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A weakness for Iowa
December 18, 2007 10:30 PM   Subscribe

…you are brilliant and subtle if you come from Iowa and really strange and you live as you live and you are always well taken care of if you come from Iowa.

That's what Gertrude Stein had to say about Iowa. There's more at the "home away from home for wayward expatriate Iowans".
posted by quadog (52 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
That and a dollar will get you a ride on the bus. My uncle said that.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:34 PM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Their architecture page is woefully inadequate. Just off the top of my head:
An early Mies Van Der Rohe in Des Moines
Eagle Point Park, Dubuque - Classic Prairie Architecture by Alfred Caldwell
Des Moines Art Center - Eliel Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Richard Meier
Old Dubuque Jail - John F. Rague. Apparently one of less than 10 remaining Egyptian Revival buildings in America, it adjoins the Beaux Arts Dubuque County Courthouse.
posted by TrialByMedia at 10:49 PM on December 18, 2007


Kerouac said that the prettiest girls in the world are in Des Moines. I don't know if that's true or not, but I have had dynamite sex in that town.

The rest of Iowa smells like cow.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:01 PM on December 18, 2007


"…you are brilliant and subtle if you come from Iowa and really strange and you live as you live and you are always well taken care of if you come from Iowa. ..."

And you're probably white.
posted by paulsc at 11:04 PM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Also: The Tape-beatles (aka Public Works), a woefully underrated sound-art collective formed in Iowa City in 1986. Essential work: Music with Sound, a masterpiece of tape-based narrative editing which rivals (if not surpasses) Negativland's Escape from Noise in its genius and complexity.
posted by mykescipark at 11:12 PM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


That Gertrude Stein quote reads like the lyric to the the mating call of the Iowan granfalloon.
posted by maryh at 11:17 PM on December 18, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sure, that's what all the candidates say when they're kissing the asses of the Iowa Caucuses.
posted by wendell at 12:14 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Beats Oakland's "There's no there there."
posted by birdie birdington at 2:26 AM on December 19, 2007


Iowa, despite being predisposed to stereotypes due to its farm history, low population, Midwest location, and low levels of ethnic diversity, tends to defy preconceptions. While I do not live there, I admit I've thought of retiring in Iowa. Such is the way with Iowa - whether you are from there or just visit there, you have a sense that you should get out and see the world beyond its boarders, but when you are done with your travels there will always be a home for you in Iowa when it is time to return.

Although covered in farms, almost everyone lives in a small urban setting. While lacking in ethnic diversity, it has a history of tolerance and a growing trend towards new communities featuring everyone from Hispanics to the Amish to the Hasidic Jews. Education is top notch. Although thought of by many as the Bible belt, Iowa is far from "red" state as it has had a Democratic governor for years and is split nearly 50/50 every national election.

Environmentalism and the local food movement are alive and growing in Iowa, the poster child state for commercial farming. During the many years of low corn prices, Iowa pushed ethanol as an environmentally more friendly fuel - love it or hate it in hindsight. For the last several decades, in grade school, children are taught about sustainable farming, erosion, and pesticide use with hands-on demonstrations and field trips. Hog farms, now fouling the air with their stench, have resulted in movements in every town to ban their existence. Anti-hog lot and family farm related billboards are as prevalent in some parts of the state as car ads. Tired of mass produce beef and other meat, Iowa is full of meat lockers and local farmers willing and ready to sell sides of beef, whole chickens, pork, etc. The cost of such food being a fraction of the fee paid at a supermarket for inferior goods, yet the quality and attention to detail reaching far beyond what you would find on the store shelves. All this amidst decades of the decline in the small farms and, frankly, the resulting devastation of those practices. Never confuse big Iowa farms with the average Iowan. Sadly, they often coexist with each other as nearly anonymous neighbors.

And then there is the culture. Life is slower in Iowa, and when you slow down for a moment your mind has time to process proirities. There is a considerate nature about most people you deal with in this state, and though it sounds impractical, profit often takes a backseat to neighborliness. People are just plain helpful.

