A Guide to Living in Random US Deathtraps
As my apartment's lease comes closer and closer towards expiring, I must once again pack up all my junk and move out of this hellhole in the search of a nicer hellhole, one with preferably less "hell" and a slightly lower amount of "hole." When I first hauled ass to Seattle a couple years ago, I thought I was a big tough man who could handle the depressing, dreary, rainy Washington weather. "It's just a little rain," I would say to myself, often as other people stared at me and gently pushed their children out of my reach. "What's so bad about rain?" In theory, rain is a neutral entity, one which is neither good or evil. However, rain is a bit different up here, something which takes on a completely new and horrible form. When folks in Seattle talk about all the rain in this area, they're not referring to the accepted weather phenomenon of liquid falling vertically from the sky until eventually hitting the ground or the neon pink dye in some goth-punk-raver-furry-alien-immigrant-rivethead's hair. Seattle rain obeys no laws of physics and has boggled the minds of scientists ever since science was first invented in the late 1940's by Professor Baron Von Science. Here's the textbook definition of "Seattle Rain" for you people who haven't had the luxury of seeing this beautiful bitch in action:
Seattle Rain: Water which descends from 29 cubic megatons of dark gray clouds in the sky, falls towards the Earth until it's 10 feet above ground, then begins to travel upwards and in some arbitrarily random direction for the next seven months or until the US military steps in and forcibly makes it stop with the use of rocket-propelled grenades.
I'm thoroughly convinced that in the entire history of Seattle it has only rained once, way back in 1973, and that water has been simply floating around nonstop since then. This would also explain why the rain tastes like drinking the liquid that oozes from an infant diaper-changing station. However, each city in the world has its own distinctive trait or quality, one which causes you to think back and wonder "why the hell didn't anybody warn me about this before I moved into this horrible deathtrap?" Since Something Awful is all about making positive changes or positively changing positive changes or gay pride or whatever the fuck this site is about, I will now present to you, the reader, a brief guide to all the cities I've lived in throughout the 26 years of my miserable, failure-ridden life.
Kansas City, Missouri
Phase of Life In Which I Inhabited This City: Larvae stage
City Description: Kansas City was once a mighty, booming city full of people who did something vaguely related to either cattle or slaves. These residents worshipped a giant entity named "Boxtor" and decided to erects hundreds of thousands of giant, empty, cubicle-shaped warehouses in his honor. These empty, disheveled, rotting monuments stand to this very day, serving as reminders of Kansas City's lost glory days. No matter where you travel in Kansas City, you will be greeted by these sprawling heaps of brick-stacked garbage, many of which are now festively decorated with graffiti that reads "KINGZ KASTAL" and "JENNY I LOVE YOU WILL YOU MARRY ME, BRAD."
Shittyness Level of Drivers: Average. The drivers here aren't very bad unless you get near Kansas, the state whose driving test simply requires the applicant to spell the word "car" successfully in 12 attempts or less.
Quality of Crazy People: Average. Most of the wackos are located in the heart of the city, and since the heart of the city is a giant concrete pit enclosed by steel beams and boulders from another dimension, they often have a difficult time escaping.
Rate of Urban Sprawl: Very high. There are strip malls growing like kudzu all over the area, choking the life out of small towns that were once solely occupied by a family of three and a water tower which had the town's name misspelled across it. Unfortunately, the sprawl consists of the cheap strips malls which are built overnight by three obese men and are designed to look like trendy concrete buildings with lovely 500-million watt lights encasing them. These complexes usually fall over when hit by a light gust of wind. I think some of them are water soluble too.
Most Interesting Memory From City: One night during my senior year of Rockhurst High School, I went to some party with a bunch of fellow seniors at a local hotel. We were just sitting around, drinking and smoking while listening to loud music and wondering if any of us would ever have sex any time in our lives, when suddenly a fellow senior burst through the door and exclaimed, "oh my god guys! I just saw Tommy Morrison downstairs!" For all you fellows who didn't follow the 1993 Kansas City boxing circuit, Tommy Morrison was the big up-and-coming boxing sensation who was predicted to take the heavyweights by storm and bring dignity to the concept of "white boxers," which is usually thought to be an oxymoron. We all thought the guy was bullshitting us until about a half hour later when there was a knock on the door. We opened it to see Tommy Morrison and his entourage (ie, "the people who hang around him and help him spend his money"). Morrison heard we were having a party so he came in and decided to hang out with a bunch of high school students who probably wouldn't seem too out of place in a Magic: The Gathering convention. Needless to say, he was under the influence of many exotic drugs, some of which resulted in his inability to turn off the room's radio in over an hour of nonstop attempts. One of his "managers" produced a bag of cocaine and asked any of us if we'd like to snort up with him in the bathroom. We all politely declined by staring at him, jaws on the floor and eyes aghast, resulting in his mobile party unity moving to another room, possibly one with less 17-year olds. If you're wondering where Tommy "The Great White Hope" Morrison is doing right now, he has recently been released from prison for drug charges and weapon convictions. Oh yeah, he's HIV positive as well, so it appears he's got the world at his fingertips.
