Free-Floating Hostility

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Hostylefax: Sioux Falls

The funny thing about South Dakota --I decided as I drank a beer at a bar across from the baseball stadium on Friday night -- is that it exists at all. It's devoid of any distinguishing characteristics.

North Dakota has Fargo, which has been immortalized in a great movie. Some people might point out that Mt. Rushmore has been immortalized in another great movie, North by Northwest, but there's nothing really "South Dakota" about Mt. Rushmore. It just happens to be there. Slide it over 100 miles and it would be just as impressive, just as bizarre and in Montana. (If you were really feeling contrary, you could point out that Fargo was set entirely in Minnesota, and you'd be right, but then I would point out, you suck.) South Dakota's second biggest tourist attraction, I'm told, is a three-bar complex in Yankton, S.D. where you can pay $7 on a Tuesday and drink all you want at any combination of the sports bar, dance club and strip club, all of which are accessible without stepping outside.

The people are friendly though. The woman at the car rental counter introduced herself by name. The wait staff at the various places I ate at seemed eager to banter, though my warp-speed city talk was no match for their Great Plains back-and-forth. Then there was my counterpart at the local paper, who agreed to show me around town even though the sum total of our acquaintance was the four hours he spent here covering a game in 2004. But he is from suburban Detroit originally and went to Michigan State, so we did have some basic things in common. And we had a good time, staying up late and drinking too much. For purposes of this post, I will call him Ian, because he reminded me of the guy many of us knew freshman year by that name.

So here's my weekend, in bullet form:
  • There are a lot of brew pubs in Sioux Falls, which suits me just fine. For my traditional large Friday dinner, I picked one called Granite City because the name sounded tough. Also, if it's a chain, it's one that's new to me. Ian said it was the one of the best places in town. Pin a rose on me.
  • Supposedly, there are more pro baseball players per capita from South Dakota than any other state. Anna points out there are only three capitas in the state.
  • At our second stop Friday, we met up with guys from Ian's paper. I like newspaper people and we happily frittered some time away. Then two guys from one of the websites that covers my level of football showed up. They are fans with disposable income, and they travel around watching games, drinking and taking photos to post on the web site. They also treat the position of "beat writer" with far more respect than it actually deserves.
  • There are a ton of hole in the wall casinos in Sioux Falls. I'm told that they are deeply depressing places, where people just play the slots on auto pilot. This is a far cry from the healthy, life-affirming atmosphere I witnessed in Las Vegas last year.
  • Saturday morning was a perfect crisp fall day, the kind where can you feel the air warming in your nose as you breathe it in. It was low 40s early, and it reminded me of those mornings when I would get bundled up and jump in the leaves. We don't get many of those days in California.
  • During the football game, the home team's mascot was joined by some guy dressed up in a ringneck pheasant costume. It was a truly frightening get-up. In fact, I think it was designed to instill terror in kids, who will grow up hating the birds and wanting to kill them. Pheasant hunting season, which is the primary engine of the state's economy, starts next week. All around town, from the airport to the casinos, there were "welcome hunters" signs.
  • Saturday night Ian took me to a bar to hear a band called the Melismatics, who hail from the (Twin) Cities. They were good. Good bands rarely hit Sioux Falls, and between that and the near-perfect weather, everyone agreed that I lucked out this week. Later in the night some woman walked up to where Ian and I sat, looking for someone to dance with. "I haven't had enough to drink yet," I said. She got angry, muttering something that sounded like "Fucking Yankees," and walked away. Ian told me a story about one of his coworkers dancing with a random woman in a bar, and getting a punch in the nose for his troubles.
  • Early morning plane trips suck. I was up at 5:10 Central to catch a 6:45 flight to the Cities and then another out west. The good thing about a Minneapolis layover is that there are two newspapers to buy. It's about 4:30 Pacific Time as I write this, and I'm really starting to feel it.
All that said, I had a pretty good time this weekend. But it's good to be home.

0 Comment(s):

Post a Comment