Flyover country July 22, 2016 6:04 PM   Subscribe

I get the pun, but can we cut it out with this one at last? I can't read "flyover country" without imagining some amount of dismissiveness, resignation, and even contempt on the part of the writer---and the site in general.

I think we litigate coast-vs-not-coast every now and then, so maybe we can focus on the phrase itself just to keep it simple: as someone who grew up and spent most of my life in the central USA, this term makes me feel like a second-rate outsider, and I think it makes other people here feel bad too. I don't think it's ever really necessary. I hope we might choose to retire it.

(I suspect the author of the linked post didn't mean it to use it offensively, but it still touches a sore spot. It's a powerful dis! Like, I only associate you with my act of whizzing past you at five hundred miles an hour, seven miles above. I'd rather spend my time in a -40° semi-vacuum zone of certain death than be down there with you. Please think about what your words mean!)
posted by tss to Etiquette/Policy at 6:04 PM (155 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

A note to (I hope) prevent the usual counter"argument": I don't think tss is advocating an Official Mod Stance that any comment including Those Words must immediately be deleted and any user of Those Words be given a two-week timeout. tss appears merely to be asking that perhaps we can collectively use it less.
posted by Etrigan at 6:07 PM on July 22, 2016 [14 favorites]


We definitely don't want people being shitty about that kinda stuff, and have been trying to be more active from a moderation side (and encouraging people to be active about flagging) when LOL RURALITY type stuff has come up on the site.

At a glance I share your suspicion that this is probably an example of neutral use, or even familiar/affectionate as folks have occasionally noted as a personal in-group type habit in discussions about this stuff on the site, but I can understand something like that getting to be a sore spot in practice even if the intent in any given instant isn't particularly in question.

Anyway, as something that falls into "hey, can folks think about this more" userbase-nudging requests, I'm not interpreting this as a mod request or anything, but wanted to acknowledge that I think it's worth bringing up and encouraging people to be aware of.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:09 PM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


(Yes, well put, thanks---this is a request for mindfulness, really, not for any sort of enforcement. I guess "retire" sounds more official than that---I should think about what my own words mean, too!)
posted by tss at 6:12 PM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


I've spoken out against the whole "flyover country" thing in the past, I think even in MetaTalk. It's dismissive and ugly and implies that basically nothing but the East Coast and the Left Coast matters in this country.

There are many many other better ways to describe the middle of the country that the coastal dwellers would rather ignore. Let's find ways to describe where a sizable proportion of the populace of the US lives that isn't pejorative, which "flyover country" certainly is.
posted by hippybear at 6:41 PM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also, the middle of the country is no where near homogeneous, which I think flyover country often implies.
posted by Deoridhe at 6:47 PM on July 22, 2016 [10 favorites]


What counts as a flyover country? Is Nicaragua one?
posted by beerperson at 6:51 PM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Luxembourg?
posted by hippybear at 7:02 PM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


I feel like I'm going nuts - where is the pun?
posted by lalex at 7:04 PM on July 22, 2016 [5 favorites]


That's an o-pun question.
posted by hippybear at 7:05 PM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


No, really, the "pun" is that the post is about arial photographs of farms in the middle of the country. You can't take the photos without flying over that area.
posted by hippybear at 7:06 PM on July 22, 2016 [9 favorites]


Ohhhhhhhh *gets into bed*
posted by lalex at 7:07 PM on July 22, 2016 [6 favorites]


No, really, the "pun" is that the post is about arial photographs of farms in the middle of the country.

I'm from the midwest, so that one went right over my head.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:12 PM on July 22, 2016 [65 favorites]


/me Looks up from mudhole as big silver bird flies over. A dirt clod falls from my slack jaw.
posted by banshee at 7:26 PM on July 22, 2016 [36 favorites]


FWIW, I've lived in flyover America all my life and regularly use the term. Maybe it's one of those things that's less upsetting when self-applied, I dunno, but when I use it, it's more of a nudge reminder to coastal people when they speak as if they're forgetting there is a whole other country out here or clearly demonstrate that they know as much about it as they do the Ottoman Empire.

I work in tech and this comes up oh so much when I hear west coast programmers talk about what's "relevant" or "dead" technology and show that they have no idea about the cultural and tech bubble they live in. Or what systems keep their debit cards working and their car loans from going sideways.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:34 PM on July 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


I don't have any problem with the people who use "flyover country" unironically. It's always a good thing when the bad guys identify themselves.
posted by Bruce H. at 7:36 PM on July 22, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I guess it could kind of sound like "hicks" when coming out of the mouth of someone who doesn't live here. But I'd rather be here, so.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:38 PM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


I thought the pun was pretty PLANE to see ha ha ha happy friday everybody
posted by Greg Nog at 7:59 PM on July 22, 2016 [31 favorites]


Agreed on the sentiment of this MeTa entirely - it's a jerky thing to say and less of it would be a good thing.

Now if this MeTa takes off with all puns, well, it won't be a boeing time to watch that take flight.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:03 PM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Well clearly it FLEW right over my head Greg.
posted by lalex at 8:03 PM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


This reminds me of a pretty obnoxious NYT style piece.
PARISIANS have pétanque. London society has croquet. And though New Yorkers have dallied with both, many have now discovered a lawn game from the flyover states.
*eyeroll*
posted by naju at 8:31 PM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


Is it Jarts? 'Cause I totally played that when I was a kid in flyover country! And I didn't kill or injure anybody I cared about.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:52 PM on July 22, 2016 [1 favorite]


Eh, if it keeps people from NYC, SF, and LA from realizing that they could move to Minneapolis, it's probably worth the sneer.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:58 PM on July 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


I support the op's position. There is no "neutral use" of a put-down, only ignorant use.

I have mixed feelings about Jarts. We nearly killed Tommy from up the street when we were kids. "Throwing these at the ring is boring. How high can you throw it?" So glad it didn't end up like a maudlin 70s psa. It missed his skull by about an inch and a half. We got one stuck in the side of the house. I filled the hole with gum and painted it with poster paint. It looked like someone had vandalized the house with yellow mustard. I totally got busted, but it was better than getting busted for negligent manslaughter.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 9:08 PM on July 22, 2016 [11 favorites]


Such great stories that only Jarts can provide.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:12 PM on July 22, 2016 [8 favorites]


I live under the flight path of a major US based airport. On the East Coast. I feel your pain.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 10:05 PM on July 22, 2016


As a flown-over American myself I'm not really bothered by other children of the corn using the term, as it is usually affectionate (and with a tone of FOR GOD'S SAKE DONT TELL THE SAN FRANCISCANS ABOUT OUR COST OF LIVING OR THEY'LL ALL MOVE HERE). When coastal types do it, I don't mind if it's affectionate ("dammit I envy your cost of living and access to fresh sweet corn even though I like New York") but it pisses me right the hell off if it's apparently in earnest because C'mon, man, be a little less provincial! At least pretend!

OTOH, one doesn't really move to downstate Illinois if one is concerned about New Yorkers thinking one is cool, so when someone gets all "flyover country" at me to insult me and they're serious, it's all I can do not to bust out laughing. Sick burn, dude!

In conclusion, flyover country is a land of contrasts. But it makes you look kinda dopey if you try to use it as an insult.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:17 PM on July 22, 2016 [32 favorites]


For the non Americans here, could somebody give some kind of sense what the fly over country pun means? You know, because there are a few of us around. Seeing as a recent metatalk thread discussed the US-centrism here..I'd be grateful for an explanation of what it means in context .

Seems the royal we in this post asking that "we" retire the term apparently doesnt encompass me or my culture. Or one or two others.
posted by taff at 11:02 PM on July 22, 2016 [7 favorites]


"Flyover country" is a sometimes-dismissive nickname for the interior US - everything but the coasts. In the US most/many of the biggest cities are on the coasts, and by implication, the speaker is a person flying from one (cool, groovy) coast to the other, flying over the (uncool) interior along the way. The expression is saying that they only value the coastal cities, and the interior is to be ignored because it's just all that inconvenient land mass you have to fly over to get from NYC to LA or whatever.

But it's also adopted as an affectionate nickname by people who live in the interior, making fun of coastal dwellers who have that mindset.

And the post was about aerial photos, where you would be taking photos by flying over some patch of country. That's the very mild pun.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:13 PM on July 22, 2016 [4 favorites]


Flyover country refers to the central mass of the US, pretty much everything between the two (urbanized) sections of the East and West Coasts. I don't think the term applies to Canada, and I'm not sure any other country has quite the same geographic set up (maybe Australia?). The South/North divide in the UK might besimilar, I suppose, and there are a lot of places with an "urbanized part" and a "rural part," although that lacks the implication of "the big tedious part you need to get past." Also, flyover country has some urban areas that challenge the coasts but are pretty routinely ignored.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:15 PM on July 22, 2016


Ah. Most of Australia is flown over, I reckon. But there's enormous beauty to be seen in areas that are difficult to access. I guess we'd have some road analogue. Like a bypass town or sumfin'. I don't think we have the same feelings but that's my white urban view. I know there are some incredibly remote communities in Australia that can only be accessed by plane in the dry season. I guess they love planes flying over.


Thanks for the explanation. I had wondered at first if it could be an actual country that was flown over entirely...like um, PNG or Belgium.

Good to know. Gotta say, I'm going to use it now. Not for America, but it's kinda handy for describing parts of Australia and how urban policy makers forget and ignore remote (and often indigenous) communities.
posted by taff at 11:27 PM on July 22, 2016 [3 favorites]


When I was in Indiana a few years ago, the local radio station (which I believe was called B-100, and had a literal logo of a bee wearing sunglasses in subtle American fashion) incessantly played a dreadful pop-country song called Flyover States. It was full of the usual drivel about racing across the cornfields in your truck with a beer on the console and how people there respected their elders and were good, honest, God-fearin' folk. It was hard not to laugh.

Not sure what that data point brings to the discussion, but the whole thread just reminded me of that song I'd totally forgotten.
posted by winterhill at 12:11 AM on July 23, 2016


No, really, the "pun" is that the post is about arial photographs of farms in the middle of the country. You can't take the photos without flying over that area.

But that's not a pun. That's just the thing that it is.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:16 AM on July 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


it would only be a pun if there were actual flies.
posted by Namlit at 12:31 AM on July 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


I don't think the term applies to Canada

Anything that's not Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, and Gander* would be flyover, I think.

*I don't actually know what the plane hub for the Maritimes is, presumably Halifax, I just know Gander airport is supposed to be a beautiful time capsule.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:37 AM on July 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


That place is a true thing of beauty, Alvy Ampersand. Now I want to fly to Newfoundland just to see their airport.

Fly-over country is such an odd term. It's endearing when people in said country use it affectionately, but nasty when east / west coast people use it derisively. I agree that it adds nothing to most conversations.
posted by kanewai at 1:01 AM on July 23, 2016


flyover country is shorthand for "the more livable parts of the country that it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to live in and civilization doesn't seem to be in a process of complete collapse"
posted by pyramid termite at 1:42 AM on July 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


strangely it is also drive-thru country
posted by nom de poop at 3:20 AM on July 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


I don't think the term applies to Canada

The Minnesota and Edmonton soccer fans have established a friendly rivalry and dubbed it the Flyover Cup.
posted by nickmark at 4:10 AM on July 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


Since "flyover" is the UK equivalent for "overpass", our flyover country would be this.

/moderate derail
posted by Grangousier at 4:36 AM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm an East Coaster, but have lots of family in the mid section of the country, so never use the term "flyover country" either here or elsewhere. I also understand how annoying it can be to the folks who live there, because I'm so tired of all the "jokes" about my home state of New Jersey (which happen seemingly everywhere, including Metafilter ... grumble grumble .... sigh).
posted by gudrun at 4:49 AM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


(and with a tone of FOR GOD'S SAKE DONT TELL THE SAN FRANCISCANS ABOUT OUR COST OF LIVING OR THEY'LL ALL MOVE HERE)

Quite. In the liberal college town of Grinnell, Iowa, students have to spend the first year at least in college campus accommodation. It's entertaining to watch, when they turn up with parents at the start of their time there, said parents stare at the prices in real estate windows, hyperventilate a little, say things like "Oh god it would be cheaper to just buy them a house for a few years".

Everywhere I've lived in for a while in the USA - Grinnell, Iowa; Toledo, Ohio; Oxford, Ohio; Detroit; LA; Seattle; trailer park in rural Indiana - or places have stopped by in (too many to mention across 38 states) has good and bad points, and you can usually find the good without much effort. Feel kinda sorry for people who write off visiting, or stopping in, huge parts of the quilt that is the USA because of phrases such as "flyover country". They're missing out on quirky stuff, and good food and relaxed times.
posted by Wordshore at 4:52 AM on July 23, 2016 [11 favorites]


stare at the prices in real estate windows

why did you link that, I may cry now
posted by en forme de poire at 5:59 AM on July 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


GenjiandProust: "Eh, if it keeps people from NYC, SF, and LA from realizing that they could move to Minneapolis, it's probably worth the sneer."

I cringe at every one of those NYT articles that "discover" Pittsburgh for the n-th time since it means that even more Brooklyn refuges will move here and drive up hip neighborhood prices even higher. They come here and think that $400K is a bargain for crappy wood-frame townhouse while the flipper who paid $90K for it two years ago laughs her/his ass off.
posted by octothorpe at 6:27 AM on July 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hmm.. Never thought of how it would apply to Canada and since I live on an island west of Vancouver what does that make my area? Do Americans have a term for Hawaii and Alaska? I suppose Alaska would actually be the only real flyover country...
posted by kanata at 6:56 AM on July 23, 2016


Taff, in some ways it's similar to our use of the word "outback". It's only "out back" if your default reference point is the coast. If Australians only cared about the central desert and all lived there, we might think of Melbourne as "outback". I don't know anyone who objects to the term outback, though, so either there's more of a sense of derision associated with the American term "flyover country" or I just haven't asked enough people living in the centre here how they feel about the word.
posted by lollusc at 8:07 AM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think Hawaii and Alaska are outside of this scope of the "flyover country" idea.

In Canada, the prairies would be flyover country, but Canada's population centers are so differently distributed than the US -- virtually every biggish city is down at the southern border, strung out in a line, and the biggest cities are inland (most obviously, Toronto)... plus the vast bulk of the country is almost totally unoccupied land.

In the continental US there's the coasts, both of which are pretty thickly settled up and down, and there's some areas that are almost totally unoccupied (roughly, the mountains, the deserts, and the northern plains) - maybe similar to the outback or the Canadian north ... but there's a huge section of fairly thickly settled inland areas - basically the Midwest, or the Mississippi River's drainage basin - that are called "flyover country" even though there are tons of people there. A larger percentage of the land is agricultural, especially in the westernmost section of that area, but overall it's a big and very populous area -- for example see the nighttime satellite photo showing where the lights are -- how far into the center of the US the heavy illumination goes.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:24 AM on July 23, 2016 [7 favorites]


Hawaii and Alaska are outside of this scope of the "flyover country" idea.