Phase of Life In Which I Inhabited This City: Confusing college years
City Description: According to my estimates, all of downtown Nashville could be placed inside a shipping crate and still have enough room left over to comfortably fit in Harry Knowles' ego. There's literally nothing in the city except a bar that has antlers above it and some civic arena for a professional racquetball league or Shriner's conventions or something. Oh wait, they also have the Tennessee Titan's stadium, but that's located kind of in that district full of Dennys restaurants which perforate your body with automatic gunfire upon entering. You could walk from one end of the city to the other in less than a minute, and you'd also have the benefit of ending up exactly where you started.
Shittyness Level of Drivers: Below average. The worst drivers in this city are the tourists who mistakenly read "ONE WAY ONLY" signs as "GO THE WRONG WAY DOWN THIS STREET, PLEASE." Hell, Nashville wouldn't even be considered a "country / western city" if it wasn't for all the goddamn bucktoothed, cowboy-hat strapped, yahoo, hick, out-of-state inbreds who make monthly pilgrimages to this dull town.
Quality of Crazy People: Above average. The homeless people randomly stumble around the surrounding 20-mile radius since downtown Nashville can only fit in one vehicle at a time, forcing the crazy bums to branch out and peddle their filthy panhandling elsewhere. One of the more insane dirt demons was a bearded psychopath who spent all his free time airing his grievances against the city board by penciling in 6-point font rambling, incoherent rants on approximately 400 yards of cardboard which he hauled around in a grocery cart from 1953. This guy would just go from corner to corner, shoving his cart of doom, occasionally stopping to hold up one of his incomprehensible protest signs and begin screeching about how the state government was staffed by "psy-vampires" who committed a moral sin by issuing him a ticket for some reason. He was one of those people who would seem a lot more normal trying to consume their own shoe via osmosis.
Rate of Urban Sprawl: Below average. People in Tennessee seem content with the limited amount of stores they're already equipped with, so you don't see too many Barnes and Noble bookstores popping up to service the people searching for the best-selling title "How To Drive Your Ugly Tractor 10 Miles An Hour Along the Highway."
Most Interesting Memory From City: One time my friend and I stumbled out of a bar, drunk as Drew Barrymore at her wedding reception, and we saw Lyle Lovette and Julia Roberts emerge from some small movie theater. We threw a glass bottle at Lovette's head (as a joke, of course), but we were so loaded that I don't even think the bottle landed in the same area code as him. That was the same night I fell into the drainage ditch and woke up in the back of some unknown individual's pickup truck.
Costa Mesa, California
Phase of Life In Which I Inhabited This City: Dot-Com bubble burst days
City Description: First off, let me say one thing: the weather in southern California is fucking wonderful. It's sunny and 73 degrees every goddamn day, literally the perfect temperature and climate year-round. Now if there was only some way to export this glorious weather to another state, the equation would be complete. Everything in southern California costs roughly 20 times the equivalent item or service in a "normal" state, which doesn't make any sense because the entire area is full of broke, homeless Mexican immigrants whose knowledge of the English language is limited to the drive-through sign at McDonalds. One-bedroom, 700-square foot apartments cost around $1200, two-bedroom flats average around $2000, and condominiums require monthly payments of solid gold bars minted by Jesus Christ Himself. Sure you can find apartments for under $600 a month, but those places are just large, hollowed-out pumpkins with an apartment number stapled on the outside.
Shittyness Level of Drivers: Above average. There are only two acceptable ways of driving in southern California: traveling at zero miles an hour because you're stuck in traffic or going Mach-3 because there is no traffic. You must choose either one option or the other, depending what situation you're in. If there's no traffic and you fail to travel faster than a piece of space debris re-entering the Earth's orbit, friendly California drivers will kindly remind you to accelerate by honking at you and attempting to blow out your tires with surface-to-surface missiles. I don't know how they can even see your vehicle through the 100% window tinting, but that's the magic of California.
Quality of Crazy People: Below Average. On the positive side, there is a homeless person on every corner of every street. On the negative side, none of them really seem to give a damn if you give them a dollar of not. This might be because they've spent the past 34 years gathering up enough money to afford rent for one month.
Rate of Urban Sprawl: None. Every single inch of land has already been consumed by Shonuff, the God of Asphalt. There are simply no areas left to colonize and claim in the name of Starbuck's Coffee. Perhaps the state could find some useless area of land such as Santa Ana, pave the hell out of it, and then start setting up new strip malls offering botox injections, teeth whitening, and tanning salons. Or hell, they could just buy a giant barrel of toxic waste and offer to dip people into it for 100 bucks a pop. That would be easier and probably less harmful in the long run.