And then there is the sunset. I've seen oceans and mountains as well as cities and deserts, both foreign and domestic - but I've yet to see a sky that can top rural Iowa. The brilliant, pollution-free vista as the sun rises or sets is breathtaking. Unhindered by distraction and where there are so many miles of clear view that you can see the earth curve, there is nothing that can compare to taking a moment along the rural road to pull off just to see the world. Thunderstorms and lightening produce a show like none you have ever seen, and the rainbows stretch for miles. The spring flowers, summer fields in growth, fall colors, an winter snows - all quite breathtaking at times. Then, on the clear nights all year long, there are the stars - more than you can imagine.

While filled with its own cultural, economic, and environmental problems, this state of just a few million manages pretty well. You can go to best-in-the world fairs (both for art and agriculture), ride across it in a massive annual bike ride, or just wait every 4 years for election fireworks. The trick is, and always has been, finding a job that pays the bills.

In a time when so much focus is on the upcoming caucuses, with people complaining that a place like "Iowa" should not decide the fate of the country, it is good to take a step back and think about Iowa, and Iowans. No, Shoeless Joe, this certainly isn't heaven, but at the end of the day it is a pretty good hearted bunch of people to lead the way towards choosing our candidates.
posted by Muddler at 5:01 AM on December 19, 2007 [17 favorites]


I'm so fucking sick of Iowa right now, especially the 300,000 or so Iowans who will decide if we have a candidate or a douchbag running for President. Ossama et al. should fly planes into silos, not government buildings, its this handfull of corn-fed Lutherans that decides the fate of the free world.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:20 AM on December 19, 2007


We pronounce it "O-hi-o".
posted by Standeck at 5:24 AM on December 19, 2007


My mother was from Iowa, so I approve the sentiment, but frankly whenever I spent any time in Iowa all people talked about was the crops and the weather. So I have no plans to return.
posted by languagehat at 5:42 AM on December 19, 2007


Also, I hear you are so by-God stubborn
you could stand touchin' noses
for a week at a time
and never see eye-to-eye.

I really ought to give Iowa a try...
posted by hermitosis at 5:44 AM on December 19, 2007


But way back where I come from, we never mean to bother,
We don't like to make our passions other people's concern;
And we walk in the world of safe people,
And at night we walk into our houses and burn.

posted by fiercecupcake at 6:04 AM on December 19, 2007


Years and years ago when I was eighteen and seriously dating a boy whose family lived in Iowa, I spent a Christmas with all of them.

At Christmas dinner all the men sat at one table while all the women sat at another. No one thought this was weird. But me.

Since then I have had no great love for the state. Sorry.
posted by konolia at 6:12 AM on December 19, 2007


Both sides of my family are from Iowa. So even though it may seem strange, to me Iowa = Mexicans and Quakers.
posted by MNDZ at 6:20 AM on December 19, 2007


its this handfull of corn-fed Lutherans that decides the fate of the free world

That seems to be the common sentiment about this time every 4 years. The trouble with this complaint is that it blames Iowa (and stereotypes Iowans) to relinquish the guilt the rest of the nation should feel for being mindless sheep. It also creates a nice scapegoat for the rest of the entire world that might, just might, consider growing a backbone and living its own life instead of looking to the US.

If you don't like Iowa's choice for candidates, here's a clue - the REST of the nation has voting powers that FAR outweigh Iowa's power to elect a candidate.

Also, if you don't like Iowa being first in the nation, consider your alternatives. Exactly which state, or group of states, would you prefer go first? Whatever you pick, the rest of the nation will roundly criticise that group for being out of touch and an improper place to start the election. It seems to me all you can really argue for is a nationwide primary.

Otherwise, quit complaining about Iowa and just do your work in your own jurisdictions.

My mother was from Iowa, so I approve the sentiment, but frankly whenever I spent any time in Iowa all people talked about was the crops and the weather. So I have no plans to return.

