We made a pit-stop in Salina last night 1, either at a Love’s or a Pilot’s truck stop: it is hard to differentiate since they’re both comprised of acres of concrete sprouting fields of gas pumps, as well as being home to the sort of gew-gaw selling, in-and-out stores (What the fuck is that? A billy-club? Who needs a 3′ billy-club to “check their tires”? And is that a shrunken head?! Jesus, Marge, let’s get outta here) that cause indigestion in the occasional bewildered NY or LA traveler.
Last night the gas oasis was host to a tidy caravan of Tom Joad’s decedents, the sparkling cabs of their Ford F-150s stuffed with random dogs, dirty children and smaller household goods, with the larger pieces – plasma TVs, barcaloungers and settees and such- piled high back in the truck beds. Headed east they were, escaping the state before Brownback launched another offensive against them: the latest rumors spreading among them concerned a tax on beards, scutage (it is said that Brownback intends to make enlistment in the state’s National Guard mandatory for all adults…unless you pay the annual scutage) and a new tax on pissing in any public place. No one was sure how this last, Vaspasian notion would be enforced (metered urinals?) but it spoke volumes that everyone took the possibility seriously.
While the adults browsed through the store’s unlimited supply of crap food for their journey, a handful of the dogs (and two or three of the littlest children) were busy scarfing up the plentiful cicadas. Seriously, covering what must have been an actual section of unrelieved concrete, with nary a tree, shrubbery or dirt clod in sight, there must have been several thousand cicadas walking, crawling and semi-flying about. It was an amazing sight. 2 Disgusting, but amazing.
These folk were all from central Brownbackistan, too far from the state’s borders to shop elsewhere. Western Brownbackistanis can just drive to Burlington, CO, for their shopping – tax rate: 4.9%. Those on the northern edge of Brownbackistan can cross over to to towns like Du Bois, Nebraska – tax rate 5.5%. Even those Brownbackistanis on the southern and eastern edges can find some relief by shopping in Oklahoma and Missouri. But central Brownbackistanis don’t have any options but to stay…and pay. And pay…and pay. Or to migrate to a new home. So it was round ’em up and head ’em out time for these besieged people.
Many of them were headed to New Hampshire, others to Wisconsin, with few of the more hard-headed among them migrating all the way to Maine. They were all cheerful enough. As one woman put it “Hell, at least we won’t have to pretend any more. You know how hard that is, defending someone like Brownback? When you know he’s nothing but a jackass slurping up the Koch brothers spunk and pretending it’s all for our own good? Damn hard, I’ll tell you.”
She lowered her voice some and leaned closer to me.
“Don’t let it slip but we and a couple of other families have had enough – we’re headed for Vermont. Bernie Sanders just makes more and more sense. I’d rather live someplace where the politicians don’t try and rape you on a daily basis.”
Which was our introduction to what Brownback had got up to while we were away. Jesus H. Fucking Ke-rist; it’s plus ça change plus c’est la même chose, regardless of the century, amiright?
- Yes, we’ve returned from the mountains; apparently one of us still has to work for a living. ↩
- Nope, have not seen even 1 cicada about the Charles manse or anywhere on the grounds – apparently it hasn’t yet been hot enough to bring the little buggers outta their holes. We’ll see what the coming week’s hot weather brings. ↩