You Know What The Midwest Is?

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Corn Palace in South Dakota

I was going to write something that was topical and relevant but then I got an email from my friend Joe who taxed me with continuing to entertain him. Since I like Joe, I’ve decided to write the following, per his request, that is in no way topical and almost certainly not relevant unless you’re at a pub trivia night.

Though this is almost 100% not what Joe suggested, it is, at the very least, an acknowledgement that I thought about his email.

Without further ado, the first of what will assuredly be a one part series (but could easily be a four parter);

‘You know what the Midwest is?
Young & Restless’

~Kanye to tha

Not according to the Special Committee on Aging study from 2007 buddy (your tax dollars at work). As defined by the census bureau:

‘the Midwest and Northeast have relatively high proportions of their resident population age 65 and older, which is likely due to younger workers having left these regions combined with a pattern of many older individuals remaining in these communities’

and,

‘Midwestern states were among those with the highest proportion of oldest-old residents’

oh, and,

‘Almost one-quarter of the older population lived in the Midwest (24%)’

In terms of restlessness, actually that’s not as far off base according to the CDC, though North Dakota, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Illinois all get some of the best sleep in the nation.

My home base of Ohio checking in as the least satisfied of sleepers.

Illinois, for those who don’t know, is where Kanye is from and statistically speaking, it’s the opposite of his lyric. It’s a fairly old and well rested area. Fail. Learn to write raps or start rolling wraps. Dawg.

Anyways, that was all really a long winded preamble to the even less relevant stuff you’re about to read that pertains to the Midwest (the aforementioned old and moderately restless). What follows is a compendium of disparate fact-ish-ness of varying degrees of uselessness about the Midwest region of America. Git yo learn on.

You know what the Midwest is?

Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska.

I didn’t actually know that that’s what the Midwest was and I’m from there.

Most of the Midwest was purchased from France in 1803-04, back when Napoleon (Leon the Professional as he came to be known) was running the show, pre-exile.  America, experiencing instant buyers remorse, tried to return the land but France gave a myriad of excuses;  ‘the warranty has already expired’, ‘no returns on opened merchandise’, ‘we can’t read the receipt, did it go through the wash bin?’, ‘with all due respect President Jefferson, we don’t believe your slaves ate the receipt’.

An interestingly oft overlooked, and actually true, note, Napoleon technically sold America Spanish land per the Third Treaty of Ildefonso.

Anyways, so we have the Midwest which is carpeted in corn, or ‘maize’ to the rest of the world (and Michigan) and thus is a massive contributor to the U.S. being producer numero uno of corn globally, doubling 2nd place China (chalk that up as a win for Democracy).

America, as a matter of principal, couldn’t go on calling corn, ‘maize’, because a ‘Maize Maze’ sounds ridiculous and ‘Maize Hole’ sounds even worse.

Other than corn, what else can the rest of America thank the Midwest for?

News anchors that don’t sound like southern racists or west coast surfers. General American being the accent newscaster actually strive for is for all intensive purposes the Inland Northern dialect, which is the dialect of the Great Lakes region.

According to newscaster Linda Ellerbee, ‘in television you are not supposed to sound like you’re from anywhere’.

Fake newsman Stephen Colbert agrees:

“At a very young age, I decided I was not gonna have a southern accent. Because people, when I was a kid watching TV, if you wanted to use a shorthand that someone was stupid, you gave the character a southern accent. And that’s not true. Southern people are not stupid. But I didn’t wanna seem stupid. I wanted to seem smart. And so I thought, ‘Well, you can’t tell where newsmen are from,”

Nothing sums up  nowhere like the Midwest.

And now, a state By state list of things the rest of the US can be thankful for that originated in the Midwest (and various other facts):

Ohio:

Chef Boyardee

From Italy to your pantry by way of Cleveland’s Little Italy. Ettorre Boiardi moved from Italy to NYC then Cleveland in the mid 20′s and opened Il Giardino d’Italia on East 9th Street eventually starting to bottle and sell his spaghetti sauce and branding it with the ‘Boyardee‘, a phonetic spelling of his name.

Looking out for the women folk

Ohio was the first to pass a law protecting working women back in 1852, limiting the working day to 10 hours. Granted it was apparently totally ineffective, most likely because 10 hours in the kitchen doesn’t cover all the meals of the day. Zing.

Michigan:

Phone Numbers

Detroit (‘day-twah’ to the French) was the first city to assign individual phone numbers. Sooo, that’s cool.

Declaring  Its Secession…

….via Chrysler commercials.

Illinois:

Taxing You Every Which Way Possible

Illinois has the most taxing authorities of any state in the Union. At nearly 7,000, some estimates put it at 8,500, the most by a longshot. Pennsylvania at number two has 4,900. The Chicago Tribune points out some absolute gems:

Orland Hills has a library board, but no library. Norwood Park has a paid three-member board with the sole job of overseeing 40 streetlights. And a southern Illinois tuberculosis board has amassed more than $200,000 yet it treats only one patient every two to three years

“Illinois is really kind of a poster child for excessive governing bodies” said David Hamilton, director of the Texas Tech University public administration program, who has criticized the inefficiency of Illinois townships.

The inefficiency Obama lived in then oversaw for 3 years as a state senator before coming president. Explains his love of creating committees.

Free Black People

Illinois was the first state to ratify the 13th amendment which abolished slavery. Without which we might not have Kanye West…or we’d have him and all his profits.

Kansas:

Pizza Hut

This make some sense actually cause where are you gonna go for a slice in Wichita in 1958? Also since Kansan’s probably had no frame of reference for what constituted good pie (and still most likely don’t) the pie merely had to be mediocre, which it has been for 53 years now. These days you can order subpar pizza in over 50 countries and online!

