“Truly it is an evil to be full of faults; but it is a still greater evil to be full of them and to be unwilling to recognize them, since that is to add the further fault of a voluntary illusion.” Blaise Pascal.

The post-industrial vacation is not for everyone. I just took a trip to that kind of place: Conneaut Lake Park, just north of the Steel Valley near the Pennsylvania-Ohio border. It is a place that strips away the ability to escape. There are a lot of reminders there of life’s consequences and possibilities. But still, everybody partied. Eddie Money was there playing Two Tickets to Paradise in the ruins. No shit. And that, after all, is the best kind of fun. The fun of faces grinning at the skull grinning at the banquet.

Like I said, this most certainly would not be a popular trip, at least to popular American sentiment. Too literal and too down to earth. Not enough chance to pretend. After all, we live in illusions. And nothing is more illusory than the vacation, or more exactly: the vacation “hot spot”. But I find such vacations downright depressing.

In July I went to Myrtle Beach. The whole city acts as an outpost for escapism from the homeland’s problems. Yet escapism can produce some nasty results. How Myrtle Beach has been conceived and constructed is one example. Sure, there is the beach and the sun. But get away from what god made and you enter waves of four-lane highways littered with the cancer-growth of cheap t-shirt and foam boogie board shops—of chain restaurants—of cars and the smell of gasoline in the heat. And the worst part about it is the dissonance between what your messaged and what you sense. It is a gut-sucking empty feeling in your body that gets exacerbated by the highway billboards that plead that all of it—every plasticized strip of it—is “Fun”.

Fuck that. It isn’t. Give me more Rust Belt Chic.

Richey Piiparinen

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