Thursday, July 18, 2013

Got My Bearings Straight

Years ago, New Jersey had its day in the sun.

There were TV shows -- and I know this because I have two teenage daughters -- about the Jersey Shore, with its gumbas and the gumbettes. Shows about Jersey Bakers. And shows about Jersey Beauticians.

I'm pretty sure they were all on The Learning Channel, which could have easily renamed itself The Garden State Channel.

But now the basking glow of media attention has left Bayonne and turned north, towards the Bering Sea.

By my estimation, The Discovery Channel and the National Geographic Channel now have no less than 8 shows about Alaska. I don't watch a lot of TV, but it appears I'll watch anything about the people who make their home in Seward's Folly.

It started with Alaska State Troopers. Which is nothing more than a much colder version of the show "Cops". Only with considerably fewer Hispanics and African Americans and a lot more white trash meth-heads.

Perhaps it's because I am so familiar with the imbecile tenets of white supremacy that I find white trash so amusing. Even more so when they're drunk or high on some paint thinner-based drug.

The show I find most fascinating is Life Below Zero. It features a cast of characters that seem chiseled right out of the 19th century. Some are Eskimos. Some are married to Eskimos. And all are just out-of-their-mind crazy for living in such an inhospitable environment.

Why they choose to live here I'll never know. In fact I'm reminded of the late, great Sam Kiniston:

You see, while most of us run away from adversity, these folks run towards it. As if the unforgiving cold, the man-eating wolverines, and vast stretches of wilderness, were not enough, these resourceful trailblazers willingly choose to live on the edge of the edge of civilization.

They chop their own wood, fix their own machines and hunt, skin and cook their own caribou. If the rest of us were singed in a nuclear holocaust tomorrow, their lives would not change one iota.

My favorite, a borderline schizophrenic, Sue Aikens, lives 160 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Her closest neighbor is 350 miles away. When the camera crew isn't there, all she has for company are her Marlboro Reds and 15 wild foxes that share the compound.

Sue is perpetually convinced that a bear, or a wolverine or a raging moose is out to eat her. Indeed her revenge fantasies could fill an entire hour.

I would tell you more about Sue but the oil on my Lexus needs changing. Which demands a trip to Jiffy Lube, because I don't like to get grime on my dainty fingers.

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