The Professor Visits The Red States

April 1, 2005
By John Saleeby

Moi, Professor Brinsley Merreweather of Harvard University leave my beloved Cambridge to journey into what those of us with some sense of decency and humanity drolly refer to as the "Red States"? Not for all the clams in Tennessee, my good man. Not for all the lobsters in Texas would I leave my native New England to grace those wretched places with my pettipulemous presence. Yes, there is such a word! Just take my dictation and don't interrupt!

Ever since the 2004 Presidential Election our once peaceful country has been divided into two separate nations - The Blue States and The Red Turds. I'm sorry, I mean The Blue States and The Red States. The Blue States, such as my home Massachusetts which voted for John Kerry in the election, and the Red States, which . . . Oh, don't get me started on those crazy people! Those animals don't just have a chip on their shoulder - They've got a bowl of chips on one shoulder and a bowl of salsa on the other! I must remember that one next time one of my students shows up for a lecture. But don't get me started on "Who" won the election, but "Why" - Why, I ask? Why, why, why?!? Oh, I must have my photograph taken when I get as emotional as I am right now! Excuse me while I stand up on my desk and wave my arms around as if addressing the masses! Oooohhh, is this how it feels to be Hillary Clinton?

So why would a man of my advanced intellect even consider going to such a terrible place? One name, My Friends - FOXWORTHY! Yes, Jeff Foxworthy, the most brilliant lyric poet of our age, whose epic verse saga "You Might Be A Redneck" captures the reality of human existance with such profound ambisuosity that with each repetition of the stirring refrain " . . . you might be a redneck!" one comes within another step of grasping the zietmondulated . . . Oh, I don't know . . . I'll get one of my grad students to finish this bit, the nurse is here to change my dressings. But who is this man, this enigma, this mystery, this FOXWORTHY? I have been told that he has appeared on television but I only watch NPR. It was a puzzle beyond the reach of academic research - At least until my student aides were finished writing my next book and redecorating my beach house. What kind of place could produce such an artist? There was no alternative - I had to go to The Red States!

So when Wil Forbis, the Publisher and Editor of . . . What is that thing called again? Oh, you can fill it in later! So when I was invited to make a visit to the Red State of Mississippi where Wil Forbis' crony John Saleeby would be my guide and interpreter there was only one appropriate response and that was "OUI!"

Accompanying me on my mission was Grad Student #FQ-76, a human being of varying age, gender, and ethnicity capable of deconstructing the text of any literary work without applying any innate prejudice to it whatsoever. Fun at parties, too. Just don't call him a "chameleon"! Oh, did I say "him"? Yes, fun at parties but very difficult to talk about.

With hope in our hearts we took to the skies and shortly arrived at Fifi Trixibelle International Airport in - Be still my rolling eyes! - Jackson, Mississippi. When I learned back in Massachusetts that our destination was AN AIRPORT IN MISSISSIPPI I had an immediate mental image of a great muddy patch of land with farm animals wandering about while a sock hung from a flagpole to show which way the wind blows and a lovable old veteran of the First World War named "Pops" tinkered on a propeller powered canvas covered biplane the likes of which was sent to knock The Mighty Kong from off of the Empire State Building. #FQ-76 was hoping they would present us with parachutes and allow us to hop out of the plane when the time was right, but he was a twenty year old Arabic man and you know how adventurous those fellows are! Much to my surprise, Fifi Trixibelle International Airport is an astonishingly modern facility - One can only surmise that it was constructed under strict supervision of the Federal Government to the great resentment of the downtrodden locals who believe that modern aviation is the work of Satan.

John Saleeby was waiting for us at the gate shouting "Professor? Professor? Professor!!" and holding a sign reading "KELLY FROM DESTINY'S CHILD".

"Are you here to pick up Professor Merreweather of Harvard?"

"Yes, I am!"

"Why are you holding a sign for 'KELLY FROM DESTINY'S CHILD'?"

"Well, you never know who's gonna show up . . . "

He was a hairy, bespectacled monguloid wearing a Donald-Duck t shirt and olive drab cargo pants with pigeons flying out of the pockets.

"Forbis tells me you are employed at the Mississippi State Psychiatric Hospital." I said, attempting to engage this hooligan in conversation before he could commence screaming at me about whatever those crazy people on Fox News have on their minds lately.

"Yeah! This morning this one old black crackhead told me that Robert Johnson was going to pick him up at the hospital in a Cadillac and take him for a drive up into The Delta. I said 'Wellllll, I don't know about that. But if he does show up, ya'll come pick me up at my place - I'm sick of this scene!"

