I don't know, but today seems kinda odd
No barking from the dogs, no smog
And momma cooked a breakfast with no hog
How can you say "it was a good day" when breakfast came sans pork products?
Iowa is the number one pork-producing state in the U.S., and is responsible for about 30% of the hogs produced in this country.
Iowa is also the number one exporter of pork -- it exports over $1 billion of pork annually. (Guess which country is the number one importer of Iowa pork products. It's Japan -- that surprised me.)
|Iowa pork for sale at|
Japanese grocery store
Earlier this month I flew to my home town (Joplin, Missouri) to drive my parents to the Mayo Clinic, where my mother was having shoulder replacement surgery.
Our ride for this journey was my parents' 2012 Chevy Equinox SUV. They bought it in January 2012 -- 20 months earlier -- but drove it only 848 miles since then.
Hell, I've walked more than 848 miles in the past 20 months.
This was only the second time in my life that I had been to Iowa. Back in 1977, I drove down the western edge of Iowa on I-29 on my way to Kansas City at the end of a three-week trip through the American West. That was it until a couple of weeks ago.
Our route to the Mayo Clinic took us through the heart of Iowa on I-35, a south-to-north interstate that runs for 1568 miles from Laredo, TX, to Duluth, MN. The portion of I-35 that runs through Iowa is 218 miles long.
Not the most interesting 218 miles you'll ever drive, I must say. But I made the best of it.
After spending the night in Kansas City, we traversed the Missouri section of I-35 and took our first break at a welcome center just over the Iowa border. That welcome center was more oriented towards cows than hogs:
The welcome center had a very well-stocked gift shop. I was tempted to add to my state pillow collection, but decided that I couldn't fit such a bulky item into my carry-on suitcase:
I was amused by this item:
But I found this item somewhat disturbing. (If I were Melissa's father, I'd keep a very close watch on this Doug fellow. He seems to be up to no good!)
A couple of hours later, we stopped in the 88th-largest metropolitan area in the United States -- specifically, the Des Moines suburb of Urbandale -- for lunch.
The slogan of the Machine Shed Restaurant in Urbandale is "Dedicated to the American Farmer."
While you wait for a table, you can take a quick ride around the parking lot behind a John Deere tractor:
The entrance to the Machine Shed features this life-size statue of a Hampshire pig:
The restaurant's extensive gift shop stocks quite a few bacon-related items, including this calendar:
And then there's this T-shirt:
Bacon seems to be the Machine Shed's raison d'être, but non-porcine species were represented as well:
The restaurant got a lot of attention a couple of years ago when it introduced chocolate-covered bacon at the Wisconsin State Fair. Also available was the absolutely appalling "Krispy Kreme Cheeseburger" -- promoted as "breakfast, lunch, and dessert all in one!"
|Krispy Kreme cheeseburgers?|
My parents have modest appetites, but I couldn't resist ordering what appears to be the official sandwich of Iowa, the pork tenderloin sandwich. (It reminded me of a chicken-fried steak, except it was made with pork instead of beef.)
The Machine Shed's decor featured a number of antique farm signs, including one advertising the hybrid corn of the Dekalb Genetics Corporation (now part of Monsanto):
The next couple of hours passed uneventfully. We took another break at a rest stop just south of the Minnesota state line. Unfortunately, the convenience store we visited was flat out of Dr. Pepper, which was an inexcusable failing on its part.
Ice Cube (real name: O'Shea Jackson) was an original member of N.W.A., the hardest-core gangsta rap group ever. He is usually ranked as one of the greatest rap MCs of all time, but he's become so mainstream in recent years that I have a hard time taking him very seriously. He was great in Boyz n the Hood and Three Kings, but then came BarberShop, BarberShop 2, 21 Jump Street, and a bunch of really lame Coors Light commercials:
"It Was a Good Day" was a #1 hit for Ice Cube in 1993. The song describes a day in the life of a young African-American in South Central L.A.
Ice Cube has a busy day -- he heads to the playground for some basketball (scoring a triple double), watches Yo! MTV Raps at a friend's crib, wins at craps and dominos, and then hooks up with a girl he's had on the radar since high school:
Picked up a girl been tryin' to f*** since the 12th grade
It's ironic: I had the brew, she had the chronic
The Lakers beat the Supersonics
I felt on the big fat fanny
Pulled out the jammy, and killed the punani
And my d*** runs deep, so deep
So deep put her ass to sleep
Woke her up around one
She didn't hesitate to call Ice Cube the top gun
The most notable thing about the song it what doesn't happen. For one thing, Ice Cube isn't hassled by the police (although he drives around all day in an outrageous drop-top lowrider). For another, he doesn't get shot and killed.
The song ends with Ice Cube seeing the lights of the Goodyear blimp spelling out "Ice Cube's a Pimp" high in the skies over Los Angeles.
That indicates to me that this song is about a dream, and not about reality. For South Central dudes like Ice Cube, being ignored by the cops and escaping violence all day long is just a fantasy.
And so is hooking up with a girl you've had your eye on since 12th grade. I'm sorry, but if you didn't strike back in 12th grade, it's too late now -- you blew it!
|Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day" ride|
So what about the lines quoted at the beginning of this post -- how does having breakfast with no bacon or sausage or other pork products make it a good day? Ice Cube claims to be a Muslim, although he doesn't attend prayer services or follow other Muslim rituals.
Like Jews, Seventh-day Adventists, and Rastafarians, Muslims consider pork taboo. I respect that belief, but I certainly don't share it.
After all, as an old musician once said, "You don't have to be poor to play the blues . . . but you have to eat the pork." Amen, brother.
Here's "It Was a Good Day":
Click here to buy the song from Amazon: