Friday, July 3, 2009

Remember when Alaska was cool, abstract and rugged... before Sarah Palin painted it qwerky?

Alaska. I've never been there and I'll bet you haven't been there either. Still wanna go?
I don't. Send me a postcard if you go. Wait a second..., no, send me a photo of the Wasilla Town Hall so that I can make it into an epitaph for my vision of what I thought Alaska was.
It died the day the world discovered Sarah Palin.

Alaska used to be too cool for me to even talk about. If someone asked if I'd been there, I would have answered, "no...haven't had the chance to head up there...YET ! But as soon as I can, boy, I might even stay a couple years." What a lie! I was so terrified of Alaska I couldn't even watch Northern Exposure for more than 15 minutes at a time. I felt as though Alaska knew who was watching if it were the most rugged, exotic, land where only tough, artsy, nature guys could survive (like Emile Hirsch in "Into the Wild"). How in the hell was I going to make it in Alaska if I could not bring my Aveda shampoo and conditioner and my American Crew Pomade? Do grocery stores in Alaska even have Pellegrino?

Sarah Palin has turned Alaska into the equivalent of a Japanese game show: no one understands it, the host winks and laughs and everyone is embarrassed for the people in it. She took a land that was so mysterious and powerful that even the most intellectually elite were frozen in awe of its natural beauty upon arrival, to now a land where all intellectuals are terrified at its governor's ignorance, lack of intelligence and purposeful avoidance of reality. Alaska the Land has been overshadowed by a nasal voice that simply answers every question with a "you betcha" and a very obscure fishing metaphor. Palin took Alaska and melted it into a Flint, Michigan, a Decatur, Illinois, places where we EXPECT to find close-minded people who still have the Steve Perry/Bob Seger hairdo and think that Spain is a region in Mexico.

There's a reason why no one can name any other governor of Alaska prior to Palin: because they never talked! They didn't have to. Hello !!!??? Being governor of Alaska is all that needs to be said. Alaska the Land always spoke louder than its governor. That's how it's supposed to be.

My only solace now is "Ice Road Truckers". But even that is getting close to the cheesy press appearances Sarah Palin delivers every week free of charge. There's a girl trucker on that show (the only girl trucker) and she used to play basketball in high school in Alaska. Sound familiar?

How fitting was it today, the day that Sarah the Baracuda QUITS as governor, that the ducks on the pond and the owl in the tree behind her were louder than her voice, that the grass she was stepping on was a bit greener and the mountains looked taller... as if to say, "Behold...Alaska the Land has awoken again". To use a Palin metaphor, she "forfeited the game". A quitter in every sense of the word.

No more shooting polar bears from helicopters, no more footage of turkeys getting their throats slit and thrown into a defeathering machine, no more trendy square-rimmed spectacles and certainly no more "Alaska is just a microcosm of America". Because it's not. We in the lower 48 know it's not. That's why we thought Alaska was cool. That's why we wanted to visit Alaska the Land.


geewhy said...

Your bio says you're thoughtful and compassionate. So what's with the attack on Flint? Ever been there? Do you know anything about the place? Maybe you should think a little about what you're writing before you attack places you know nothing about. And while you're attacking Alaska, keep in mind Palin only got 48 percent of the vote for governor in 2006. More people voted against her than voted for her.

geewhy said...

By the way, I was just trying to establish myself as a crazy guy from Flint with my earlier comment. I enjoyed your post.

The Federalist said...


Where did you get that I was attacking Alaska? I have nothing but reverence for Alaska the Land. I was simply pointing out that Sarah Palin ruined my view of Alaska. I hope that her quitting as governor will usher in the old Alaska, one that was not so arrogantly uninformed.
I do compare Palin and her lemmings to the mentality that one finds in pockets such as Flint, MI or Decatur, IL. I've been to both and in at least some sense, both of these cities have always been ultra-conservative and fairly close-minded. That's not a judgement, that's a fact. Since Bush was elected, both cities have been exploited by the NeoConned propaganda that have suffocated an already largely uninformed populus. It's really a shame. I mean that. I'm certainly not bashing either city, or any city or state for that matter. So I apologize if it came out that way. I just think that it is truly tragic that military recruiters have targeted areas such as Flint, Evansville, Ypsilanti, Decatur, Fort Wayne,, more than any other area. It's not by mistake. Wave a flag and some money around in an area that has been ripped apart by the economy and you'll get 2,000 people out at a Palin rally in minutes.
As far as Palin getting 48% of the vote for governor in 2006, I would say that's amazing considering her previous political experiences. Mayor of a town that is smaller than the crowd at a local bar before a Red Wings game is not exactly pressure-cooker decision-making.
Her votes in the gubernatorial race were fewer than the Lakers victory parade. Yes, she won 48% of the vote compared to her rival Tony Knowles who won 41% of the vote. Next closest was the independent candidate with 10% of the vote. I'm not sure if you can say that all non-Palin voters were voting against her. They could have just as easily been voting against Knowles.

Thanks for checking out my blog. I welcome any other views you have any other posts.

Crissy said...

Where do I begin? Well, let's start with the fact that I was born in Flint, Michigan and have lived in the area all of my life, except for the 7 years when I lived in Alaska! (I moved back to the Flint area last year)

That's right! Flint and Alaska! How convenient that your post mentions both! And how ironic that these two places do have things in common - but not for the reasons you mention.

