Gentlemen, Start Your Noise Pollution Engines

February 7, 2009

NASCAR Car WreckWe saw a robin yesterday and — especially in light of last week’s devastating ice storm — were elated with the chirping of this first harbinger of spring. But I forgot about that other harbinger of spring…NASCAR. Somehow, Wrinkled Wretched Randy’s delight last night at picking his “fantasy” race team at Faux News’ “Fantasy Auto Racing” website went over my head. It wasn’t until I was immersed in thought, creating a client’s mysql database for a WordPress install — a time when distractions are unwelcome — that I realized today was the big day. Precisely at 1:30 PM, the drone of CNN was replaced by the loud vroom! vroom! of engines. Surprise! The 2009 NASCAR season was upon us. Oh no!

Detective Sherlock HolmesLet’s face it — the bottom-line reason why people watch NASCAR is for the thrill of the vicarious rubbernecking. What other reason could there be? Why would anyone want to watch grown men drive around and around in a circle, going nowhere at high rates of speed? And why would one expect other than blood and gore and an eventual, especially nimble, survivor winner? Wretched Randy promptly went to sleep, once today’s practice race began. Just as I contemplated furtively changing the channel to let’s say CourtTV (recently nonsensically renamed “TruTV” — what is “TruTV”? and what is “Untrue TV”? I idly wondered) — where I could watch autopsies and learn more about the inventive ways people murder one another, only to get tripped up by forensics, Wrinkled Randy’s snoring woke him up. Meanwhile, I relayed the horrific NASCAR news to another female blogger. When I came back in the office, and having overheard the conversation, Wrinkled Randy said: “I think that’s cruel and uncalled for. A lot of people like NASCAR. You don’t have to be a redneck to like NASCAR.” (Well, theoretically true, but I have yet to meet a NASCAR fan who wasn’t at least a closet redneck.)
He protested:

  • “But it’s only on the weekends.” (Which, conveniently, in NASCAR-land, often stretches from Friday afternoon through late Sunday. In other words, sometimes almost three days. Or, half of a week.)
  • “And I don’t overdo it.” (Well, as with beauty, that’s in the eye of the beholder. Let’s just say that you’re “mellow” by the end of each race…if not sound asleep.)

Ottawa County, Ohio Sheriff Bob BrattonTo his credit, at least Wretched Randy, an experienced ice fisherman, wasn’t one of the approximately 150 clueless people adrift on an eight-mile long ice floe in Lake Erie, which was created when a huge chunk of ice broke off from land near Locust Point, Ohio (east of Toledo) today. This despite a National Weather Service warning early Saturday that ice floes could break away in the western section of Lake Erie as shifting winds and warmer temperatures kicked in. (Folks, it’s called spring thaw.). Bob Bratton, Ottawa County, Ohio Sheriff, fumed on CNN, estimating rescue costs to be at least $25,000 and climbing, and spoke of the endangered volunteer firefighters and U.S. Coast Guard rescuers. (The Canadian Coast Guard, Ohio State University, and Lucas and Monroe County officials, as well as state hovercrafts and airboats, also participated in the rescue). The clever fishermen laid planks over cracks in the ice, working their way out into the lake, until the ice floe broke away, the planks disappeared in the water, and they were stranded about 1,000 yards from shore. Some of the stranded were on four-wheelers. (Secretly thinking: Couldn’t they be left there, à la the theory of evolution?) One died. Bratton told CNN: “The people who were out there today, as far as I’m concerned, were not professional fishermen…These people should have known better.”

Bud Shootout Celebrations at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, FloridaIt has always escaped me, as to why anyone would want to go ice fishing. One bundles up, takes a radio and pitches a tent over a hole carved into the ice. Then you huddle in your tent, dwarfed by the vast expanse of ice, and get drunk, occasionally visiting the tents of other transients drunks fishermen. Staying home in flannel jammies and watching movies is so much more fun. And unlike the spouses of ice fishermen, at least I know where Wrinkled Randy is. I’m not wondering whether he is floating, face down, in frigid, dark waters. Having fallen asleep in his office chair again, he’s gone to take a nap. He has to rest up for the Budweiser Shootout tonight — a kind of “pre-party” leading up to the Daytona 500 next weekend at the Daytona International Speedway.

There’s a sort of yin and yang to the whole annual NASCAR ordeal. And doesn’t that picture of NASCAR celebrations in Daytona Beach, Florida, with pyrotechnics in full glory, vaguely resemble…Hades, or a Hieronymus Bosch painting? As they say, “One man’s hell is another man’s heaven.”

Read about a different form of sport in our happy home: our annual generator wars.
Photo credit: NASCAR

Copyright © 2009

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