Traveling down to Motown one day, then up north to The Leelanau the next -- two areas of Michigan with a distinct feel and attitude -- has been a rather sad and frustrating reminder to me that mid-Michigan, home of Outer Podunk, has no regional character whatsoever.
I shouldn't say that, exactly. But for some unfathomable reason, instead of embracing any kind of regional pride of place, folks around here -- including people with my own pedigree, whose babushka'd great-grandmothers from Hamburg or Odessa or Danzig hung on the rails of steamers headed for Ellis Island, staring uncomprehendingly at Lady Liberty -- have appropriated a certain sort of off-the-rack faux Southern culture as their own; country music, pickup trucks, Walmart and NASCAR, with a chaw of Skoal in your cheek for good measure.
(And I just need to add, because I must vent, that if I had to listen to my local country music station all day -- jingoistic songs and news reports that sound like they've been vetted through the GOP propaganda department and Focus on the Family [which I guess is the same thing], plus vomitrocious fundamentalist cant -- I'd either ask to be sponsored by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, or beg for someone to hold a nail gun to my temple and put me out of my misery.)
What the hell?
I mean, if you're going to borrow someone else's regional character, why not borrow it from a region that makes more sense? I make fun of my neighbor's extremely WASPy kid swaggering around in ghetto wear and listing to rap music...but at least it's a kind of paen to the south side of Nine Mile, here in our own state. Now, I find The Red Green Show so much like my own neighborhood -- especially the ubiquitous chainsaw in the background -- cottage culture here is very much like that across the border, or even over the Bridge. But the pseudo-Dixie psychic connection, I just don't get. Why?