Dé Céadaoin, Eanáir 24, 2007

Nothing to Say

I went to Wal-Mart today. I like to walk a couple hours a day, it's been too cold to do it outside, and the campus rec center gives me the creeps, so I went to the Wal-Mart at the north side of Lincoln. Perhaps I would find more evidence of social decay that I could pass on in my own hilarious way to my loyal readers.

But what can I say that hasn't been said by people who are smarter than me? People who actually get paid for social criticism while I engage in pointless, wheel-spinning, childish Fruedian rebellion?

I saw a woman in a cowboy hat and a Dale Ernhardt Jr. racing jacket. She had a cell-phone headset on even though she was talking to no one at the time. Her boyfriend wore an identical Nascar jacket but sported a black nylon do-rag instead of a cowboy hat. I have nothing clever to say about this, (maybe she wanted to leave her hands free to browse Guns'N'Ammo) I got nothin. I found it hilarious at the moment, maybe I had some brillient zinger pass through my consciousness at that moment, but the moment passed, and five minutes later it wasn't that funny anymore, so I have nothing for you.

I walked past a pair of Larry the Cable Guy boxer shorts, and I have nothing clever to say about that. Why should I? You know the score, you either know what's wrong with this or you don't. Larry the Cable guy, the Nebraska native embraced by his former state so that we can feel like we're part of the outside world. He who speaks in a blatantly fake cracker accent, he whose grammer is well below what one would learn in any substandard Nebraska high school, who makes racist comments without any attempt to attach a joke to them. He whose popularity lasted all of three weeks, even before his movie came out.

But he's our boy. We Nebraskans can blindly worship fame just like everyone else, so Larry will always have a place here. And he'll always have a place at Wal-Mart,

What do Larry the Cable and the rest of the blue-collar "comedians" represent anyways? The white-counter snob, the hick defiantly proud to be a hick (You might be a redneck if) embracing a phony "heartland" culture in rural America, denying the existance of a distinctive Southern, Midwestern, or Western culture while asserting that the generic fantasy of the "heartland" is somehow America incarnate despite the fact that it is based on nothing.

Wal-Mart is proud to help sell the idea of the Heartland, and considering how many local cultures they've destroyed, they had better be.

In the grocery section they sold packets of corn. Three ears in each box,grown in Florida, vacuum wrapped, boxed.

I'm a fifth-generation Nebraskan. My grandparents grow corn. I'm no flaming socialist. (not quite) I don't hate Wal-Mart. I don't shop there because it's three miles away from my apartment. I go to the downtown thrift shops if I need some cheap do-dad because my mama forgot to teach me to fear brown people. But I don't actively boycott Wal-Mart. I entertain no thoughts of throwing a Molotov cocktail through its windows or seizing Joyce Meyer paperbacks to redistribute to the peasents.

But this offended me deeply. I was witnessing a passive act of blasphamy. This is Nebraska, no, this is Lincoln Nebraska, Zion itself, and here was generic corn from Florida, pre-packaged in shrink-wrap, carrying some bullshit heartland company name like "Golden Acres" or something, and surely weeks from the field and as tasteless as raw hash browns.

This Wal-Mart was a fucking corn field fifteen years ago. I mean here it was; entropy, the death of local identity, people sacrificing the future of their small towns to shop in this Babylonian waste because it they have to go where stuff is cheap, and at any rate, this is where normal and decent people go, and people who complain about Wal-Mart think they're better than us, better than America, and how dare they?

There it was, the future of American civilisation, fuedalism without flavor, Rascal Flatts instead of the Latin Mass. Go to work straight out of high school, get a job doing grunt work at some local shop, shop gets run out of business by Wal-Mart, shop at Wal-Mart, they're cheap, buy some of the corn in plastic wrap, the wife says some corn on Sundays reminds her of home, and ain't that just the Nebraskan thing to do anyways? Eat some corn, watch the game? Might as well get an application while you're there. It's steady work, they don't pay much, you won't get health care, they won't let you form a union (But you're not communist, you're where you're at because that's how God planned it.) So you'll have to shop at Wal-Mart, you'll have enough money to send the kids to the doctor every couple of years, and you'll quit smoking someday, you'll be fine, you're the provider, the protector, and you're teaching the kids the value of hard work, this is how the world works, this is what they're meant to be.

There it was, but you knew this. Department stores tend to be rather banal, I should turn that idea into an essay and turn it in to Look magazine.

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