The Smell of Grass and Ignorance

Somebody was mowing a lawn as I was walking to work this morning. I couldn’t hear it because I had my Discman on (grooving to late 70’s/early 80’s Cars songs), but I could smell it a block away. Ah, the smell. I’ve always loved the smell of a lawn being mowed.


But that got me to wondering…is that smell I love so much the grass or the gas? Perhaps it’s a combination of both. How healthy is it to breathe in?


Oh, and in my TV addicted life I discovered a new horrible program. It’s called “Popularity Contest”. It airs on the (don’t laugh) Country Music Television channell (I said don’t laugh). Basically, they take 10 “city slickers” from the north (and the two coasts) and stick them in Vega, Texas…population 940 (ish). These 10 participants then live with a host family for 3 days and meet and greet the neighbors. After 3 days, the entire town goes to the town barn (I’m not lying) and have a popularity contest where the least popular person gets escorted out of town by the sheriff. Then, the guests get assigned to a new host family for another 3 days and then the cycle continues until there is only one person left. The most popular person is invited to live in the town.


This show is just wrong on so many levels. But what i find most disconcerting are the townspeople themselves. The only newspaper in the county is run by one woman….and she chooses what goes into the paper and what doesn’t. News travels fast in a small town so when one of the contestants said a swear (the BS word), it became the huge scandal in the town and this woman’s popularity dropped drastically. One woman was so offended that this swear was uttered in within 20 feet of her (but not directed at her) that she required an apology.


There was also this one contestant who was a psychic medium up north. He was ostracized because such a heathen existence is not consistent with Bible teachings. To make matters worse, he visited the house of this morbidly obese man (and his family) and the fat man asked the conestant what kind of car he had. He said he had a BMW and some Korean car (Kia?). Anyway, the fat guy asked if he was aware of World War II and the Korean War. The contestant said yes, but that he wasn’t alive back then. Well, the fat man got all bent out of shape because Germans and Koreans are evil and then said the man wasn’t welcomed into his house ever again. In fact, at the next popularity contest, Fat Man’s equally fat daughter got on stage (in the barn, no less) and said that the contestant was offensive in her home and should be kicked out of town.


I’m not lying – these people are so serious. I saw the first three episodes – and wouldn’t you know that there were only two black contestants on the show and they were the first few to get evicted. Surprise, surprise. Townsfolk were appearing on camera bitching about who they want to get out of town because they don’t “fit in”. Apparently, in Vega, TX assimilation is the good life and you’re only welcome if you’re Christian and ignorant.


What saddens me most is that Vega, TX is not an isolated place. Although this town was selected for this show…I know there are countless communities (even in the north) with similar attitudes. HMMM – actually, I think that scares me more than it saddens me.

18 Comments

  1. Comment by Will on April 26, 2005 2:32 pm

    On the other hand, featuring Vega as the location for this show could be a way of showing up what’s really going on in the “red states,” and might get people thinking.

  2. Comment by matt on April 27, 2005 5:01 am

    Funny that you should like the smell of freshly mowed grass, but think that all flowers smell of urine. Discuss.

    I want to know if you saw Tyra Banks go off on one of her models when the model failed to show any emotion upon being given the boot!?!? I only read about it — but gives us the scoop!

  3. Comment by David on April 27, 2005 8:54 am

    Karl, Right on top of the issues. Well maybe you are like Opus from Bloom County with his Dandielions. Karl in his underwear sitting and smelling freshly cut grass.

  4. Comment by karyn on April 28, 2005 10:27 am

    David,
    I can go back to bed now. Day’s not going to get any better after that for an image!

  5. Comment by karyn on April 28, 2005 10:32 am

    Snarl, Darling – – Snarling? –

    You think all flowers smell like urine? Maybe you need some Flonase or something… there are a fair few stinky blooms out there, but all of them?

    This Vega place…it is mind boggling that a great geographical swath seems to encompass such similar values and social mores. I think of our fair Commonwealth as being pretty libby, but then, there are skinheads and white supremicists and hankie carrying gangs (I know they’re bandanas, I just like to piss people off by calling them hankies) and chauvanists and man-haters and religious zealots here too. You never find just ONE point of view or ONE set of standards… I don’t get how large chunks of terrain seem to breed a particular mindset. Then again, I don’t ‘get’ a lot of things.

