Mar 14, 2010


Friday 12th March - Day 33

America likes to maximize its pleasure. Things can't just be good, they have to be "the best!" When we were in the beer bar Stout in LA a fellow customer urged us to try the burgers there. "You'll hear this a lot" he said, "but seriously these are the BEST burgers in LA." We went back the next night and they were good burgers but I don't know if they were the best burgers in LA. I'm not sure such a thing could be objectively demonstrated to exist. But because of the guy's claim we had really good burgers and were left feeling a little disappointed. We've now learnt that the so-called best burgers, cocktails, strippers or whatever won't be as outstanding as the acclaim would lead us to expect.

I mention all of this because today we visited our first Hall of Fame. It's another example of America's desire to maximize pleasure. No point listening to a band that's not in the rock 'n' roll hall of fame is there? (Well yes, of course there is.) Even things like music have to be quantified in terms of quality. Halls of Fame are not a big deal in the UK. They did set one up for English football in 2002 but I can't tell you a thing about it. And I expect that's true of nearly all English footy fans. But apart from that one, I'm not sure there are any other Halls of Fame in the UK. So, of course, I really wanted to take in a Hall of Fame somewhere on this trip and in Anadarko Oklahoma we got our chance.

We didn't really know what to expect from the National Hall of Fame for Famous American Indians (unfamous American Indians need not apply) but our hopes weren't high when we drove through the arse end of Anadarko (no relation to Donnie Darko) where one house that seemed to still be occupied had been half flattened by a tree. It was no East St Louis.... but not far off. The Hall of Fame was actually pretty sweet. Though garden of fame would have been a more accurate description. Each inducted Famous American Indian has a bust set on a plinth, and these are set out around a lawn. There is a small information center where we got chatting to a lovely 80 year old "full blood Kiowa" woman. She really was delightful company until she came out as a racist. In the info center were three busts that had fallen from their plinths when a tornado had ripped through the town last year. When she told us about the tornado and how bad it had been we said we'd seen a tree lying on a house as we drove through town. She asked whereabout in town and when we described it to her she said "oh, black town". That sounded odd - was black town her name for the part of Anardarko where the black community lived? Turned out it was as she revealed to us her low opinion of African Americans. She even said "I'm a racist." OMG. Then went on about how the Indian braves wouldn't scalp a black man. She also revealed how she was the only Indian in town (she didn't use politically correct terms like Native American) who voted for McCain. Obama wasn't her guy. I'm sure she could have talked to us all day but, horrified and confused, we made our excuses and left.

The motels in Anadarko didn't look too appealing so we pushed on for Lawton Oklahoma the subject of the Lightnin' Hopkins song Lawton Oklahoma Blues. I'd guess that at least 90% of the town have the blues. It doesn't look like it would be a pretty town at the best of times, but it looked particularly ugly when we got there a day or two after a severe ice-storm. Every street had massive piles of dead wood that the storm had brought down. Lawton's pretty big for a grim town in the Oklahoma panhandle. It had plenty of hotels too which puzzled us. Why would anyone want to stay in that town? Why would so many people want to stay? The only thing I can think of that would explain it is the Comanche Nation Casino. Whatever the cause, getting a room wasn't easy. We tried America's Best Value Inns which are usually one of the cheapest motels but it was $90 a night. We then found a strip with a row of independent motels that looked a little seedy. They all advertised jacuzzi suites too which made them seem like they might book out rooms by the hour. We checked into one and then checked right back out. I'm not a fussy man and I'm not a hygiene freak but the room smelled so damp that I pulled back the bed cover to discover a pillow with three mould colonies growing on it. The receptionist offered to swap the pillow but we were out of there. As we drove away we saw a street sign saying 'No Cruising' which made me reconsider the musclebound guys who had been looking at me in the car park of the motel. I thought maybe they didn't like the look of this long haired bloke... now I think this strip of motels may be where Oklahoma's rural gay community comes to party.

We did eventually find a motel and then went to check out the casino. Well, there really didn't seem to be anything else to do in town. The Comanche Nation Casino wasn't much smaller than the Reno casinos. But it didn't waste much space on restaurants and bars. Or gaming tables for that matter. The folk of the Oklahoma panhandle clearly just love to play slots. It was 11 o'clock on a Friday night and the place was packed. It was pretty horrible. Which all in all was becoming our impression of Oklahoma. Take this exchange which happened when the security guy at the casino asked for our ID and we showed him our UK driver's licences.
"UK... where's that? Ukraine?"
"Er... no it's the UK."
"Where's that?"
"You know... the United Kingdom. We're British"
"Well, I don't know, I'm from Oklahoma."


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