Monday, November 07, 2005

Nostalgia and Wishful Thinking
JB referred a few days back to State College, Pennsylvania. As a 1999 graduate of that town's university, I feel that I have something to offer re: local color.

Simple math would suggest therefore that I was born in 1981, but in fact I was on the ten-year plan, whereby circumstances conspired to interrupt my college career with about six-and-a-half years of introspection. During that time I lived as a quasi-resident of State College and got to see the place as a non-student.

It must be stated outright that, were it not for PSU, State College probably wouldn't be named State College, and the town itself would be little more than five trailer parks and a Greyhound station. I greatly enjoyed living there, and I have nothing against trailer parks, but I know what lies beyond campus. During fall semester, the town's population approximately doubles.

Like many college towns, it had a distinctive character, with quiet, independent bookstores, local eateries, and coffee and bagel shops with nary a Starbucks to be seen. In the years since then, two of the three bookstores have vanished, numerous eateries have been closed, and in general a great effort has been made to scour the town clean of any distinctive character. A Chili's was perhaps the first encroachment, arriving in late 1994, but following my departure a Mad Mex, a Red Lobster, a Target, an Olive Garden, an AMC Theater, and a Hooters have all appeared. I don't blame myself--they probably would have moved in whether I was there or not.

I visited the town in 2002, and I might as well have landed in any kids-at-college movie poster. Outside of a few bars, little remained that resonated with my memory, and I felt like any other alum returning after too long away. Heck, one of my favorite bars had even painted over its traditional grafitti-strewn walls, as if whole generations of drunken wordsmiths had never been.

Incidentally, State College enjoyed its own Stupidity Riots one weekend in 1998, catalyzed by a few drunk jerks and quickly cascading into a frenzy of property damage. Many of the idiots, in fact, thoughtfully cavorted for each other's camcorders and thereby neatly participated in their own arrests.

Still, I had many good times there, the best of which introduced me to my then-future bride. State College is like Shangri-La, with myriad residents of indeterminate age who stay in town simply because they don't seem to feel like leaving. I myself was one of those zombies, and I have my wife to thank for inspiring me to move on with my life. Thence to Pittsburgh, matrimony, home-ownership, and fatherhood. Life is good.

For me, anyway. Not so good if you're John Kerry, wrote Tom, in what approximates a segue at 12:20 a.m. Kerry seems to have figured out in the past few days that the 2004 election was stolen. Bravo, John. In other news, water is wet, and bears poop in the woods.

To my horror, some people persist in the sick delusion that Kerry presents a viable candidate for 2008. Presumably these same people think that he presented one in 2004. To achieve the Whitehouse at this point, he'd have to swim against so many currents that he'll look more and more like a salmon, until he'll care less about Roe than roe.

I gotta million of 'em.

Consider: according to public perception, Kerry is still a flip-flopper, an elitist, a wooden statue, Ms. Heinz-Kerry's husband, a guy in an Oompa Loompa costume, a windsurfer, a fraudulent war-hero, and worst of all The Loser who waited a year to fight for what he'd actually won! No matter how many votes Diebold gave to Dubya, the average person in the street knows that Kerry lost. You don't have to be Karl Rove to know that the first slogan against him would be Kerry: Wrong then, wrong now. Republicans could field any one of their countless recidivist pedophiles and still run away with the election. They could probably even run an incoherent, AWOL, coke-snorting, dry-drunk, life-long failure and still win, just like last time.

And no matter how much we'd like to see another President Clinton, it's more realistic to hope that I'll be elected.

By the time you read this, it'll be Election Day. You don't need me to tell you to get out and vote, but get out and vote.

edited to add hyperlinks.
edited again to correct the date. How'd I set it to Nov 19?!?

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