I’m on a trip and my brain hurts (I drank moonshine last night), so until I get back to my office in Chicago you’ll have a diet consisting largely of persiflage.
“You can’t pooh-pooh Paducah:
That’s another name for Paradise.”
Those lines, taken from the video below, are the exaggeration of the century. In reality, Paducah is more like the photograph below, taken by a student coming from Puerto Rico to study at Murray State. This is not a joke, but a real pair of signs stuck on the rear window of a pickup truck (of course) parked at the Paducah Wal-Mart (of course). You can imagine how a foreign student or, indeed, any rational person would react to this. It’s all the insanity of conservative America compressed into one square foot.
I’m 100% sure that this Bible-thumping white person is “bitter” because we have a black president.
On the drive from Paducah to Murray State when I arrived, I saw a Confederate flag flying high and proud by the highway (there was no American flag next to it). I was taken aback but my hosts said that it was nothing out of the ordinary. This is a very red state.
Still, Paducah, Kentucky, is notable for one thing: it’s where John Scopes, of Scopes Trial fame, is buried. He and his family were actually from Paducah. On my way home today (I’m flying from Paducah), I hope to visit the cemetery and photograph his headstone. After all, how many people have made a pilgrimage to Scopes’s grave?
And reader Stephen Barnard (of Idaho photography fame) sent this clip of the swing song “Paducah”; the YouTube notes say this:
This is one of MANY great numbers from the Busby Berkeley 1943 musical “The Gang’s All Here” with Carmen Miranda. One of the era’s best musicals, with some of Hollywood’s worst acting. It’s a hoot!
Indeed, Goodman shows his chops on the clarinet—he was the greatest jazz clarinetist of all time (Artie Shaw was a close second)—and Carmen Miranda swans around singing, sadly not wearing one of her trademark fruit hats. The lyrics are dumb but funny, and Goodman sings some of them—unless his voice is dubbed.
I’ve discovered that some of my friends (and I) like to say “Paducah” because it sounds funny.