First of all, I do think it was amazing that Palin rec'd so much of the 2006 vote, given the fact that she was "mayor of a town that is smaller than the crowd at a local bar before a Red Wings game," as you so eloquently put it.

But you should realize that Wasilla is a BIG town for Alaska, and it is in the fastest-growing region of the state.

When Palin ran, she ousted the incumbent governor in the primary. And she brought down a crooked politician in the process! (Since you said you couldn't name any prior Alaskan Governors, it was Governor Murkowski).

Palin also took on Senator Ted Stevens. Facing the ol' boys club of Alaskan Republican politics isn't easy - but she did it, and I was definitely impressed. (and I'm a Democrat!)

Now, I certainly don't agree with everything she has done - but I also do not agree with people like you, someone who admits they've never been to Alaska, who make assumptions and characterizations about the state.

You say that Alaska is "like a Japanese game show" and that "everyone is embarrassed for it." And who is "everyone?" Seriously - who, besides you, is sitting around saying "Alaska sucks!"

I talk with people everyday around the globe, and I have never heard anything but positive comments.

(this comment was too long for one post - am splitting this up; end of Part I; more to follow)

Crissy | said...

(Part II)
I think your Alaska-Michigan comparison is pretty ridiculous.

Here, in my opinion is what Flint and Alaska have in common: proud, hard working, blue collar residents.

My grandfathers worked at GM; my dad worked at GM; and I worked at GMAC. We have a long history of bringing home GM paychecks in our family. Likewise, Alaskans have histories of family employers and businesses, whether it is working on "The Slope" (in oil) or fishing, providing guided tours, etc, etc.

Both Alaska and Flint have wonderful opportunities for art and culture. I lived on the Kenai Peninsula and worked at the Kenai Convention and Visitors Bureau. We had a museum on site, full of local art and historical items.

Our community was small by your standards, but we enjoyed local theater, had several outlets for local music, and there were many contests throughout the year for writers, photographers, and other artists.

Homer, a community to the south of us, has a huge writers conference every year, which draws people from all over the globe. And, Anchorage, of course, is host to national touring performances, with even more art and cultural opportunities found in Fairbanks, Juneau, and other towns.

And did you realize that The Haines Burough Public Library was voted as best small library in America??

No one is embarrassed for Alaska!

Likewise, the residents of Flint have a whole cultural center, including art and history museums, a planetarium, and a venue featuring national acts.

You can find local theater here, as well as lots of local and national musical acts. Our educational choices are also fantastic, and we have more colleges to choose from than communities much larger than us.

Flint, Michigan should be inspiring anything but embarrassment. Flint is a town that has seen it all - from great prosperity to a massive amount of job loss.

But the community of Flint didn't "give up." We are picking ourselves up by the bootstraps and doing everything we can to revitalize ourselves! Now, that's nothing to laugh at. It's something to be inspired by!

You say in your post that you do not think you could survive in Alaska. I must say, I agree with you on that point! You can easily find your Aveda shampoo at Zeny's salon in Soldotna and Fred Meyer carries your American Crew pomade....

But it takes more than that to live in The Last Frontier. As the state's motto says, the people of Alaska are looking "North To The Future!" Coincidentally, so are the residents of Flint and Genesee County, Michigan.

The Federalist said...


First of all, thank you for your thoughtful and lengthy responses.

I did not compare Alaska to a Japanese game show. The analogy, if you read closely, was based on how Sarah Palin has transformed Alaska through my perspective.(Palin being the game show host in the analogy)
I truly believe that no one will ever speak for ALL Alaskans nor will anyone ever redefine Alaska into something it is not. Although my case is that Sarah Palin has given those outside of Alaska a very distorted view of the state and its people. I think that is a fact. She has become the ONLY voice coming out of Alaska and by default she has become THEE voice of Alaska. I'm not sure if you would want her to be the ONLY voice of Alaska.

Secondly, I'm not attacking Alaska at all. From your post it is difficult to believe that you are Democrat because normally that type of misinterpretation is a regular characteristic of a Fox News lemming (hearing something entirely different than what the person is actually saying in order to fit the usual mindless talking points). But I will give you the benefit of the doubt, that you are in fact who you say you are. Your attention to grammar tells me that you are authentic.

If you read the post again I have nothing but reverence for Alaska. I hope to visit the state someday. But my point was that I've always viewed Alaska as this majestic, mysterious land that cannot be captured easily in words or pictures. Palin "dumbs it down" to something that not only we can understand but from which we all recoil in horror. Thus my thesis: Sarah Palin has made Alaska into some type of weird circus side show.

And this leads to your second post. I described Flint, Evansville, Decatur as I see them. You may not see them that way. This was not a judgement on any of those towns/cities. I grew up in a small, conservative, VERY blue collar town in central Illinois. Are there hard-working people there? Yes. Do they have good hearts? Yes. Are they generous? Yes. Are they close-minded and fairly ignorant to what happens outside their state? Unfortunately, yes. Does this make them bad people? No. How can anyone judge them as bad?

From your description of how Flint has reacted to the economic situation I would expect nothing less. Strong and resilient people rise to that type of challenge without hesitation. I would not have expected anything different.

As I continue to read over your posts I believe you may have misinterpreted my post in its entirety. I don't believe I can deconstruct it any further without continuing to obfuscate my point.

I believe this topic was an emotional one for you. In those situations we place emotion over intellect (Aristotle). It then becomes nearly impossible to have a logical debate.

Thanks again for your posts.