The Trouble With Westerners
by The Cranky Media Guy
I took a quick trip over the weekend from my current home of
Virginia to one of those states near the upper left hand corner
of the country. Oh, screw it! Let me stop being cute and just
tell you where I was--Boise, Idaho.
I was there because several years ago when I was (sort of)
a radio talk show host in Allentown, PA, a guy who worked down
the hall on the FM station told me he liked what I did and that
some day we would work together. I've had several people say
that kind of thing to me over the years; usually promises like
that are about as valid as the ones guys make to pretty girls
in bars about getting them into the movie business. Amazingly,
eight years after the fact, this promise is about to
come true. Go figure.
So, anyway, I was in Boise to meet with the bosses of the radio
station in question. I must not have looked like the Menace
to Society that I am, because they're going along with this
ridiculous idea of letting me work out there too.
Which brings me to the topic of this commentary: What The
Hell Is Wrong With Westerners? Granted, I was in and out
of town pretty fast, but everyone I met was friendly, way beyond
the call of duty. It was as if "stress" was an alien
concept or something. There's something just plain wrong with
See, I'm from the Bronx where we know that stress is just God's
way of letting you know you're alive. The only unstressed Bronxite
is the current guest of honor at the local funeral parlor. No
stress = no life.
Then you get to a place like Boise and it's as if there's a
whole different set of rules. The people out there actually
seem to think that you're supposed to take it easy. They're
friendly. To strangers. For no reason. Even when they aren't
asking for money.
Although I blew through Boise faster than the tornado in the
Wizard of Oz, I think I have a clue to why people are so damned
cheerful. It's because there's so much ROOM out there. Like
in every town in Generica, there's a road where I live in Virginia
that has all the strip malls, Wal-Marts and that kind of stuff
on it. It's two lanes in each direction and overloaded with
traffic. What do the wizards on the local planning board have
in mind? Why, two great big new malls on the same road, of course.
As Helen Keller could plainly see, this is going to bring traffic
to a screeching halt and back it up on to nearby I-95's off
ramp. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead, say the local planners.
Gridlock ahoy, says me.
Last Friday night, soon after I arrived in Boise, my friend
and I were in search of some fast food. We were heading away
from the city center on some road, the name of which I didn't
catch. It was kind of the local equivalent of the Virginia road
I was just talking about. The difference is that the Boise road
was about six lanes in each direction (or so it seemed). Unlike
the one here in the Old Dominion, which has six traffic lights
in just over a mile, I think the next light after you left Boise's
downtown was in Portland, Oregon.
No wonder no one's stressed out there. They can set the speed
control, lock the steering wheel in place and read a paper while
they drive out to Jack In The Box. I suppose that probably sounds
like a Good Thing to a lot of you, but to this Bronx Boy, there's
just something wrong with it. Remember, no stress = no life.
And another thing--the scenery out there is too nice and the
air is too clean. Oh man, I can see that this move is going
to take a LOT of adjustment. On the part of the people already
living out there, I mean. They're just going to have to come
up to my stress level. God knows, I can't change. I'm from the
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