Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Today Show vs. Fountain, Minnesota: Land of 10,000 Sink Holes and 343 people

Fountain, Minnesota, which is about 30 miles south of Rip-and-Read's new home, bills itself as "The Sink Hole Capital of America". With only 343 residents, the sink holes are just about all they have. Sadly Rip-and-Read has just learned of a dastardly move by the venal Eastern Elite Establishment to take even this title away from poor Fountain...leaving them with nothing but holes.

According to the Rochester Post Bulletin, Today Show Travel Host Peter Greenburg totally dumped on the little town and it's 343 residents by including their attraction in his book, "Don't Go There", and then waxing funny about it on the morning news.

Mostly notably, Greenburg seized on the fact that the word "Capital" was misspelled in the town's tourist brochure. Of course, there are very few things guaranteed to tick Rip-and-Read off faster than a spelling purist. There is a misconception that Good Spelling equals High Intelligence, when, in fact, it is no more than a signal of Petty Pedantry. If bad spelling was good enough for our Founding Fathers, then it is Good Enough for us...and should be more than Adequate for an elitist like this Greenburg fellow.

According to the article, no one is sure if Greenburg actually managed to visit the "Sink Hole Capital of the World." The Post Bulletin's Laura Gossman interviewed Debra Richardson of the Fillmore County History Center:

Richardson said she'd like to invite Greenburg to stop and visit the town.

"We could take him out to a sinkhole and let him know they aren't a danger to children in the area," Richardson said. "Many kids are fascinated by sinkholes and are eager to learn more about the formations."

Rip-and-Read is sure that this is true...who wouldn't want to spend a day, perhaps even a week, looking at, thinking about, and maybe falling into, a sink hole: nature's playground? Any Red Blooded American Tourist would be Proud to include this stop on their itinerary; Afterward, they would display photos prominently in the digital picture frame bought from Walmart to commemorate the experiance.

After thinking about Peter Greenburg's snide comments (which I admit I've neither heard nor read) I couldn't help but see this as a big city swipe at small town life. I wondered just what that great defender of Small Town American Values, George Bailey of It's A Wonderful Life would have said. I imagine something like this:

In the end, this just tells us that the results of the recent election have gone to the heads of the Big City Elite Media...and they think they can return to their old ways of disparaging the citizens of tiny little God-Fearing, Sink Hole Havin' burgs like Fountain.

Well, I would like to remind Greenburg and his cohorts that Sarah Palin, that great champion of the Real American, will be back- with a plumber AND a six-pack, and that this time: IT'S PERSONAL...


Anonymous said...

Here's how people in Fountain, Minnesota, voted for president:

Republican JOHN MCCAIN AND SARAH PALIN 99 42.13%
Democratic-Farmer-Labor BARACK OBAMA AND JOE BIDEN 130 55.32

Ever let facts get in the way of a cheap shot?

Congratulations: you share both Palin's intellectual sloth and her stereotyping of small towns. The Twin Cities media is going to love you, you clever boy.

Alex said...

Dear Anonymous-
Sorry that you seem to be VERY deeply offended by this post (my intent was to gently poke fun at both sides, but in the end, my sympathies are more with Fountain that the Today Show). It was my hope that if I added a little to the web noise, Fountain may have gotten a little more press. (Nobody reads my blog, but if it is one of many referencing the story, it may mean that the Today show revisits the topic.)

I've spent my entire life living in small towns. The city where I currently live is the biggest I've EVER lived in (not counting a year in London), so it would be hard to pin the "big city" label on me.

I didn't find figures for Fountain, but I see that Fillmore county as a whole went Democratic not only in 2008 but also in 2004-

That did surprise, me, I have to admit, since a look at the map shows that only this small pocket is Democratic...with the exception of the Twin Cities and the Northwest, a great deal of the state looked like GOP country in 2004 (2008 seems a special case, given that the economy is so bad)

So, in the specific sense, I suppose I'd have to agree that my shot at Fountain in particular as "Palin" country was "a cheap shot"... in the larger dynamic of Big City "Blue" America vs. Small Town "Red" America Red America, I think the maps still bare that out...

At any rate, thanks for stopping by, sorry we didn't make you laugh...next time, esp. if you want to lodge a complaint...feel free to leave a name or drop an email..


Anonymous said...

Yes, you are 100 percent right.

A reader getting offended at bigotry harnessed in service of a quick laugh at the expense of the less powerful is so much worse than the bigotry itself.

My bad.

Alex said...


I suggest you re-read what I wrote- I either left something out or you may have missed something but

I never said you said ANYTHING bad- so there's no reason to get defensive or sarcastic.

Second, I thought I did a decent Mea Culpa by taking the time to learn more about Fountain's history---

AND I put a link to the facts for other folks to learn, as well.

Third- I acknowledge that I made a mistake in placing Fountain in "Red America" - it seems that it is a small pocket of "Blue America" set right smack dab in the middle of "Red America".

That's interesting, and if you want to take a stab at explaining what that might be, I'd love to hear it.

But while I was wrong about the details of Fountain- I STILL stand by my larger point.

When you strip away the "humor"- the point is THIS:

Barack Obama won this election because times are bad.

He did not win this election because the American people have fundamentally changed somehow.

Since 1968, the Republican Strategy has been to pit the Southern and the "Heartland" voter against the voters from both coasts.

If Barack Obama does not deliver, he will face trouble.

If "Red America" feels that it continues to be marginalized, picked on, or shunted- those few who changed their votes to put Obama over the top will desert in droves and we will be back to the divided America of George W. Bush.

In other words, to put it bluntly: if the Today Show continues to dump on Fountain- America is headed back for trouble.

That was my point...in effect, the same defense of Fountain that you are giving here.

I chose to do it with humor, and, for you, the humor backfired...

One reason the humor backfired was that I am new to Minnesota and got my political geography wrong- as you pointed out, I needed to look at the map more carefully.

I apologized for that, and I'll do it again now....I'm very sorry my attempt to make humor to make a point backfired with you.

Lastly, however, I do have to question your use of the word "bigoted"? I think that THAT is pushing it a bit far, no?