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 HER...as 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.