I redid the splash page ’round here, which is always a guilty pleasure because web design books encircling the globe in a glistening ring of detritus all agree that splash pages are the worst evil you could ever wish upon your viewers. “Better to give them an eyeful of content on the first page than to tease with images.”
M’eh. One time Lileks had a splash page that was torn out of an olde olde magazine. It showed a fellow mowing the lawn, and the engine in the motor shook back and forth. I was hooked. “Better to thumb them in the eye than in the bum,” I say.
So. We’ve got a picture of downtown Hood River, with saturation cranked to such amounts that it looks like Crazy Happy Colorfast Clown Land. But really, that’s the way things look out in Oregon. If you don’t believe me, blast away from this godforsaken moon state and go check it out. It’s lush out there, ladies and gentlemen. When you’ve had enough of angry pellety Gobstopper hail that cuts open your cheeks, saucy snow that falls up from the ground and gets in your skivvies, and 60 mile an hour winds that threaten to scrape civilization off the earth and cast it into the roiling depths of Lake Superior, go take in some heavy draughts of the left coast.
But of course, I romanticize. By moving out to Hood River I will get to pay the pump chump tax, whereby I am disallowed to pump my own gas and must pay someone else to perform a service that I am more than willing, more than capable, and more than happy to do myself. I won’t need to pay sales tax (unless they’ve got some slippery city sales tax that crept under the radar of NO STATE SALES TAX while I wasn’t looking), but I’ll probably lose 50 percent of my wages to government subsidized universal health.
But whatevs. I get to live in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, a place so beautiful that they found it appropriate to draw dark green lines around it on maps. I get to live thirty miles away from a dormant volcano that tops out above 11,000 feet and offers snowboarding year-round. All this stuff really should cost something, and if somehow indirectly the pump chump tax keeps out the riff-raff, I’ll take it. I might not be able to eat anything but ramen and boot leather, but I’ll take it. Anything to be groovy.
And that’s what I find missing from Minnesota. The groove. We’re tough and crazy, sure. No one in their right mind thinks that Minnesota is a great place to live when the THIRD BLIZZARD OF APRIL rolls around (it’s only the 7th and we’re waiting for number four, now). It’s a great place to live in December when the snow is new. It’s a great place to live in July when the snow finally leaves. For some, suffering through the winter is merely the price you have to pay to be surrounded by forests and lakes and fellow gun nuts. For others, winter is merely the price you have to pay to live near 494 and have a two-hour commute through grinding traffic every day. You can pick and choose your battles, you see. Gas tax and a city that worships bluegrass music? Millfoil and rezoned farmland? You decide.
I find that Minnesota has no center. There’s no such thing as a Minnesota Nice, so much as there is a Minnesota Tongue-Biting. We’re not a murderous lot, but we’re not especially nice, either. We mind our own business. There’s a mutually understood apathy, if nothing else. We say that the weather is worth the price of admission, but are we being honest with ourselves?
At my most cynical, I would say that the only reason someone would want to stay around these parts is for the bragging rights. If you wake up and start the truck in twenty below weather, with ice crystals whippin’ across the prairie and digging into your face as you brush off a foot of snow, there’s a good chance that no one in another state can top you. You swear and curse about the experience all day. You tell your co-workers. You tell your family. You tell the guy at the gas station that he’s lucky he ain’t out pumpin’ gas, right now, cuz man it’s miserable out there.
You derrive a sadistic joy from this hardship, knowing that at any point at any party, You can whip it out and top all the other guys in town. You hate the weather. You love the weather. The thing you hate becomes the things you love not because you learned how to love it, but because you deceived yourself into loving it. You convince yourself that you have no choice but to love it, because dammit, you’re stuck here, love it or leave it.
But then, you’re not stuck here. If you hate the splash page you can click right on through it. Or you can go somewhere else entirely.