janklow stars in… the local mall, which is totally not a legitimate topic for a travelogue, what the hell, man

people that know our hero janklow –and we’ll assume that this includes you, loyal reader, since odds are, if you’re one of the three people reading this, you’re really only doing so because you DO know me and there’s some lingering sense of obligation at work– can probably imagine that i do not enjoy a visit to most places populated with the lowest common denominators of humanity, or, really, any humanity. after all, i may really, really love guns and thus love gun shows, but i’ll be damned if i am not almost IMMEDIATELY annoyed with at least 50% of the people at those gun shows. and those are my people! luckily, they are able to redeem themselves in my eyes by casting pro-gun votes in elections.

anyway, a prime, prime example of a location deeming with the “average man” (and woman) not naming “Wal-Mart,” is, of course, the local mall. now i really, really do try to avoid the mall: generally when i happen to be there, i mostly notice that they’ve phased out more things like books in favor of “additional access to skinny jeans.” and let’s be honest: i worked in a food court of a mall once, and that seemed like it took about 50 years of my life away, so there might be a little bit of a grudge there. unfortunately, i managed to smash all my glasses within a span of a week or so (okay, three weeks, but the last couple of pairs were mashed on back-to-back days, whatever), and when i go to get my lenses replaced… i have to go to the mall.

but luckily, i have some sociological observations!

Israeli Dead Sea salt, i guess
i don’t care how scenic the Dead Sea is, Israel, i’m not buying your exfoliating scrubs if your salesmen are such dicks

the inexplicable nature of this insulting foreigner salesman

so your hero (again, janklow) is hustling to pick up his glasses when this salesman at one of those kiosks (i am going to presume it’s one of those that sells Israeli scrubs based on Dead Sea salts or whatever) asks him if he wants to try something to cleanse his face. now, let’s be honest: most of us don’t like being singled out from a crowd to be sold a product, and i personally am not exception. oh, and i don’t really want to become one of those guys spending good money on facial products; i’m not criticizing anyone that does, but it’s not me. at the same time, one tries not to just be an asshole to random people, even salesmen, because, you know, we’re living in a SOCIETY here. so i politely (i swear) say, no thanks, and keep walking.

now this is typically where you, as a salesman, cut your losses and move on to the next mark, right? not this Israeli dude (i base this on both his accent and his product), who proceeds to take the following inexplicable steps:

#01. politely ask “one moment” and do that thing where you reach out to give someone the IMPRESSION you’re touching their arm/shoulder, but without the actual touching that sometimes prompts a lawsuit and/or a knife in the groin;
#02. apologizes for his English, which, to be fair, wasn’t bad at all, despite his strong accent, but it’s also possible he apologized for his accent, although i could have SWORN it was the former;
#03. sets me up for the burn by asking, “do you use any products on your face?” i answer no (curse you, social contract!), and am about to turn away and keep moving, when…
#04. he hits me with the burn: “well, you should.” and then he immediately goes back to hustling his product.

now, an aggressive salesman is one thing (i do have a story about an unfunny shouting match between myself and a credit card program’s salesman got into fucking RANDOMLY) and a rude salesman is one thing –and let me note that the very concept of “rude salesman” seems pointless, since ultimately you’re supposed to be selling me your product, and i can’t see how being an asshole to ANY potential customer helps with that, but then hey, what the fuck do i know about the sales industry, right?– but a rude salesman who apologizes for his speech before talking shit? who the hell does THAT?

granted, it’s entirely possible that he really WASN’T talking shit, and that it was sort of a “here’s my throwaway advice BUT NOW I AM IMMEDIATELY GOING BACK TO WORK” type of remark… but who does THAT either? and then there’s the whole “you really had to be there to hear his tone BLAH BLAH BLAH part. so i’m taking it how i want to take it: so fucking WEIRD.

