Friday, December 30, 2011

Stephen G. Bloom: Observations of Twenty Years of Life in Iowa @ The Atlantic Magazine

Read the article that inflamed so many in Iowa.

... Iowa is not flat as a pancake, despite what most people think. Northeast of Cedar Rapids is actually pretty hilly. It's an agricultural (corns and soybeans), landlocked state. While Iowa's landmass is a little larger than England's, its population is only three million, about 17 times smaller than Britain's. The state's name derives from the Ioway Indians, one of several tribes that used to call the region home. Of Iowa's 99 counties, 88 are classified as rural. Iowa's capital and largest city is Des Moines (pop: 203,000), whose primary business is insurance. The state is 91 percent white.*
On the state's eastern edge lies the Mississippi River, dotted with towns with splendid names like Keokuk, Toolesboro, Fruitland, Muscatine, Montpelier, Buffalo, Sabula, Davenport, Dubuque, and Guttenberg. Each once was a booming city on the swollen banks of the river that long ago opened the middle of America to expansion, civilization, abundance, and prosperity. Not much travels along the muddy and polluted Mississippi these days except rusty-bucket barges of grain and an occasional kayaker circumnavigating garbage, beer cans, and assorted debris. The majestic river that once defined the United States has been rendered commercially irrelevant these days.
Mark Twain once lived in Southeast Iowa, in Keokuk, working at his brother's printing press. He also was employed nearby as a reporter for the Muscatine Journal....
Much of the same could be written about Kansas, with the exception that the Kansas Democratic Party has less power than what exists as opposition in Iowa. Read more at The Atlantic.

Or listen to his recent conversation describing among other things the death threats that followed it's publication on National Public Radio's "Here and Now" with host Robin Young.

1 comment:

Talking With said...

On our TV show last week – filmed in Iowa City - four native Iowans talked about the depiction of them and the state they call home in Bloom’s controversial article, his motives for publishing it, the response its generated across the state, and its national implications with regards to Iowa’s first in the nation voting status.