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Return of the Son of Anywhere I Lay My Head Redux, Part II: Electric Boogaloo October 20, 2009

Posted by monty in comedy, travel.
Tags: , ,

Cross 2

A funny little bit of synchronicity dealing with two of my recent postings on here.  Sunday morning I reviewed my mixed experience at David Cross’ show in Atlanta (Cross = good; hecklers = bad), and yesterday I lambasted California for being a piss-poor state largely populated with selfish egomaniacs who think their state stands head and shoulders above the other 49.  Last night I was searching online for some other reviews of Cross’ show, and instead came across a recent interview with him in the Access Atlanta blog, published roughly a week before his appearance here.

Turns out I was wrong about Californians being unique in their geographical megalomania.  For those who don’t know (or who aren’t familiar with Cross’ personal life), he grew up in the Atlanta suburbs, not far from where I live now.  He’s talked about this in his standup and his writing, and the interview begins with a statement that doesn’t seem particularly controversial to me.  In fact, Cross could be talking about most major U.S. cities.  Here’s what he says about Atlanta, in total, in the entire interview: “I don’t hate Atlanta.  I really don’t.  I’m just disappointed by it.  I think it’s overgrown and traded a lot of its charm for corporate strip malls.”

That’s it.  That’s all he says.  Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?  It certainly reminds me of Los Angeles and its outlying suburbs, and it also makes me think of Dayton, OH, where I spent part of my youth, and whose city center has largely been replaced by the mall culture of its surrounding communities.  Cross’ comment also isn’t especially harsh or scathing.  He doesn’t condemn Atlanta or say it has no redeeming qualities or even criticize the people who live there.  It seems like a fairly even-handed comment that accurately reflects the disillusionment one feels in watching a favorite place change, and not necessarily for the better.

I’m establishing all this context so that the reader comments about Cross’ interview will make more sense.  Here’s a selection of the articulate, intelligent replies to Cross’ entirely reasonable statement about Atlanta:

•  “He’s a hateful, far-left jerkwad … He really does look down on all the unenlightened, stupid rednecks (or so he feels) that inhabit metro Atlanta. We’re not cool and trendy enough for him…that only applies to the Midtown people who get robbed and carjacked.”

• “Thankfully Delta [Airlines] was ready when he was. Seems pretty clear that he’s a waste of oxygen but we can at least thank him for not polluting the air or the scenery here very often.”

• “For all you idiots that don’t like Atlanta we have I20 going E and W, I 75 & 85 going N & S plus Delta is ready when you are. So get the Heck out of Dodge,knuckleheads!!!”

• “I’ve found News Yorkers to be some of the most obnoxious people around. If it isn’t in New York, it’s lame…or hillbilly….or whatever. Give it a rest. If Atlanta stinks so bad, leave and never come back. You won’t be missed. Really.”

• “After this interview gets around, it will be interesting to see how many Atlantans are willing to spend their money to see this dude. I definitely won’t be one of them.”

• “Ah, David Cross, the poor mans David Spade.

The guy’s probably angry at ‘rednecks’ for taking his lunch money all those years.
(He’s a proud graduate of Roswell High School)…
Hey, the guy’s an ATHIEST! That should tell you averything you need to know about the guy right there…

If it’s soooo bad here, why are people stlll moving here in droves? Hmmmm?
For those haters that don’t like it here, it must REALLY suck to have to live somewhere you hate!
Be mad at the lack of control you have over your life, then do something about it, like LEAVE!!
We don’t want you here!”

• “So it seems while Cross has disowned Atlanta, Atlanta has more than enough rights to disown him and to never open doors to him again. I hope he flops at his show and returns up North with his tail between his legs, digs a hole, and pull the dirt over him and stay there.”

I think you get the idea.  One thing that’s immediately clear (and becomes even clearer if you dig more deeply into the reader comments) is that most of these people didn’t actually read the interview.  If they did, surely they wouldn’t be levying such hatred at so innocuous a comment.  Right?  It sounds like they read one of the early comments saying, falsely, how much Cross hated Atlanta and responded to that person’s misreading of the interview instead of the interview itself.

But setting that aside, it’s clear that Californians don’t have a monopoly on the “love it or leave it” mentality.  And that mentality is one thing I’ve never been able to understand.  For one thing, uncritical (as opposed to unconditional) love always seems a little spooky.  A failure to recognize the flaws in something (or someone) is clearly delusional.  Nothing is perfect, and seeing those flaws doesn’t mean you don’t love it; it means you love it in spite of (or sometimes, perversely, because of) those flaws.

And secondly, why does anyone take it so personally when someone else doesn’t love the same things you do with the exact same amount of passion?  I’m not a reflector.  How I feel about California (or Atlanta or Dayton) shouldn’t in any way affect the way you feel about California (or Atlanta or Dayton).  So why get so angry when someone criticizes something you care about?

Case in point: I’m quite fond of London, England.  It’s truly the one place where I don’t feel nervous or anxious all the time.  I feel comfortable there, at home and at peace.  I love the city and its citizens, quite possibly to a degree many people would find unreasonable.  If you tell me, “London sucks.  It’s crowded and the people there talk in funny accents and the food’s lousy and the British are all a bunch of effete gayboys with crummy teeth,” I won’t get angry.  Promise.  I’ll feel sorry that you have such a limited worldview, but the last thing I’d say is, “Well, don’t go!  Just stay away then!  London’s too good for you!”  Because that’s the playground argument the “love it or leave crowd” always resorts to.  If you don’t love it exactly the same way I do, you don’t deserve it and therefore you should go somewhere else.  Like, now.

And that’s what a lot of these readers are saying in their misguided criticism of Cross’ completely sensible statement that it’s a shame Atlanta has become – like much of America – homogenized, corporatized, and mall-focused.  It’s not a criticism of the city as much as it’s a criticism of the corporate homogenization that has been allowed to flourish there, presumably eliminating some of the city’s original charm.  If anything, it’s actually a defense of the old city, and reflects the love one feels for something that, as Cross himself says, has disappointed him.  But because Cross doesn’t share the readers’ pathological and obsessive love of the city, he’s no longer welcome there.  Which means many Californians have something quite unexpected in common with their counterparts in ol’ Dixie.


Current listening:

Portis dummy

Portishead – Dummy



1. RH - October 30, 2009

Readers are one thing, paying fans are another. This wasn’t the only interview that David Cross did leading up to that train wreck performance at the Tabernacle. I think a lot of the audience wanted Cross to make fun of Atlanta. Any fan of his knows that his older bits about Atlanta are hysterical.

Instead, Cross chose to say one thing in his interviews and then completely avoid acknowledging any connection to Atlanta on stage. Early in the show, several people yelled out a friendly “welcome home”, which he ignored. Maybe the audience felt snubbed from the get go. Like, “oh, he is not going to be laughing with us, just at us.”

Fine. I certainly don’t expect everyone to like Atlanta, but when your FANS have paid to come see you, don’t insult them either. I prefer to be thanked for my support, if not my time and $$.

David Cross now strikes me as less funny and more of an ungrateful, pampered celebrity with a superiority complex. I will keep an eye out for him in Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants Part 3.

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