As regular readers (both of you) will note, I now live in Oklahoma City, a city which is very large 520,000 people, over 600 square miles within the corporate limits but which, to most people in the United States, is as mysterious as Vladivostok. Why this is so is clear enough: except for extraordinary Events of Mass Destruction (the F5+ tornado of May 1999, the Federal Building bombing in April 1995), America's twenty-ninth largest city stays well beneath the national radar.
It's not that we're being singled out and snubbed, though. The nation's putative tastemakers, for reasons best left undiscussed, are clustered around New York and Los Angeles, and they don't pay any attention to Omaha or Wichita; I suspect that were it not for the quadrennial Iowa political caucuses, most of them wouldn't have any idea where Des Moines is either. Out of sight, out of mind.
Then again, they might have heard of Omaha; after all, they do have steaks, and Warren Buffett, the second wealthiest man on earth, lives there. And quite apart from any ties Buffett might have to the town of Margaritaville, he's rich.
And that, I think, is the key. Warren Buffett, by dint of his multi-digit net worth, is a celebrity. He'd undoubtedly take exception to the term, but by our definitions, a celebrity he is; and in contemporary America, at least according to the reckoning of our culture mavens, the value of a human life is directly proportional to its fame. And here in Oklahoma City, we have no celebrities.
Seriously. A few folks retired here Dale Robertson did a daily radio show until last year, and singer Henson Cargill still lives here but neither of these fellows rates more than perfunctory coverage in People, and Vanity Fair has never heard of either of them, so officially they don't exist. Extend the cultural boundaries to include the Internet, and the best-known person in Oklahoma City these days might be a morning man on AM radio.
All this, of course, suits me just fine. The left routinely complains about the death of egalitarianism, yet they embrace pop-culture figures as their avatars. It's no surprise that they don't notice a nice little community of half a million (half a million more in the suburbs) which practices what they're trying to preach. Here in the flyover zone, we don't have time to pose for the camera: we've got work to do.
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Copyright © 2004 by Charles G. Hill