We were in great danger.

"Hey!" Saleeby squawked "What's that magazine ya got there? THE NEW YORKER!?! Well, Pip Pop Tally HO! Why doncha just wear a sign on your chest that says 'HEY, I'M A GREAT BIG QUEER!!!'?" I laughed, but Saleeby wasn't kidding, he ran over to the magazine stand and purchased a large cardboard sign reading "HEY, I'M A GREAT BIG QUEER!!!" for $2.99 which he Super Glued to my chest.

"SECURITY! SECURITY!" boomed the airport PA system "GREAT BIG QUEER AT GATE SEVEN! GREAT BIG QUEER AT GATE SEVEN! DANGER! DANGER!"

"You heard Denise Richards is divorcing Charlie Sheen?" Saleeby asked.

#FQ-76, having assumed the identity of an urban black teen, flew into action producing a can of spray paint and covering the sign with a thick layer of subway graffitti. I was still worried. "Doesn't subway graffitti look kind of suspicious in an airport?"

Saleeby was unconconcerned "Aw, Professor - Subway Graffitti, Airport Graffitti . . . Airport Graffitti, Subway Graffitti - We're in a RED STATE - Who know's the friggin' difference?"

"YAAAYYYY!!!"

A merry musical production broke out to the tune of "In The Navy" by The Village People -

"In the Red States

You can wave the Rebel Flag

In the Red States

You can call a 'Gay' a 'Fag'

In the Red States

It's fun to stay in the Red States

You can carry a gun, eat red meat by the ton, -"

I stopped singing and dancing and took off my Indian feathered headdress.

"Wait a minute! Wait a minute! I thought we were singing to the tune of 'In The Navy'!"

"So?"

"That last bit was to the tune of 'Y.M.C.A.'!"

"Aw, Professor - 'In The Navy', 'Y.M.C.A." . . . 'Y.M.C.A., 'In The Navy' - We're in a RED STATE - Who knows the friggin' difference?"

"YAAAYYYY!!!"

The very first thing this buffoon said when we were inside what he so touchingly referred to as "The Saleebymobile" was, since we had traveled to Mississippi to experience life in the Red States, he was going to make us listen to some "Gen-u-ine Red State HILLBILLY Music!!!" and threw a cassette tape into his car stereo. I braced myself for the worst but that was as futile as psychologically preparing one self for being bitten in half by a Great White Shark with gingivitus. I hadn't heard such a tremendous racket since I placed one too many Pauline Kael film review complilations onto the bookshelves I constructed out of empty Campbell's Soup cans during my Pop Art Period and the whole thing collapsed like my dreams of one day becoming the Che Guevera of Cape Cod. Yes, I have changed the subject, but if you could have heard the music I was forced to endure that evening you would change your name to Adolph Nixon before you would ever set footage inside that accursed Saleebymobile again. Keeping my wits about me like Frat men around a keg I recorded the titles of the "songs" collected on this tape - "Deuce", "Strutter", "Hotter Than Hell", "Nothin' To Lose", "Firehouse", "Cold Gin", "Black Diamond" - before finally getting Saleeby's attention long enough to ask the name of the "musicians" performing these atrocities.

"Why, doncha know nuthin', Mistuh Ivy Leaguer?" Saleeby snorted "That's Johnny Cash, man! JOHNNY CASH!!"

"Oh! Yes, of course - Johnny Cash! I knew that - Oh, yes! Johnny Cash!"

Of course! Johnny Cash - We're all supposed to like that character for some reason or another. He must have marched in Civil Rights protests or come out as a homosexual or something. I'll have to rewrite that last bit. Wasn't he that blind black fellow?

But were my eyes spared the same sort of abuse as my poor ears? I gazed out the dusty windows of The Saleebymobile and what did I see? The same corporate neon nightmare you see in hundreds of other suburban areas all over Red State America - McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and then another McDonalds, another Pizza Hut, another Kentucky Fried Chicken, and then another McDonalds, another Pizza Hut, another Kentucky Fried Chicken . . . The same Cookie Cutter places serving the same Cookie Cutter food to the same Cookie Cutter people all across the country until Individuality, the concept on which this nation was originally founded, has become a thing of the past creating not a country of open minded free thinking men and women but ZOMBIES!!! Millions and millions of mindless ZOMBIES so content to unthinkingly obey the orders of the Fascist State that . . . Excuse me, what are you saying, Mister Saleeby?