ROSIE THE RIVETER FUCK YEAH
in order to counterbalance the incoming sexism, i went with an image of strong female power. YOU GO, LONG-DEAD 1940s-ERA GIRLS

what i shall refer to as “booby trap” girls

DISCLAIMER: this is probably going to get accidentally sexist, so i apologize in advance to all my sisters out there. stay strong in the face of, well, i guess me, ladies.

anyway, one thing i think we’ve all heard is that when you’re seriously dating a woman, you need to examine the condition of her mother, on the grounds that, well, to put it unkindly, that’s what you’re in store for in the future if you keep her around. it’s not 100% for obvious reasons, but you know, for mysteriously reasons like “parentage,” whatever the condition of the mother, you can see the similarities. except…

so i am at this mall and i am waiting for, i think, service on these glasses (the timing of this story is not that important) and a girl and her mother are doing some shopping right nearby. now, this girl is, to put it politely, well put together. not trying to be a creeper here (seriously), just a straight-up observation… but her mother is a goddamn TRAIN WRECK.

now, right, it’s not 100% and you could probably argue stuff like “maybe it’s her stepmother?” or “maybe it’s her beloved aunt with whom she has a mother-like relationship but shares different genes with?” or whatever… but i am going to assume, based on the overheard conversation, that they were actual mother and daughter. and to this i can only say: if some guy doesn’t scope out this mother in advance, he’s likely to find this girl to be one HELL of a booby trap when she turns 40 or so.

these goddamn kids
for the love of good, NEVER GOOGLE SEARCH “FUCKING TEENAGERS” WITH SAFESEARCH TURNED OFF. anyway, these kids are having a good time

me wanting to punch kids in the face

ultimately, i can’t do this: it’s illegal and i am way too small to not pay the ultimate price for it. but i think it definitely speaks to what age you’re at in life: at one point, the swarms of dumbass teenagers seem inexplicably cool, then they’re your peers (for better or worse), then they’re what you look back on and smile, and finally, you just want to hit them all in the face for the myriad of dumbass things you see them saying and doing. granted, i might have going directly from five years old to the latter category, but what the hell, it is what it is. DAMN KIDS!

anyway, that’ll be it for now, so, on to the next one.

janklow stars in… Florida, which we’re currently calling “the Gunshine State”

so recently, our hero janklow headed out of state to the land of Florida (or, as we are calling it this week, the Gunshine State, a moniker that i cannot take credit for) and as always, i try to come up with some observations for the purposes of joke-making. it’s actually been quite some time since i busted out a travelogue update on this site (a short search indicates that it was apparently janklow stars in … Ohio: where everyone is way too nice, which we published on 11.02.2007, which just makes me say, “wow, i guess i DON’T ever go anywhere”), so i figured it might be a great time to have another one happen thanks to Florida. here we go!

moving walkway
IT IS NOT A GODDAMN RIDE, PEOPLE

chapter I: flying out of scenic Maryland

so perhaps the fact that i have spent a lot of time in airports makes me susceptible to being outraged by the things that people do in them, but i have to come back to something that i have not bitched about in some time: people’s inability to correctly use moving walkways. look, guys, they’re not rides, they’re meant to help you travel through the airport FASTER. and sometimes people are very impressed with seemingly mundane things –see also the number of people who seem to travel to Maryland and then return with massive amounts of scrapple, which i SUPPOSE isn’t freely available everywhere, but which i thought we all recognized was “spiced trash meat”– but a moving walkway, being such a ubiquitous part of airports, shouldn’t be one of them.

further… it seems like everyone hanging out on moving walkways without moving is doing their best to be as annoying about it as possible: they don’t leave for anyone to walk PAST them, they take one step onto the walkway and IMMEDIATELY stand still, regardless of whoever’s right behind them, and so on. and you know, there has simply GOT to be social commentary to make about the poor physical condition of the average American and how it relates to peoples’ refusals to walk on moving walkways and escalators and all that.

also, when did neck tattoos get so popular? i don’t want to bash everyone that has one since some of these people seem like decent-enough folk, but i have long operated under the assumption that tattoos above the shoulder were indicating that you wanted out of society and/or into the judicial system to some extent. still, it seems like whether or not you make the worst assumptions about people, they shouldn’t be so popular.

yeah, i know, i haven’t even escaped the state at this point in the narrative and i am already LOSING MY DAMN MIND. attribute it to the fact that i hate, hate, hate flying and i will try to make some Florida-based remarks.