Whenever I'm in Iowa (a handful of times a year) I don't hear much about crops (although it is a short topic of discussion on every trip). Weather is always a topic of conversation, and rightly so as weather swings are dramatic in Iowa and most of the Midwest, and any given day the single biggest influence on a person's day. I also attribute these conversations to the practical side of Iowans and I'd frankly rather discuss weather than the self-indulgent, self-important topics filled with BS that make up the average cocktail party. That said, if you just visit people and don't get to know them, they try to find common ground in smalltalk, weather being everyone's common ground. If I'm in an area of the world where weather actually changes (unlike much of the Southwest, for example) and I'm talking to someone I don't know, the smalltalk drifts to weather. That's just the way it works. Now, if you know someone in Iowa well enough, watch out - conversations will range from politics to art to science to the most intimate details of your family.

If you have family ties to Iowa, be prepared for any given Iowan to know you, your direct family, or at least 3 other people with your family name that probably are related.

Oh, and while I'm at it - misconception #384,203 about Iowa (although not yet mentioned in this thread) - most Iowans do not have some half-assed southern accent. Instead, especially from about Des Moines north, Iowans have the most neutral of all U.S. accents. So much so that Iowa, as well as a few neighboring states, are considered to have the "broadcaster" accents - the accent-free and articulated way of speaking desired by news broadcasters.

Think Iowan Johnny Carson when you think Iowa accent.
posted by Muddler at 6:30 AM on December 19, 2007


Lived there for years. The people there are totally down to earth and friendly in the real sense--they mean it. They don't think they are better than you and generally like people.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:55 AM on December 19, 2007


Wait. Wasn't Johnny Carson from Norfolk, Nebraska?
posted by pax digita at 6:59 AM on December 19, 2007


Muddler wrote: And then there is the sunset. I've seen oceans and mountains as well as cities and deserts, both foreign and domestic - but I've yet to see a sky that can top rural Iowa. The brilliant, pollution-free vista as the sun rises or sets is breathtaking.


Born (in Iowa City) and raised (in rural Iowa) and now living in Tucson, this girl can attest to the breathtaking sunsets and sunrises of the southwest as superior to that in Iowa. (Sorry! I was just never compelled to photograph sunsets in Iowa, whereas I'm rarely without a camera here.)

I usually timed my visits back home between semesters at college, which meant I was back during the winter. During these times, the whitish-grey of the ground matches the greyish-white of the sky and you wonder where the horizon is. It was strangely appropos; the greyness matched my moods and nostalgia of small-town Iowa life (the limitations imposed on you by people that know your relatives, the us-versus-them mentality of those living in Iowa and those who don't, and the lack of appreciation for a larger worldview). I fully recognize that rural Iowa may be a different place to an adult living in the real world than to a child living her life out of books and magazines...

It's true what you say about the curvature of the earth, though -- that's pretty trippy.
posted by parilous at 7:14 AM on December 19, 2007


*raises hand* Cornfed.
posted by rlk at 7:14 AM on December 19, 2007


I was in Cedar Rapids back in October, visiting my mom. I highly recommend visiting Grant Wood's Studio, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art (lots of Grant Wood and Marvin Cone pieces) and the utterly beautiful Brucemore Mansion.

I would happily leave NYC for Cedar Rapids to raise kids. Iowa gets a bum rap from lots of folks and that's okay. They are more than welcome to stay right where they are.
posted by digiFramph at 7:19 AM on December 19, 2007


Iowa is woefully under-rated if you ask me.
posted by lunit at 7:26 AM on December 19, 2007


god I love Iowa

I've lived my entire life in Kansas city, and came to rural iowa to go to college, and I love it. I love the freezing cold winters that don't matter because the town is so small you don't have to drive. I love the gorgeous sunsets and sunrises. I love the friendliness of the Iowans, and their intelligence and folksy political awareness. And in my greedy way, I love all of the political candidates coming 'round to kiss my ass.