    I think the show sounds Springer-esque. Good for a laugh. At the residents.

  6. Comment by deb on May 1, 2005 5:07 am

    In reference to your article, I just wanted to say that you had your facts WRONG…the two black contestants were NOT voted out first…in fact, unless you are privy to the entire show’s outcome, one is still very much in the game. One thing you need to understand is that VEGA was CHOSEN to be a part of this game…and as for the cussing, etc…while in itself, it isn’t a horrendous act…these contestants CHOSE to participate in this game..to hopefully become most popular in the town. And in response to the “gossip” traveling fast…yes indeed it does…but it is at that same speed that when others have deaths or sicknesses in their families..or have fallen on bad times…in a nanosecond, the townspeople are there for support. I don’t think that is seen in large cities. Vega is full of wonderful, educated, caring individuals who accepted these strangers into our homes with open arms….don’t think that sounds too scary. Come visit.

  7. Comment by Karl on May 2, 2005 10:34 am

    Thank you for posting, Deb! I do stand corrected…only one of the black contestants has been booted off so far (I realized this over the weekend as I watched another episode).

    I’m guessing you’re a resident of Vega (or at least familiar with the community). I wasn’t aware Vega was chosen to be part of the game (versus applying)…how did that come about? Did the town have a reputation that warranted it being singled out? Just curious.

    Also, please don’t think that us big-city folks aren’t capable of being there for support when others are in need! A dear friend of mine recently died of breast cancer and her brother (from rural, upstate New York) came to be with her for the last few weeks of her life. He spoke at the memorial I prepared fo rher and he talked about how he never understood why she left her hometown to come to Boston. But upon being here and seeing how many people came to visit her at the hospital, offered to cook her meals, offered to clean her home, and take care of her cats, he realized that she’d created her own family in Boston. Community is what you make of it…no matter how big the town (or city).

    But you do have me more intrigued about Vega…more so than the tv show does (I do realize that the show is edited to make things appear more scandalous than they actually are). Actually, if you re-read this…could you give me more details about the incident wiht the psychic medium and that man? Was something edited out? I still can’t understand why he got so upset because the contestant owned a Korean and German car.

  8. Comment by deb on May 2, 2005 3:17 pm

    Hi Karl, Thanks for the reply. Yes, I have lived in Vega most of my..er…uh..51 years. LOL. I have deeply founded roots with family and friends here…and after (a few) divorces, found it to be a great, safe place to raise my two children. Anyhoo, we still aren’t quite sure why Vega was chosen…however, it has been the set for several music videos plus another low budget film was made here…”What Matters Most.” We were told that CMT was looking for a close-knit, patriotic, welcoming town with characters…and that we surely are! Seriously, August 13 is our big county Round-up Celebration…and I think many of the contestants and crew members, who, by the way, we became very close life-time friends with, will be returning to Vega….you should come…and get the feel for yourself. I was a host home to Mandel and Angela (both black, and in this nearly totally white community…and you could verify this with them, they were treated magnificently…as if they were family. I think most people in town are “color blind.” And in reference to the Tana incident, I know there was much more to it…but honestly and sadly, I didn’t get to know Tana that well…as the days and events were so crowded. The producers did try to conjure up “drama.” One more thing, the townspeople didn’t VOTE out people…we got to vote for only ONE that we wanted to stay…which, if you continue to watch, shook things up quite a bit. It was a wonderful experience…we learned a lot…as did the contestants…about ourselves, our lives, our weaknesses…no matter what the program shows…it truly touched our hearts to be with these people. Are you in NYC? I am coming with several WILD VEGAN women in June…I wonder how much we country bumpkins will stick out in the big city? And…one more thing….you are right…I believe there are kind, caring people in every part of the country. Bless you….deborah sue

