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The Columbia County Fair was kind of a bust.

I’m a Big City Girl—a New Yawkah!—so yeah: Sentimental fantasies about rural culture in AmeriKa? Guilty as charged!

When I go to a county fair, I wanna see Tess of the D’Urbevilles milking a cow. Columbia County has a lot of dairy farms.

I did get to see the pig competition. And a bunch of cows.

But the animals were segregated in a tiny bunch of ancient exhibition halls that were difficult to find.

Most of the Columbia County Fair had metastasized into a huge midway. Pleasure Island! Adrenalin and carbs!

No skin off my ass if that’s how people like to entertain themselves. Snobbery, elitism, and Bwana-ry of the highest order to tsk-tsk or interdict the necessity for more wholesome amusements.

Still. The number of obese people in their twenties and thirties waddling around was staggering. Obese people over 40 get Medicaid to pay for mobility scooters, I guess. (I am not talking about people with extra padding here, [personal profile] lookfar! I am talking about people who fit a medical definition.)

By the way—do you know the only source in nature where fat and sugar are found in the same ginormous proportions they’re found in the processed foods that make up such a huge part of the average diet in industrialized parts of the world?

Breast milk.


The rides were pretty empty. They fill up at night when the teenagers turn up.

I considered going on the Ferris Wheel, so I could take arty photographs, but then I decided, Nah—the pix won’t turn out.

The most popular attractions while I was there were the Bingo Hall and this very strange game, which had dozens of people lined up waiting for a chance to play it:

I have no idea how this game is played, or what you get if you score. Do you win all that money? (It’s not a lot of money.) All I know is that the prospect of running their fingers through those piles of gleaming quarters exercised a well-nigh hypnotic hold on Columbia County Fairgoers.

There were lots of things to buy, too. They looked like this:

Kinda cute in a ghastly sort of way, especially when they’re ganging up on you.

But you definitely want them to stay out of your dreams.


I took some chicken pix for [profile] egg_shell. The chickens were all in cages:

There was absolutely no one I could have persuaded to accompany me to the Columbia County Fair, of course, so I went alone, which meant that I was invisible for the three hours I was there. I felt like a character out of Christopher Priest’s very fine early novel The Glamour.

Actually, wait—no: One person did see me:

I figure she was very stoned and that there was a very interesting story behind how she’d ended up manning the strongman game at the Columbia County Fair. No tattoos! But note the socks.

In fact, I was so taken with this girl that I immediately incorporated her into the science fiction story I should—but probably won’t—write about the dream I had the other night: Forget mad scientists and strange elliptical conversations about morality! In this version of the Karma Police, our intrepid cosmo-detectives travel back in time so they can ensnare mutants at county fairs.

And I amused myself telling myself this story as I drove home through the strange little Mennonite villages that constitute so much of Northern Columbia County.

This entry was originally posted at http://mallorys-camera.dreamwidth.org. You may leave comments on either Dreamwidth or LiveJournal if you like.


( 23 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 31st, 2018 03:41 pm (UTC)
Gods, I, too, am drawn to the squalid romatical colour of a County Fair. I learned quite a lot at County Fairs when I was a naif. Hmmm.... I love that gal and her sox! Definitely write Karma Police as a short, or a collection of shorts with each story focusing on another snatching. Have you read any Harry Crews? Specifically, The Gospel Singer? You know, I tend to read thematically. And carnivals/fairs/sideshows provide a ton of fodder.
Aug. 31st, 2018 03:52 pm (UTC)
In 2009, I traveled with a circus for six months. (It's all chronicled in my LJ.) So, yeah: Circuses, carnivals, fairs, and sideshows are one of my things. I do bemoan the preponderance of pre-fab midways, though.

I will look for that Harry Crews.

I know. That girl and her sox! (Insert 20 heart emoji.)
Aug. 31st, 2018 08:31 pm (UTC)
Seconded. Harry Crews wrote some good books.
Aug. 31st, 2018 08:52 pm (UTC)
I wonder why I've never heard of him?

I put in library requests for A Childhood: A Biography of a Place (since biographies of places are right up my alley) and A Feast of Snakes ('cause you know: I like snakes!)

Edited at 2018-08-31 08:52 pm (UTC)
Aug. 31st, 2018 10:15 pm (UTC)
Hahaha have you heard of The Harry Crews? The punk diva band? LOL. He was a punk darling in the 80's. He was brill, got overshadowed by Geek Love unfortunately.