Maryland Fried Chicken
“hey, let’s fly from Maryland to Florida and then sample their native cuisine of Maryland Fried Chicken!”

chapter II: surviving Florida, probably in part because it is devoid of alligators

so mostly what i did in Florida was some equally non-exciting stuff (hello, little cousin’s graduation, an event which was bound to make me feel absolutely old as hell, and it did), but i wanted to attempt to make some observations from my travels anyways:

–once there, i and some relatives found a local eatery called “Maryland Fried Chicken,” which, in case you thought this was maybe just a coincidental name based on it being owned by Russell Maryland or something, declares that it makes fried chicken in the traditional Maryland way. now, being a native Marylander, i declare, “obviously we have to eat at this place.” in turn, i then realize something: i don’t even know what traditional Maryland fried chicken is supposed to taste like. Wikipedia tells me that this is a real thing, so i can’t outright declare that this is a clever marketing scam (as everyone wants to eat chicken from … Maryland), and supposedly the chain was started by a Delaware guy who wanted to appeal to guys from Baltimore and the rest of Maryland moving down to Florida for jobs at the time … so i guess what this REALLY means is that i am so used to just eating a bucket of chicken from KFC that i don’t even know what my native cuisine is supposed to taste like. sad.

…and then i was scalded by an INCREDIBLE hot container of beans exploding onto my legs. when you add this to the fact that i was also burned by an iron being wielded by my grandmother and injured in some kind of inflatable bounce house-type scenario (we’ll come back to this), i have to say, this was a surprisingly rough trip for me.

–at this graduation, the dean (at least, i think it was the dean) seemed to focus his remarks on the recent Boston Marathon bombing and a large pre-paid credit card scam. frankly, it seemed to me like a bit of a downer, what with this being a graduation and all, but i believe an aunt of mine pointed out that this might simply have been an attempt by said dean (if it was the dean) to let the new graduates know that with the current weakness of the economy, they should still be aware that they had options for their futures if they thought outside the box. i immediately had to agree this was the best possible way to take it.

–in the aftermath of graduation, we had a little shindig for my cousin wherein my aunt (because this is the kind of thing she does) got some ridiculous inflatable stuff for a party because there’d be little kids there, including this one that we’ll call an “inflatable sports challenge.” it’s a little hard to describe it: there’s an inflatable column in the middle and two kids are harnessed on either side of it, and they pull against each other as they try to dunk a ball. basically, let’s just look at a picture:

inflatable sports challenge

only the one in question had little raised walls.

now, for kids, this is clearly a sporting challenge, but HYPOTHETICALLY, adults could also use this in a fashion where they’re basically competing to smash each other into the center. not that this is what happened. it’s also possibly that in a competition against one of my female cousins, i won (thus showing off my mad dunking skills)… and was subsequently drug across the thing into the column on the grounds that, on balance, my little female cousin in question is much more of an athlete than i am and could PROBABLY beat me up. and that’s where the abrasive injury i mentioned earlier came from!

–so near where my aunt lives in central Florida, there is a small nature preserve that i wanted to search through for alligators, because i feel no trip to Florida is complete until you’ve seen a gator, and, with any luck, wrestled it into submission. however, the first time i went to this preserve, it was apparently on fire, at which point my family banned me from going to play in said fire (a decision that, given all my small injuries, may have been for the best). the second time, there was no fire, but also absolutely no gators, and i have to say, this was an INCREDIBLE disappointment. especially when you consider that while visiting that aunt, both someone’s stray dachshund AND someone’s stray (and very friendly) cockatiel wandered into her yard to hang out indefinitely… and yet not one gator did. i flew out of that state SO SAD about the gator situation.

–also, that preserve has signs that invite you to eat from plants in the preserve. it was admittedly stated in reference to citrus trees, but i still think it sent a weird message. that said, my immediate reaction was, “you know, there would NEVER be a “just eat stuff you find in here” sign in a nature preserve in Maryland.” you make of THAT what you will.

