My first culture shock came during my visit to Maine
You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind…but a dimension with no football.
I have been all over this country introducing people to the sick glory that is Arsenic Lullaby, and in all my travels I have come to the conclusion that we’re all pretty much the same. All the cities are more or less the same, some of them are laid out different and have different buildings but when it comes right down to it…they are all just places we’re people live that have grocery stores, restaurants, some sort of landmark and roads and homes. If you can have a conversation with a guy from Des Monies…then you are equipped to have a conversation with a guy from new york…the only difference will be the guy from new york will think he’s really cool because he lives in new york and drop that into the conversation whenever he feels like people have forgotten he’s from new york, because living in new york is way cooler than living anywhere else, just ask anyone from there. In his defense a guy who lives in the city with the biggest ball of yawn will drop that into the conversation and hold that notion to his bosom as vindication for his existence just as dearly.
“are you comparing living next to the empire state building to living next to the biggest ball of yarn?!”
Yeah..I am, unless you built it or work there who gives a sh*t? They both probably are interesting scenery, but as near as i can tell no one from NY ever looks up anyway…that’s for tourists, only people who aren’t from there would look up at all the stuff that makes it so cool to live there.
I’m being a smarts ass, I like new york and can see why other people would be proud of living there, but I can see that in pretty much every city I have traveled to. They are all great and unique but at the same time, when you break things down they are all pretty much the same. I love Chicago the best but I grew up near there and that pretty much explains 90% of people’s pride in their region…it’s home. Another 9% is- it’s not home. It’s a place they worked hard to get to. I’d say only about 1% is actually grounded in the place itself, because once you live somewhere for more than a couple of months the only things that matters are the people around you, your job, a favorite restaurant or two and the grocery store.
So up to a couple days ago I had not actually had much culture shock in any of my travels.
But Maine…Portland Maine threw me for a loop. They…they have no football! Now lot’s of cities don’t have a football team. Milwaukee doesn’t have a football team, so like most cities they adopt the closest team and consider it theirs. Milwaukee is Green Bay Packer territory with small pockets of resistance of Chicago Bears fans. I will explain what this means just in case there be other cities I am unaware of that exist outside the world that has football. This means there is Green Bay Packers crap as far as the eye can see for 6-9 months of the year. Every Bar has “packer specials”, and posters with the logo and a beer logo side by side. Every store, Kiosk, and even gas station has Packer bumper stickers, car flags, t-shirts, water bottles, coffee mugs, bobble heads…you name it and there is a version of it for sale with a Packer logo on it. There are “special edition” Coca-Cola cans with Packer colors. The Mcdonalds has specials where a cheeseburger is the cost of how many points they held their opponents too. I am not giving any breaking news to 99.9999 percent of the U.S., I am explaining this to the people in Portland Maine.
From the time I got off the plane at an airport that had not one single item in the gift shops related to football, all the way through my visit to the local fast foot place that did not have a poster of a football player eating their hamburger, to the town I walked through that didn’t have “go Packers!” painted on the windows of the local businesses, I felt like I was in a different dimension. I had gone through a tear in time and space to a world where football was never invented. It was jarring.
Even when I went to Athens…while there was no football, people were very passionate about their soccer teams and lived by their trials and tribulations and local rivalries existed. I felt right at home in Athens. It was similar in size and layout to Chicago, similar to Detroit in economy, and the people were very much like mid-westerners- Proud, hard working, friendly, curious as to why a stranger had decided to visit their town, and even though they spoke a different language, and had some different social customs…I found once I adopted a soccer team and put the patch/logo on my shirt I knew exactly how to interact. Sports fans are sports fans. People would see who I had chosen and give me a thumbs up, after which I would point at the logo and give a cheer, or they give me the finger, after which I would point at my logo and give them the finger.
If they gave me the finger, I would then know, even though I am foreign, what kind of person they are… They were a person with very low self respect. They were cheering for an INFERIOR TEAM…a team of crybabies who whine because my soccer team always gets the best players..well maybe if your team didn’t suck so much you’d be able to attract better players.
But hey , don’t take my word for it…here’s photo evidence
get back losers, I’m doing fancy stuff here with the ball. That’s how much you guys suck, I can show boat a little during a game.