"I said I'm sorry I keep going around and round the same block over and over and over but I'm looking for my cat. We drove by here on the way to the airport and he jumped out the window when a Tom Petty song came on the radio."

That was all I could take! After I told that jackanapes exactly what I thought of him and this town he was so chastened that just a moment later #FQ-76 and I were standing on the side of the road while Saleeby demanded "'Jackanapes'? What the . . . Say, wasn't that Mexican dude an Indonesian chick when he first went back there? WEIRD!" As I placed my luggage onto the curb a mangey feline stepped out from behind a garbage can and hopped into The Saleebymobile. "Chowderhead!!" Saleeby cheered "Where ya been? Look out for that back seat - You might get turned into a Chihuahua or a Swamp Rat! Whoa!"

How meaningless it all seemed when standing on the side of the highway with a Pakistani grad student balancing all my wordly possessions on its head! Ah, when in Rome do as the Romans do and when in Mississippi go to Rome! Ha ha ha! I roared with laughter, slapping #FQ-76 on the back, knocking all the luggage off of his head and onto mine, the velocity of the fall between Point A (#FQ-76's head) and Point B (My head) adding a significant increase in mass causing the kind of head injury resulting in regaining consciousness in a surprising new location prompting Judy Garland "Wizard Of Oz" like exclamations of "Where am I? Where am I?" I saw stars - Edie Sedgewick! Joe Dallescandro! Leonard Cohen! But as I came back to reality a much different kind of, ahem, person was staring down at me as I lay on the floor of what seemed to a resteraunt of some sort.

"Thank god with a lower case 'g' for my pith helmet!" I groaned "I could have been killed!'

"What the hell kind of a helmet did he say?"

"He said a -"

"Don't repeat it, I'm tryin' to drink my iced tea!"

"Hey, Mister - Are you a Jungle Explorer Man?"

"#FQ-76!" I called.

"Right here, Professor!" said #FQ-76, coming into view as a Japanese Ninja. A NINJA!?! Egads! #FQ-76 only takes that form when his life is in great danger! The only times I'd ever seen him as a Ninja before was when John Ashcroft . . . Well, pretty much everytime John Ashcroft ever did anything!

"Where am I, #FQ-76?"

"Professor, we are in The Awful Waffle!"

THE AWFUL WAFFLE!?! I was shocked to discover that there really was such a place!

 "I thought that idiot Saleeby created it entirely out of his drug scuttled imagination for that terrible book he wrote!" I said.

"You mean 'The Awful Waffle - Hi Cholesterol Humor' available from iUniverse.com for $10.95?"

"Quiet! We can't be publically associated with such an abortion!"

There was a rising wave of sullen mutterings.

"Wait a cotton pickin' minute! 'God with a lower case g'? 'Piss helmet'? 'Professor'?"

"And then he's publicly associated with that Saleeby that wrote that book makin' us all out to be a buncha dumb ass rednecks and starts talkin' about ABORTION on top o' that?"

"Say, Mister, what kind of person are you?"

The tension was so thick you could slice it up and send it to Hollywood to make crime suspense movies out of! There was only one thing to do -

"Quick, #FQ-76 - The FOXWORTHY!!!"

"Yes, SIR!!!"

In the twinkling of an eye (Ninjas carry books in their eyes) I was standing on top of the counter facing the astonished mob. With each stanza all of us gathered together in The Awful waffle that night left our differences further behind and every repetition of " . . . you might be a REDNECK!!!" elicited more cheers and applause than the last! At last I could see that, no matter what it might say in the newspapers or on the radio, all of us in the Blue States and the Red States are one and the same! And just as my life could be changed by their great writers, so could theirs by OURS!!!

"And, now, #FQ-76 - The GINSBERG!!!"

The anticipation as I opened the new volume was tremendous -

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness!"

The next few minutes are a blur - I remember being out in the parking lot  tied by one foot to the back of a pick up truck while two wooden posts, the longest one stuck in the ground with the shorter one nailed across it, were set aflame and everyone busied themselves with some sort of bed linens. I turned to my dependable friend #FQ-76 for assistance and found that for the first time in our association he had assumed the form of a middle aged white man.

"#FQ-76! What is happening here?!?"

"Who the hell are you talkin' to, bitch!?" he said.

(This article was pieced together from the Professor's dictation to #FQ-76 prior to his trip and to John Saleeby while on his deathbed in a Jackson, Mississippi hospital. His injuries weren't life threatening. We just let him starve to death cause we didn't like him.)

John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier. Email - jacksaleeby1@hotmail.com


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