chapter III: the conclusion

so i survived all that, flew home, and was returned to my shack in the woods thanks to a timely assist from my Irish sidekick. no gators, light injuries, but on the balance, a solid trip. this place really COULD use a couple more travelogues, i suppose, so there it is, although i don’t know what the likelihood of having any additional ones is at this point…

janklow stars in … Ohio: where everyone is way too nice

while not as large-scale as my recent journey to Minnesota, even MORE recently, my illustrious associate Jae Millz and i recently decided that we’d travel out to the Midwest for the wedding of a colleague who’d moved out there to go to school and then, apparently, get married. i’m not going to say whether or not the promise of an open bar had anything to do with this, but i WILL say that the last time J was on the scene, he found Colombus to be “way too nice,” and declared that a team of Maryland-bred assholes could “take that shit over” with ease. a wedding, lots of free alcohol AND the possibility of taking the state of Ohio over and running it like a fiefdom? sign us up! but first, we’ll need a vacation checklist:

[x] drive through some of the most depressing areas of the US
[x] make fun of West Virginia and/or rednecks
[x] examine graffiti from here to Ohio (and possibly back again)
[x] go to a wedding and drink, drink, drink

and once again, let’s boring this up with conversation!

chapter I: West Virginia is DEPRESSING
so, this time on the way to Ohio, we drove a different route than my last Ohio travels, through an area that, frankly, should be its own state: a combination of southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia (which is itself often depressing) and southeastern Ohio that is basically the same damn place and also filled with dying small towns and no more industry and so on. you can actually add western Maryland to that if you like, because it’s all the same deal. but there were some light-hearted observations:

-so, RIGHT after cruising out of my house – and this has nothing to do with the trip, actually – i saw a raggedy sign posted on a sign bearing the speed limit that read simply “LOST DOG.” is it just me, or is this is not an effective way of notifying people about your lost dog? how am i supposed to know what it looks like, or what it answers to? what do i do with it if i find it? so many questions!

-town of West Alexander, it’s possibly not the best sales pitch to paint “EXPERIENCE WEST ALEXANDER” on a falling-apart wooden barn, unless this was less sales pitch and more “depressing realization of life in WV.”

-minutes after crossing into West Virginia, we happened to see some classy example of the White Trash Tribe throwing his dumpy, overweight white trash girlfriend/wife/sister out of his car. this was such a classic (and stereotypical) WV moment that we had to laugh about it.

on the way back, we had to take a detour through another small town and tried to lighten the mood by saying “get ready to get depressed.” unfortunately, you know, it may have happened anyway.

chapter II: Graffititrek 2007
now, i had commented during the discussion of my last trip that “graffiti in America is very, very unoriginal, especially in two places – bathroom stalls and anything like a wooden railing. bathroom stalls are sounding boards for various racist commentary and drawings i can only describe as “wangs and stuff.”” since this was sort of an inadvertent observation, we decided to make a note of the graffiti on the way out there, only to find that, apparently, people respect their bathrooms in PA, WV and OH. seriously, what the hell. in fairness, though, we DID find this cryptic symbol:

seriously, what?
my conspiracy theory in regards to this graffiti: it was created by alien astronauts who walked the earth before man

since all the graffiti in MD is about, as stated, racist stuff and “wangs and stuff,” i don’t even know where to begin when it comes to translating this, so while it’s lucky a camera was in the bathroom, it’s still not solving the mystery. and though we searched through every rest stop and gas station bathroom on the way there and back, there was basically nothing. until we returned to Maryland and stopped near Cumberland:

seriously, what?
everyone that stops at a rest stop to make notes about their wife has one of those wives with fidelity issues, it would seem

seriously, what?
honestly, i don’t think even Jesus wants very much to do with the kind of people frequenting this place, or their problems

seriously, what?
so THAT is how Larry Craig got into all that trouble!

…and that’s how we knew we were truly back in MD. it feels so good to be home! err, sort of.

chapter III: COLUMBUS
but we did make it to the city that bears Columbus’ name and which is way too nice. and EVERYONE there is too nice: waitresses and bartenders and panhandlers who might or might not be homeless and crazy people in White Castle and so on. this is something we’re really not used to in Maryland, where you have to be prepared for everyone to act like an asshole, treat you like shit, and drive recklessly. i must have seen half-a-dozen people back out of city parking spaces in a trusting fashion, whereas in MD that shit gets your car into an accident and maybe you into a fight. okay, example: let’s say you order a beer in a public venue and they’re out of it.

server in Maryland: we’re out of that. (stares blankly at you)
server in Ohio: i’m sorry, i’m out of that. (RUNS DOWN TO NEXT STAND AND GETS YOU THE BEER THERE) sorry about that, here you go.