I would order The Gospel Singer and try to start there...once you get him the others rise a bit in their worth. IMO. Some are to be avoided.
Aug. 31st, 2018 10:17 pm (UTC)
The reason I know about Harry Crews is this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Crews_(band)

A Feast of Snakes is a good one. I like The Knock-Out Artist, too. It's been a long time since I read him.
Aug. 31st, 2018 08:49 pm (UTC)
Weird, E. The local library has a bunch of books by Crews but not The Gospel Singer.
Aug. 31st, 2018 06:14 pm (UTC)
Those pigs are cute and cool! That’s what I’d name them. Left to right. Chickens ain’t bad, either.
Aug. 31st, 2018 08:53 pm (UTC)
Those pigs were adorable!!!!!! :-)
Sep. 1st, 2018 02:09 am (UTC)
The heck with Tess' cow-milking
I want to see Jude and Arabella killing the pig. And should I be insulted that you didn't ask me, former 4-H member and narrow escapee from FFA?

Edited at 2018-09-01 02:11 am (UTC)
Sep. 1st, 2018 11:39 am (UTC)
Re: The heck with Tess' cow-milking
No, you shouldn't be insulted. I didn't know you were a 4-H member! Did you raise an animal? I love the animal parts of the fairs! The mdways, not so much. If you're up for it, let's do a county fair next year.

That pig-killing scene! Shudder. Jude the Obscure is such a sad, sad book.
Sep. 1st, 2018 11:58 pm (UTC)
Re: The heck with Tess' cow-milking
The pig-killing is pretty much all of that novel that's not obscured by forgetting. Casterbridge remains my favorite.
Sep. 1st, 2018 02:50 am (UTC)
Better still, Tess of the D'Urbevilles played by Natassia Kinski, milking a cow.

I, too, am surprised by how fat people are in the world away from my little enclave, and I feel pretty fat myself, here. Maybe if I move to Wisconsin I will begin to feel svelt.
Sep. 1st, 2018 11:41 am (UTC)
Deep South is where obesity is epidemic.
Sep. 1st, 2018 01:48 pm (UTC)
I remember being surprised at Disney World, ten years ago, by how many people seemed to be fat enough to need scooters just for that reason. Toby said, you just don't see the rest of the country, Hon.
Sep. 1st, 2018 02:05 pm (UTC)
It's a class issue, actually. I could write a 300 page book about it off the top of my head in six weeks.

The short version: Sugar plus fat = breastmilk, or in other words, nurturing for people whose lives are very tough and who haven't been educated about healthier ways to nurture themselves.
Sep. 1st, 2018 10:19 pm (UTC)
Yes, and I'd extend that thought to other people whose lives are difficult for non-class reasons. I don't think education has that much effect. But there is a lot of research on how previous deprivation can shape lifelong problems with craving and overindulging, and on how self-control is easily overridden when the brain is swamped by environmental stressors. I think it's one but not the only reason for the high incidence of smoking in prisons and mental hospitals. They are so stressful that people crave just one pleasure they can control.

Strangely, in the way that fiction writing is like dreams, my collapsing, cursed and helpless heroines always have problems with eating or nutrition and are too thin, but I am too fat. So I don't know what that says about the unconscious meaning of fat for me, but it's been since childhood.
Sep. 2nd, 2018 02:13 pm (UTC)
By "education," I don't just mean book larnin'. :-) I also mean the process by which family members impart wisdom to members of the younger generation. Which is mostly an informal process: Monkey see, monkey do.

That said, I do think it's primarily a class issue: I just don't see that many obese people around whose status details telegraph middle class or higher to me. You, as a therapist, may see more, of course.

Nobody smokes in prisons anymore. Cigarettes have been outlawed for a while now. Nicotine acts as a kind of tranquilizer, so cigarettes are great in stressful situations. I mean apart from the psychological frisson of pleasuring yourself.
Sep. 2nd, 2018 07:08 pm (UTC)
What! You can't smoke in prison? I had no idea. What do they use for money, then? Drugs, I guess.
Sep. 2nd, 2018 12:17 am (UTC)
Heavy lifting
Here's the latest from the CDC: "The South had the highest prevalence of obesity (32.0%), followed by the Midwest (31.4%), the Northeast (26.9%), and the West (26.0%)."

I'm not sure how anyone notices the difference between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 by casual observation.
Sep. 2nd, 2018 02:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Heavy lifting
Oh, I think that's a difference one would notice.

How long is the typical bathroom line? :-) I'd venture a guess that it's three people. :-)
Sep. 1st, 2018 12:52 pm (UTC)
I took some chicken pix for [profile] egg_shell. The chickens were all in cages:

Well can you imagine the mess if they were loose?
Sep. 1st, 2018 01:24 pm (UTC)
They're loose at the Monterey County Fair. I mean, they're in a pen. But they're free to roam around.
( 23 comments — Leave a comment )