Our stomach growl in anticipation of your generosity.
By Ian Murphy
“Saturday! Saturday! Saturday!”
-The evil box in my living room
Crash-A-Rama, Round II, the "Wildest Show on Wheels," was to offer a compact enduro, a mini-van demolition derby, skid cars, a jet-powered jalopy and a full-sized school bus figure 8 race. It was to be an ode to self-destruction, a patriotic aria of mangled steel, spark and flame sung by internal combustion engine to a people being crushed under runaway empire and dragged over the precipice of total environmental collapse. It was going to kick ass.
The TV spot I saw thrice promised “Heavy Metal!” and ran, curiously, during David Gregory’s “Race for the White House.” Now that I’m here, this strikes me as demographic targeting gone far afield. The rednecks at the NASCAR Holland, NY International Speedway approach self parody—clad from head to toe in black denim, NASCAR gear, cowboy duds and flag prints. Many wear mullets and wispy tails sans irony. Rightly, they love horse-power, beer, the smell of burnt rubber and charred animal flesh—and are suspicious of journalists, clipboards and all things political.
“Would you like to take a brief political survey?” I ask folks outside the gate. No way, the multitude shakes their heads.
“I shoulda’ knowed it…” scoffs one lanky dude, baring his yellow bucked and chipped teeth, “the second I seen that clipboard.” He casually spits tobacco juice on my foot.
“Oh say can you see..ee..ee?” The strange question echoes from tinny stadium speakers. Some 3,000 scurrying gear-heads stop dead and answer promptly by obeying United States Code, 36 USC Sec. 301: Face flag, place right hand over heart. Pure Rome.
This is the coliseum and a giant vomitorium wrapped into one. “No way, man, I’m gonna puke first!” some college kid brags. I plunk down twenty bucks for my ticket, look toward the concession stands and think: When in NASCAR country…
“Seventeen-fifty, for a sixer of Labatt’s!” I reel. “Eh…give me two.”
“No, two sixers. I think that’s…fourteen beers total, Ma’am—a brewer’s dozen.” Her shitty grin says she knows rudimentary mathematics, and won’t be so easily rooked.
“Because it’s the troops that make all this possible…ossible…ossible,” the tinny echo rings hollowly. The crowd applauds perfunctorily.
“Please, watch yer step, folks…olks…olks,” the intercom warns on cue as I nearly stick my foot through a rotten board on the grandstand steps. Lighting a cigarette, I inch past a young retarded gentleman. He scrunches his kind face and waves his hands at the smoke.
“Jesus Christ,” I say, guilty as hell. “Sorry, buddy.”
“OK!” Those fellas have hearts of gold.
The remnants of hurricane Gustav drizzles on the crowd, and as if from the seventh trumpet of Revelations, the MC announces—without remorse or fear—that the “Carpocalypse is here…ere..ere!” The crowd roars. I have no idea what the hell it all means. Then a guy jumps his car over a bus onto the roof of a double-wide.
I will learn later that Crash-A-Rama will be featured on Spike TV’s junker smashup series “Carpocalypse.” The show’s second season, “Carpocalypse: Civil war,” pits a team from the north against a team from the south for a cash prize and grease-monkey bragging rights. Incidentally, Wikipedia lists the south as having five team members and the north only four, because “Ben stood in when Raybo was in jail.” That is so Raybo.
The compact enduro on the wet quarter-mile track is fifty fast laps of green flags, fishtails and wall-slamming spin-outs. With the yellow flag waving, I finally take a seat in the top row and quietly crack the first sixer. By the time the checkered flag waves, I am standing on the bench, howling incoherently and violently waving thirty cents worth of aluminum. I’ve gone completely native.
Full of testosterone and beer, I know it’s time to do some serious polling. This time I won’t take no for an answer. I gaze uneasily down the risers, built with no walkways and impossibly crammed with primates.
Undaunted, I careen down the stands, over blanketed grandma laps, French fries, beer and infants—knees high…good form…feet finding metal bench, wooden planks, a woman’s foot, air…hurtling…tumbling…gravity.
“Ah you OK?” asks the sweet retard, lifting my body with magnificent strength.
“I’m OK, buddy,” I say. “Thanks.” As I limp down the risers, I have an epiphany: What would Jesus do? He’d be retarded.
After a nearly interminable piss, I take out my clipboard and ask twenty people the following rapid-fire questions:
1) Who do you think would win in a fight: Superman or Jesus?
2) Are you excited about the coming war with Iran?
3) Do you think creationism should be taught in school?
4) Do you think Barack Obama is a secret Muslim?
5) Do you think John McCain is a secret robot?
6) What do you think of Russia invading South Andromeda?
7) What’s a bigger threat to America, terrorists or global warming?
8) Is this man ready to be President?
9) Is this woman qualified to be Vice President?
And answer they do:
1) The Son of Man pummels the Son of Krypton, 20, nil. No contest.
2) A lucky 13 don’t want to “bomb, bomb, Iran,” 2 can barely wait and 5 are indifferent.
3) Adam & Eve crush Darwin, 14 - 6!
4) An encouraging 20 do not believe Obama’s a Muslim.
5) A discouraging 20 also do not think McCain is a robot.
6) Russia’s intergalactic aggression: 18 think it sucks, is wrong or uncalled for and 2 have no opinion.
7) Terrorism ties global warming for the biggest threat facing America at 8, with 3 undecided, and one wise man answering, “Our own people.”
8) Of those who think the man depicted is, in fact, Barack Obama, half think he is ready to lead. “I don’t care what people say,” says one woman, looking at the print out. “I think he is ready.” Of the half polled who know it’s Hancock star Will Smith, one man thinks he is ready: “He’s better’n what we got!” Fair point.
9) Of those who think the woman depicted is, in fact, Sarah Palin, 10 think she’s qualified and 7 not so much. “Yeah, I know who she is,” one drunk slurs, “it’s, uh, what’s her name—Nancy Palin!” Only 3 know it’s Tina Fey.
This is the problem with democracy. Luckily, in America, we ain’t got it. And who needs it? We got TV. We got Carpocalypse. We got beer.
I nurse the tenth and final Labatt’s during the quarter-hour it takes to get a hot dog (we lost two brave soldiers some damn place). I softly hum “Taps,” and stare sullenly at a puddle of ketchup large enough to drown a jack Russell terrier. “I think they were from Saudi Arabia or something!” shrieks a tween waiting for fried dough.
The excitement that marked the enduro has set with the sun. The jet-powered truck sputters around the track at a mule’s pace, the mini-van derby consists of five barely moving husks and the school bus figure 8 is a wreck-free, flameless disappointment. Civilization is at an end, and we can’t even get that right.
All is lost. There’s only ketchup now. Just a big fucking pile of ketchup.
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