sorabji.com: Who are you?: home

By blindswine on Friday, November 2, 2007 - 04:06 am:

    pennsyltucky it is.

    i just call it "the twilight zone".

    everything about this place is surreal to me-- especially the fact that i grew up here. i still often wonder what was going through my father's 34 year old head that he would choose *this* place to raise a family of west-indian descent. he says the reason he chose bucknell over all the other schools was because they offered the most money. i guess that makes a certain amount of sense when you're in your mid-thirties and have a wife and three kids to raise in a foreign land-- but goddamn-- i would've gladly traded the big house and yard in favor of avoiding the redneck scraps, identity crisis and double-consciousness trip. but i guess what's done is done.

    the upside is that the susquehanna valley is truly beautiful. drive through the countryside along rolling hills dotted with red barns, grazing cows, amish kids working on their farms and you get a clear picture of what "god's country" should look like. but just so there's no confusion, the fundamentalists set up huge signs along the road spelling out the ten commandments (in case you forgot), that the situation in iraq is a Holy War (in case you forgot), or simply that God Hates Fags (in case you didn't know).

    when i first got back here i spent many afternoons drinking beer at one of the local bars while going over my resume. the main industries are agriculture, manufacturing, bucknell university, and the level-five maximum security federal penitentiary. i didn't have much interest in being a farmer, factory worker, professor, or prison gaurd, so the future looked bleak.

    my bartender was this 24 year old kid named Devon Kemper. he was half cantonese, half west virginia trailer trash and completly out of his god damn mind. apparently his cantonese dad was the kind of asshole who liked to beat up his trailer park mom, so mom and son retreated to the outskirts of lewisburg, pa and shacked up with a military man who gave devon his german surname.

    one sunday devon was finishing up his shift and asked what i was up to. as usual, i wasn't up to much-- just drinking beer and musing over how much i felt like henry hill at the end of goodfellas, or some such nonsense-- who knows-- but i end up paying my tab and jump into devon's car to go drink for free at his house. grilled steak was to be involved-- so as far as i was concerned, accepting the invitation was a no-brainer. on the way to his place, i find out "his place" is actually in the basement of his step-dad's house. ok. no problem. then he tells me not to be freaked out by the basement-- his dad just likes to celebrate his heritage. uh, ok-- no problem.

    when we get there, i follow devon inside and see his family reclining, each in their own la-z-boy holding plates of steak and potatoes, eyes glued to the big-ass television in the center of the room. his step-dad gets up, walks towards me, offers his hand and says "whassup brotha. want some steak? beer's in the fridge." usually all that "brotha" shit irritates me-- but the guy seems nice enough, has just offered me steak and beer, and i'm a guest in his house-- so i let it slide without so much as a grimace. also--- well, first of all-- he's standing there half naked with an iron eagle tattoo over his heart and marine imagery on both arms looking like the spitting image of martin sheen in apocalypse now. i am not making this up-- the man is Captain Willard on steroids. i follow Captain Willard/Mr. Kemper into the kitchen. he gives me a beer and a plateful of steak and rambles away about all the bricks in the backyard he's going to use to build a patio in the front. Mrs. Kemper beams at this-- hand on her hip, head swiveling on her neck-- she snaps, declaring "that's *MY* man!" Mrs. Kemper has obviously been watching a lot of BET on that big-ass television. i smile politely, shaking my head.

    we sit there while "the siege" rumbles in the background and talk briefly about his tours in iraq and mogadishu. i'd moved on to the "arrogant bastard" ale he'd offered and start to feel woozy after the 44 ounces of 8.2% kick in. devon wants to play pool, so i get up and start following him towards a flight of stairs leading to what must be the basement. Captain Kemper reaches out and grabs my forearm to get my attention. "i hope you don't get offended by my WWII collection. it's my heritage and i'm proud of it. some people take that the wrong way." i nod reassuringly and head down the stairs.

    you get to the landing, turn a corner, walk into a large room to see a massive third reich flag emblazoned with an equally massive swastika mounted in a glass case on the opposite wall. to the left and right are more glass cases-- these filled with guns-- antique lugers, mausers, glocks. other cases display fully automatic rifles, automatic shotguns, customized weaponry-- all illegal. there are mannequins dressed in authentic stormtropper gear-- everything from the caps, medallions, down to the jackboots. the man is thorough-- he's probably wearing authentic nazi tighty-whities under all that shit.

    i can't remember what i initially said to devon, or the conversation we had afterward. i do remember that besides being creeped out by what could easily be interpreted as a fourth-reich upstart, i found the extensive collection and the care put into preserving it impressive. the thought had occured to me that i should come back and record an interview with Captain Kemper about his collection and his experience-- but some other time. the disclaimers were wearing thin, the arrogant bastard ale was getting the better of me and and the Kemper Household simply wasn't the kind of place i was trying to pass out in.

By blindswine on Friday, November 2, 2007 - 04:43 am:

    that wasn't i was trying to copy and paste.


By semillama on Friday, November 2, 2007 - 12:42 pm:

    I saw where this was going a mile away.

    great story!

By Der beobachter on Friday, November 2, 2007 - 07:27 pm:

    nette geschichte

By Jesco on Monday, November 12, 2007 - 06:10 pm:

    Speaking of West Virginia trailer trash,they can't even do crime scene investigations in West Virginia,The DNA is all the same,and there are no dental records.

By V on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 - 02:18 am:

    ..Thats cuz most people in West Virginia dont have teeth beyond the age of 12,but they do play real fine banjo music...

By V on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 - 02:51 am:

    ,,,and the d.n.a. is the same due to most parents being bother and sister to each other.,allthough I am constantly told by the Sorabjis to go South to check it out in person,but it still sounds like a scene from that old movie "Deliverence" to me,if its o.k. by you guys,I want to keep my ass "intacto"

By Jesco on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 - 03:08 am:

    Then why the fascination with dueling banjos? Hmmm

By V on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 - 04:38 am:

    Hmmm,mostly cuz I spect you play one real fine,boy...


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