Yeah you can see people being dismissive about AK and HI when they talk about the "Lower 48" or something similar. Even though AK is technically part of the "continental US" it's not part of the 48 contiguous states and so people dismiss it and Hawaii at the same time which is amusing considering how different they are (as are the states of the midwest). I feel like in Canada the big deal is how 75% of the population lives within 100 miles of the US border so the upper regions like Northwest and Yukon territories and Nunavut get shut out. I'm sure there's some way people refer to The Maritimes in Canada that has the same general vibe that "flyover states" does.

As someone who lives in a state that is 83% rural by area and 60+% by population, I get feels about this whenever I fill out an online form that asks for my "city." I mean it makes sense to ask that way since 80+% of Americans live in cities but still!
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:52 AM on July 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Holy wow, that 80+% figure is an official US Census statistic. And for a moment it totally upturned my sense of how the country's laid out.

But -- not that this contradicts jessamyn's point; it's just neat to think through -- it turns out that apparently the Census has no "suburban" designation, so it's really ~20% rural and ~80% everything not rural.

(This fivethirtyeight article from a few years back reports that, when surveyed, "26% of Americans described where they live as urban, 53 percent said suburban, and 21 percent said rural" -- but keep in mind those stats are weirded a bit by respondents being able to self-designate their home area as suburban, or even rural, even if officially within city limits.)
posted by nobody at 9:34 AM on July 23, 2016


Yeah you can really dig into this with census data because they do know what sort of place you live in even if they don't have names for it. On this page, for example, they talk about people who live in places called "Urbanized areas" which have more than 50,000 people whereas Urban Clusters have between 2,500-50,000 people. So given that data you can say that 71% of Americans live someplace with 50,000 or more people and about 29% don't. Still a big majority of people living in what most people would call a city even though the census sort of calls anything over 2500 people not-rural which I think goes against a lot of people's gut feeling about this sort of thing.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:49 AM on July 23, 2016 [5 favorites]


since I live on an island west of Vancouver what does that make my area?

"Newlyweds and Nearly-Deads"
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:09 AM on July 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm definitely on board for less use of disparaging phrases, even though in the case of the cited example, the term seemed much more affectionate than anything else.

The census definitions are interesting, and intersect in complicated ways with people's self identities. I don't know if there is another large country with a similar population distribution to the US in this way. We think of it as natural, but the relatively densely settled interior (and with very few primate cities in the country) was the result of a couple hundred years of deliberate policies encouraging and subsidizing that form of development, from the use of the US military to kill and remove Indians, to creating land grant public universities, to subsidizing in turn canals, railroads, highways, and airports.

Australia and Brazil both have (relatively) densely settled coasts, but less in the interior for both historical and landscape-driven reasons. Looking at population density maps of South Africa, there are definitely densely settled areas in the interior, but I think the overall form of development there is quite different. Russia is populated in the east, but much less so elsewhere.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:15 AM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Relevant Nat Geo article on the phrase's self-coined origin from those who live in "flyover country":
Hence the self-coining of flyover country—it’s a way for Midwesterners (and Southerners and people from the plains and mountains) to define themselves relative to the rest of the country. It’s defensive but self-deprecating, a way of shouting out for attention but also a means for identifying yourself by your home region’s lack of attention. It’s the linguistic nexus of Minnesota nice and Iowa stubborn.
As someone covered by the phrase, I don't take any insult from it.
posted by WCityMike at 10:17 AM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


flyover country is shorthand for "the more livable parts of the country that it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to live in and civilization doesn't seem to be in a process of complete collapse"

I've lived in a big city on the west coast for about 20 years now, and the term "flyover country" (probably because I never noticed its condescending usage, and I should probably pay more attention) makes me feel somewhat serene, as I imagine wide open places, less congestion, fewer automobiles, and more laid back communities. I see these places when I fly over them for work, and it always makes me homesick. I'll be sticking around here for awhile, as there are good things here, too, but I always imagine going back there to retire some day, sitting under a tree in my quiet backyard, and waving at the people in the flying tin cans, some of whom are hurrying home so they can hurry some more.
posted by SpacemanStix at 11:12 AM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't know if there is another large country with a similar population distribution to the US in this way.

In what way exactly? If you're talking about the very high percentages living in urban zones, then yes?
> Together, the capitals and other major cities accounted for over two-thirds (69%) of Australia's population in 2011.
> Altogether, nearly 90% of Australians live in urban areas (cities or towns of more than 1,000 people)
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:39 PM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


I really, really hate the term and I really, really wish people would stop using it, especially in a derisive way (obviously). Some of the reason I loathe it so much is because I still get shit from certain in-laws who are from upstate New York about the fact that I grew up in central Indiana. Like, once they were literally saying that anyone who was educated in public schools in Indiana is a stupid, backward, redneck idiot (they had just moved to central Indiana) and I was like HELLO YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT ME. It hurt and it still hurts. My damned sister-in-law just recently wondered aloud why anyone would choose to live in Cincinnati, Ohio. Um, we choose to and we love it, for so, so many reasons (incredible food scene, great culture, super low cost of living, it's not where you are you stupid intolerant horrible person...oh, sorry.)

It doesn't hurt less when it comes from strangers, either.

Please don't assume that those of us in states that are not on the coasts are "less than." We aren't.
posted by cooker girl at 12:47 PM on July 23, 2016 [10 favorites]


In what way exactly? If you're talking about the very high percentages living in urban zones, then yes?

Cultural and population centers on opposite sides of a country with not so much between, not just urban/rural. In the US, it can be as much a cultural thing as a population one - the two largest cities and media hubs are in LA and New York, and a lot of what comes from areas in between does not seem to have as much attention paid to it or is regarded as provincial and not as stylish as things from the coasts. The lack of attention for cultural contributions from "flyover" areas contributes to the negative feelings associated with the term.
posted by LionIndex at 1:41 PM on July 23, 2016


MeFi is the most liberal forum I'll post on because of all the ones I read it has the least usage of hillbilly and redneck as slurs. i don't mind them as descriptors, after all we are different than Americans living in BosWash or on the Left Coast and I like slang, it keeps the language interesting and evolving.

Outside of MiFi, I'm a free speech fundamentalist. Everyone has a right to say R**skin, N****r or use use white/trailer trash to describe a group instead of behavior. BUT everyone has a right to judge someone's worth by what they say. I know a lot of people that ain't worth talking to.

All that said, my pet peeve is people trying to do a southern accent to indicate a lack of intelligence. "Them thar Billy Jo Bob's dawgs", first of all, most y'all cain't even do it rite, you come across as ignorant not sarcastic. Furthermore if it comes from someone politically on the right, who cares, its just another dumb insult from some beggarkicker, unless they get right in your face with it. But when it comes from someone on the left, its so goddamn hypocritical, "demeaning stereotypes are bad, mkay?", unless your from the Upper South, Deep South or Texas. Seriously?

All in all, I'm pretty happy I blew $5 to spout off here.
posted by ridgerunner at 3:18 PM on July 23, 2016 [12 favorites]


cooker girl

Sorry your in-laws are such assholes. That attitude has been so common, it paid to develop a standard response. Reaching deep into my childhood and opening a channel to an older cousin who pronounced dare not as dasn't, I look them in the eyes and say "Ah know 'xactly how ya feel. Ah ain't never lost nothin' back East an' wouldn't look fer it ifin I did." Then grin about our mutually stated bigotry. Of course, I'm not big on turning the other cheek.

For me, having a canned response reduces such insults from something to be mentally stewed over to the equivalent of stepping on some dogshit, wiping it off and going on with the day. Those type of people don't rate much time in my mind.

G'luck
posted by ridgerunner at 4:27 PM on July 23, 2016


Such great stories that only Jarts can provide.

