Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Small Slice of Iowa

Some of you may have noticed that I did not post anything on PeP last week, which was a first for me. I was on a bit of a hiatus, working on a pre-law school service project and taking a trip to MK's hometown in Iowa. Here is a pictorial diary of my weekend in Charles City:

If you've ever eaten Mexican food in Iowa, you've noticed that Mexican chain restaurants south of our border have strange affinity for mixing Hispanic names with Irish ones. For example, when we arrived at our first destination, Mason City (birthplace of "The Music Man" creator Meredith Willson), we dined at Carlos O'Kelly's Mexican Cafe. What ever happened to Mexican restaurants with names like Chi Chi's? Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Iowa is literally 95 percent white.

On Friday, things got really fun in Charles City, Iowa. Every other Friday night durng the summer, in what residents lovingly call "Chucktown," people get together at Central Park for "Party in the Park," displaying their civic pride and putting money into the local economy. Pictured at left is the lovable mascot of these festivities, Chuck. Now, if you're wondering why the town's mascot is an overweight, bald, white man rather than something cute and cuddly thing like a chipmunk, then you're thinking along the same lines as me. But, I'm told, if you're from Charles City, you understand it.

"Party in the Park" supplied the usual entertainment for such events. Milk and Honey, a band that plays mind-blowing covers of classic songs from the '60s up to today and a 2004 inductee to the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (yes, there is such a thing), jammed for about three sets. Chuck Chips were available for the purchase of food and beer. And, of course, a group of crotch rocket enthusiasts calling themselves Stunt DNA enthralled the crowd by performing wheelies, revving their engines very loudly, and spinning their back tires really really fast so as to create a smoke cloud from the burning rubber. There's no denying that it was a sight to see.

This is my friend Frank Rottinghaus. He's the Floyd County Treasurer (Charles City is the Floyd County seat). On Saturday morning, Frank brought me along to a parade in Marble Rock, Iowa, population approximately 350. I drove the parade route while Frank handed out candy and shook some hands. The parade lasted all of 30 minutes, and one reason there weren't more spectators is because so many of the residents were in the parade. I also had a chance to meet their state representative, Mark Kuhn, and their state senator, Amanda Ragan, both Democrats. Nothing like some good old-fashioned politicking...

...which continued later that evening at the wedding of MK's friends. Kuhn, pictured at left, was the bride's uncle. After drinking a few Old Styles, I figured I'd take advantage of the situation, and asked him how things were going in Des Moines. He said they were better than in St. Paul. The partisan divide in Iowa is nearly identical to Minnesota (we have a few more Democrats, I think), but the Iowegians didn't need a special session to get things done. And they have a Democratic governor. Things that make you go hmmm. Later that evening, after an early departure from Retlaw's Riverside Bar and Grill, we again walked to Pat's house and enjoyed some coffee and snacks before heading back to MK's parents' house.

After some much needed rest, and steaks (the flames on the grill got away from MK's dad a little bit, but that's ok) and sweet corn (what else?) for lunch, we headed back to the Twin Cities on Sunday afternoon. And that was my weekend in Iowa.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You're article, "A small slice of Iowa" while as usual well written left me more exhilirated than most of your writings. The reason is obvious. Who is this handsome young treasurer from Iowa? Is he married and more importantly where could I get his phone number? Men like this seem few and far between in this day in age. I applaud you for featuring him in such an influential publication as this, the Pie-Eyed Picayune. Keep up the good work Pieper!