There’s less than a week to go before my second annual pilgrimage down to Wayne, Nebraska for WSC’s “Cancer is a Drag” fundraising drag show. Just for kicks, I thought I’d compile this list of things I love and hate about the cornhusker state. Who knows? Maybe this will become a regular feature here on the World of Champagne. Maybe it’ll be a one-off. That’s part of the excitement, kids – you never know where you’re going to end up on this crazy ride called life. Except that in three days I know that I’ll be heading south and ending up in Wayne America, and I definitely love that! So, bring on the list!
LOVE: Runza. Fast Food, But Classy.
So the first thing I love is actually something I discovered last year on my first trip to Wayne: the fast food chain Runza, and their delicious little self-titled menu items. Quoting from the all-knowing font on information, aka Wikipedia, “”A runza (also called a bierock, fleischkuche, or Kraut Pirok) is a yeast dough bread pocket with a filling consisting of beef, pork, cabbage or sauerkraut, onions, and seasonings. They are baked in various shapes such as a half-moon, rectangle, round (bun), square, or triangle…The runza sandwich originated in Russia during the 1800s and spread to Germany before appearing in the United States.” (I am a former college composition instructor, so quoting Wikipedia makes my skin crawl, but let’s just take an awkward moment and then move forward, shall we?) Someone got the idea that these little savory treats, usually cooked up by someone’s grandmother and brought to church basements for funerals and confirmation ceremonies, might be able to be produced on a larger scale and sold through a drive through. And in the spirit of true American entrepreneurism, you can have your Runza customized with different themes like Cheeseburger or Mushroom and Swiss. It’s like a Hardee’s with a sense of history, and I think it’s delightful
OK, so truthfully we can only attribute half of the fun, quirky duo Karmin to Nebraska (lead singer Amy Heidemann graduated from Seward High School) and the two met while attending a music college in Boston, but as someone who comes from another state where not a ton of really super-famous stuff happens (my hometown is famous for a guy named Les Jepsen who was in the NBA for like a hot second before getting shipped off to Europe, and “Duke the Wonder Dog” who was on the Letterman show once, fetching a toy out of a stack of tires) I’m going to give them credit. Heidemann gave a shout out to her home state in “Hello,” and that was the song that really convinced me that maybe Karmin was going to stick around. After all, they got famous doing covers of songs on YouTube, and though there are a lot of people who can do really great covers of songs that are already popular, it doesn’t guarantee that their original offerings will be much to sing about. Their earlier singles, “Brokenhearted” and “Crash Your Party,” were a lot of fun (although I felt the single in the middle, “I Told You So,” was a bit of a misstep), but “Hello” was the first time I felt like they could really keep their unique edge while also giving their music enough mainstream “curb appeal” to really play ball in the big leagues (I realized that mixes a lot of metaphors, but that’s what happens when I try to use sports references. I am far too pretty to sports.).
HATE: Dexter Season 6, Episode 7, “Nebraska”
Now, don’t get me wrong: I love me some Dexter. Michael C. Hall is a beautiful man, even when he’s cutting very bad people into very small pieces. Desmond Harrington as Det. Quinn isn’t bad-looking either, and both are semi-nude enough for me to almost forget about their distasteful proclivities. But starting in season 4, I was getting a little annoyed by Dexter’s constant chats with his dead father. I get it, James Remar has bills to pay and prescription drug habits to finance just like the rest of us, but it never felt quite natural to me. Especially since it never happened in any of the first three seasons: for those seasons, Remar was relegated strictly to flashbacks of Dexter’s youth and growing dark desires. All of a sudden he’s popping up in the living room or the kill room every 2 minutes to have a little chat. It was annoying.
