Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday's Random Thoughts

It's almost the weekend and that means it's time for yet another blog post.

I know. I keep insisting on expressing my opinions with words when I could save a lot of time and use my middle finger.

Shreveport Sucks (according to this guy in Aspen)

Let's begin with this guy who wrote this article about my hometown. It's quite a stellar example of condescension and bitterness packed into six short paragraphs.

As I commented under the story, he really lost me at the use of the term "Shreve-pit."

No one says that. The term is "Shit-port" and everyone knows it, you big dummy.

He also refers to it as the "buckle of the Bible belt." I don't know how you wear your belts, but I'm quite certain the buckle is in the middle, over here in Alabama, where, when you move to town, the first two questions you hear are: "Who do you root for, Auburn or Alabama?" and "Do you have a church home?" In that order.

In Shreveport, I'm pretty sure the first two questions are: "Would you like a drink?" and "Would you like another drink?"

This reporter also calls Shreveport out on having only one daily newspaper. Apparently, in Aspen, folks are unaware of the newspaper industry's sharp decline and that there are very few cities with more than one daily paper, if they have one at all. I'm happy for the journalists in Aspen because they get to be blissfully unaware that their job prospects are dwindling by the day.

Then again, I'm sure they want to stay in Aspen because the weather is so much better than in Shreveport. Yes, he brings up the weather, a favorite topic of people who have nothing else to talk about, the last bastion of which are elderly folks gathering each morning at McDonald's for cheap coffee. Is it hot enough for ya?

He refers to our geography as "down thay-er" like he's some redneck kid telling his mom about an uncomfortable itch he has.

The occasion for this article is the Aspen Ideas Mini-Fest being held at Robinson Film Center, "one of the few places where Democrats and progressive-thinking Shreveporters can meet and drink and dream about new ideas for their city without being chastised by the Bubba crowd."

The reporter provides this at the end: Editor's Note: Staff writer Andre Salvail was born and raised in Shreveport, La., and can say what he wants about it. 

Listen, Andre, I love snark. I'm all about it. But I think you probably already know that the rule about bitching about your hometown (or family members) is that you can only bitch about it when you are discussing it with other people from your hometown (or in your family).

You can talk to your sister all day long about your brother and what an ass he is, but don't go telling the world and don't act like, just because you skipped the last three Christmas celebrations, you aren't still a product of that family.

I don't live in Shreveport anymore, either. However, I do still live in the South and I used to work for a popular Southern magazine so I've had plenty of experience with people making assumptions. I used to sing a little song at the magazine whenever people came down from our New York office. "We're not all racist and we do wear shoes." It's pretty catchy. I'll let you make up your own tune.

Anyway, you know what they say about what happens when you assume. It makes ME assume YOU are an ASS. (That's how that saying goes, right?)

I'm sure you have friends in Shreveport. I'm certain you're aware that not everyone in any city is all one thing. There are fools and racists and ignorant bigots in every city in every state of this country. Even in Aspen.

Not to mention that making fun of the South is the comedic equivalent of saying, "Take my wife...please." Been there, done that, heard it a million times before. If your material isn't original, it's probably time to get new material.

The article mentions the differing crime rates between Shreveport and Aspen. There are less than 7,000 people living in Aspen. You expect the crime rate of Shreveport, which has about 200,000 people, to be comparable to that of Aspen, which has a population only slightly higher than Superior Grill on a Friday night?

I have no doubt there are criminals in Aspen, too. However, I suspect that, instead of knocking over liquor stores, they are simply hiding their money in the Cayman Islands or putting their mistresses on the payroll of their corporations.

Jack Nicholson's Aspen house: Only $15 million! 
Also, Aspen's cost of living is something like 90 percent higher than the rest of the country. I don't know what they pay at the glamorous Aspen Times, but I suspect it's just enough, when it's 22 degrees below zero, to keep you cozied up in your one-bedroom apartment, cruising the latest posts on or arguing with an eighth-grader on Xbox Live while your Stouffer's Lasagna for one heats up in the microwave.

To sum up the rest of the article, Shreveport is full of  people with low IQs and narrow-minded opinions. You know, kind of like the Aspen Times newsroom.

Things About Shreveport That Don't Suck

  • The cost of living.
  • Adorable and affordable houses. I still miss my gray house on Albany with the black shutters and the bright red front door. 
  • Sidewalks. Don't take this for granted. Birmingham has very few sidewalks. If you walk on the curvy, winding roads here, you are pretty much telling the world that you do not value your life and are looking to spend the rest of it sitting in a wheelchair and peeing into a bag. 
  • Drive-through liquor stores. People in Birmingham are always shocked by this idea. I ask them how they get to the liquor store here. "Oh, you drive? When you walk back out of the liquor store, how do you get home? Oh, you drive, you say? OK, so walking into the store and out of the store makes a difference how? That's what I thought. Shove your righteous indignation where the sun don't shine. And no, I do not have a church home and I don't want one. And shut up about your football team!" - Editor's note: I live here so I can say what I want about it. 

  • The sun shines. A lot. 
  • The Humphrey Yogart at Counter Culture 
  • Frozen daiquiris in to-go cups. A margarita simply doesn't taste right to me without the scent of Scotch tape right beneath my nose. 
  • Steaks at The Cub
  • The town drunks at The Cub
  • Wonderful friends (some of them are in Bossier)
  • For me, the world's greatest in-laws
  • A lot of fantastic memories. 

There's a lot of other stuff, but I'll let you guys make your own lists.

The truth is wherever you go, there you are. If you're surrounded by friends and family you love, you're in a pretty great place.

