Why There?

Harry Drabik

Fate has provided a fine follow up to my grammar complaint of a few weeks past. Try this from continuing education recently done. “Professionals put their clients’ interests first, appropriately, relate information, and cooperate with other professionals; make appropriate disclosures to with clients, and ensure they’re fully informed.” Interesting huh? Where does appropriately connect; before or after? “To with” another grammatical puzzle I’d call an error.

Clumsy use sows confusion but can be amusing. A north based MN writer blessed us with the following. After writing a poem made more poetical with odd spellings the author feared a reader might not reach full appreciation without (I can see the Muse cringe) explanation. It went like this: “wrote the poem after following three deer on snowshoes.” It’s sad. Had he gone home to get his camera to take a picture of those remarkable deer he’d be wealthy and well-remembered. Another (in the U of M Press stable) northerner gone author came up with a mix of infinitesimal specks in the universe, White Pines (not racist), matriarchs, and fast vanishing races use in THE back cover quote of note. Seemingly no one noted the quote was a confusion. But on the other hand a reader doesn’t see infinitesimal often in print, so reason enough for acclaim.

Now back to ground with the title Why There?  After persons reach a certain age and attain gray hair it’s often assumed that when they move it will be to the south. I’m not drawn that direction; Alberta maybe but Arizona never. I live in northern Minnesota by choice and with enthusiasm. I like it here, and have from the start. But, I do understand the appeal of winter less northerly. In part I left rural for town because I could no longer handle a quarter mile of drifted drive. Often, however, questions about my move to the Range were accompanied by an unconscious attitude saying that a move from North Shore to Iron Range was equivalent to shifting from a Penthouse to a Rio Slum. (Much is said in tone and manner.)

The simplest explanation I could give was hardly much help to askers who were filling in doubtful motives before asking me their question. In more than a few cases the question was also meant as a questioning of motive as in “What’s wrong with you to move there?” For me the North Shore that once had a mix of labor and occupation had swung far too much into the sad lands of Tourism World. Outsiders were not meant to see the underlying truth that the turn from logging, fishing, etc. to tourism services developed among many an attitude that their new line of tourism became acts of throwing false pearls before real swine. The corrosion of spirit or local identity that accompanies the run to Tourism World is the same a talented chef would experience having to produce a stream of fast food burgers. Fast Food and Tourism (Fast Fun) have a shared soul.

Of course tourism tribers will point, understandably and with pride, to apparent exceptions of unique gourmet experiences at hand. But calling it a haricot doesn’t make a veggie any less a green bean. On average I see those moves as amounting to gourmet on the cheap. It’s the sizzle without the bother of much steak. Gourmet and whole veggies reach their worshipers via truck same as the peasant variety in the grocery. I admiringly admit the fast fun tourism experience is hugely helped having ample outdoor spaces to enjoy a pretentious coffee or bragging beer. It is, I think, the human capacity to accept illusion that’s at work. I doubt anyone questions the total lack of barley fields or coffee growing terraces when they pay for a Northwoods original in one brew or another. The same applies to beef. We are, in fact, a long way from Nebraska and you’d have to go a longer way yet to find a local shrimp.

A while (quite a while) back the North Shore was considered threatened by a huge hippie counter culture gathering slated to be there one summer. It took place with considerably less crime wave than announced. To be sure, drugs and sex of various sorts were available at the gathering, in, I believe, about the same proportion you’d find (ask the room cleaners) in a resort hotel. The big difference, seems to me, was the $200 per night for self -entertainment in a rented room or in an encampment with lots of others.  

Anyway, I found Tourism World wearing on the spirit. It was time for something more down to earth. For me that’s working class, the world of dirty hands. I recall my grandfather, a tool and die maker, having very battered and dirty hands from decades of oily metal work. Honest soil is easier for me to understand than a so-so groomed wait person (he, she, or it) asking (wait for it) “What’ll you guys have?” to a table not made up exclusively of guys, not unless some of us had been badly misinformed for a very long time.

An added area of curiosity arose around (unexpected dose of assonant alliteration with a bonus contradiction included) the “Why there” question carrying implications of social motive put to a head when a questioner wondered if I was seeking a past (with a whiter world implication). As one who has never felt much fit-in feeling a return to a homogenized past wasn’t much motive for me. OK, I prefer driving on the right side using ordinary USA conventions (don’t start me on the topic of rondos), but I think such things become problematic when a questioner has arrived at a supposition before the question is asked. A belief that chanting USA-USA is racist relies on a preceding conclusion that the US is racist. Presumably chanting A People United Will Never Be Defeated skips the racist trap sidestepping nation. This despite united people able to be lethal with or without nationalism. People can be just as nasty forcing un-nationalism as can their supposed opposites. So maybe my best answer for why here is to say because here is not there.