But the episode “Nebraska” was almost unwatchable. In fact, I had to stop it halfway through and come back to it later, I was that annoyed. Here’s the breakdown: season 6 featured my favorite serial killer so far, the Doomsday Killer, and having both Collin Hanks and Edward James Olmos as regular guest stars was fabulous. However, in the middle of all of the bloody Apocalyptic tableaux, Dexter decides he needs to take a roadtrip to Kearney, Nebraska to check on the son of the Trinity Killer that he suspects might be a little more like Daddy Dearest than he’d originally thought. Not only did this take almost all of the screen time away from the much more interesting Doomsday Killer, it also featured a new imaginary friend for Dexter: his dead brother Brian, aka the Ice Truck Killer from season 1. Dexter’s chats with his dad were bad enough, but at least they maintained the convention that this was all an internal dialogue. Brian interacts with the world: tossing a bagged body part to Dexter, eating a hamburger, and taking a pitchfork off the wall of a barn to use it for a purpose for which it was not originally intended (I’ll let you fill in the blank). I imagine that this blending of fantasy and reality was meant to foreshadow an important revelation about the Doomsday Killer a couple of episodes later in the season, but this episode felt like a distraction, and the “life lesson” Dexter learns about adhering to “the code” seems superfluous. I would much rather have had more time exploring the twisted world of DDK and less cornfield psychobabble. Sorry Kearney, but you just couldn’t hold my interest.
LOVE: You & I
I love this sort-of-love-song by Lady Gaga about trying to win back her “cool Nebraska guy.” It’s understated and shows off her tremendous vocal talent better than her dancier singles. After a few long islands, I also find it to be a great karaoke song, though it did feature prominently in a tragicomic real life drama I like to call “The Night I Cried At The Long Haul Saloon.” I’ll save that story for another time (though it’s a good one – involving a rebound guy, an emotional queso platter, mittens in the freezer, and handling it all “like a fuckin’ lady”). I think it’s a sweet song about reconnecting with an old love, and it’s perfect roadtrip music for my coming adventure!
Kool-Aid was invented in 1927 in Hastings, Nebraska by a man named Edwin Hastings. A little packet of powder, a cup of sugar, and you have a whole pitcher of delicious fruity goodness. Sound like devil magic? It probably is, but if so then the devil makes some pretty fucking delicious snack drinks. Except of course for…
HATE: New Peach Mango Kool-Aid
HATE: Rush Limbaugh 101
While searching the net for things Nebraska is famous for, I found that Bellevue, University taught the first college class on douchebag blowhard Rush Limbaugh. I can only imagine that female students were called sluts for using birth-control and they handed out OxyContin on your way out. Wait, free prescription drugs…does Bellevue have a distance education program??
LOVE: The World’s Largest Porch Swing
OK, so technically it’s not actually on a porch (it’s in a park), but this still makes me giggle: the world’s largest porch swing is located in Hebron, Nebraska and can sit up to 25 adults. I don’t know why this amuses me as much as it does, but I love it. I love when little towns have weird claims to fame like this. Plus a porch swing is a perfect place to relax with friends and family…and the ones you don’t like very well, you can stick way down on the other end. It’s a win-win, really.
HATE: Weight For It…
Apparently the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has the largest weight room in the country, covering 3/4 of an acre. Now, I love me some sweaty musclemen as much as the next flaming drag queen, but weight rooms have a particular pungent aroma that is unlike anything else in the world. Three quarters of an acre?? That nostril assault must be bordering on biohazard territory.
LOVE: WSC PRIDE’s Cancer Is A Drag Show!
I had so much fun last year that I just can’t wait to be back! You can expect great performances, a packed house, and a great time – and all of the money raised will go towards a great cause!
I hope you enjoyed this little diversion. Now I’d better get my tired ass back to the sewing machine, or I’ll never be ready to hit the road for this show! See you in Wayne America!
Tags: Cancer is a Drag, drag art, drag king, drag performance, drag queen, drag show, drag troupe, Janessa, Janessa J, Janessa J Champagne, Janessa Jaye, Janessa Jaye Champagne, Miss Jaye, PRIDE, Wayne America, Wayne Nebraska, Wayne State College, WSC, WSC PRIDE