I don't know, Click-Clacks were pretty good too.
posted by bongo_x at 4:41 PM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


OTOH, one doesn't really move to downstate Illinois if one is concerned about New Yorkers thinking one is cool, so when someone gets all "flyover country" at me to insult me and they're serious, it's all I can do not to bust out laughing. Sick burn, dude!

Yeah, I lived in L.A. so it's hard to take seriously. And this is just personal anecdote, but almost everyone I met in NY was from the Midwest. I kept asking "Is there anyone from here?".

There seems to be two main kinds of people with this opinion; people who have never been anywhere else, and people who recently moved from the middle of the country and are so excited to be away from their parents they're giddy.
posted by bongo_x at 4:51 PM on July 23, 2016


It strikes me that with the rise of 3D printing we will finally see a path to an easy DIY jarts revival.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:59 PM on July 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


In the US, it can be as much a cultural thing as a population one - the two largest cities and media hubs are in LA and New York, and a lot of what comes from areas in between does not seem to have as much attention paid to it or is regarded as provincial and not as stylish as things from the coasts. The lack of attention for cultural contributions from "flyover" areas contributes to the negative feelings associated with the term.

And yet, a giant proportion of SNL cast (present and past) and other cultural movers and shakers all come out of training at Second City. But then, is Chicago even part of the mindset when people use flyover country as a pejorative?
posted by hippybear at 6:21 PM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but 2nd City versus the entire television and movie industries is not much of a comparison. Living in the upper midwest, Chicago is layover country for me.

Also, I don't know if it's just projection on my part, but I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people start moving in from the coasts in the somewhat near future. My wife is in academia and my career is fairly portable, so we've been going where she gets work and that's led us native SoCalers to Wisconsin and soon to Michigan. We're enjoying it so far; we like Grand Rapids (where we're moving to) based on what we've seen of it, and we'd move to Minneapolis in a heartbeat if we had the opportunity. We basically just bought a house in GR based on my wife's employment contract there; if we were still in San Diego our only chance at getting a house would pretty much be moving into my parents' after they pass.
posted by LionIndex at 6:51 PM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


Wordshore: In the liberal college town of Grinnell, Iowa...

Is this a bad time to offer up my old "WHERE THE HELL IS GRINNELL?" t-shirt, speaking as a smug Minnesotan (who, yes, lived under the flight path often used by huge-ass, noisy 747s coming in to MSP)?
posted by wenestvedt at 8:00 PM on July 23, 2016 [1 favorite]


cortex: It strikes me that with the rise of 3D printing we will finally see a path to an easy DIY jarts revival.

What, you need fancy-pants, lightweight, high-tech materials for your home-brew Jarts? Dontcha have some re-bar and packing tape handy, like they use in the Heartland Of America?!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:01 PM on July 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


One last thought: I grew up in MN and now live on the East Coast. I like to point out that for much of the first century of our nation's history, most of the people with initiative, curiosity, and drive all left the East Coast to see what else there was. And pretty much that turned into...the rest of the country, and that ain't so bad.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:04 PM on July 23, 2016


What always bothers me about the phrase is the sheer parochialism of it. I grew up in the Canadian equivalent of the midwest, and had many relatives living in Michigan. And then I went to an liberal-arts college on the East Coast (the same one tss did, in fact — we overlapped by a few years). Many of my classmates there were people who had never been spent much than 100 miles from the Atlantic (or Pacific) Ocean, and didn't think that this limited their perspective at all; in fact, they seemed to actively reject the idea that there was anything worth seeing outside the Northeast Megalopolis.

So when I see a post or a comment here that uses the phrase, it rankles. It seems unfairly dismissive of a wide swath of the continent, including many parts where I have significant ties. And it's not just the phrase, but a general attitude of "well, thank goodness I don't live THERE" that crops up in posts about the center of the continent — posts that too often invite recreational outrage or lulz.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:39 PM on July 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


That's what amuses me about it even in my annoyance ... it's such a self-accusing phrase to use. It says "I've never been more than 100 miles inland and I am incurious and uneducated about the rest of my country, therefore I shall insult you as a backwards hick for being from the middle part, even though it's not like I'd have any way of knowing."

It's the Hyacinth Bucket of regional insult attempts!
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:46 PM on July 23, 2016 [18 favorites]


It may not bother everyone who lives in the middle of the country, but it is just like the "ugh, Texas" crap, the "red-states deserve their shitty laws" line or the general snobbery around the South and small towns. It is still ignorant and disrespectful and I don't think it belongs in intelligent conversation.
posted by soelo at 9:03 PM on July 23, 2016 [9 favorites]


The last game of jarts I ever played was at a family reunion, and my aim wasn't quite on. I was young, and I had tendency to throw my arm up into the air while I tried to toss the jart where it should go. Sometimes, it would go straight up high or out of control. So this one time I threw it, it went crazy and landed on one of my relatives. As such, my very last memory of my grandpa's older brother is him getting mad and pointing straight at me and saying, "SpacemanStix doesn't get to play this game any more!" And wouldn't you know it, I never did play again.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:40 PM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


ridgerunner: But when it comes from someone on the left, its so goddamn hypocritical, "demeaning stereotypes are bad, mkay?", unless your from the Upper South, Deep South or Texas. Seriously?

THIS.

I know a few people have said they have heard it used affectionately, but I haven't until that post, when it was briefly a charming pun. This stuff is rampant in Democratic and Liberal circles, and I really wish it would stop.

We're enjoying it so far; we like Grand Rapids (where we're moving to) based on what we've seen of it

I have family there! It's a gorgeous place; make sure you check out the John Ball Zoo; I went there once a year for most of my childhood when I was visiting my grandparents and they have special winter events, including gorgeous lights and caroling. I also recommend visiting all of the lakes (Superior is amazing - stone beaches! - and Michigan is jaw dropping), and the taffy from Traverse City is really good. Mackinac Island (High Tea in the fancy hotel! - though the prevalence of black staff for white customers was unnerving to me and seemed deliberate.) is a fantastic day, too and if you like nature the UP is perfection itself.
posted by Deoridhe at 10:14 PM on July 23, 2016 [9 favorites]


Oh man. I never thought to make a meta about this but I am glad that you did tss. Many many times i have watched comments get no pushback when someone lumps all of us "flyover" folks into their neat and tidy dismissive box. And I do take note of these comments and the commenter (sorry, but I do) and make a mental note that they are a snob until proven otherwise.
posted by futz at 11:01 PM on July 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


"SpacemanStix doesn't get to play this game any more!"

I'm now imagining the sky clouding over, and your relative cast in shadow except for one glinting eye, and saying, with a lot of reverb, something like:

Stix shall never with Jarts play
Until the trump of Judgement Day

Then, in the future, you will be tricked into playing Jarts (probably 3D printed Jarts) as part of a plot to start Armageddon.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:35 PM on July 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


It might also be good to keep in mind that in an international context, talking about 'flyover country' may not make sense to everyone. To a lot of people here in The Rest Of The World, that does not make us think of central USA.
(In general, it's smart to avoid 'the country' as well, unless it's absolutely clear which country you're talking about. Yes, haha, you can tell that the US is meant because US Americans always forget to say they mean the US. We know. But still.)

