I like Iowa, although that's the point. I also grew up in another distant and misunderstood state whose name begins and ends in a vowel, although it isn't anything like Iowa. But Bloom writes in the time-honored tradition of "sloppy journalists who visit a place once, record their impressions
, and insist this is The Truth about an entire place."
What's most spectacular about Bloom's sloppy and silly little ravings is the sloppiness of the journalism, viz:
* No one ever calls a caucus in Iowa a chat n chew. I've studied this stuff for years. Never heard it.
* No one calls I 80 "the highway" as if it were the only one in Iowa.
* Of course people vote in the Iowa caucuses along party lines. They're party
caucuses. Think harder.
* One does not hunt turkey with a rifle (legally) in Iowa.
* Consider this gem:
Indoor parking lots are ramps, soda is pop, lollipops are suckers, grocery bags are sacks, weeds are volunteers, miniature golf is putt-putt, supper is never to be confused with dinner, cellars and basements are totally different places, and boys under the age of 16 are commonly referred to as "Bud." Almost every Iowa house has a mudroom, so you don't track mud or pig s*** into the kitchen or living room, even though the aroma of pig sh*t [redacted, alas] is absolutely venerated in Iowa: It's known to one and all here as "the smell of money."
Wow, there are regional variations in American English? Who knew? But so what? Does calling a parking garage a ramp mean anything? No. Also, my Iowa in-laws use supper and dinner interchangeably, and while they do have a room one might call a mud room, there's no pig within 5 miles of their house--and they live in rural Webster County.
There's more, but it's like shooting fish in a barrel. Bloom's book Postville
was generally good, but, like in this "not-really-thinking" piece, Postville
is as much about Bloom as it is about the Lubavichers or about Iowa. The first third of the book seems to be about Bloom's shattering cultural displacement experienced when moving from Brooklyn to the cultural wasteland of....Iowa City? WTF?
So Bloom claims to have been all over Iowa, but lives in or near Iowa City? That's, umm....not really representative of Iowa, either in the "everyone's an illegal rifle-toting turkey hunter reveling in the smell of pig sh*t" sense, or in the "Iowa is [anything else....] sense." I don't really expect professors with such displacement to be able to discern the essential nature of a state from living in Eugene, or Missoula, or Storrs, for that matter.
Sure, it's fair to hate whatever state one is in--chacun a son gout
, y'all. But if what Bloom wrote is supposed to be "journalism" even in the "feature journalism" sense, it's an abject failure. It's sloppy, there was no fact-checking, it's mean-spirited without having a point, and it is nothing but a fine model of the depths to which journalism has sunk in the early 21st century. It's rubbish.
He was telling it like it is. I don't think he doesn't like the state. It sounds like a nice place to live.
It is a nice place. I'd kill to live there (my wife's from there. I rather like it). But Bloom wasn't telling it "like it is," because what "it is" is really not defined. He did tell it like he thinks it is from his lofty perch in Iowa City. He needs to get out more. Yeah, he's been in all 99 counties of Iowa; I've been to at least half that many, but whipping through on I-80 or US-30 doesn't really count.
In the end, Iowans seem less upset by the dinner/pop/ramp stuff, which they rather proudly own as an interesting language variation, as they are by the arrogance of this guy who's been on the state payroll for 20 years and who writes this cr@p. Not because it's mean-spirited or confused or whatever, but because so much of it is factually incorrect. Most Iowans suffer the opinionated very well--they have to, every four years. But they don't suffer fools well.