Backwards America

Isn’t it odd how events and casual conversations seem to oddly circle each other and then connect without intent? I was just telling my wife Millie late yesterday that places like Kingston and Poughkeepsie are some of the lost places in New York State where they’re not quite upstate enough for upstaters to consider them part of their region, and not enough NYC for some snobs downstate to consider them worthy of mention.

I suspect they have no problem with such anonymity; just like many of the residents in the Ellicotville/Salmanca area, or Potsdam/Canton, much of the Mohawk valley or that vast, thin region that borders Vermont and Massachusetts north of Poughkeepsie have no problem with getting less attention. There are pleasures in being in small hamlets less popular than regions of more note.

And to address another sidebar issue here, I could care less about the lives of the stars. Living in Nashville I have defended their right to privacy and ignored obvious chances to get to know them better. I’m grateful for the few times they sought me out for conversation, like John Hartford when I worked at WSM… and seemed to actually enjoy such mind melds as if my thoughts were worthy additions and adversaries to theirs.

So I really haven’t been paying attention to Liam Neeson’s grief, though I respect his work. Natasha Richardson was an unknown quantity to me. I had to ask Millie, “Who?”

But never guess who is paying attention?

MILLBROOK Amid news members of the Topeka, Kan.-based Baptist church said they are coming to Millbrook Sunday to protest Natasha Richardson’s funeral, residents said her family deserves privacy in mourning. On its Web site, Westboro Baptist Church said it plans to protest at St. Joseph’s Church because Richardson supported research for a cure for AIDS.

While I admire the townspeople described in the article, I’ll bet you know what I think about the antics of the protestors and their main gripe I put in bold. Just north of here, in Schenectady, a few years ago a father and son weren’t even protesting. They had simply had shirts made at a mall with “obnoxious,” “revolutionary,” slogans like “give peace a chance.” Mundane. Not “in your face.” They were ordered to leave the mall and or take their shirts off.

Phelps and his church get far more respect in comparison.

Isn’t THIS a little backwards, America?