Here in the Netherlands, it's the Randstad (the cluster of bigger cities in the west of the country, including Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Den Haag) versus everything else. I live outside of the Randstad. It's easy to notice that some Randstedelingen consider everything outside of the Randstad to be very far and difficult to get to. Pretty funny when you realise how small this country is: nothing is ever further than a few hours away. So we sometimes make fun of that mentality: are you coming over to [event]? Have you had your shots? Is your visum in order? Be careful, they may not let you back in.
posted by Too-Ticky at 1:41 AM on July 24, 2016 [9 favorites]


I'm cool with people reflecting on the term and choosing whether or not they think the term is helpful, funny, or in anyway relevant to a discussion that's gonna be worth a damn. IMO it isn't.
posted by Annika Cicada at 5:32 AM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


I get nervous whenever I'm more than a hundred miles away from a coast. It's like being in a building with no fire exits. Where can you escape to?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:07 AM on July 24, 2016


I definitely have heard it used in a kind of self-deprecating, almost humble-braggy way, for what it's worth, as in this Iowa: wave the next time you fly over t-shirt or the annual Flyover Fashion Festival. I think it's one of those things that's cool to say when you're talking about yourself and not particularly cool to say when you're talking about other people. At any rate, I think the problem is the attitude reflected in the phrase, rather than the phrase itself. There do seem to be a fair number of people out there who think that there are five or six acceptable places to live in the US, and they're all on the coasts with the possible exception of Chicago, and anyone who lives anywhere else probably has nothing productive to contribute to any discussion. And that's dumb and provincial and makes you look like a dumb, provincial person.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 6:14 AM on July 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't know, Click-Clacks were pretty good too.

We only got the knock-off brand which were called, iirc, Kerbangers. Dangerous, those.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 6:49 AM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


"Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Home, home on the range,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.

Where the air is so pure, and the zephyrs so free,
The breezes so balmy and light,
That I would not exchange my home on the range,
For all of the cities so bright."


just seemed to fit
posted by HuronBob at 6:55 AM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


Having grown up in a flyover state (Oklahoma) I don't think I even register any sense of "flyover state" that isn't the home-grown variety (so, if there is an insult, it's pointed at the coastal elites as a way of knocking them down a peg or two for their unconscious dismissiveness). But:

they seemed to actively reject the idea that there was anything worth seeing outside the Northeast Megalopolis.

I spent a year in Germany when I was in college, and at some point early on I was invited to a party. There was a guy there from Philadelphia, and I had managed to ignore his snobbery about the fact I'd come from a state school, but then I overheard his conversation about LA with somebody else: "[…] but really, civilization ends at Pittsburgh, or really before you even get to Pittsburgh." And then I realized, that guy was an asshole. It is quite possible he used "flyover state" in the insulting way, but if he did I can't say it hurt me coming from him.
posted by fedward at 7:09 AM on July 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


I don't like it, because there is so much dismissiveness on this site (and elsewhere) by people from the coasts.

Like, several incidents actually stick out in my mind. They sting, because there is this assumption that people from the Midwest are boring and uncultured. There are actually people on this sit who think that because they live in a big city on the coast, they know more.

Meanwhile, during my trips to big cities on the coasts, I discovered that while they all had their unique attractions, they didn't confer some magical worldliness to their residents. The coffee wasn't even better, for example, even at the local, buzz-worthy shops.

I used that example because I've seen Midwesterner's opinions on coffee explicitly written off on this site due to this kind of snobbery. But there is actually a hell of a lot of good coffee here, and that speaks more to the ignorance of the person making that statement than to ours.

It's a lot of little things like that.

So, anyway -- I can't always tell if someone using it is using it in an ironic way or a disparaging way, so I don't really like it.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 8:13 AM on July 24, 2016 [17 favorites]


"... but here’s the thing: all of America is real. San Francisco, California and Orlando, Florida are just as much a part of the USA as Mount Pleasant, Iowa is. I don’t begrudge those who only visit the classic destinations (I do it in other countries!), but I do think the lesser-known places have something worthwhile and different to offer."
posted by Wordshore at 8:24 AM on July 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


Just so you all know, I'm super jealous off all you people who live in these parts of the country. I really miss living in the Midwest, but I'm tied down with career and everything here in the Bay Area and it's frustrating. I so wish I could come up with some way to move to where you all live because I genuinely love it. You will never hear me talk about flyover country in a mean way.
posted by teponaztli at 11:21 AM on July 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


A fair request. I will be more mindful about how I use the phrase in question.
posted by Lyme Drop at 12:23 PM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


We only got the knock-off brand which were called, iirc, Kerbangers. Dangerous, those.

Captain Kerbangers Pirate Clackers, comes with eyepatch.
posted by bongo_x at 12:35 PM on July 24, 2016


Yeah, well, look - you know, the average kid, he picks up, you know, broken glass anywhere, you know? The beach, the street, garbage cans, parking lots, all over the place in any big city. We're just packaging what the kids want! I mean, it's a creative toy, you know? If you hold this up, you know, you see colors, every color of the rainbow! I mean, it teaches him about light refraction, you know? Prisms, and that stuff! You know what I mean?
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:56 PM on July 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm living in the Midwest - originally from Perth, Western Australia so I feel Positively Metropolitan here. (Perth is where all the characters move to when they're written out of Neighbours or Home and Away. National news in Australia doesn't hide its East Coast disdain for west coasters, only providing information about either grisly shark attacks or iron ore prices.)

I've lived in LA and spent a lot of time in NY, and loved them both for different reasons, but nothing beats life in Minnesota. A month ago I did a drive from NY to Sioux Falls and it is such a beautiful unfolding of country. Prairies, man. Boy, howdy. Last week I saw a mama n baby moose trawling along Gaskin Lake in Boundary Waters.

'Flyover' is such a stupid, dumb way to describe the gorgeousness of this part of your land.
posted by honey-barbara at 6:58 PM on July 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh, we are we still commenting here? Good.

While we're at it, you can leave off using the term "Rust Belt", too.

 
posted by Herodios at 7:56 PM on July 24, 2016 [6 favorites]


I've started to hear people here in Minneapolis reclaiming the term... laptop stickers and shirts and stuff that say "flyover country" are popping up all over the place. I'm cool with it.

(I've heard jerks legit unironically call Minnesota flyover country, which makes no sense because there's a massive airport hub here? Maybe flythrough and change planes country? Ah stereotypes.)
posted by miyabo at 8:54 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


For most Canadians, flyover country is most of the northern (east, middle and west bits) and largely even the southern parts of the US. For many Canadians, flying means we're on our way to Havana or Negril or Cancun. With the notable exception of Florida, most of the US is fly-over country to snowbird Canuks.
posted by bonehead at 9:06 PM on July 24, 2016


In Canada, the prairies would be flyover country, but Canada's population centers are so differently distributed than the US

Honestly, fly-over country isn't a term I've heard really used in any way in Canada. It seems to be more of an American thing. We have our own homegrown ways to diss each other.
posted by bonehead at 9:08 PM on July 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


the agents of KAOS: "I don't know if there is another large country with a similar population distribution to the US in this way."
"In what way exactly?
"

One of the things that political scientists talk a lot about is unipolar vs. multipolar countries. Like, the UK is (fairly) unipolar -- political, cultural, and financial power is all concentrated in London. Ditto Paris with France. But in the US, political power is concentrated in DC, financial power in New York, and cultural power split between New York and LA. (And maybe San Francisco these days.) Multipolar societies make political scientists itchy since it seems like there's a tendency for countries to centralize all those functions in one location and to centralize all forms of power in one place; the US's fairly durable split is unusual (although clearly not unique, although the US may be the largest multipolar country -- I don't know, someone expound on whether India and China are unipolar or multipolar, I am curious).

