CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND; GUEST COLUMNIST, JACKSONVILLE

I'm just not sure who I am anymore. I used to be so sure. I reeked of paper mills and boat fuel, but dammit, I made shit happen in my own little shitkicking kind of shit way. Where else in America could you boat in seven tons of dank Jamaican kine bud and have it on I-95 and up to Atlanta in a matter of hours, huh? And played home court to Lynyrd Skynyrd? I was important, man, in my own little skeezy way, and without the coke money, shaved-pube danger of Miami.


But now...now I don't even know who I am anymore. The paper's gone, because WAAAAAAAAAAHHH the smell, the stench was too much for delicate sensibilities. The police actually care what goes on your boat now. The naval station is still there, but the locals get pissed when someone ruffles a few feathers by throwing someone through a bar window.

Pussies, all of you.

Now they want me to be something, with buildings, and landmarks, and Whole Foods and shit. But what the hell am I? They filled in the empty spaces with signs and chain restaurants and roads so that from space I probably look like a NASCAR machine idling at the start, all logos and glossy paint. They want me to host sporting events, which is kind of like asking a chihuahua to sell aluminum siding door-to-door for you. It just doesn't work on so many levels, and in the end the dog really doesn't care, anyway.

People want to go to a place, you see, and that's never been on my resume, this whole place-ness thing. I'm fine just being a loose confederation of utilities and conveniences. Places get messy: they have communities, and annoying neighbors who depend on each other for things, and all of the things that make you want to take a chainsaw to that real place's community at the end of the day. When you're no place, there's wake, drive, work, and pick up the kids before plugging yourself back in like a dead cellphone into the tv, the XBox, the computer.

Whatever. It's not bad, and I'm not gonna pretend it is. When the romance of living turns into the perfunctory masturbation of daily life, call me. There's always rooms available.

Here's what I've got, though: I've got drawbridges, a coffee plant, and porno. Rent a car. Get a hotel. Fly in, buy something from a chain, and get drunk on a bucket-sized drink at a clean bar at The Landing, a fake place conjured up--again--because some asshole thinks we need "placeness." Watch the game and leave quickly on our well-paved roads.

Don't demand "culture," you art-fucks, or nightlife that doesn't involve puking a night's worth of shots into a toilet while bad house music plays in the background. Don't demand that we be interesting. The whole point of the state is to not pay taxes and avoid losing your house when you declare bankruptcy, and the whole point of this town is to not worry about being a town. It's a county, a geographical space where people use gas, eat food, and shit into the proper receptacle. Dazzle is not this business we are in.

And don't blame us for the ACC championship game not selling 20,000 tickets, because it wasn't our idea to entertain your asses, anyway. We wouldn't buy the tickets if we were you, both because Boston College versus Virginia Tech is selling the same sandwich twice, and because once you get here, there's no here to enjoy. And no one could care less about this than me, so go ahead and go to Charlotte next year and see if I care. Nowhere couldn't care less.

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