saturday was rainy and gray, and we started in a colombian-caribbean restaurant in the small town of jonesboro, home of a lincoln-douglas debate. no sign of debate down there on saturday. it was a good place, but a bad match, these small town folks are just now getting used to the mexican place down the street. we listened to colombian pop- corey danced- the owners were nice- the food was good- and it probably won't happen again. in paducah i picked up lots of 'data' - accents. the area is actually part southern and part mountain, and lots of people don't hear the difference- myself included, half the time. what you don't hear down there is central illinois, chicago, northern. no elvis-lookalike sightings this time. in fact i like paducah, it has an economy, it has a life, it is a town outside of one single stratifying agent, as our little one-horse town is. even has an arts scene, and a river, a big overflowing muddy one to boot. back on the other side of it, by some trees and an old fort, is the town of metropolis, old, with a superman statue right there in the square, a couple of old museums. here eli was to get an action figure, and corey and i walked around the square, a cold, blustery sunday morning, some people in a lively discussion over there by the massac county detention center. it occurred to me that that superman (truth, justice and the american way, says the base) statue is nothing but a backdrop for them trying to get some buddy out of jail after a bad weekend. the museum had a kind of ancient wood superman sign above it, lots of blue red & yellow and wide s's all over the place. i thought of my hometown, cleveland, which also claims superman, and knows how to make a museum, though i've never been to its museums, art, superman, or rock'n'roll. but while cleveland would be a step beyond paducah in terms of reality, metropolis seemed to be a step in the other direction- smaller even than carbondale- its entire economy, this little superman shtick, plus the casino- now you talk about a one-horse town, this horse is more like an evil little swamp buffalo, with a comic book jammed in its saddle. nothing you'd want to get mixed up in, i figure, and it's all goin' down with the high water.
and so, the fantasy of getting back into the real world (paducah will pay you to rehab a building if you run an arts place)- that fantasy got its lid put back on it for another spell. paducah gets nice in summer- free concerts and festivals, lots of elvis look-alikes, even some elvis sing-alikes. i swear, these people that say elvis isn't dead, they've just been hanging around kentucky and its walmarts a lot, i think. and that's not all bad, though it's true, elvis wasn't much of a role model for my kids.
which brings me back around- eli lost a tooth in paducah, his first one- he was carrying a huge bag of cars (the store-boughten, metal variety) and it just disappeared. maybe he swallowed it- it was his first. was dismayed that nascar was all over the telly- i'll now have to tell him that i don't really like the real races, that it's ok with me, this race stuff, as long as real people aren't dying and other people aren't out there, getting drunk and enjoying it. we don't watch television except in a motel, so it was all new for us- the commercials, the movie (we watched big fat liar...), the zombie-ish-co-occupation of a couch...ah, but the tooth brings one to the tooth fairy, the thinly-veiled lie, actually the tooth fairy is a big hairy guy that doesn't even wake up the dogs. and might have trouble remembering. but, this one doesn't worry about inflation. let the eagle fly, though the kid has every lightning mcqueen known to walmart, and could really use maybe a comic book, let him enjoy the moment. pretty soon they all start falling out, then next thing you know, an innocent, roundish blue-eyed face gets that competitive look, turns into one in a large kindergarten class, learning about self-concept (discipline) and how to stand in line (discipline), and a little math, and it's downhill from there. just hope they don't end up at the massac county detention center, or some such, huddled in the doorway, getting bail up or something, to go hit the slots on the riverboat. i'll tell them, dance when you can, get out of town once in a while, and if someone tells you it's magic, don't go waking up in the middle of the night trying to find out....enjoy it while it lasts, a pleasant glow of faith, boundless wealth, and love of parents, while i, in return, won't mix in with the big one, the santa story, the idea that if you're good, you get the big stuff. think i'll just let it go with the parents lovin' you, and say, this land was made for you and me. i don't know from justice, though i'm teaching about crime. don't know the truth from the big fat liar, sometimes. and the american way, that's all of it i guess, from cleveland to metropolis, the whole wide & dirty o-river between, the big old bridge over it, the tooth fairy, the steady drizzle, the people of illinois welcome you sign...and another sign, a big red blue & yellow one, that says, on the front, home of superman. and on the other side, that side was made for you and me. bless you all. and don't forget the homeless.