Saturday, April 28, 2012

Round trip to Fayetteville

Graham and I road-tripped to the Special Forces and Airborn Museum in Fayetteville today. For those of you who haven't been: don't bother. Although the museum is free and housed in by far the swankiest building in town, it is small. In fact, there's no way in hell the size or quality of the collection justifies the expense of the building. We watched a 15-minute movie -- funded by Ross Perot -- in an entirely empty auditorium with seating for 150. The place is clearly optimized for the daytime school bus crowd. Actually, I might have learned more (though much of it focuses on D Day and I have by now read many detailed accounts of the goings on at Normandy) had Graham not been dead set on rocketing through the place, twice sending me into kniption fits when he disappeared while I was reading and I had to look all over the place. Certainly it was cool to learn that Ben Franklin was the first guy to think of paratrooping (from balloons, natch). It was nonetheless a pleasant outing, and I obtained my secondary objective of driving some NC backroads and getting a gander at some regions I know poorly. Fayetteville itself underwhelmed by any standard, with the portion of 87 that passes through Fort Bragg into town consisting of a really depressing array of skanky titty bars and scary motels, fast food joints, used car lots, and other junk retail. Need an iced coffee to drive home? No dice. I seemed to have memories of being in Jacksonville as a kid and being impressed by the variety of Asian food they had, Vietnamese for example. There was none of this low-level military cosmopolitanism in evidence around Fort Bragg. As we passed Sanford, it was very clear that we had come into another geological realm, that of sandy soil. It's hard to look at the shit and not think, "how the hell do you grow anything here?" But then, what do I know about agriculture? I was reminded of a conversation with a certain wise Swiss fellow recently, who said that some development specialists reckon the solution to poverty in certain American counties is to give residents a one-way bus ticket out. All in all, it made it clear that Jesse Helms did a great job of making sure that Eastern North Carolina got huge appropriations from Defense because, by God, it needed to get money from somewhere.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you have not read The First American about Ben Franklin, you should. It is too bad we do not have polyglot geniuses like him guiding our government any longer.