The POINT is, we football fans, we’re not all so different
I got that patch/log by the way…a block away from the Parthenon! One of the greatest monuments in the history of mankind had a kiosk selling soccer merchandise one block away…not plastic Parthenons, or Parthenon flags…SOCCER MERCHANDISE. This is was not odd to me at all…I’m from Milwaukee and if we had such a monument I would expect to see a kiosk selling Green Bay Packers merch blocking it’s view from the street. It’s FOOTBALL for f*cks sake and it’s FOOTBALL SEASON.
I went to Maine with two goals in mind. First, move a lot of Arsenic Lullaby books. Second, get a picture of me in a New England Patriots hat to send to my dear friend Decapitated Dan, who’s team recently lost (was humiliated by) the New England Patriots. These should have been simple goals seeing as how Arsenic Lullaby is top notch and the New England Patriots play just an hour or so away from Portland Maine. ..and it is football season.
It is football season Portland Maine…are you listening to me?!
Even people who hate football know this, and take some delight in the local team losing because the rest of the city is bummed out about an event they couldn’t care less about. The rest of the U.S.A. knows it’s football season Portland Maine. WTF?!
I searched the usual places for a hat…Gas stations, convenience stores, Pharmacies…you know…places that sell stuff. ANYPLACE that sells stuff in any other town will clear a shelf off to put out football merch for 6 months. Looking for aspirin at walgreens? Well, it’s behind the counter until football season is over because they need that shelf for Chicago Bears hats. Need some squaredrive wood screws from Home Depot, well you’re going to need a stock boy to get them from the back room…that isle is required for New York Jets flags. It is football season and headaches, remodeling and everything else will wait. I found no Patriots hat at any of these places. I asked locals where to get a hat…MOST OF THEM DIDN’T KNOW!!! All of you…imagine for a moment someone asking you where to get a hat featuring the nearest team’s logo on it. Even if you are not a fan , you would have seen seventeen places just going about your usual business. The only reason you wouldn’t answer is because you would think the question was a sarcastic joke. The few times I got an answer it was “try the mall”…which means “I don’t know” because “try the mall” is an answer for ANYTHING. Well…I tried the mall. I went to Sears, they had one or two goofy looking hats with the fuzzy ball on the top. ..the rest of their sports crap was discounted Red Sox Baseball gear. I didn’t want a goofy hat, I wanted a simple grey or black knit hat with the logo on it like their coach wears. So that Dan could see me wearing the same hat as the man he watched on tv direct his team to crush Dan’s team on national television. The clerk was uncertain where to find more football hats. I wandered the mall and eventually found a sporting good store. That “sporting goods” store only had four different hats, all goofy and all 20.00 or more! 20.00 for a knit hat?! Our you people out of your minds?! I can get a Packers hat for free in Milwaukee by getting my promotional card punched four times at a local burger joint.
Eventually I had the poor bastards who run the convention swing by a walmart after dinner. Surely a walmart would have cheap crap with Patriots logos on it. Why, in any other state in the union they would have replaced the”gardening” section with rows and rows of football merch. I found a grand total of five different hats. FIVE!? All goofy and all over 15.00.
I have since returned from this parallel and disturbing dimension. Later this week I will go to one of the 17 sporting goods store in the area where I will be able to choose from a wall of hats featuring any team in the league.
In the meantime…Hey Dan…”THE NEW ORLEANS SAINTS SUCK!”. They do, but at least they exist in the world where football is life for six to nine months and we are all one nation under it. One nation united by our teams, at odds with those supporting other teams, or untied with others by our disinterest in a sport we cannot avoid hearing about. It is a force of nature in our dimension, like winter, or tornadoes, or rain or wind. Portland Maine is a nice place but I must list it even above Athens as the most foreign land I have ever been too.
“Hey, what about the comic book convention?! ain’t ya gonna tell us about that?!”
huh? oh yeah…the show was good. Later this week I will review all the shoes this year including pros and cons…right now I have a lot of espn to get caught up on. I have to know what happened this weekend or people will think I’m some sort of weirdo.
By the way Decapitated Dan produces a podcast about horror comics and heavy metal. I always have a segment on it, usually about ten minutes long about half way through the show. You can hear it here…or just go there to email Dan and tell him his teams sucks.