Also the way the US was deliberately surveyed, laid out, and settled in the frontier territories (everything west of the Appalachians and east of the Cascades, really), and then financially supported and given infrastructure, is a little weird, although in a pretty historically-contingent way. Canada has done similar (in fact a lot of early US/Canadian cooperative efforts were "hey lets provide infrastructure links to places where nobody lives so they'll live there"); Russia also did similar in its far east but that has not proven as durable as US/Canadian efforts to settle their rural bits. The fact that you can see the survey grid from space by looking at the lights is pretty weird. It's pretty weird that someone came in to my state and said, "Right, we need to put roads every X miles to enable corn to get to market" and drew a grid for that, and then put roads and railroads and ports there, rather than people coming in and growing corn and figuring out on their own where the roads needed to go to efficiently get corn to market. In most parts of the world when you get lost you don't say to yourself, "Right, I'll just take the completely straight ordinal roads east until I either find a road I know or hit the Indiana border, and then I'll know where I am." Mostly roads follow landforms or settlement patterns. It's a little weird to have settlement patterns follow predetermined roads that were laid out when nobody lived there to use them.

(One way in which I am ridiculously provincial is that I love my well-ordered ordinal roads and their easy and predictable rhythm and when I go to the not-Midwest I find it very distressing how roads curve around and don't run in strict east/west or north/south directions and how they follow idiosyncratic rhythms of human development rather than clear and strict rhythms of graph paper and basically my brain can only cope with roads that run in straight lines and even the fucking diagonal grid of my city's downtown fucks me up because I am only happy with ordinal grids and HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW which side of the street has even numbers and which has odds if you're on a diagonal????)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:53 PM on July 24, 2016 [12 favorites]


honey-barbara

Way back in the '70s, the East-West division was pretty blatant. One of the first things I noticed after getting off the docks in Fremantle was a t shirt with a map of Western Australia and the rest of the continent outlined and labeled UNEXPLORED TERRITORY. It was so funny I bought one as a souvenir.
posted by ridgerunner at 10:02 PM on July 24, 2016 [1 favorite]


and how they follow idiosyncratic rhythms of human development

I think you'll find a lot of the older cities have roads based on cow or sheep paths and not human development.
posted by hippybear at 10:13 PM on July 24, 2016


HOW DO YOU EVEN KNOW which side of the street has even numbers and which has odds if you're on a diagonal????

How it's supposed to work is, standing on the origin, facing due East, odds ore on the right. Turn 45 degrees to the left, facing North East, odds are on the right. Do it twice more and you've got all eight directions covered.
posted by ridgerunner at 10:19 PM on July 24, 2016


One way in which I am ridiculously provincial is that I love my well-ordered ordinal roads and their easy and predictable rhythm and when I go to the not-Midwest I find it very distressing how roads curve around and don't run in strict east/west or north/south directions and how they follow idiosyncratic rhythms of human development

You should definitely come out to Portland some time (biz trip!) to enjoy the weird mashup of sensible grids with geographical constraints; it's a great town for cases of Almost Logical But Not Quite. A study in exceptions, including two major city architects who couldn't agree on a definition of "north", and all the jarring let lines of mild idiocy that that has produced.

Whereas the greater Boston area can seriously just go fuck itself, navigationally speaking.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:22 PM on July 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think you'll find a lot of the older cities have roads based on cow or sheep paths

Which is why us non-Bostonians should not be allowed to drive anywhere near the Commons.
posted by ridgerunner at 10:25 PM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


You should definitely come out to Portland some time (biz trip!) to enjoy the weird mashup of sensible grids with geographical constraints

Take a look at the cluster fuck of multiple directional grids that is central Missoula Montana. I mean, HOW THE FUCK. Combine those ridiculous intersections with a bunch of one way streets, and the ONLY way you can navigate if you were either born there or have a really good GPS.
posted by hippybear at 10:43 PM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


And then you have places like Washington DC, which were designed to be symbolic and not lived in and now people live there.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:51 PM on July 24, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'd say the worst thing about Atlanta (which I love) is driving, and I've never got used to the roads. Tonight, after more than a decade here, we went a different way, in our own area that we travel all the time, and said "wait, what? street X and street Y meet here?". This still happens all the time. When I look at maps of the area it bears little resemblance to how I see it in my head driving.

There are few streets that continue in the same direction for more than a couple of miles, and you can very often find yourself going in the opposite direction within a very short time if you stay on a road. Not to mention that it will change names several times and dozens of streets have very similar names.

Oh, and you can't really see any landmarks, or anything beyond the street you're on many places, because of all the beautiful trees everywhere. When I first moved here I literally ended up in a different city in the wrong direction several times when I thought I was taking a straightforward route.

It is worse in the suburbs, the downtown and midtown "grids", and I use that term loosely, being the only semi organized areas.

There is a road in my area called Five Forks Trickum.

Before I moved here I thought I had a good sense of direction.
posted by bongo_x at 11:53 PM on July 24, 2016 [3 favorites]


In the continental US there's the coasts, both of which are pretty thickly settled up and down

The 400 or so miles (~ 1/3 of the Pacific Coast) between Santa Rosa and Eugene would like a word....
posted by MikeKD at 2:13 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


someone expound on whether India and China are unipolar or multipolar, I am curious).

Can't speak to China, but India is definitely multipolar, with political power concentrated in New Delhi (national capital) and financial and cultural power concentrated in Mumbai (home of the Bombay Stock Exchange and where Bollywood films are made). Calcutta could be considered an old cultural capital, and there are up and coming cities in the South, like Bangalore, that could be considered new cultural capitals.
posted by peacheater at 4:46 AM on July 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


Whereas the greater Boston area can seriously just go fuck itself, navigationally speaking.

Get a load of this kid.

Moving from Kansas City, which (at least mostly) has a sensible grid with an intuitive numbering system, to Boston was what got me to switch to a smart phone so I would stop getting lost on foot.

I miss the Midwest. I often encounter the "why the fuck does anyone live there" attitude from people in Boston. Bums me out.

I will say I think Metafilter has gotten better about this in the past 10-12 years. I think the "flyover state" thing was weaponized during the Bush administration.
posted by dismas at 4:50 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think it would also be cool if people would stop doing the thing where they point out that rural and/or poor US states get more money from the federal government than they put in. I get that there's a real political point there, in that those states often vote for candidates who claim to be against big government, but people bring it up on contexts that have nothing to do with politics, it often comes across as sort of classic welfare-taunting. It's the geographic equivalent of telling the homeless guy to get a job.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:10 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


While we're at it, you can leave off using the term "Rust Belt", too.

But unlike "flyover country", I think there are contexts when "rust belt" is actually a useful descriptor. We were driving through Waukegan (IL) recently, and I noted that it had a distinct rust belt feel to it (i.e. older industrial midwest). But maybe I feel like I can say that because I grew up in Ohio? My husband (not originally from the Midwest) initially described the place as "depressing", which is less descriptive and more offensive, I think.

That being said, if somebody came in here saying something like, "eww, I've got to take a trip to the rust belt," that would be pretty gross, and I'm all for less of that.
posted by gueneverey at 5:30 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think there are contexts when "rust belt" is actually a useful descriptor.
Again, in an international context (which this site is, like it or not) it's not all that useful since a part of your audience has no idea what you mean when you say that. First time I encounter the term.
posted by Too-Ticky at 5:36 AM on July 25, 2016


It strikes me that with the rise of 3D printing we will finally see a path to an easy DIY jarts revival.

My brother-in-law procured some jarts from the UK (I think) and every year he has a party where he puts ceramic gnomes in the valley that is his backyard, and we throw jarts at them in an attempt to break them. It's fantastic.

(Though using the jart he made out of a fireplace poker and a swim noodle is much more satisfying)
posted by Lucinda at 6:03 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


(Though using the jart he made out of a fireplace poker and a swim noodle is much more satisfying)

Well, now that you've typed that, I'm going to have to make it and endanger my family, so thanks for that.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:15 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Lucinda: (Though using the jart he made out of a fireplace poker and a swim noodle is much more satisfying)

Yeah, some pictures or maybe a drawing with measurements (metric or Imperial, whatever) is really called for here.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:17 AM on July 25, 2016


unlike "flyover country", I think there are contexts when "rust belt" is actually a useful descriptor

Find a descriptor that 1) actually describes what you are describing and b. is not deliberately derisive.
 
posted by Herodios at 6:52 AM on July 25, 2016


I think there are contexts when "rust belt" is actually a useful descriptor.

