Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Stickless Fury

Memo to Minnesotans: THE STATE FAIR IS DUMB.
Put down your torches and pitchforks. Search your feelings. You know this to be true. Your happy little agrarian Lollapalooza is a nightmarish, lumbering self-parody. Go ahead, admit it to yourself. It's not like it'll stop you from going.
The State Fair is like Disney's version of the 50's. Only it's not Disney, it's one of those Disney knockoff companies that puts out a cheap direct-to-video version of whatever story Disney adapted. You know, like when "Aladdin" came out, and then there was suddenly this video of "The Arabian Prince" with suspiciously similar cover art on it, and if you were foolish enough to give in and buy it for your kids, you were treated to 40 minutes of "animation" with about a dozen drawings and one bored guy doing all the voices? It's like that company got hired to build a transient amusement park celebrating White Midwestern Culture Circa 1954. For two weeks. Every year.
If it were actually held somewhere in the state where there are still, you know. ANIMALS, and if it were held in some mythical country where "farmers" weren't an endangered species, then yeah, OK, have your little State Fair and look at cows and shit*. But it ain't. It's held smack-dab in the middle of the Twin Cities Metro, so that aging suburbanites can gawk at cows, stuff their faces, and relive the fun of a simpler time.
Which would be just fucking dandy, except that most of the antiquated "fun" of the State Fair is just stuff we have better versions of now. Crappy rides. Staring at cows. Heads made out of butter. It's much like the difference between playing Ms. Pac Man in 2004, and playing Pole Position in 2004. Bear with me. You know these analogies always pan out in the end.
Playing Ms. Pac-Man in 2004 is fine, because while games in general have improved since Ms. Pac-Man was released, the actual Ms. Pac-Man game hasn't been significantly improved upon. But if you're playing Pole Position in 20004, you've let nostalgia take over your critical faculties, because virtually every single game with a car in it between 1982 and today is better than Pole Position in every way that matters.
Similarly, virtually every activity at the State Fair has been improved upon elsewhere. Rides are larger, faster, and permanent. Crappy carnival games are available all summer long with ample free parking, and can even be played in the wintertime in many area mall arcades. Cows have been segmented, wrapped in plastic, and placed into refrigerated cases for your convenience. And in the Age of Viagra, does anybody REALLY care how big your zucchini is? In addition, many foods have actually been removed from sticks.
Over the next two weeks, "on a stick" is going to be said more times than at the Crucifixion Developers' Conference of 372 B.C. And every time they say it, my blood pressure's going to go up two points. That's the thing they do here. Put stuff on sticks so you can carry it and eat it. Usually fried stuff. They consider it a badge of honor here to find something that has previously gone un-batter-dipped, un-deep-fried, and un-sticked, and correct that grievous error. They can suck my dick on a stick.
You people need to realize something. Between the Minnesota State Fair and Scotland, there are simply no edible products in the history of gastronomy left to deep fry. You've dipped it all in batter. It's done. Pickled eggs. Mars bars. Caviar. If the Chilean soccer team had been Minnesotan, and had crashed in a plane full of eggs, milk, flour, and canola oil, they STILL WOULD HAVE TURNED TO CANNIBALISM. "Well, we've got the makings for batter, but nothing to fry! Hey, Sven! C'mere!" Their lives were saved by Sven. On a stick.
I went to the State Fair once. Now, I've grown up with a fairly sheltered, fairly suburban, fairly middle-class lifestyle. I have spent most of my past 35 years surrounded by Caucasians. And the State Fair was the single whitest experience of my life. It was an albino ocean. Did you know that for the next two weeks, legally, the actual Caucasus region has to be called something else, because the Minnesota State Fair supersedes it? I'm not saying that people with melanin don't attend, or are lynched near the lemonade stand or anything. I'm just saying that either it was a freakish coincidence, or certain subsets of the Minnesota population are more inclined to re-live the 50's than others.
But hey, don't let me ruin your fun. Just don't expect any sympathy from those of us who are earning our coronary infarctions honestly, through heroic quantities of Taco Bell and righteous rage. I ain't goin' out with a batter-dipped stick lodged in my aorta, I'll tell you that.
Feel free to parse this sentence in either of the two potential ways it can be read. Both are equally valid.