Thursday, January 06, 2011

This week in Lawrence and beyond

I have a couple of thoughts to share and this has been the place for that. We'll start in Lawrence.

State Representative Anthony Brown, a Republican from Eudora (small town about 10 miles down the road) caused a bit of a stir when he decided that a chamber of commerce breakfast in Lawrence was the appropriate time to start punching hippies and bashing the town and university.
"KU and Lawrence are not very well-respected," said Brown.

He said many people across the state see Lawrence as too liberal. Brown said he sees signs in local businesses that read "Free Republic of Lawrence."

"That needs to change," he said.

State Rep. Barbara Ballard, D-Lawrence, however, defended her hometown as one that recognizes equal rights for all.

"Maybe Lawrence is the conscience of the state," Ballard said. "Every community is different. Ours is different," she said.
Well, thanks for your input, Anthony. See, the thing is, most of us kind of like living in Lawrence and like that it is the way it is. Of course we also tend to hold crazy, extremist views like maybe it isn't Lawrence that should change but maybe legislators that would punish a town and a university financially because many of those living there happen to hold an opposing political viewpoint should change. Maybe they should stop trying to cut off their nose to spite their face. Lawrence is one of the places in this state that's actually growing at a decent rate and one of the few places that attract young people. If Kansas has any hope in the future we're going to need to produce an educated workforce that actually has an interest in staying in the state. Perhaps accepting those that choose to live in places like Lawrence and treating them as equal partners in the state would be the better option instead of trying to figure out ways to exterminate them. But, what do I know? I live in Lawrence.

I recognize that the viewpoint that he expressed is out there (people have asked me what it's like to live here as if it's someplace that's not a three hour car ride from my hometown or we don't have three farm stores and a John Deere dealer) but what's frustrating is that people holding that viewpoint are rarely actually here or focus on the one weird thing that made them uncomfortable when they were here. Even if Lawrencians did suddenly decide not to be so liberal in an attempt to win the respect of everyone else in the state (?) would any of them actually notice? What I really find most amusing about the situation is that I see as much or more Kansas pride in Lawrence than I ever have anywhere else. Yes, there are the "20 Square Miles of Reality Surrounded by Kansas" shirts but there's also a certain attitude of defiance in the state flags hanging from porches, the band names referencing the state motto, and the ever-present "Free State" moniker that says this state has a populist history that lives on in Lawrence even if the rest of you have forgotten. I don't think anything Anthony Brown says is going to change that.

Anyway, I'll get off my Kansas soapbox but, seriously, screw that guy.

The Lawrence Public Library unveiled their new logo to a mostly...confused reaction. Hey, it's a box with a circle in it. I don't get it. Maybe Anthony Brown was on to something... But, really, props to Billy Pilgrim for taking time out of starring in Slaughterhouse-Five to give us this.

Did you hear about the homeless guy that could sing or had a great voice or something? I haven't actually watched the video but I gather that the Cleveland Cavaliers hired him to do stuff for them. The rest of you homeless that don't have the type of skills that can go viral? Well, stop getting in the way of this feel-good story, ok? We're not worried about you right now. By the way, the Cleveland Cavs owner made his money peddling subprime loans to people who couldn't afford them but I'm sure giving this one guy a job will make up for playing a role in nearly wrecking the world's economy and helping to send millions more to the unemployment line.

I was fortunate enough to attend my very first Chiefs game last weekend. I was unfortunate enough that it was about 30 degrees and they got crushed by the Raiders. So, Chiefs-Raiders in the cheap seats was quite the, uh, experience. I'm fairly certain most of the Raider fans around us don't actually know anything about football they just enjoy showing up places and pissing everyone off in the name of getting attention. Seriously, I get that you're a Raider fan you can stop waving your blanket in my face now.

Things that happened at the game near me:
1. Drunk girl throws empty beer bottle at the most obnoxious Raider fans near us. Proceeds to pass out on her boyfriend's(?) lap for the last 2.5 quarters while he he shows off to his friends by making lewd gestures with her head.

2. Super fat drunk guy behind me slams about $60 worth of stadium beers and spends the game dropping f-bombs on all of the other fans because they won't stand the entire game (my theory is that he was too fat to actually sit in his seat). He blames the fans every time Oakland scores. One particularly profane rant leads the super fat old guy to stand up and yell at him.
"YOU! YOU! SHUT YOUR MOUTH! MY GRANDKIDS ARE HERE AND I'M TIRED OF LISTENING TO YOU. You better quit that cursing and shut your damn mouth before I step up there and kick your fat ass." Yes, he cursed twice in an anti-cursing rant and I wish I could have a transcript of what they actually said because there's no way I can come close to doing it justice. They start going back and forth. Threats are issued. Old guy starts up the stairs when fat drunk guy's friend steps in to defuse the situation. Fat Drunk Guy continues to mock "grandpa" but actually stops cursing for the most part.

3. Raider fan: "Yeah, 6-0 in the division. Suck on that!"
Chief fan: "We're still going to the playoffs and you're not."
Raider fan: "Who care about that?"
Chief fan: "Umm, everyone else?"

So, yeah, loved the tailgating, loved the stadium atmosphere, didn't so much love everyone around me. In the words of my friend on the way home, "Why do drunk rednecks love football so much?" I still would have loved to go to the playoff game but I think I'll save my $60 and enjoy it in warmth and HD.

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