Fear and Loathing in Middle America
December 20th, 2004

Briefly, between Pittsburgh International and my house, my mother was listening to the Oliver North radio show. A breathless woman called in to share this nugget with the world:

We were watching [National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation] last night, and at the point where the old woman is supposed to say grace but says the pledge of allegiance instead, they BLEEPED OUT GOD.

Clearly a paranoid delusion or a hoax, but it is beyond my powers of deduction to figure out which it is. I must say that if I wanted to start an urban legend and watch with glee as it spread, I would try to word it about like that.

So we switched the channel to NPR for a while, and they had a (lengthy) story about the patriotic country song being promoted under false pretenses by an artist’s fan club. I’d heard of this before, but I hadn’t paid much attention. The NPR piece, however, included a clip of the song including these lyrics:

Cause I’ve been to Hiroshima

And I’ve been to the DMZ

“Did I just hear that?” I asked my mother. “Yes, you did,” she replied.

I must say the drive was not a totally negative experience. There is nowhere else in the world with vandals that you would actually call “almost helpful.” Someone spraypainted this graffiti over a roadsign near my house: