Friday, April 18, 2008

I Feel the Earth Move

new_madrid.gifEarly this morning we (in the greater geographical vicinity of West Salem, IL) experienced an earthquake.
To my peeps in California and Nevada, that is like reading “the Democrats had a debate yesterday” or “the Republican Governor from PickaState, an avid campaigner against RandomSexualProclivity, was caught engaging in RandomSexualProclivity”. Ho hum (note: that’s an expression of ennui, not the name of a sexual proclivity).
MSNBC reports, “The 5.2 magnitude earthquake rattled skyscrapers in Chicago's Loop and homes in Cincinnati” (because, of course, to the media, Cincinnati is a cow town full of “homes”, not a real city with them big buildings like Chicago).
To my friends and coworkers in Cincinnati, an earthquake is a big deal. For me it was nostalgic. When we moved to Cincinnati from LA, the most common comment we got was, “I would be so scared of the earthquakes out there.” This from people who had had houses blow away in tornadoes: apparently just a quaint Midwestern frolic involving encounters with little people, witches and talking scarecrows; so it’s more like a funky Haight-Ashbury acid trip than a frightening San Francisco quake. (The second most common comment was, “I would be so scared up in them big buildings.”)
My personal favorite earthquake was the one that occurred during the Rose Bowl in 1979.
NBC opened their broadcast with a beautiful view of the clear, blue LA sky. It was 75 degrees and it had recently rained to clear out the smog. LA looked like a house for sale with fresh paint covering the water stains in the ceiling and a cinnamon-spiced apple pie baking to mask that odd sulfur smell hovering in the living room. The announcers invited all the viewers from Michigan to the Oklahoma dustbowl to pull up stakes, move out west and jack up the housing prices for young couples like me and my fiancĂ©. I was lying on my couch in LA when the earthquake struck and the terrified New Yorker announcers swiftly swallowed their SoCal hype, “Stop! Go back! The devil be present here!” At that point, we cheered louder than when USC eventually won the game.
For the sake of my friends and family remaining out there, I don’t try to disabuse people here of their fear of earthquakes.
”…said David Behm of Philo, 10 miles south of Champaign, “For people in central Illinois, this is a big deal. It’s not like California.” Ain’t that the truth.

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