Iowa:

Being Half Island

Iowa east and west borders are 100% water, Missouri River on the west, Mississippi River on the east. Sounds like it’s half surrounded by water to me.

Safe Haven for the Danes

Elk Horn, Iowa boasts the largest, rural community of Danes outside of Denmark.

South Dakota:

T. Rex

Much like the Wu Tang of a decade ago who claimed to be, ‘nuttin ta fuck wit‘, back in the days of the upper Cretaceous period, some 65 million years ago, T. Rex in South Dakota were most likely also nuttin ta fuck wit. SD lays claim to Sue, who happens to be the largest, most extensive and best preserved T. Rex ever found.

Tom Brokaw

In addition to actual dinosaur Sue, South Dakota is also the birthplace of news dinosaur Tom Brokaw.

Mount Rushmore

A mountain sculpture News Burner extensively covered which will surely confuse whoever finds it millennia from now on the same order Easter Island does now. Rushmore remains controversial in that it was built on land seized from the Lakota Indians. As some kind of retribution, this behemoth carving will supposedly at some point be eclipsed in size by the monument to Crazy Horse some 17 miles away. The project was started in 1948 and likely won’t be completed anytime soon since they refuse federal money. Feel free to contribute, not as an apology to Indians for taking their land but as a way to make South Dakota slightly more interesting…or as an apology to Indians for taking their land, whatever.

Going back to the Midwest infatuation with corn, few states hold corn in such palatial regard as South Dakota, home to the opulent Corn Palace.

North Dakota:

Middle-ness

Rugby, North Dakota is the geographic center of North America.

Fargo

Though this incredible movie almost entirely takes place in Minnesota (Midwest represent), it’s named after the North Dakota city of Fargo, which you’d otherwise not know. The state motto is actually part statement/part question, ‘That movie was named after us, hey Minnesota can we be part of you?’ which was changed from the non-memorable, ‘Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable’.

Unyielding Boredom

Minnesota:

Champions

More specifically, Wheaties cereal. But it goes back to the whole which came first thing, the Wheaties or the champions? Science can’t answer that.

Waterskiing

Given they have more coastline then Cali, Hawaii and Florida combined, frigid Minnesota was the perfect place for Robert Samuelson to invent waterskiing back in 1922.

Nebraska:

Middle-ness

Cozad, Nebraska is geographically where ‘the humid east meets the arid west’.

This state is just ridiculously boring, it’s entirely located in the Great Plains, whadya expect?

Also, it’s ‘The Cornhusker State’. Not much more I care to offer.

Wisconsin:

Kindergarden

In 1856, Margarethe Schurz, created in the countries first kindergarden, thus continuing the German trend of pawning your child off onto others so you didn’t have to raise it yourself.

Morbid Obesity

When you think Wisconsin, you think cheese. When you think cheese, you think fattening (and/or delicious). When you think fat, you think America. Ipso facto, Wisconsin made America fat by creating (the most) delicious cheese. Oddly enough, before 1910, New York was the largest cheese producer in the U.S.

Republicans

Back in 1854, just before America went postal on itself in the Civil War, some gentlemen in opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act met in Ripon, Wisconsin to discuss the beginnings of a new political party that more vehemently opposed slavery. They decided the term ‘Republican’ best fit for their cause and it was officially used for the first time in an editorial in a New York newspaper in June 1954. The first official meeting of the newly founded ‘Republicans’ was in fellow Midwest state, Michigan.

So if you hate Republicans today, you also, historically speaking, hate freedom.

Missouri:

Horrible Sense of Symbolism

The state animal is a Mule. Regardless of why they chose this, someone should have raised their hand at the meeting and pointed out that mules are infertile and therefore might be a poor representative for the people of the state.

Indiana:

Keeping Your (Christian) Children Believing

When your child writes a barely legible letter to Santa Claus asking for whatever expensive gift you’re going to end up buying, that letter most likely goes to Santa Claus, Indiana. Once it arrives (plus about 400,00 more) one of ‘Santa’s Elves’ answers it. Which is nice…because it gives you one more year to laugh at (rather then with?) your child.

So there you have it, the wild, untamed, Midwest.

If you didn’t like this article, you can blame my friend Joe, who in no way actually suggested any of that, but feel free to blame him anyway.

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About Steve Tsentserensky

I'm 27. I went to The Ohio State University. I work in film/tv. I like movies, music and pictures. I'm also a huge fan of travel (anywhere), sports (all but baseball and cricket) and winter (not in the northeast though). Follow me on twitter (@chkchkwoo) for thoughts in 140 character increments or to complain about/discuss anything you've read by me. See my photo/video work here: www.sbtproductions.com

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4 Responses to You Know What The Midwest Is?

  1. Conor October 20, 2011 at 11:12 am #

    Myriad of…. cmon man.

    • Nora February 15, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

      Hi Monica!thanks so much for visiting my blog and the many cotimplenms! I had tried many times to connect to your blog, but stupid me, I didn’t see anything and assumed that we didn’t have a connection. … This time I scrolled down to see the start of your blog and there it was! Very interesting stories and when I have more time, would love to catch up with your posts.I checked out your friend that makes Norwegian Santas and they are just the cutest! She’s very talented.Glad to have a bloggy friend from Norway!Be good,Santa

  2. Hope E October 20, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    Maize hole def doesn’t work. But neither does corn hole. I think it is the “hole” that bothers me. How about “wasted and tossing small bags of corn for no reason other than…it is the midwest and there is NOTHING ELSE TO DO….except meth.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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