I understand people who have no patience for small-town America, who associate it with crystal meth and the religious right. Iowa certainly has its fair share of that. But - perhaps just because I'm in a liberal college town with a history of radicalism, or perhaps of the intense feeling of political responsibility Iowans feel every four years, or perhaps of the historical emphasis on education, or maybe just because of a statewide predilection for keeping a hawkeye on things - Iowa seems to be unique.

Do I want to stay here my entire life? Probably not. Would I retire here? Hell yes. I could raise goats.
posted by dismas at 7:38 AM on December 19, 2007


Oooooooooooooooo . . . I did all kinds of time in Iowa City . . . and even though I (like many others) called it "Iowa Shitty" all the time, and even though I quickly learned that the name of the state was supposed to stand for Idiots Out Walking Around, I have to say I look back on those days with enormous fondness and great admiration for the people and the places in Iowa.

Sure, it's white-bread-ish . . .but not as much as it used to be . . . and it was just a brief drive outside of Iowa City to get some of the best Mexican food I'd had since leaving the Southwest. But the best part? If you live on the East Coast, or if (God forbid) you've lived on the East Coast all your life, you may not get this, but . . . the folks who live there, folks of all colors and shapes, were simply the friendliest folks around. Ever. Genuine, and honest (for the most part . . . and even the junkies and scurvy poets,land sakes!!), but more importantly, as Ironmouth said above, they are totally down to earth and friendly in the real sense--they mean it. They don't think they are better than you and generally like people.

Now I live in New Jersey, where the unofficial state motto is "fuck you, and hooray for me!" Not a day goes by when I don't think about cashing it all in and jumping on a train bound for Chicago, and then Mt. Pleasant afterwards. I can just hear thejoys of Iowa calling me: the brilliant summer evenings with the sunsets and the cicadas, the grill-your-own-steakhouses in the fall and winter, Solon Beef Days, Pancake Day in Centerville, RAGBRAI, organic sweet corn, and all the various jocks, hippies, freaks, punx, and just plain students wandering the Pedmall in a stupor on any given Friday, the coffee cart, the brilliant public library that would loan framed pictures for you to hang on your wall? . . . Oooooooooooooooo . . . makes me wonder what might happen if every douchebag from the Yeast Coast moved out there . . . maybe they'd all mellow out a bit?!

. . . God I miss it . . . and thanks for the post, quadog . . . and GO HAWKS!
posted by deejay jaydee at 7:47 AM on December 19, 2007


Parilous - you named it in winter. The white on white between the sky and the fields is depressing. Then again, I lived in northern Iowa for a while, and there the sky turns stark blue more often due to the cold. Around Des Moines it gets just blah. Minnesota has the same "colder is better" advantage as the sky often turns a really wonderful blue against the white snow when temperatures reach well below freezing.

Pax digita - on Johnny Carson - he lived in Nebraska for most of his childhood, but was born in Corning, Iowa and lived there until he was 8. Carson most identified Nebraska as his home state, which is why Iowa rarely lays claim to him. As far as I've heard, he also liked Iowa quite a lot, and his accent is very Iowa - not that Nebraska is any different in most instances.

Funny, Shatner, while not from Iowa, has an accent that could match Iowa (which is good considering Kirk is "from" Iowa). You know what else? Walter Koenig, who played Pavel Chekov, went to college in Iowa (Grinnell College, Grinnell Iowa, pre-med major) and even created a comic book with a hero from Grinnell Iowa (Raver).

I'm on a roll avoiding work with obscure Iowa knowledge.
posted by Muddler at 7:49 AM on December 19, 2007


Uuuuummmmm....I'm from there. Have ZERO desire to ever go back.
posted by toastchee at 7:57 AM on December 19, 2007


Half my family (the white half) is from Iowa, and I have always loved its quaint style, grounded intelligence and easy access to pettable hogs. Whenever this big city girl goes back for a visit, I love the sense of industrious peace that settles over the land. That is not something I would say for many of the other midwestern states I've visited, all of which seem to be, to varying degrees, more discomfited than Iowa. I don't have any proof for this but my own gut.