WAY TOO FUCKING NICE

but the wedding went well, we drank and drank from the open bar and we didn’t even take advantage of the fact that we could have rampaged through the city of Columbus, unopposed by polite pedestrians and these cops that wear bright white uniform shirts, as if to imply they don’t have to soil themselves with things like “work” and “crime.” good times (and mild internet withdrawals) were had by all.

janklow stars in … MINNESOTA: Journey To The Center Of Time And The Northern US

as some of you may know, our hero janklow has been on vacation for the past week (or so) in the wilds of Minnesota, sort of kind of voluntarily. i really dislike taking vacations when no one is around to feed my cochons d’inde, but on the other hand, i haven’t been up to visit at the Indian reservation where my grandfather has his lake house in a decade (and at the time, not only were my last remaining great-grandfather AND my dog still alive, but they also drove up with me at the time), so i said “fuck it, i’ll make a vacation checklist and go.” the checklist:

[x] drink rum (or maybe beers) and smoke cigars
[x] defeat my aged grandmother at golf
[x] take a photo of the greatest Finnish guy ever
[x] sprint like a madman across an annoying airport (possibly for no reason)

so you can tell it was a great trip! now let’s have a boring talk about it!

chapter I: our hero journeys north!
driving north with a car full of old people and a janklow filled with caffeine is admittedly not the greatest plan for one awesome drive (luckily these old people are awesome), but it did remind me of some great truths about America. some specifics:

-Ohio is a wide, wide state; i estimate its size as approximately 2000 miles across. now, the “maps” tell me this is not the case, so either they’re correct (unlikely) or there’s some kind of time-and-space vortex caused by cornfields.

-so, Wisconsin has a massive amount of cheese (no surprises there) and so i understand why there are constant signs advertising the various brands (mainly location-based) of cheese for sale. very logical. but i do not understand why one building – and i really wish i could recall the city this was in – had a roughly 20 foot by 10 foot sign saying only “CHEESE.” and below it, this only about 10’x5′, “SANDWICHES.” just saying cheese without clarifying the issue makes people get excited? this must be why my grandfather identified Wisconsin as “the most communist place in America.”

-tangent: graffiti in America is very, very unoriginal, especially in two places – bathroom stalls and anything like a wooden railing. bathroom stalls are sounding boards for various racist commentary and drawings i can only describe as “wangs and stuff.” and the railings are all about who loves who and who was here and maybe “JB 4 EVER!” now i admit that these are generally not the musings of rocket scientists, but no matter what state or city you are in, this is all people hack into their surroundings. seriously, step your game up, vandals!

chapter II: the great state of Minnesota
after arriving and discovering that my internet connection method did not work (we were probably on top of an ancient Indian burial ground or something), i settled in for a week of doing nothing, drinking moderately heavily and teaming up with my sister’s boyfriend to dominate my grandmother’s team at golf. however, before all the booze kicked it, i DID take some pictures (as i sort of promised). for starters, while wandering around in a shed, i found these:

JARTS!
i was shocked (and amused). my grandmother says they’re supposed to be a fun game for adults! i inform her about the whole “you cannot buy these things anymore because they are banned now” thing, which is sort of awesome in my opinion, but she is not impressed. but she also once threatened to murder any goats i buy, so, you know, you have to watch out for her. also, as promised:

JARTS!
as agreed, a photo of the greatest Finnish guy ever! note: my directions for this photo were “make like we’re signing an important document.” he appears to be taking it very seriously, but i appear to be high or at least drunk, which is mainly sad in that i wasn’t, as i was focused on pretending to sign documents with Finnish guys.

also, at some point in here i was literally wandering through the wilds of Minnesota with my grandfather trying to find an unmarked, secret Indian cemetery (i can’t make this shit up), but we didn’t find anything. which was good, if for no other reason than me not having a camera with me at the time.

