April 29, 2012
I read this recently:
“Today, as I was walking into the office in the cold and snow, I heard someone behind me laugh and say ‘Another beautiful Michigan morning’.
People in Michigan seem to delight in claiming that they have the coldest, crappiest, most unpredictable weather. I have never in my life known an area more perversely proud of its climate, and everyone is absolutely certain that this is unique to Michigan.
There are tons of Michigan weather jokes, for instance:
Q: How many seasons does Michigan have?
A: Two – winter and construction
But I grew up in upstate NY, which, as far as I can tell, has exactly the same climate as SE Michigan except we got more lake-effect snow.
And I lived for a time in The Netherlands, where I swear there are 15 different meteorological terms for “mostly cloudy with rain”. If the Dutch talk about weather, I think their complaints are well-deserved.
Why the heck do people from Michigan think they’re so unique, and can anyone tell me if this is a Michigan phenomenon or if every damn state thinks their climate is special????”
Relax Progmom, I’m here to answer your questions.
In fact it’s become my mission, because if people like Progmom and Woody Hayes dislike Michigan then there are probably a few others annoyed by us as well. I feel it’s my duty as a Michigander to dispel ignorance about our mental state, thus enlightening the world.
Here is the Michigan Mentality:
Michiganders are perversely proud of everything about Michigan and we think everything about our state is damn special (Kwame Kilpatrick excepted).
“People in Michigan seem to delight in claiming that they have the coldest, crappiest, most unpredictable weather. “
No, no, no. We know other places have colder, crappier, more unpredictable weather. We claim to have cold, crappy, hot, sunny, dry, humid, unpredictable weather all in the same day. That’s an important difference.
“I have never in my life known an area more perversely proud of its climate.”
Again, no, no, no. We are perversely proud of everything about Michigan, not just the climate. If I was to shrink Michiganders, I’d say that it could be a case of overcompensation. We feel we deserve more recognition than we get. For example, we don’t have the fame of California, but Real Steel was one of many movies made in Michigan. In fact, I think Hugh Jackman has become our adopted son. It’s amazing how many people here “met” him while Real Steel filmed. “Meeting” him includes: thinking you saw him in the vehicle next to you, knowing the waiter that served his bubble tea, being in the crowd watching a scene being filmed, etc.
Hawaii may have the most famous islands, but we have Mackinac Island. Enough said.
San Francisco’s bridge may be well known, but we have the Mackinac Bridge. It’s bigger.
“Everyone is absolutely certain that this is unique to Michigan.”
There are those things that are totally unique to Michigan and we’re proud of them all, no matter how lame they are (Euchre). For example, our name for soda is POP. If you ask for a soda, we’ll look at you like you’re speaking a foreign language (you are) and bring you our version of soda– it has ice cream in it.
We’re very proud (whether we admit it or not) that we can use our hand as a map. There are those Michiganders that scorn the hand-map, but even they use it at one time or another. The proper way to use the Michigan hand-map is right hand, palm up, thumb slightly outstretched. If someone uses the back of their hand as a map of Michigan, they are not native Michiganders. And a word to Wisconsin— Really your hand-map is kind of pathetic. Just stop.
Also, we love the fact that Mackinac is pronounced Mackinaw. We love it even more when someone mispronounces it; that makes us feel intelligent.
And my favorite unique thing about Michigan is Mark “The Bird” Fidrych, a 1976 Detroit Tigers pitching phenomenon. I’ll resist the temptation to write everything about him that I’d like. Here’s the gist of it:
- Fidrych made the Tigers as a non-roster invitee out of the 1976 spring training. His first start was in mid-May. He only made that start because the scheduled starting pitcher had the flu. Fidrych responded by throwing six no-hit innings, ending the game with a 2-1 victory in which he gave up only two hits. He went on to win 19 games, led the league in ERA (2.34) and complete games (24), was the starting pitcher in that year’s All-Star Game, won the American League Rookie of the Year Award, and finished second in voting for the Cy Young Award.– From Wikipedia
- In the process Fidrych also captured the imagination of fans with his antics on the field. On June 28, 1976, he pitched against the New York Yankees in a nationally televised game on ABC; the Tigers won the game 5-1. After a game filled with “Bird” antics in which he and his team handily defeated the Yankees, Fidrych became a national celebrity. –From Wikipedia
“...can anyone tell me if this is a Michigan phenomenon or if every damn state thinks their climate is special????”
Again it’s not about climate. Everything about us is special including our very passionate rivalries, which instead of driving us apart bring us closer together in a weird Michigonian sort of way. Some of these rivalries include: Michigan State vs. University of Michgan, Yoopers vs. Trolls, Eminem vs. Kid Rock and Brandon Inge– Should he stay or should he go?
Alas, Progmom, I don’t think these explanations will suffice. It needs to be in your blood. I’ve lived in many other places, but my heart was always in Michigan.
“Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam Circumspice”
“If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”
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April 23, 2012
Another year has passed. It’s been seven since I saw you last. I’ve been thinking a lot about you. When you died my biggest fear was that I’d forget something about you and our last day together; I wanted to remember every tiny detail always. The other fear that haunted me was that one day it would get easier and I wouldn’t miss you so much. So I’m grateful for the memories I have and I’m grateful for the bittersweet ache they leave in me.
I’ll be honest. I don’t dwell on you anymore. That makes it easier. For the first year, I hugged close everything that reminded me of you: photos, videos, memories and especially music. But I can’t hug those things anymore because they’re too sharp and they cut through the scar tissue that took so long to grow on my shattered heart. Sometimes when you flit across my memory I find myself shaking my head just as I did after you died, because I can’t comprehend that you are gone from here.
But I’ve decided this won’t be a day for sadness. I went to Mass this morning and I saw S² eyeing me with concern. I smiled at him and told him truthfully that I just had a tickle in my throat (Easter flowers and incense can do that). Now I sit in the fading sun and think of you.
We’ve always shared a passion for reading, writing and music. When you were a toddler, you’d put on a pair of star-shaped sunglasses, sit at a little piano shaped box and lip-sync to Elton John’s greatest hits. We called you “Elton Johnny”. It was the only time Mom and Dad listened to Elton John without complaint, so we had you do it often. When you were a little older, we played school. I swore for years I taught you to read, but after trying to teach my own children, I wonder…
Remember the summer you were turning sixteen? Dave had moved to Cleveland for his new job. You and Mom stayed in upstate New York to help me sell the house. We were really into Pink Floyd that year and we discovered Wish You Were Here. I have a hard time listening to it now. You brought books about the band, which I read when you were done. Then we’d talk about Syd Barrett and debate about Roger Waters and David Gilmour while we worked on my yard. You did a lot of yard work for me so I told you I take you out to dinner. You wanted steak and lobster. Funny thing for a fifteen-year-old to want for dinner, but typical for you.
Remember that same summer going to the mall parking lot late at night so you could practice driving a stick shift before getting your driver’s license? We saw a UFO hovering above the woods next to the mall. It was amazing, but we never told anyone about it because we knew no one would believe it.
We both love Chris Cornell’s voice. One Christmas I shared his version of Ave Maria with you, but I don’t think you heard it over the football game. Then you shared Audioslave with me. After you died, I got your CD and listened to it constantly. I can’t listen to Audioslave anymore. That annoys me frankly, because I really like them.
But I can listen to “United States of Whatever” by Liam Lynch. You turned my kids onto it. After they listened to it a million times a day, it grew on me. Do you remember when we found the video? Wow. Liam was not the cool Eminem-type I’d imagined. But we loved the video and watched it a million times too.
And tonight, as I looked up the video to add it as a link to this post you, my little, beloved brother John, gave me a gift. A video I’d never seen of Dave Grohl, drummer extraordinaire (and my favorite), playing/pounding his little heart out with Liam Lynch on United States of Whatever. And I’ll go to bed with a smile on my face, which is a gift I hadn’t expected on this of all nights.
Skip ahead sixty seconds. The quality improves greatly.
PS-Is it mandatory for great drummers to chew gum?