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October 17, 2008

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Rick Hamrick

Atlantic, Iowa. It is nowhere, at least in my opinion, John. It is very pretty, the rolling countryside around Atlantic, but the little town itself even manages to be seven miles away from the nearest major road, I-80. That would make it the edge of nowhere, as opposed to being the middle of nowhere.

Friendly people, though, and the hotel staff in the Super-8 where we spent the night a month ago were as caring and gentle as one could imagine.

It's still nowhere, though.

The whole discussion of direction names in different parts of the country triggers irritation for me. How can Ohio be "Midwest" when more than two-thirds of the country is west of it? And I'm only talking continental US.

Of course, I live in the invisible time zone, so I shouldn't bother with such things as directionally based regional names. When they talk on TV about when a show is going to be on, it is "10 Eastern, 9 Central and 7 Pacific." I live in the unmentioned gap.

That's what I get for living in the time zone with by far the lowest population (ignoring the time zones Hawaii and Alaska are within) of ones covering large areas of the US.

Jeff

"The West" is much analyzed. In The West, anyway. It was a myth already in the 19th century. Rick's time-zone image is a good one, one more version of the measure of "density" that goes into identifying The West. Ohio is the Midwest, despite being East, because the country is weighted that way in history, population, culture, wealth, water, etc., balanced necessarily by the West Coast. The less dense regions in between carry the weight of being a frontier of sorts, although it's been a long, long time since it was. Of course, you can die there, but you can probably die more readily in New Hampshire. I've not sorted out my feelings about The West. I tired of cowboy style even before I tired of Indian style. The measure of a man our here is simply acreage and water. Now, with credit tight, it's probably just water. Must go ...

John Ptak

Nicely put, Jeff and Rick, well said. But what I really want is the visceral reaction to where the West *is*. Somehow to me it is a place with a slow 360 "out there" panoramic with a dirty sleepy Ry Cooder slide.
Sumpin'.

John Ptak

Nicely put, Jeff and Rick, well said. But what I really want is the visceral reaction to where the West *is*. Somehow to me it is a place with a slow 360 "out there" panoramic with a dirty sleepy Ry Cooder slide.
Sumpin'.

Jeff

O.K. The West is in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, which can be a long shadow. But you have to be able to see them. So the eastern plains of Colorado are West as much as my little valley surrounded by mountains. The mountains are there to be imagined even while in sight. My theory is not developed yet for points further west from which the Rockies are no longer visible but which are decidedly east of the West Coast. While my proposal might preclude the 360 horizon I imagine you have in mind, such as in eastern Nebraska, it does not preclude the Ry Cooder slide. Much work still to be done ...

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