Country feedback

Well, I'm in Louisiana. I'm not quite sure what to write about--the
football (American) obsession, the latent and not-so-latent racialism, the Bush-Cheney signs peppering many yards, my progress with Ada (I beat my previous record), my adorable baby cousin and her adorable baby puppies--but I'll stick to Wal*Mart for now.

My aunt needed four things: coaxial cable, the Forest Gump soundtrack, some ears of corn, and a shotgun. (Okay, three things.) The answer was, of course, Wal*Mart. But it would have had to be the answer to just about any consumer need, because that's about all there is in West Monroe, LA. I asked my aunt whether there were a lot of other stores in the neighborhood before Wal*Mart came but I knew that was a silly question; there's no way there was anything near West Monroe that sold movie soundtracks or coaxial cable before Wal*Mart came to town. Ears of corn, yes.

But Wal*Mart, yeah. There was that whole California referendum a few months ago involving Wal*Mart trying to bully through some zoning changes in order to build a massive store and effectively appropriate a town; they're already done that down here. There is the Wal*Mart proper, and then there are the Wal*Mart tenants--the movie rental place, the beauty salon, the automotive shop, all embedded within the store. As my aunt said, it's like an old-fashioned town square. We're a few steps away from Wal*Mart's renting out the tents in it's Outdoors department to local low-income individuals (a lovely commute for Wal*Mart employees) and starting it's own local government. Stay tuned for the struggle for sovereignty within the embedded McDonald's--will Mayor McCheese yield control?

But anyway, Wal*Mart is cheap, for the reasons everyone has hashed and rehashed and whatnots. This is how cheap Wal*Mart is: they have the usual impulse purchase racks of candy and gum by the checkout registers, but they're selling packs of Wrigley's gum, which anyone who has gone into a bodega to purchase to get quarters from a dollar knows has gone up to 30 cents, they're selling this for 20 cents. Now that's insane.

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