I also love that everyone only remembers it about once every four years. Makes me think it's still my own little secret.
posted by tyrantkitty at 8:08 AM on December 19, 2007


After reading Muddler's comments, I can't help but be reminded of David Lynch's The Straight Story. I've lived here all my life and have seen several movies that supposedly take place in this state, and that is the only movie that got it right. The photographs of the harvest season, the manner of speaking, the nosy old men in the hardware store, kindness and hospitality without a second thought. I can feel the indian summer turn to the fall chill every time I watch the film. The only minor inaccuracy is that Lynch toned down the drunken party aspect of RAGBRAI but the film doesn't suffer for it.

Also those who consider this place a cultural wasteland may be a bit surprised to learn that I've seen the likes of Calvin Johnson and much of the K records lineup play in a friend's apartment and have attended a string of free shows at Grinnell college ranging from an ultra-rare Jandek show to a showcase by underground hip hop label Def Jux.

No, this place isn't New York or Seattle, but it's not the hellhole it's often made out to be by people who failed to give it a chance.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:26 AM on December 19, 2007


Exactly which state, or group of states, would you prefer go first?

California. It has as many people as the least populous twenty-two states put together, and due to location is regularly shafted when it comes to national elections. The tradition of state sovereignty in U.S. electoral politics means that people from small states have unduly excessive influence on the shape of our government. This is, in a word, crappy.
posted by kittyprecious at 8:29 AM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


Just to go on and on about Iowa . . . I remember this comment posted a while back, and lots of folks loved it. Just as Pastabagel famously observed that Mr. Rogers may have been the last earnest man, my own memories tell me that Iowa may be the last earnest place in the nation.

But then, I'm an unreliable narrator, speaking through the gauzy lens of nostalgia.
posted by deejay jaydee at 8:39 AM on December 19, 2007


My Iowa friends have a slight twang. I would say the Nebraskan accent is a hair more more neutral. But, then, Omahans call shopping bags "sacks" and rubber bands "binders," so, as far as I'm concerned, they may as well be from Mississippi.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:43 AM on December 19, 2007


I was born in Iowa, but my family left for Texas soon thereafter. After graduating from college, I spent a couple of years just across the river in Nebraska (literally just across the river... I could look out the window and see Iowa), and grew to love the people and pace of the Upper Midwest. The drive west on I-80 when I moved to Denver was kind of bittersweet.
posted by jal0021 at 9:48 AM on December 19, 2007


And you're probably white.

Probably Lutheran too (cue theremin!)

A quick shout-out to my homies in Decorah! I'm from there. That's my hometown. I can't fathom anyone having a better childhood anywhere else in the universe than the one I spent there in the same valley my ancestors walked. No apologies.
posted by hal9k at 9:58 AM on December 19, 2007


so, as far as I'm concerned, they may as well be from Mississippi.

Mississippians would never call a rubber-band a binder. Now git yer youngin off my jitney afore he tumps it over.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:01 AM on December 19, 2007 [2 favorites]


If you don't like Iowa's choice for candidates, here's a clue - the REST of the nation has voting powers that FAR outweigh Iowa's power to elect a candidate.

Also, if you don't like Iowa being first in the nation, consider your alternatives. Exactly which state, or group of states, would you prefer go first?


Sorry, I live in DC, so I have no voting powers, so I've got to blame someone (I'm looking at you too Delaware. Why? You know why, you bastards.)

Who first? How about DC? We get shafted otherwise, so why not? But if you must choose a reasonable first choice, how about one that has an election rather than a 4 hour coffee-clatch as a means of choosing candidates and preferably one who's primary source of income is not farm subsidies?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:07 AM on December 19, 2007


Cedar Rapids born and raised. Even went to college there. Got my green card in 1992, and I've only ever been back to visit family.