I agree, I think that it's both a good descriptor and kind of charming.
posted by octothorpe at 7:11 AM on July 25, 2016


The fact that you can see the survey grid from space by looking at the lights is pretty weird.

At the macro level, the placement of all the towns in the plains as you go west is a function of the distance a steam train could travel before needing more water. At the micro level you can see where individual cities grew up around geographic features (along a river or whatever) and then expanded to the point the survey grid took over.
posted by fedward at 7:14 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


cortex: "Whereas the greater Boston area can seriously just go fuck itself, navigationally speaking."

Come to Pittsburgh, Cortex. Boston is a model of urban transportation planning in comparison to our Escher-like street layout.
posted by octothorpe at 7:20 AM on July 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


Honestly, fly-over country isn't a term I've heard really used in any way in Canada. It seems to be more of an American thing. We have our own homegrown ways to diss each other.

The term itself isn't used, but the disdain from the residents of "Central Canada" & coastal BC towards anything in between is much the same.
posted by Johnny Assay at 8:02 AM on July 25, 2016




a "jart" is a "jean shart" right?
posted by griphus at 8:22 AM on July 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


they actually renamed Jean Shart to Poenis, then Jart Poenis after she became possessed and then corrupted by the powerful Poenis Entity
posted by Greg Nog at 8:25 AM on July 25, 2016


Detroit's Pattern of Growth, a 1965 educational film about Detroit's street grid.
posted by zamboni at 8:25 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Atlanta. Every street is named Peachtree.

Story checks out.
posted by fedward at 8:39 AM on July 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


Seattle is a good example (Brooklyn and San Francisco are others) of colliding-grid syndrome.

The insane thing about San Francisco (yes! the one insane thing!), though, is that there was such an insistence on overlaying a grid on its terrain despite the topographic impracticality of it that you've got stuff like this and this and (terrifyingly) this to contend with frequently.

But back to hippybear's original comment on Missoula, it fully reminds me of my hometown in California's own flyover (more like drive-past, but same idea) country, where the city fathers clearly thought that putting the central business district at a 45-degree angle made some sort of sense, for probably railroad-alignment reasons.
posted by psoas at 8:50 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


Also the street naming in Tulsa results in fun conversations with people from cities with corresponding streets. "I'm from Oswego." "Oh, that's* how you pronounce it?" "Wait, you've heard of it?" "Yeah, there's a street named after it in Tulsa." "WHAT?" [Explanation of street names follows].

* People in Tulsa say "Os-WEE-go**;" people from the town in NY say "OS-we-go," and if the guy I met can be believed, they usually continue "into the wild blue yonder."

** Something something MAN-shack.

posted by fedward at 8:51 AM on July 25, 2016


Also Tulsa's colliding grid is because downtown streets were actually aligned with the railroad tracks, which were non-ordinal. </derail>
posted by fedward at 8:55 AM on July 25, 2016


Honestly, fly-over country isn't a term I've heard really used in any way in Canada.

Sure, no, didn't mean to imply it's a Canadian term. Was responding to kanata musing how the term could be applied to Canada, more just idle noodling over how/whether there are or aren't parallels between the two countries in terms of which areas are stereotyped as being cool/happening vs. uncool/square or whatever.

Too-Ticky, the "Rust Belt" is a riff on an older phrase "Steel Belt." It's a geographic area in the US Midwest (very roughly, the northeastern quadrant of the inland US, including the Great Lakes area) where a lot of industrial production happened in the, say, 1850s-1950s period. The cities were built up, there was lots of population movement to them (most notably with African-Americans moving from the deep south to the north, called the "Great Migration"; also immigrants). Then in the 1970s and after, the industries either died, automated, or moved their production elsewhere, so there were suddenly many fewer jobs, less money, and big or medium cities to support with those inadequate resources. There's more to the story, notably Racism-Racism-Racism, but suffice to say there are large areas in the midwest that are generally in rough shape. And "rust belt" is a nickname that describes that, the former steel areas gone into decline.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:55 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


(That's the cartoon quickie version, meaning to convey what roughly the stereotype is. I know folks who live in those areas have complex feelings about all this, and I'm not suggesting the stereotype is the full story at all.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:57 AM on July 25, 2016


Thanks, LM, but the point isn't that I didn't know about it. The point is that people who aren't from the US will often not know such terms, and if you rely on them when making a point or telling a story, you run the risk that they haven't the foggiest what you're on about.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:14 AM on July 25, 2016


People in Tulsa say "Os-WEE-go**;" people from the town in NY say "OS-we-go,"

iirc the actual pronunciation in kanien’kéha stresses the second syllable as well - and tbh i have never heard anyone from ny pronounce it with the stress on the first but it wouldn't surprise me, upstate ny is a bizarre yet tasty headcheese of randomly applied pronunciations - so at least someone somewhere is getting it right.

posted by poffin boffin at 9:15 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


the "Rust Belt" is a riff on an older phrase "Steel Belt."

See also Bible Belt (the true origin of the term, or meme), Sun Belt, etc. It's ____ Belt all the way down.

It's become like ____gate for scandal of the month.

suffice to say there are large areas in the midwest that are generally in rough shape. And "rust belt" is a nickname that describes that, the former steel areas now in decline.

It's the steel industry that is in decline -- not necessarily the entire area of the map that gets tarred as the 'rust belt'. It's been decades. Many of the large and even medium cities have retooled and are doing something else for taxes and employment. Youngstown, Ohio has become a model of 'how to downsize a city' and get on with it.

Small towns, though are another thing. Many small towns were one-employer towns from at least the end of WWII. Many became dependent on a single small factory or shop that made sub-sub-sub assemblies for cars, or refrigerators, or maybe shoes, furniture, or carpeting. If, as often happened, through mergers, acqusitions, and offshoring, that factory closed down, there's not much reason left for some of these little towns to exist. You can't just start up a service-oriented economy in a pop. 10,000 town thirty miles from the nearest big city; the railroad doesn't stop here anymore, and the canal closed almost a century ago.

Neither 'rust' nor 'belt' really captures this.

For one thing, no ever includes the state of New York in the 'rust belt', but with the exception of NYC (which has and has had its own problems) and possibly Albany (cf, Columbus, Ohio), every city in New York state --Syracuse, Ithaca, Utica, Rochester, Buffalo, etc. -- has exactly the same kind of problems that cities in so-called 'rust belt' states get fingered for.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:19 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Don't forget the Borscht Belt folks; it's where humor was born.
posted by griphus at 9:21 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


the street naming in Tulsa results in fun conversations with people from cities with corresponding streets. "I'm from Oswego." "Oh, that's* how you pronounce it?" "Wait, you've heard of it?" "Yeah, there's a street named after it in Tulsa." "WHAT?"

Then there's Miami of Florida.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:22 AM on July 25, 2016


Getting back to the international thing, I actually think that it might be more instructive to talk about post-industrial cities/ towns than the "Rust Belt", because that's definitely, 100% not in any way an issue that is specific to the US. Lots of countries have cities that used to be economically dependent on heavy industry and are now trying to manage an economic transition to something else. Talking about it that way might invite transnational comparisons and perspectives.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 9:25 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


it might be more instructive to talk about post-industrial cities/ towns than the "Rust Belt", because that's definitely, 100% not in any way an issue that is specific to the US. Lots of countries have cities that used to be economically dependent on heavy industry and are now trying to manage an economic transition to something else. Talking about it that way might invite transnational comparisons and perspectives.

