When experiencing something for the first time, it
either a) lives up (or down) to your expectations,
b) is far worse than previously hoped, or c) way
better than your lovliest hallucinations. C is by far
the most enjoyable. C is expecting Demolition Man
to be horrible only to discover that it's roughly
three times better than Casablanca. C is eating a
79 cent breakfast and not getting dysentary. C is
finding out you look good in a cowboy hat. C is
I mentioned yesterday I was excited about this
state. My Eccentric America tourbook has a
surprisingly detailed, shockingly lengthy chapter on
South Dakota. It's not all crackpot festivals like
the Wyoming Testicle Fair or the Great Idaho Bed
Parade or Colorado's Frozen Dead Guy Day, either.
No, sir. They've got the Corn Palace (which we
visited after closing and is, well, at the very
least, it's aptly named). They've got the Badlands.
They've got Walldrug and a four dead guys carved
on the side of a mountain. They've got Jackalopes.
I mean, rabbits with antlers? Step aside duck
-billed platapus. The freak train has a brand new
conductor. And, sorry, but what do you got North
Dakota? A Rock Museum? The World's Most
Unfortunate Enima? Exactly. Game. Set. Match.
Since we're working on a twelve or thirteen hour
drive today, we decided to stop at all of the
aforementioned attractions. The Badlands are
gorgeous in a lifeless, eerie sort of way, like a
giant mouth of rather poorly cared for teeth.
Mount Rushmore is, well, remember the a), b), and
c) above? Well, it lived up to expectations.
Totally impressive, staggeringly large, and
thoroughly odd when you really sit down and think
about it (mountain plus giant noggins equals
patriotism). And the guy who designed it has one of
the most absolutely bad ass names of all time:
Gutzon Borglum. Sounds like a Douglas Adams
character. Or a $2000 Jeopardy question. Either
way, don't say I never taught you anything.
And you know what? Hats off to Gutzon Borglum.
He chose four of the good presidents. When I was
in New York, I had a conversation in a diner about
our currency and how, of all people, Andrew "Trail
of Tears" Jackson is on our twenty dollar bill.
Talk about a dickcheese. FDR got the dime because
of the March of Dimes (which made that whole
Reagan on the dime campaign all the more
infuriating), Washington got the one for being One,
but Jackson? He sucked. He was a shmuck. He
didn't even have a cool beaver hat or spectacles or
an embarrasing ponytail. So, let's throw him off.
Let's start a petition. I can think of a hundred
people more qualified. And, as Ben Franklin proves,
you don't even have to be the Commander in Chief
to be on it. Martin Luther King? Much better.
Millard Fillmore? Why not? Howie Mandell would
be better, for God's sake. Not that I'd advocate
for that cue-bald, washed-up, once-Bobby's World
voicing, now forsaking humanity on a game show
featuring mainly labotomized rubes son of a bitch,
but, hey, he's no Andrew Jackson. How bout Doc
Holliday? Frederick Douglas? Earl Warren? Dr. J?
It's not too hard being less horrendous than
Andrew Jackson. Even Ty Cobb gives him a run for
his money. So, next time I go to the ATM, I
expect any of the above cantidates smiling at me.
If England can put Darwin on the 10 pound note,
we can put Dr. J on the 20. Let's make it happen.
Lastly, there's Walldrug. Located in the city of
Wall, South Dakota (population roughly equal to
the block I live on in San Francisco), Walldrug is a
monument to tawdry bric a brac, 5 cent coffee,
jerky of varying low qualities, candy containing
ingedients unstable enough that a mere ten
chemists worldwide can concoct them, humorous
stockings, western wear, donuts, already broken
cap guns, sno-globes, taxidermed prarie dogs, eye
-gougingly atrocious original oil landscapes---so,
basically, Walldrug is paradise. I would live there if
they rented rooms. I bought a new wallet and
spent what was left in my old one. I had to be
forcibly removed from the premises.
Now? Well, we're in Montana. It's over five
hundred miles across and we've got to finish it off
this evening, then, unless road fatigue has
overtaken us all, it's through Idaho to Spokane.
Dave and I just sacrificed two hours of our lives
to the Gods of Useless Non-Entertainment
watching the Cutting Edge (hockey player gets
injured, teams up with a bitchy figure skater who
can't keep a partner, attempts to regain former
icy glory, falls in love in the process) and, well, we
enjoyed it immensely. Ridiculous in the truest
sense of the word. As in, worthy of ridicule.
Big Sky Country, here we come.