Most Interesting Memory From City: This town, despite the beautiful weather and wonderful atmosphere, probably leaves the most sour taste in my mouth because I lived there during the dot-com crash era, a time when eSweatshops were shutting down left and right and you'd have better luck finding a warezed copy of "Duke Nukem: Forever" than trying to make a dollar from the Internet. During this period of time I worked for approximately 19 million different companies, 19 million of which decided to never pay me for my work. As a result, I was stressed out all the time, working my ass off trying to pay rent, and swallowing Flintstones vitamins by the handful in a highly ineffective attempt to end my life.
Phase of Life In Which I Inhabited This City: "Something Awful - The Business" days
City Description: Seattle is what's referred to as "a cool town" by people under the age of 24 who include "listening to 'The Cure'" as one of the hobbies on job resumes. As a result, there are a lot of freaky goth kids who wander around aimlessly, painting their fingernails black and sketching out their favorite scenes from "The Crow" on notebook paper. The city is moderately big and moderately dirty, broken down into distinctly different sections such as "the tourist trap area," "the crazy homeless people area," "the homosexual area," "the area full of old, giant buildings which are supposedly supposed to produce some kind of useful metal substance," and "the area full of shopping centers which cost $80 an hour to park outside." All kinds of ridiculous local / underground bands play here in clubs with names like "The Black Tear" and "Silverfish's Syko Lair." However, steam comes out of the manholes in the street, and any city that offers this feature is automatically A-OK in my book.
Shittyness Level of Drivers: Above Average. People in this city slow down for virtually any reason whatsoever. If there's an accident, everybody slows down so they might catch a glimpse of somebody with their head crammed in between the dashboard and steering column. If a vehicle breaks down alongside the road, everybody slows down so they might watch the car as it spontaneously explodes in slow-motion like in any Jerry Bruckenheimer movie. If there's a suspicious looking bush or oxygen atom floating around, everybody slows down in the off chance that the atom might metamorphisize into one of those giant Japanese fighting robots with the huge glowing swords that shoots lightning at floating alien rape skulls with laserbeam eyes. No matter what scenario Seattle drivers find themselves in, they invariably respond by mashing their brakes as if they were crushing a gigantic poisonous centipede with the face of Carol Channing.
Quality of Crazy People: Above average. These are the kinds of people who hold emotional, highly animated conversations with their hands when deciding if they should cross the street or instead begin urinating on a newspaper stand. They're nuts as hell and they're all over the place. You can't walk 10 feet without encountering a screwball mental patient who will offer to swallow an entire hammer in exchange for $50 or a pack of cigarettes. These crazies fan out to a 50-miles radius around the city, effectively spreading their crucial message of "will eat for food" to anybody stupid enough to stop at a red light with one of them at the corner.
Rate of Urban Sprawl: Above average. The strip malls are picking up and spreading like a virus to towns over 30 miles away, producing a chorus line of automotive repair shops and Michael's Crappy Art Supply Store for Elderly Women joints. This, combined with the fact that towns surrounding Seattle used to be farming land, creates a very odd cross section of residents. There are free roaming goths, ricers living life one quarter mile at a time, rednecks in their shitkicker "PRO UNION" Fords, and yuppies zipping down the road in their shoe-shaped $85,000 shrines to ridiculously excessive status symbols. It's like a cultural melting pot here, one that continues to boil at 600 degrees, causing apartments to spring up every half hour and attract people who would rather fork over $5,000 for a new car subwoofer than pay child support for precious little Tielennol.
Most Interesting Memory From City: I had a lot of great memories with my ex-fiancee Emily here, but since we decided to break up a few weeks back, these mental images have somehow become slightly less great. Oh wait, there was a time I tried to jump over a concrete wall but instead I tripped over and fell off, creating a beautiful bruise the color and size of a rotting breadfruit on my thigh.
Sorry to end my guide on a somewhat negative note, but as noted scholar and philosopher "Dana" Plato once said, "them's the breaks, hon!" Sure I'm still friends with Emily and we talk every few days, but I've got too many bad vibes in this area to continue living here. Plus I don't think I could stand the blob of 1973 water floating around any longer; it's starting to eat the paint off of my car. I hope this guide has helped you realize the pros and cons of each city I've lived in within the past 10 years so you can read through each of them and then eventually decide to move to a nicer area, such as the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Hey, why not? They have less rain there and the show "Frasier" isn't supposed to take place in the immediate area; that's two major bonuses alone.
What's Yours is Goldmine!
Another Tuesday, another wonderful Comedy Goldmine! Today's star-spangled Photoshopping bonanza tackles the eternal question of "what REALLY happened to John F. Kennedy?" Since a recent batch of historical archives were released to the public, the SA Forum Goons decided to take the mystery into their own hands and solve the riddle for themselves. The results may shock and / or possible surprise you!
Now that's some serious Grand Theft Comedy! Head on over and investigate for more nuggets of truth!