot, and the fact that I was able to afford a house (with a yard) without making six figures.

  29. So, Middletown. It all makes sense now. My aunt and uncle moved to Middletown when I was a kid and my cousins all went weird too.

    Here’s a thing–can’t ‘migrate’ to NYC from NYC. Queens is NYC.

    Weird thing. Lived in Middletown Ohio for a bit. Noticed it wasn’t really in the ‘middle’ of anything and did some research. Middletown, Ohio, is named for Middletown, NJ, which also isn’t quite in the middle of any path–and that’s because Middletown, NJ is named for Middletown, NY, which is supposedly halfway between NYC and Albany.

  30. It’s flyover country until vacation time rolls around, then it’s paradise.

    Free advice to Snowbirds, Freds and Turkeys: Never complain about your meal/service BEFORE you get it.

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