I found this over at Chris Diggs' blog at the Courier-Journal. Apparently, Fox senior sportswriter Jay Glazer doesn't think all that much of our fair Commonwealth.
Well. Normally, I wouldn't comment on this story, but I actually find it kind of funny. I gather from reading Chris Diggs' piece that some people are up in arms about it, but I'm thinking we should all just laugh. But it does give me an opportunity to tell a story, which I'll get to in a minute.
Kentucky is not alone as the butt end of Northern jokes -- Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, West Virginia and Georgia all get abuse at the hands of Northeastern and West coast sportswriters. It seems to be one of their favorite pastimes to make fun of states where people value archaic concepts like quiet living, being polite to others and managing vice, misguided as that often is.
Anyway, to my story. I was in New York City once back in the 1980's to visit a friend who was staying there a day or so. I was up in Saratoga Springs for prototype training (I was a reactor operator in the Navy at the time), which for those of you unfamiliar with Saratoga Springs, it is on the eastern side of upstate New York, amid country that looks suspiciously like, well, Kentucky. Nice farmland, rolling hills, beautiful old horse racetrack. Adirondack Park is near at hand, and breathtaking Lake George only 30 or 40 minutes away. If you were suddenly transported in your sleep from Lexington to Saratoga Springs in August, you probably wouldn't even notice.
Anyway, I took a bus ride to the city from Saratoga, a matter of probably four or five hours. On the way to Manhattan, we drove through some of the most dilapidated, filthy and utterly depressing urban scenery I have experienced anywhere in the world, and I have been to more than a few armpits. The only real difference between some of the areas I passed on this trip and downtown Cairo, Egypt is the absence of urchins around open sewers -- instead, the urchins were gathered around fire hydrants.
Feeling somewhat safe inside the Greyhound, I tried to ignore mile after mile of the blighted sights, leaned back and listened to Linda Ronstadt. Finally, we arrived in downtown Manhattan, the heart of New Yorkdom on Earth.
The bus station I arrived in was hardly fit for human use. I figured that surely at the posh downtown hotel where my buddy was staying, things would get better. They did. The hotel was nice, and as long as you stayed inside, you were golden.
But venturing outside was somewhat similar to TV scenes I have seen of downtown Beirut -- beauty here and there with lots of ugly thrown in, apparently at random. Central Park was equally discordant -- verdant greenery, people seeming to enjoy it, then beggars seem to spring from every hedge to accost you for money, or offer the opportunity of illegal recreation.
Manhattan, for those of you who have never been there, seems a very alien place to those of us used to a more rural environment, at least it was in those days. The people were almost unfailingly rude, they hardly spoke to one another and when they did, it was usually in a shout or accompanied by a curse. Horns blowing in traffic, the din of people shouting and the sound of cars locking up their brakes assailed my ears constantly. Even the fanciest bars of the time were full of people trying to entice you into a drug deal, or some other illicit activity. It was an eye opener, and even though I was used to an urban environment from living a while in Chicago, completely disquieting.
Compared to New York, Chicago is Bowling Green. All big cities have their blight, but New York City is a different world. You can ask directions in Chicago, and people will tell you as best they can. Try that in NYC -- it's like Forrest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get, but odds are it won't be sweet. Even Paris, a city renowned for its snobbish rudeness, can't hold a candle to the Big Apple. "Thank you" is a phrase that they have apparently banned in Manhattan, along with "You're welcome". And if you are ever there, for God's sake, don't say "Y'all".
After one night there, I resolved to get my hind parts back to ... how do I say it? ... more familiar territory. I felt safer in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf war than I did in New York City in 1983 -- and a Scud landed near downtown while I was there (in Riyadh, I mean). I admit, this was well before Rudolph Giuliani became mayor, so maybe I saw the city at its worst. But at any rate, one night was enough for me, so I trekked back to the roach-infested Greyhound station, boarded a bus, and went back to the comparative serenity of country-bumpkin Saratoga Springs. It never looked better.
Imagine all the stereotypes you have heard about the city, all about the hustlers, the thugs, the foreigners, the muggers, the abrasive attitude, all that. Not stereotypes. All true (or were, at least, the day I was there). But don't be fooled -- New Yorkers claim to be proud of all this, and will spend lots of time telling you why. Don't believe me? Just ask Jay. Better yet, just read him.
So next time you hear a New Yorker dump on Kentucky, don't get angry. You have to understand, if you lived in a place like that, you'd dump on other places, too. After all, how else could you convince everyone that you don't belong in one of those white shirts with really long sleeves?
Anyway, I'm sorry 'ol Jay had such a hard time getting a beer in Lexington that he felt the need to verbally abuse a waitress, even though she had only been following orders from "Goober Pyle". You see, in New York City, what we call verbal abuse is considered a pickup line. I think he's just sore because it didn't work as well down here.
I wonder if Jay has ever heard the story of the pot and the kettle?
Update [2007-8-23 23:9:57 by Truzenzuzex]: Please read this diary.