A treatise on Boise: what I will and will not miss

This is a time when I am mostly unable to do a lot of blogging, but as I enter my final couple of months in Boise, I find myself reflective, and desiring to do the same sort of reflection I did when we left Washington for Idaho. Thus, the positive first:

I will miss:

  • The potato skins at Goodwood Barbecue. I’ve never even tried their barbecue. Once I had the skins, the rest of their menu officially no longer mattered to me.
  • The easy friendliness of the average Boisean.
  • The good people we met here, which was most of the total people we met here.
  • Basque food ranging from bar food to cloth-napkin restaurants.
  • A healthy distrust of our precious government.
  • Traffic insignificant by comparison to larger cities.
  • Surprisingly cool museums for a town its size.
  • A superb library.
  • The ‘Idaho stop.’ In Idaho, bicycles treat stop signs as yield signs, and red lights as stop signs, and it works very well. Since that’s what cyclists are going to do anyway, for the most part, making it legal is one less thing for the police to ticket people over.
  • Idaho characters. While characters can be obnoxious, Idaho tends to embrace them, and at heart, most are good folks.
  • Division I-A college football and a passionate fanbase for a team I at least can bear.
  • The Idaho Potato Drop at New Year’s. It’s hilarious, and best of all, it’s owning it.
  • The tremendous and diverse natural beauty of a state that I can’t believe anyone would willingly pollute.
  • A large number of ways to experience that outdoors, with plentiful hiking, fishing, camping, skiing, boating, hunting, and other ways to get out from behind a computer screen and live.
  • A high incidence of volunteerism and generosity.
  • The state liquor stores have a lot better selection than the Washington ones ever did.

I won’t miss:

  • Predatory law enforcement that has revenue generation as its obvious primary purpose, and thus is morally little better than when the Federales stop you in Mexico and you have to bribe them.
  • The perpetually flat coke at Goodwood Barbecue. How hard can it be to fix a pop machine?
  • Zoomtards. You don’t know what that means? Suppose there are two lanes before and after the light on your side, but anyone can see that the right lane will have to merge after the light. A zoomtard is a person who zooms past just to get ahead, rather than merge in at the safe and obvious place, and in Boise there seems to be one in every situation where it’s possible for one to exist.
  • Coal rollers. These are the jackasses who find it amusing to show their hatred for environmentalism by using their diesel trucks to produce a noxious cloud of ugly smoke when a Prius (or whatever fuel-economic vehicle) is behind them.
  • Deep ignorance and corruption entrenched in state government. It’s not your imagination; they really, truly, authentically are that ignorant and corrupt.
  • Lousy schools that produce subpar education.
  • ‘Inversion.’ Since smog is for Californians, Boise is not supposed to have smog. However, it does, but it’s only a problem when an inversion traps it. Thus, people complain about ‘the inversion’ when the real problem is the smog, which is a naughty word. I find the euphemism more annoying than the air quality issues.
  • The idea that a potato mogul could be Very Important. Nothing against J.R. Simplot, but we don’t have to talk about his family name like they’re the House of Windsor.
  • Must surely be the world capital of pawnshops, payday/title loan places, and other vampiric business that, if it were up to me, I would crush without compensation or remorse.
  • Political incontinence. You can’t meet five random people in Idaho without one of them trying to work up a political hatefest. Politics, like defaecation, are bearable when done in the proper venue designed for the purpose. The random person who can’t shut up about politics while people are trying to do civilized things, I rank right down there with someone who gets up from the restaurant table and takes a dump in the aisle.
  • ‘Murrica f*** yeah’: the macho mentality that in my opinion has caused so many of our national defects.
  • What must surely the the world’s largest concentration of native English-speaking call centers on earth, mostly so employers can take advantage of Idaho’s serious wealth disparity, rudimentary social services, and of course low minimum wage.
  • Having both a state sales tax and a state income tax.
  • The general halfassedness with which so much is done, from road maintenance to customer service.
  • Dogwhistle racism. As in eastern Washington, ‘rough area’ is code for ‘has Hispanics.’
  • Denial about racism. Here’s the denial standpoint: “in Idaho, racism was Brought From Outside by A Bunch of Neo-Nazis who Do Not Represent Idaho.” That is not 100% true, as comforting as moderate Idahoans may find it to be. A fairer statement: racism has long had a significant presence in Idaho, and while most Idahoans rejected the more extreme versions, there was a hefty minority who looked at the racists and more or less thought: “Well, they’re pretty nutty, but they’re right on at least some things.” And that’s fertile recruiting ground.
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6 thoughts on “A treatise on Boise: what I will and will not miss”

  1. I have come to despise the concept of ‘dogwhistle racism’ or ‘dogwhistle politics’. I’m not questioning your citation of it, but it’s something so frequently used disingenuously as a diversion to distract from anything substantive that my reaction any time I hear the term is to reflexively assume it’s being used to spuriously smear a disfavored speaker or group.

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    1. Interesting, Ken, because that’s exactly why I dislike dogwhistle stuff in the first place: it’s people trying to pretend something doesn’t bother them, rather than being up front about it. But I understand the reflexive disdain for a tactic that one hears so many times, and has so often found flaws within, that one comes to a reflex of thinking the viewpoint less credible for using it.

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  2. I recently met a man from Idaho (here where I live in S.C.) He told me that in many ways, Idaho is “The South” of the West. After reading your description of Idaho, I have to say that yes, it sounds very much like life in S.C. (both the positive aspects and the negative.)
    Love your sense of humor.
    -Bill

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    1. Much appreciate the kind words, Bill. There is truth in what your acquaintance says, including both good and bad. The biggest difference is that while the hardcore religious will discriminate in Idaho, they will not actively threaten or harm anyone, as has been known to happen in Dixie. Not so much in the big cities, which are pretty cosmopolitan, but I wouldn’t want to be a non-Christian living in Aiken unless I could afford some serious home security.

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      1. Having been down here for six years (after having relocated from the snowdrifts of Maine), I find that as long as you don’t have an Obama bumper-sticker, do wear a Cabella’s baseball cap, and politely make excuses when people invite us to their church (which happens about twice a month), we get along fine. No doubt it helps to be a white heterosexual with the last name Miller. But I don’t recommend a trip to the local Confederate Museum, unless you want to be recruited into the local chapter of the Nathan Bedford Forrest Fan Club.
        Cheers,
        Bill

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      2. The church invitations would be all it took to send me around the bend. Simply could not live there, myself. I am too used to the Western life, in which that sort of thing is very rare.

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