Somewhere along the line, I became an authority on monster trucks. This didn’t result from me being a knowledge leader or anything on the subject of monster trucks, mind you. I actually don’t know a heck of a lot about monster trucks. I’ve been to two monster truck shows in my life.
I was five years old when I went to my first monster truck show, and I fell asleep. The second one I was fourteen and I went with a group of friends, and we all looked like we were out to attend a GWAR concert or something. Not because we were soaked in blood, and not cuz we were at risk of being eaten by a giant worm, but because we were dressed in combat boots and ripped t-shirts and wallet chains. I’ve never been to a GWAR concert, actually, but they’re gonna be here in Bend tomorrow.
That’s the problem with the music scene in Bend. It runs cold for two months straight, and you get used to absolutely nothing cool ever happening, and then BAM, out of nowhere here comes Captured! By Robots or GWAR or Big Wu or Justin Roth, and they’re playing music and tearing limbs off giant cyborg dinosaurs right in your backyard, and the gallons of blood are spraying right through your bedroom window.
Yeah. My knowledge of monster trucks is rather limited. The show I went to when I was fourteen and GWAR was kinda lame, too. No dirt bikes, no accidents, no natural disasters. And there was this one guy who said he was gonna break the world record for the most consecutive endos, but all he did was ruin his Oldsmobile on a freakin’ test run. Lame with a capital F, I tell ya.
Even though that’s all I got for monster truck shows, I have been to a real honest to gosh shit-kicker demolition derby. This was a real demolition derby, and it took place in a small northwestern Wisconsin town by the name of Spooner. This isn’t the small northwestern Wisconsin town where six people are shot dead by a guy with an SKS 7.62mm semi-automatic rifle. But it’s near that town. There are actually multiple towns in northwestern Wisconsin, despite widespread attempts to conflate them.
While monster truck shows are typically advertised on TV by that same guy who repeats every word three times, and splice together five million quarter-second clips from a thousand monster truck shows, real demo derbies are advertised on local radio if you’re lucky. Usually you learn about them from a hot pink flyer posted at the local IGA. While monster truck shows sign on the best announcer possible to keep the audience buzzed even when nothing is getting smashed, demo derbies usually give a six pack to the guy who runs the Saturday morning farm animal auction.
The show itself is kind of lame, but demo derbies are all about context. I mean, check out the whole scene. If you’re at a demo derby you’re probaby at a county fair or something, and you can probably ride a gas-powered ferris wheel that creaks and shudders, operated by an old man who shudders and creaks. You can probably play ring-toss or bottle-break or shin-kick or some other classic county fair game, and if you win big you can probably get yourself a framed picture of an 80’s Playmate, screened on a mirror.
Even though I’ve been living out west for a year and a half, and Central Oregon for over a year, I still haven’t been to a western demo derby or a rodeo or a county fair. Of this I am ashamed, but it’s no shame that a quick needle to the arm won’t fix. And even though I’ve never been to one of these events, I see monster trucks every day.
A phenomenon that I’ve witnessed extensively out west, and one that I never noticed in the midwest, is the personal monster truck. These guys take a regular truck, jack the suspension up three feet, and underneath they jam the biggest damned tires they can find. Seriously, you need to use a crane just to get up into these things.
And yet I’ve got nothing against the personal monster truck. Every time I see a Hummer H2 I’ll give it the middle finger, but when I see a personal monster truck I just laugh. The more ridiculously large it is, the harder I laugh. I give additional props if the back window has one of those tasteless rip-off stickers where Calvin is pissing on the Chevy symbol. I’ll give still more props if Calvin is pissing on the Chevy logo, and the sticker is on a Chevy truck. Or Ford. I paid my dues to the American car industry, having driven a Ford Tempo for six years and a Mercury Tracer for two, and I take no sides.
What it goes back to is this: All I need in life is 113 acres of land, a truck and a few cases of PBR. Oh, and I’d really like to have a river, so I have somewhere to toss my empties. I’m an environmentally conscious person, so I’ll be sure to fill up those cans with water so they sink to the bottom.