This week’s prompt is #collaboration, which pairs up two writers for one piece. This is one part of a two-part series, written by Jillian Conochan and Dennis William.
When you write for an online magazine, any Facebook exchange
can easily become may be developed can be so grotesquely overworked that it eventually results in content. That’s why when Dennis and I inadvertently got into a battle about “What is the Midwest?” / “Is the Midwest Midwest?” / “Are we Midwest?”, we knew we had to go public with our impassioned banter.
Without further ado—ado that has been furthering since our conversation literally back in March (sorry I suck as a writing partner, Dennis)—I present my rundown.
Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut
Best known for their unbounded creativity, this grouping of states broke away from the mother England, only to name themselves… New England. Who am I to argue?
Think snow, maple syrup, lobsters. Ben, Jerry, and the Wahlbergs—Generation Kardashian’s version of the Kennedys.
New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania
Wow, is that really it? I guess so. 3 states, 2 suffering from the same creative nomenclature, 1 currently suffering from an identity crisis. True, purple Pennsylvania gets its blue predominantly from Philadelphia and its surrounding suburbs. Here’s looking at you, reverse gerrymandering, to put the “Liberal Elite” back in Northeast Liberal Elite.
Fast-talking, sarcastic, hardened. Wears a lot of black.
Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, DC
I’m wondering why Mssrs. Mason & Dixon took the long road down past Delaware, instead of the “Twelve-Mile Circle” separating the Northeast from the MidAtlantic.
In any event, Delaware belongs with its sister states, Maryland and Virginia, comprising the DelMarVa peninsula. These states are famous for… not much, quite honestly. Banks, crabs*, and George Washington’s birthplace?
DC, looks like you’re landlocked. Go on and spy on ol’ girls for your stepbrothers here in the Northeast.
*2nd crustacean mention. Who wrote this, a sea otter?
West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas; Missouri?
Welcome to the South, where “kiss my grits” has little to do with hominy and “bless your heart” means f*ck you very much. Southerners are known for mindin’ their manners, makin’ them sweeter than a Georgia peach, I do declare. Waving a Confederate flag? That’s just Southern pride, and if you don’t like it, Yank, well, bless your heart.
Side note: Anyone else notice that Mississippi : Alabama :: Vermont : New Hampshire?
Geographically and by some cultural measures, Florida could be construed as The South. But then you hop on I-95 and drive for 5 hours** and hit North Cuba, and out the window that goes.
Florida, home of Mickey Mouse. Florida, home of Florida Man.
A state that truly has it all, and for that reason, Florida stands alone.
**8 hours if you’re behind any one of the state’s 3,189,989 senior citizens going 45 in the left lane with his blinker on
The original standalone state, Texas goes as far as calling itself “like a whole other country.” With a passport to boot (heh).
Joking aside, Texas kind of has a point. A simple Google search (“How big is Texas”) shows that people don’t even know, well, anything.
Fortunately, the androids over at MAPfrappe are smarter than their human counterparts and have devised an application that can illustrate just how enormous Texas is. Spoiler alert: it’s huge.
Texas culture is equally wide-ranging; the state has produced everything from Big Bend National Park to the stockyards, Beyoncé to spring break in South Padre. And who could forget The Alamo? If not its own country, surely Texas has earned the status as its own region in this one.
Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa; Missouri?
When it comes to people, Midwest is best. Their “aw shucks” accent encapsulates everything that is kind and neighborly about Midwesterners.
Like their attitude and body type, the Midwest region has soft edges. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas
Crystal meth use: high
3D relief: low
The Great Plains were named as such because pilots use their Great Planes to fly over these plain, squared off states as quickly as possible. This is a verified fact from which I will not budge.
I do know one nice thing about the Great Plains. Dorothy Gale, a fictional character who had a choice between the Emerald City and Kansas picked Kansas. That’s gotta count for something, right?
Colorado, Wyoming, Montana
Most of what I know about these states involves estranged family. Aunt Bobbie, “that dizzy blonde” moved out to Colorado in the 70s because she and her stained glass-making boyfriend were hippie weirdos. Nobody knows quite why Uncle Shaun moved there too (they weren’t close), but he did. And while we enjoyed our visits to Aunt Bobbie’s mountaintop abode, we lost touch with Uncle Shaun, especially as he retreated further and further north, first to Wyoming and then Montana. By now he may be in Saskatchewan, for all I know.
Colorado is suuuper outdoorsy, come hell or high winter, spring, summer, or fall. Wyoming and Montana too, but more in that ranch sense. As a Northeasterner where “horse people” are a mutant class, I never quite knew how to process those states.
Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico
Cerulean skies. The rust-colored Grand Canyon. Deserts of turmeric that stretch on unbroken as far as the eye can see. The Southwest is a palette of contradictory colors that television owes a debt to, beginning with Bonanza, up to and including Breaking Bad.
Native Southwesterners talk about “dry heat,” which basically means your hair looks good, but you can scald your hand if you open your car door without a potholder. Also, mailboxes occasionally melt. Tagline for the Southwest: It’s f*ckin hot.
Washington, Oregon, California
Because the Western civ version of American history began on the Atlantic, culture spread in such a way that 5 distinct regions emerged: New England, Northeast, MidAtlantic, the South, and Florida. The West Coast, while equally varied in terms of landscape, has more homogeneity in terms of its reputation.
A characteristic freedom of thought defines West Coasters, from the profound pot smoking surfer dudes in SoCal to the “move fast and break things” techies in Silicon Valley, to the outdoor adventurers and the profound pot growing horticulturists in Washington and Oregon.
The West Coast’s food scene is truly special, influenced by relative proximity to Mexico, Japan, and Thailand, to name a few.
On the other hand, the author does not appreciate the West Coast’s subtle attempt at superiority. The fact that West rhymes with “best” don’t mean sh*t. Brah.
Oklahoma, Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii; Missouri?
Table 9 here…
With your rainbows and waterfalls, Hawaii, you’re obviously the coolest kid here. Maybe you can fend off these other misfits with the meat cleaver that is Oklahoma.
Alaska is really big, really north, and we basically robbed it from Russia. 149 years later they avenged the sale.
Idaho = potatoes.
CAN ANYBODY EXPLAIN TO ME WHERE TF MISSOURI BELONGS?
Seeing everything laid out on a map, everything more or less makes sense to my brain. With the right evidence, there are a few states (Florida, Michigan, the Dakotas; Missouri) I could be swayed to rearrange. New York is non-negotiable. @ us on Twitter with your input and check on over here for Dennis’s take!