12.23.2008

Song of the New South: 'Jesusland' by Ben Folds

Heading north on I-95 near the Virginia state line

I'm pretty sure the video for the song "Jesusland" (filmed in 2006) was shot in western North Carolina -- there are some hills in the parts shot in a new development, and (separate from the lyrics about false religious promises) the video captures some of the sense of alienation as older sections of small towns decline and developers move in to build soulless (and sometimes quite gargantuan) new housing and vast shopping malls. While visiting my mother, I walked through a local Walmart Supercenter that was vastly larger than any retailer in Vermont....covering acres of land, and these facilities are not at all unusual.

Leland, North Carolina (a wider panorama of this scene here), the skyline is marked by signs for Hardees and McDonalds (Waffle House, Bojangles, KFC, are also on that stretch of road, but their signs are not as high). I've lived in Vermont for exactly 20 years now, and it still feels sometimes like I'm just visiting. I wonder if would fit right in in a such a transient, impermanent environment where everyone is a stranger, or if it would be a crushing, soul-deadening experience?

Goldsboro, North Carolina: An old style southern downtown, threadbare shops and vacant storefronts, I gave a dollar to a man from New Orleans who had just completed a 16 month stint in the county jail (no reason given). I don't doubt that there is some Walmart Supercenter somewhere on the outskirts of town, off of a divided highway. Living in Vermont, I put up with some limited opportunities and high costs, but I generally don't have to experience this kind of environment.



I wish Ben Folds would tour through Vermont, the Flynn would seem to be a good venue for such a show, with Burlington being such a college town.

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