Coping Methods and Other Ways to Get Unfriended

I don't know if you heard, but Dick Clark died.

You probably saw a Facebook post that read "RIP Dick Clark."

Weren't you so moved by that heartfelt expression of respect and mourning?

Yep, typing RIP fill-in-the-name-of-most-recent-dead-celebrity takes a lot out of a person. If I'd only bothered to make that effort I'd have one more Facebook friend today.

But, as I told Todd, I don't do boring or expected.

I also use humor as a coping mechanism. If you haven't figured that out already, you might need to jiggle the handle on your perception skills.

When I heard about Dick Clark's death, I was immediately struck by the sadness of it, the way I am anytime someone passes away. Death is sad. Sadness sucks. One of the tiny workers in my brain starts jumping up and down and shouting: "Code 13! Code 13! Make a joke right away."

This is Ryan Seacrest.
So I made a joke at the expense of - no, not Dick Clark - Ryan Seacrest.

"I'm officially launching the conspiracy theory that Ryan Seacrest is to blame for Dick Clark's death. Bastard. Pass it on."

I thought it was kind of funny. As the great Chris Talley said, "Dick Clark is one of those celebrities I feel close to because I have been watching him my whole life but let's be honest...It's ALWAYS a good time to make jokes at Ryan Seacrest's expense."

But, unfortunately, one person found it offensive.

"Dick Clark was an icon of American pop culture, from American Bandstand through all the New Years' Eves. Why not just honor his memory and his contributions instead?"

This put me in a bit of a pickle. I didn't want to reply with my trademark snark given that this was someone older than me (I try to respect my elders). I thought that perhaps it really might have been too soon for a joke. The thing is, though, that I like my jokes to be timely. You don't see me posting jokes about that time Britney Spears shaved her head, do you?

The other thing is that I don't like to be serious.

That's just how I am. I laugh when I'm nervous. I make jokes to lighten the weight of serious things. The weight of serious things can be difficult to bear. My life is chock full of serious things. Serious things fester in my head all night while I sleep so that, when I wake up each morning, the first thing I think is "I don't want to do this anymore."

Humor allows me to get up and do it anyway. Humor allows me to breath in and out and hope that tomorrow I will wake up and think, "Yes, let's do this" and that maybe, just maybe I can go an entire day without looking at the serious thing in my head.

So I deleted the status update. But apparently it was too late. I'd already been unfriended.

I pretended not to worry about it. I pretended it did not bother me that this person obviously thinks I'm a callous bitch. I did what I do and I said, flippantly, "Whatever. I already have a dad and he doesn't attempt to shame me for making jokes about Ryan Seacrest."

So there. Now, who wants to hear the joke about the song that will be played at Dick Clark's funeral?

A Long Distance Dedication to My Dad 

After I made my flippant remark, I was suddenly struck full-force with this amazing truth: My father actually never has tried to shame me for who I am or anything I've done. Ever. In my entire life.

I went back through the highlight reel: Baby out of wedlock, six years to finish college, divorce, financial troubles, snark, sarcasm, tasteless jokes in the face of tragedy.

Nope, not one instance of shaming. Not one scolding.

Just love. Pure and simple. Love and pride and a mustached smile.

My dad and I have had our issues. Of course we have. Humans have issues with other humans.

But damn if I didn't just realize how little I care about those issues and how grateful I am for the endless amount of support and love.

So thanks, Dad, for making me feel like a wonderful human being and for calling me to let me know every time George Clooney is on TV.

Here's a song that reminds me of visiting you in the summer. It's very deep and meaningful.


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  2. I had commented prior but there was a mishap when I was typing the word "though"...and it came out "thought"...THESE ARE MY THOUGHTS, even THOUGH, I had only read 4 lines.

    Shreveport sucks. I call it The Suck. My Cincinnati friends call it The Mayberry of the South. This thought came from my extremely close minded view of most things these days.

    1. The Suck sounds like a good title for a horror movie in which vacuum cleaners start taking over the planet. Vacuums are the new zombies. Instead of eating your face, they suck it!

      You're really only supposed to make fun of your hometown to other hometowners, but I'll grant you a pass to make fun of Shreveport to your Cincinnati friends because I make fun of Cincinnati to all my Birmingham friends. I have never met quite as many bitches and boring men anywhere as I met in Cincy. Bitches, I tell you!

      Also, Mayberry was already in the South (North Carolina) so that's sorta redundant. Shreveport is more like the High School of America. Or maybe the Middle School. I can say that because I was born and raised there and I'm also a bitch.

    2. I'm commenting to add that all the bitches I met were from the early years you were there and, on my last visit there a few summers ago, I met all your AWESOME friends. And that Jay is not at all boring and is one of the top ten most fantastic people I've ever met and/or traveled to Forth Worth with for weekend hijinks.

  3. This may be my favorite VCC blog entry to date. And it's not just because I am referred to as "the great Chris Talley" but that helps.

    1. On this day, Friday, April 20, I declare that your official title at VCC will now and forever be "the great Chris Talley."

    2. I am the great Chris Talley and I approve this message.

  4. Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest would most likely have found it funny, and that is all that really matters. It is in that spirit that, in my opinion, you WERE honoring him.

    1. I agree. I'm pretty sure Dick Clark had a sense of humor and that he also knew for a fact that, for many years now, Ryan Seacrest had been attempting to take over his life ala The Talented Mr. Ripley. Thank you for your support in this matter.

  5. Thank you,my-blessing-first-born daughter for your words.
    That's all I have to say right now, except I love your blog, and you, of course!


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