  9. Comment by deb on May 2, 2005 3:17 pm

    Hi Karl, Thanks for the reply. Yes, I have lived in Vega most of my..er…uh..51 years. LOL. I have deeply founded roots with family and friends here…and after (a few) divorces, found it to be a great, safe place to raise my two children. Anyhoo, we still aren’t quite sure why Vega was chosen…however, it has been the set for several music videos plus another low budget film was made here…”What Matters Most.” We were told that CMT was looking for a close-knit, patriotic, welcoming town with characters…and that we surely are! Seriously, August 13 is our big county Round-up Celebration…and I think many of the contestants and crew members, who, by the way, we became very close life-time friends with, will be returning to Vega….you should come…and get the feel for yourself. I was a host home to Mandel and Angela (both black, and in this nearly totally white community…and you could verify this with them, they were treated magnificently…as if they were family. I think most people in town are “color blind.” And in reference to the Tana incident, I know there was much more to it…but honestly and sadly, I didn’t get to know Tana that well…as the days and events were so crowded. The producers did try to conjure up “drama.” One more thing, the townspeople didn’t VOTE out people…we got to vote for only ONE that we wanted to stay…which, if you continue to watch, shook things up quite a bit. It was a wonderful experience…we learned a lot…as did the contestants…about ourselves, our lives, our weaknesses…no matter what the program shows…it truly touched our hearts to be with these people. Are you in NYC? I am coming with several WILD VEGAN women in June…I wonder how much we country bumpkins will stick out in the big city? And…one more thing….you are right…I believe there are kind, caring people in every part of the country. Bless you….deborah sue

  10. Comment by deb on May 2, 2005 3:17 pm

    Hi Karl, Thanks for the reply. Yes, I have lived in Vega most of my..er…uh..51 years. LOL. I have deeply founded roots with family and friends here…and after (a few) divorces, found it to be a great, safe place to raise my two children. Anyhoo, we still aren’t quite sure why Vega was chosen…however, it has been the set for several music videos plus another low budget film was made here…”What Matters Most.” We were told that CMT was looking for a close-knit, patriotic, welcoming town with characters…and that we surely are! Seriously, August 13 is our big county Round-up Celebration…and I think many of the contestants and crew members, who, by the way, we became very close life-time friends with, will be returning to Vega….you should come…and get the feel for yourself. I was a host home to Mandel and Angela (both black, and in this nearly totally white community…and you could verify this with them, they were treated magnificently…as if they were family. I think most people in town are “color blind.” And in reference to the Tana incident, I know there was much more to it…but honestly and sadly, I didn’t get to know Tana that well…as the days and events were so crowded. The producers did try to conjure up “drama.” One more thing, the townspeople didn’t VOTE out people…we got to vote for only ONE that we wanted to stay…which, if you continue to watch, shook things up quite a bit. It was a wonderful experience…we learned a lot…as did the contestants…about ourselves, our lives, our weaknesses…no matter what the program shows…it truly touched our hearts to be with these people. Are you in NYC? I am coming with several WILD VEGAN women in June…I wonder how much we country bumpkins will stick out in the big city? And…one more thing….you are right…I believe there are kind, caring people in every part of the country. Bless you….deborah sue

  11. Comment by deb on May 2, 2005 3:23 pm

    Karl, OOOPS…I am a school teacher…and about the time I was posting, had my attention diverted…sorry about the triple post…a bit redundant, huh? LOL…deb

  12. Comment by deb on May 2, 2005 3:43 pm

    Ok…Karl..promise I am not an internet stalker or anything of the kind..but I began to read some of your other writings, and wondered if they are published? I, too, on a VERY small scale, do a bit of “humorous” writing…actually it is a weekly column in that “one-woman” editor’s paper…Anyway, enjoyed your pieces..and would like to see more. Ok…I am through now…ds

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  18. Comment by Sarah on August 25, 2007 10:47 pm

    I found your post about the insular nature of little Texas towns so fascinating. The people there think the same, they’re ignorant, they’re fat… It reminded me of the folks that live in a little town on the other side of the Charles. Of course, the people in Cambridge aren’t ignorant, are they? But since they all seem to share the same opinions, the same (liberal) politics and (lack of) religion, it does make me wonder how someone in Cambridge can honestly tell if he is ignorant and prejudiced or not. The post seemed to me to lean just a smidge in that very direction…

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