My complaints about Iowa stem from the relative isolation you feel from the rest of the world. Sure, you may be seeking that at some point in your life. But, for example, when you want to go see an art film in limited release, you're going to have to wait for the DVD to come up on mail order to see it in Iowa. Well, my only other complaint was the persistent smell, but I lived in Cedar Rapids, the City of Five Smells, so my view may be biased.

For those of you that complained about the winter, I beg to differ. I've lived quite a few places in my life, and there has been no other place where the winter could so consistently give me everything there is to like about the season (childhood experiences of sledding down steep hills and smashing into huge drifts of snow, blizzards that could thrill you with their power to block out the sun, and the ability to make ice caves out of the snow in your front yard) while still delivering on hot summers, cool springs, and autumns filled with a rainbow of leaf colors and Hawkeye football.

In tracing my genealogical roots, I've come to find that a great majority of my family, and my wife's families, homesteaded in the Iowa territory. It's no wonder: The name "Iowa" meaning "Beautiful Land" is not a coincidence.
posted by thanotopsis at 10:38 AM on December 19, 2007


...when you want to go see an art film in limited release, you're going to have to wait for the DVD to come up on mail order to see it in Iowa.

Bijou Theater- Iowa City
Fleur Cinema and Cafe - Des Moines
Best Place Ever - Des Moines (DVD rental, big screen HD viewing room available for customers)
posted by TrialByMedia at 11:08 AM on December 19, 2007


I grew up in Iowa and cannot think of raising kids anywhere else. It was truly spectacular.

Also, a thing about Iowa no one has yet said: Your financial situation does not decide your quality of life.

I grew up throughly lower-middle class and never felt less for it my entire childhood. I haven't seen this replicated anywhere else in this country.
posted by lattiboy at 11:33 AM on December 19, 2007


I was born and raised in rural Iowa and proud to be from a place where people greet strangers on the street like an old friend. When I drive my dad's truck down our gravel road, I get a wave from every car I pass. Now I live in a place with a lot more diversity and, I have to tell you, there is a lot more tension. Back home, the new immigrants from Guatemala and Mexico where just other kids in the class who had odd lunches.

Perhaps people think of Iowa as a homogenous place because people come to understand each other faster than other places. When my grandpa was young, there were a ton of new Bohemian immigrants and his parents had a big problem with their wild music and their crazy dancing. Now you got Scandanavian Smorgasbord, Bohemian polkafests, and Cinco de Mayo all together.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:43 AM on December 19, 2007


As forwarded to me by every friend and family member, the NYTimes recent Travel article on Des Moines.

Outside of the corn, we have a few renowned gourmet food items of note, to name a few.

Hi there, TrialByMedia!
posted by mikeh at 11:58 AM on December 19, 2007


...when you want to go see an art film in limited release, you're going to have to wait for the DVD to come up on mail order to see it in Iowa.

Highlighted for TrialByMedia. You never see a film advertised as "Opening in limited release in New York, Los Angeles, and Iowa City's wonderful Bijou Theater. Next week, worldwide."
posted by thanotopsis at 12:07 PM on December 19, 2007


Well, there are different definitions of "limited release" though. Some films hit niche theaters (which Iowa has, although in somewhat short supply), while others only hit large cities. Highlighting that Des Moines isn't a city of that size is... well, a pretty easy effort in statistics.

I think aiming for the selection the Uptown Theater in Minneapolis gets is a goal that someone in Des Moines should be shooting for, though. I want my damn Blade Runner: Final Cut and I missed it.
posted by mikeh at 12:11 PM on December 19, 2007


Another Iowan here with increasingly fond memories of the state, brought on, no doubt, by age and the holiday season.

Though I'm obviously biased by origin, I think Iowa is a fine place to kick off the nominating process. Yes, the process is a bit byzantine and coffee-klatchy. But people from Iowa tend to be well educated and informed about the world, mostly because they read like nobody else. (There's time, somehow, to do that there that most of the country seems to lack.) They seem to take their political responsibilities quite seriously. This may be because they know that in another couple weeks the rest of America will go back to ignoring them completely (not that they much care) and so there's a genuine desire to get the job done right for however long they're in the spotlight.

Iowans are also some of the wittiest people you'll ever meet. I'm not talking about the snarky, not-funny-unless-someone-gets-hurt humor that's so prevalent today, but a gentle, sometimes self-deprecating way of looking at the world that can make you laugh out loud.

When people think of the "America" that used to be, of family farms and roadside diners with great pie, ice cream socials around a town square and all those other Norman Rockwell scenarios, rest assured you can still find those things in Iowa.

With time, the influence of television and the internet, and the ongoing mall-ification of America, Iowa is becoming a lot more like the rest of the country. But sometimes I wish there was a way to make the rest of the country more like Iowa.
posted by Work to Live at 12:28 PM on December 19, 2007


I've pretty much lived in Iowa (Ames) my whole life, although some summers I would go visit my dad in Mesquite Texas. A suburb of Dallas, so I do have some experience with other places. It really is a nice place. It can be boring sometimes, for sure, but for people with families and kids it's great.

The idea that Iowa is culturally homogeneous is silly. There are all different types of people. Conservatives here are pretty conservative, but liberals area also very liberal. It amazes me that some ignorant people might think of this place as backward or whatever. It's anything but. And it usually doesn't smell like cows.
posted by delmoi at 12:30 PM on December 19, 2007


Iowans: Remember the one finger wave your dad did? Hands on the steering wheel, eyes on the gravel road, approaching another car, the finger raises up like the flag on Iwo Jima. The signal is returned in kind.

Non-Iowans: No. Not that finger.
posted by hal9k at 1:39 PM on December 19, 2007 [1 favorite]


I spent my first 19 years in Ames, and the next 8 in Iowa City. I've been living in Jersey City and working in Manhattan for almost 3 now. I'm not sure if I'm ready to make any generalizations about born and bred New Yorkers and Jersey-ites(?) compared to Iowans. But I have gotten an impression that the pace of life does have an effect on how people end up treating each other. It is much harder to develop a sense of community out here, though. And I miss Cafe Beaudelaire.
I do miss the cheap rent. A lot.
posted by bastionofsanity at 2:34 PM on December 19, 2007


hal9k, i remember driving through iowa's back roads with a foreign exchange student, and i showed him the finger wave. he thought it was halarious that i could make anyone wave to me. but i knew it was just iowa.
posted by lester at 2:54 PM on December 19, 2007


Remember the one finger wave your dad did?

One of the locals had cut off a few fingers with a table saw and did a mangled finger wave. My dad and his friends found it hi-LAR-ious and would do the finger wave to each other over coffee and donuts at the gas and service station in town. They still do the stupid finger wave to each other when they pass on the road.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:57 AM on December 20, 2007


born and raised just west of Iowa City. i love Iowa dearly and think I might like to move back there. but how much of it is just nostalgia?

of course, it has to be better than where I live now (SC), right? ;-)
posted by Sean Meade at 6:57 AM on December 20, 2007


I grew up in a tiny town in NW IA tight in the grip of the Christian Reformed Church. That was one of the cultural factors that made me flee - plus like many young men, I craved city life. Now, I still love the city but often find myself thinking of the great expanse of sky and land - oh dear, i'm overwhelmed with nostalgia, off to buy tickets...
posted by thedaniel at 4:00 PM on December 20, 2007


born and raised just west of Iowa City. i love Iowa dearly and think I might like to move back there. but how much of it is just nostalgia?

If you were from just-west of IC, your house has been bulldozed to build the Corralville Mall. Sorry. It's a mall big enough that it has pretty much killed commerce on the southwest side of Cedar Rapids, as that part of town used to rely on outlying folks coming in for "big city" shopping.
posted by thanotopsis at 10:54 AM on December 21, 2007


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