This article is part of the The Great American Reach Around series.
Week two of the Great American Reach Around has arrived and with it comes the conclusion of the first leg of our journey. I will be finishing our whirlwind tour of the Midwestern United States by briefly glossing over states like Iowa, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, and Kansas. Stops will be made in Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, and Minnesota. If you need a refresher of week one you can click on the portion of this sentence which is underlined in blue.
Our foreign GARA reps this week hail from Turkey and Greece. These two dogs have been fighting over the chew toy of Cyprus for as long as anyone can remember. Since they both belong to NATO their constant posturing for war might one day spark World War III. Greekite Master Gamawa takes us on a tour of Athens in Greece, one of the cradles of Western civilization. Meanwhile, Serdar "Galewolf" Aldanmazlar will be showing us around his home town of Ankara, Turkey.
With a little finesse and a little luck, nothing will explode in this installment of the Great American Reach Around. Nothing…other than your mind! Which will be blown! Your mind will be blown!
This time around we begin our journey in capital and largest city of the humble state of Ohio. My bias will probably come out once again in this article since I lived in Ohio for nearly 15 years. Ohioans might want to stay away.
Political pundits have made Ohio out to be the great bellwether of America. Those pundit guys are nuts about bellwethers - they fucking love those things - but if you're a foreigner that hates our government and is looking for a state to blame for America's foreign policy, then look to Ohio. If I had to give Ohio some sort of high school senior superlative I would bestow it with the title of "Most Average".
Ohio is built around the mighty rivers Interstate 70 and Interstate 75, and most of the other towns in the state are either attached to one of the bigger cities or they cling to the concrete Mississipis that divide Ohio into four pieces. Each piece sucks equally.
Ohio contains a number of well-known and completely uninteresting medium-sized cities. There is Cleveland, home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the setting for the Drew Carey Show. Remember how shitty that show was? That's Cleveland! There's also Cincinnati (or "Cincy", which unlike "The Windy City", is actually used), home to the Reds and Bengals and the setting for WKRP in Cincinnati. Remember how shitty that show was? Well, Cincinnati is nothing like that! It's the race riot capital of America thanks to cops constantly shooting teenage black kids reaching for cell phones.
Toledo would probably be the high-point of a visit to Ohio, which is kind of like trying to find the high point on a basketball court. You could also visit Dayton or Youngstown, two smaller urban areas that lead the United States in the production of derelict industrial buildings. By the way, you never want to visit either under any circumstances not involving a court summons.
That brings us to the subject of this segment: Columbus, Ohio.
To really feel what makes Columbus special try to imagine a giant fraternity house with a bunch of drunken guys in red sweatshirts. They're crushing beer cans on their heads and falling off of balconies onto concrete. Maybe they're doing a little date-raping or smoking weed. Got that image fixed in your head? Okay, now multiply that house until it contains 100,000 people. Now imagine that these people are under a legal obligation to spend at least 50% of their day talking about football. Welcome to Columbus!
Columbus is home to Ohio State University, one of the largest institutes of higher education in America and rival of the hated University of Michigan. The two schools and their student bodies are virtually identical and they both field top-tier football teams most years, making them like matter and anti-matter. Life in Columbus and much of Ohio is structured around "Buckeyes" or "Bucks" football games and their immense impact on the psyche of most Ohioans.
People from other states in the United States are reading this right now and laughing, because hey, every football team has devoted fans, but they're wrong. You cannot comprehend the devotion of Ohioans to the Ohio State Buckeyes unless you are from Michigan or one of those countries where they go ape shit over that kick football game with the little panda ball.
What do Ohioans think of the rest of the world? They don't. They hate Michigan, they have some family in Indiana, and beyond that is just this big hazy landmass covered with terrorists, French people and New York City.
From Ohio we move north to the home of Robocop and the slowly rusting corpse of the American automotive industry; Michigan.
TOTAL WRECK - crazy-eyed hound is covered in cobwebs, has a vespiary on back, graffiti on side and savage thirst for boat fuel. Frankly, I'm in over my head. He's in room 115 at Motel 6, yours free. 555-2851
Yes, it's the perfect form for surviving a car crash. But it's also the perfect form for so much more, like surviving the trauma of reading any news headline in 2016.
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