Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Fake American Thanksgiving

According to Wikipedia, the Canadian version of Thanksgiving started with Martin Frobisher in 1578, a full 41 years before the Pilgrims started doing their thing at Plymouth. So I guess that basically means that the Canadian Thanksgiving is the authentic one.

Anyway, I spent this year's Fake American Thanksgiving in Indiana.

One of the highlights of the trip was passing through the city of Gary, Indiana (birthplace of Michael and the other Jacksons). Let me preface my comments about the place by saying this: I'm sure that, for those who live in Gary and have learned to love Gary, it contains wonders and moments of beauty that my untutored eyes simply fail to register. That said, it seems to me that Gary is quite possibly the most depressing city in America. Despite having a population of just 100,000, it's consistently one of the top ten most dangerous cities in the country. I guess it's basically a big suburb of Chicago, with all the disadvantages of urban sprawl, but not any of the advantages of being urban. A prominent billboard announces that the people of Gary are currently "Celebrating 100 Years of Steel". Evidence of their love of steel, and assorted matters industrial, can be seen in the forest of smokestacks which populates a good part of the city. (I've been told that at night the fire and smog does a fair impression of the land of Mordor, where the shadows lie. This sounds pretty awesome, and I plan to make a return visit to see this first hand.) Between the smokestack forest and the endless sea of suburbia, Gary features a small lake, which some gentle soul has adorned with an abundance of metal platforms and spikes--these don't seem to fulfill any functional role, so they were probably put there purely for their aesthetic value, as they nicely complement the canopy of criss-crossing powerlines hanging over the lake.

So much for Gary. In some other town in Indiana (I forget the name), there are street signs that read "CHURCH". I don't mean signs put up by the churches, but street signs put up by the town (or county or whatever), like ones that announce "DEER CROSSING" or "SCHOOL ZONE", except instead of warning drivers about the presence of deer or school children, they warn about the presence of churches. This is hard for me to understand. Are they meant to be interpreted as "PASTOR CROSSING, SLOW DOWN", or "NO SINNING, NEXT MILE", or what?

So, parts of Indiana are kinda weird. But for the most part it looks just like Alberta.


Tucker said...

Did you notice the "Welcome to Gary" sign on the side of the wastewater treatment plant?

Kind of tells the whole story, that.

Micah said...

I've always wondered what those "CHURCH" signs on the road mean (we have those in Texas, too). Like "CHURCH" is somehow parallel to "SCHOOL", but some amazingly clueless person didn't grasp that the reason we put up signs advising drivers of the presence of a school doesn't translate into whatever analogy ties churches and schools together? That's the only thing I can think of.