chapter III: our hero journeys south!
so finally all good things related to Finnish dudes had to come to an end, and i flew back Monday (which i wanted to call “today” as that’s when i started writing this). however, there was all this concern about flying because, aside from the fact that i, like all midgets, hate heights (and thus, flying) with a passion, the Northwest pilots were apparently striking or calling out sick like that was their job or something, and the first leg of my trip was flown by NWA. i tried to clarify this point with people who, unlike myself, watched the news, but without success: apparently, when i’m on vacation, you can freak me out with half a news story, but not give me the full FACTS. however, it worked out okay because the flight out of Duluth was through a small airline that works FOR NWA, but is not actually NWA itself. side note: Duluth is a tiny airport that reminds me of that Mad TV sketch where Bobby Lee is a retarded guy that does everything himself, except that a) i didn’t see him anywhere and b) Duluth’s airport is much funnier than anything that’s ever been on Mad TV.

some random in-transit thoughts:

-Minnesota really IS the land of 10,000 lakes. but while some people note this and think “what impressive, beautiful scenery,” all it does is remind me of what audacious thieves the LA Lakers are. those assholes DESERVE Kobe.

-apparently in the Minneapolis airport, there is a Fox News Channel store (they may exist elsewhere, but this is the first one i have seen). now, i don’t watch cable news, but this is not about dumping on LOL FAUX NEWS or something. it is still weird to me, though, because a) MN isn’t a super-conservative state, and cities are generally less conservative than their surrounding states, and b) seriously, Fox News Channel needs stores? that sell airport knick-knacks in Minnesota? i learned that i don’t understand capitalism as much as i thought i did.

-tangent: sorry, traveling ladies, but you’re the rudest things ever. i may have mentioned past flights in past updates where you kept me awake and/or elbowed the shit out of me while sleeping. during this odyssey, you did the following: hit me with your bags, leaned into my seat to rest while waiting to exit a plane, kicked my feet like a spoiled two-year-old by going under my seat into my seating area, and never once said excuse me for anything, or thanked anyone for holding a door or anything else. seriously, step your game up, women!

so the first legs of this trip went well, until we got to…

chapter IV: fucking Chicago/O’Hare!
disclaimer: O’Hare has a reputation as one of the worst, if not THE worst, airport hubs ever (while, bragging a tad here, my home airport of BWI is a great hub), and i am here to assure you that, once again, i can confirm this. but here’s a big reason why it sucks so bad: because it’s crowded because NO ONE IS MOVING ANYWHERE. people, you do not need to walk randomly in slow clumps or stand in the middle of the hallways. FUCKING MOVE IT. but i digress.

so American drops me off late at O’Hare and asks everyone on the plane ending their trips in Chicago to wait and let people with close connections depart the plane first (not just i), which of course means that everyone ending their trip to Chicago tries to rush off the plane and causes even more slowness. next, it turns out that i’ve been told the wrong gate to meet my connection at, as the guy who works for American tells me. where is my flight departing from, i ask. “B terminal, so you won’t be able to make it. do you want me to put you on standby for our flight to BWI?” i tell this guy very confidently that, oh, i’ll make it. and then i become that Guy Who You May Have Seen Running Through O’Hare At A High Rate Of Speed If You Were There On Monday.

in fairness, lest i sound like some cocky jackass about this, i had a 100% track record of being right about this kind of thing, since i once ran across an airport (i think it was in Cincinnati) to catch a flight, which i then did successfully!

however, i missed my flight by about 38 seconds and then, while waiting for a supervisor and trying to get onto the flight somehow, i was shunted aside by a gentleman who a) apparently had been holding a boarding pass for three hours, b) didn’t board the plane for some reason, and c) then wanted to board immediately (!!!), which is obviously not going to happen when you start to yell at the counter personnel and drop classic lines like “you may be friendly in the skies … but you’re not friendly here!”

another supervisor not being yelled at by this guy rebooked me for the next flight and after spending some free time eating hamburgers and reading about Chechnya, i was freed to flight the friendly skies!

so i finally get off this plane at BWI and everything is closed (because at BWI we don’t play that open-24-hours-a-day shit on the piers) and i walk into a bathroom where half the sinks have been marked out-of-order by placing paper towels with the legend “DONT WORK” markered onto them. Chimes strikes again! and then, shockingly, i walk right out to the curb and the employee shuttle, which NEVER shows up promptly, shows up promptly and takes me (slowly) to my car. i am only going to say this once this year, so here it is: boy, was it good to be back in Baltimore (which is easier to say when no one shoots you or anything like that).