Can Paradise Be Found on a Map?

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I’m not going to talk about Armistice Day
or why it’s important. Kurt Vonnegut did

that already. He taught at Yale. The Bulldogs.
He wrote weird, wild and wonderful books like

Cat’s Cradle and the amazing Slaughterhouse
Five – five what? Five believers? Positively

Fourth Street? “You’ve got a lot of nerve to say you
are my friend. When I was down, you just stood there

grinning” at my lack of hair and talking be-
hind my back. “I heard he has cancer and that

makes his follicles fail and his hair falls out.”
“I heard he fell in a vat of chemicals

like Jack Napier – you know, The Joker in the
first Batman movie made with Michael Keaton.”

“I heard he pulls his hair out because he’s a…”
Stop. One of those is definitely right. So?

Do you have a fucking problem with that? Want
to fight about it? I have a sword I found

and I know how to use it. En garde! Touche.
Riposte and whatnot. Bonetti’s defense and

Capo Ferra. Why are you laughing, eh?
“Because I know something you do not. I … am

not left handed.” Please understand I hold you
in the highest respect, but … THUNK … I can’t have

you following me, now can I? All of that is
from my favorite Rob Reiner movie, but I

probably spelled most of it incorrectly.
Yesterday, I mixed up Star Wars. Episodes

Three and Four are entirely different
films. Oops. We all make mistakes sometimes, don’t we?

Every one of us screws up. We’re not perfect
creatures. “We are idiots, babe. It’s a won-

-der we can even feed ourselves.” Smugness, though?
It runs rampant in city streets and uni-

-versity hallways lined with plaques and iron
sculptures of past glories. Trophy cases near

high school gymnasiums proving Franklin has
never beaten the Dunbar Wolverines in

the Ohio High School basketball tournament.
So? Springboro lost to Carroll 38

times in a row before Jake Ballard played for
the Buckeyes and New York Giants. Good job, kid.

I’m glad to see you got out of that hellhole.
Don’t get me wrong … it’s not that bad. I miss home,

but when I go back it’s only to visit.
Chuck Klosterman, one of the finest writers

you’ll find in modern times, wrote for an Akron
newspaper when he was first starting out. I

think it was called the Beacon Journal, but can’t
be sure. I know he’s from up around Fargo.

Anyway, he has this bit about Tastee
Freezes vs. Dairy Queens, and what that means.

To make his point he cites John Mellencamp or
John Cougar or John Cougar Mellencamp. You

know … whatever he’s going by these days. The point
is that song ’bout Jack and Diane. “Suckin’ on

chili-dog outside the Tastee Freeze,” is
one of the lines. Chuck points out how the smaller

towns had those, because the big ones had Dairy
Queens. My town? We had a Mister Frosty, home

of the Wildcat Twist ice cream cone, complete
with candy eyes and a gumdrop mouth.

Each day during the summers my Grandfather John
would pick me up from the public pool at noon,

drive me downtown and buy me an ice cream. I
miss that old man and his wife Barbara like

I miss … fill in your own cliché here. Back to
John Mellencamp, he has another line in

another song that goes “Go to work in some
high rise and vacation down at the Gulf of

Mexico.” Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.
That’s why I called my hometown area a

Hell hole. I live in Paradise. Well … sort of.
Paradise is just 20 minutes away,

out past Gulf Breeze, the city by the bay. Hey
hey, my my. Rock and roll will never die, right?

Crank it up as you turn right and cruise past the
Grand Marlin, headed through the toll booths out to

a yellow beachball water tower looming
tall over visitors and locals alike.

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