Rat own.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:29 AM on July 25, 2016


Getting back to the international thing, I actually think that it might be more instructive to talk about post-industrial cities/ towns

Spot on.
posted by Too-Ticky at 9:32 AM on July 25, 2016


Late to the thread, but I'd appreciate it if folks would think twice about using "Pennsyltucky," especially in election-related threads. It's lazy and dismissive. My middle-of-the-state--everything not Philadelphia or Pittsburgh--includes cities like Lancaster (which goes Democratic), State College, and Allentown (welcoming of refugees). I'm not going to deny that I've seen many more Trump bumper stickers than Bernie logos, but I also know that local Democratic parties are out there, and working for change. There are people like me out here, discussing the danger of Paul Manafort with the kids while we're driving to the county fair. Maybe ease up on the jeering and just use "Pennsylvania"?
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:36 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Syracuse, Ithaca, Utica, Rochester, Buffalo

This inspired me to look at unemployment statistics, and man, Google's public data widgets have gotten fancy since I last looked.

Albany, New York, Syracuse, Ithaca, Utica, Rochester, Buffalo vs. US.
posted by zamboni at 9:37 AM on July 25, 2016


I'd appreciate it if folks would think twice about using "Pennsyltucky,"

Yeah, ____tucky is also a thing. There are AAssholes in SE Michigan who delight in referring to Ypsilanti, MI as Ypsitucky.

Here again, it's the disdain of a town that never had to be industrial for a nearby one that relied on manufacturing and also relied on numbers of uneducated people migrating from the south to work those factories.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:53 AM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


man, Google's public data widgets have gotten fancy since I last looked.

Pretty classy.

Though -- just raw employment figures won't tell you the whole story when it comes to de-industrialization, which is what "rust-belt" is all about.
 
posted by Herodios at 9:54 AM on July 25, 2016


I'm sure there's some way people refer to The Maritimes in Canada that has the same general vibe that "flyover states" does.

Nope. Not really. Casual use of "Newfie" has fallen off in my experience and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are fine places if a little economically underdeveloped. New Brunswick is actually Canada's only officially bilingual province, so it actually has a cultural leg up on the rest of the country.
posted by GuyZero at 10:15 AM on July 25, 2016


My favorite as a mid-western transplant is the people who say "oh, the Great Lakes, they're really polluted, right?" and I just nod and smile, so that those folks never discover that there are giant lovely bodies of water that don't corrode all metal and taste like bad salt. The Great Lakes don't even have jellyfish or other deadly creatures!

When I moved to Boston my dad told me the old, old joke about the Bostonian who drove cross-country, and asked what route they took, said they went via Needham. Whenever I hear "flyover country" I think of that sort of provincialism and giggle. Because the more such folks stay away, the safer the rest of the country is for inexpensive great coffee, uncrowded recreation, etc.
posted by ldthomps at 10:17 AM on July 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


Though -- just raw employment figures won't tell you the whole story when it comes to de-industrialization, which is what "rust-belt" is all about.

No, but it will point out where seasonal agriculture dominates. Compare for example San Francisco and Salinas, CA.
posted by psoas at 10:23 AM on July 25, 2016


For one thing, no ever includes the state of New York in the 'rust belt',

My dad is from Utica, and we talk about it as part of the rust belt. It was hit really hard. I've never thought of the term as one based on geography so much as the industrial collapse that hit a ton of places. It's a shorthand for talking about how places like Utica were part of a larger pattern (of corporate abuse and failure of government support). It's never been offensive to me or my dad because we've never used it pejoratively, or even thought of it as a pejorative.
posted by teponaztli at 10:30 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


> all of America is real. San Francisco, California and Orlando, Florida are just as much a part of the USA as Mount Pleasant, Iowa is.

I have been to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, know people who live there, and can confirm that its residents are both real (for certain values of "real") and under the impression that they are part of the United States.
posted by Spathe Cadet at 10:51 AM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


"a "jart" is a "jean shart" right?"

It's a brand of lawn dart, also known as a "javelin dart."

This song laments their decline.
posted by klangklangston at 6:06 PM on July 25, 2016


When the flooding made inevitable by the inexorable sea level rise Global Warming will cause really starts hitting, we can refer to currently snobby coastal areas as 'flowover country'.
posted by jamjam at 6:42 PM on July 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


In my recent past, I've learned that part of North America makes far better "drive-through-on-local-roads" country. You cannot get good in-flight doughnuts or coffee or diners or Amish tourism.
posted by not_on_display at 7:08 PM on July 25, 2016


I live by an airport.
posted by clavdivs at 7:31 PM on July 25, 2016


part of the rust belt.

In Wisconsin, they called us The Big Mitten. The idea being, we might be super stylish, but awkward in a pinch, like trying to throw a snowball without the use of your fingers. Also, the term played off our loyalty to each other (you know, two in a pair), but we couldn't be trusted not to get lost without the string that connects two of them through the arms of a jacket. Also, it played off of our intricate tapestry of differences, but it was subtly twisted to evoke the knit sweaters in Fargo or a Christmas gift from a well meaning but out of touch grandma. It was tough growing up.

Just kidding, nobody ever said that. I think we were just Cheese Heads. I don't know how, in a million years, that could ever be complementary.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:23 PM on July 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


San Francisco, California and Orlando, Florida are just as much a part of the USA as Mount Pleasant, Iowa is

I have been to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, know people who live there, and can confirm that its residents are both real (for certain values of "real") and under the impression that they are part of the United States.


I think it's more that "real America" is a term that is used in the opposite way of "flyover country": to praise small towns in the heartland such as Mount Pleasant and denigrate largely coastal places like San Francisco and New York as not "real America" because of their liberal values or whatever.
posted by andrewesque at 7:06 AM on July 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I appreciate these type of advisories on stock phrases that come off as crapulent. I remember someone (griphus, maybe?) pointing out in a MeTa comment how goddamned obnoxious the old "In Soviet Union, [thing] [verbs] you!" gag can get to people who actually came from the former USSR. Sometimes, that pops into my head when I come across some old saw and it's my personal mental tipoff that I should avoid it and find something better to say.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:06 AM on July 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I can't believe nobody's commenting on cornhole, as brought up in the NY Times article above. I moved to Cleveland from NYC, where we did not have any of the following:
  • Children's cornhole games
  • Workplace cornhole tournaments
  • Cornhole champions
  • Casual backyard cornhole
Believe me when I tell you that it is very, very real here.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:10 AM on July 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


I remember someone (griphus, maybe?) pointing out in a MeTa comment how goddamned obnoxious the old "In Soviet Union, [thing] [verbs] you!" gag can get to people who actually came from the former USSR. Sometimes, that pops into my head when I come across some old saw and it's my personal mental tipoff that I should avoid it and find something better to say.

Me, too! It popped into my head just a day or two ago in a different thread and i didn't even have to think twice about tossing it aside for something else. And yes, I believe it was griphus who brought it up.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:10 AM on July 26, 2016


chesty_a_arthur: "I can't believe nobody's commenting on cornhole, as brought up in the NY Times article above. "

Just got an email about our corporate picnic in august asking how many people could bring in cornhole sets from home as they're going to have some sort of cornhole olympics.
posted by octothorpe at 1:16 PM on July 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: some sort of cornhole olympics
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 2:48 PM on July 26, 2016 [12 favorites]


I get nervous whenever I'm more than a hundred miles away from a coast. It's like being in a building with no fire exits. Where can you escape to?

Well there sure are a lot more directions that aren't made of terrifyingly vast bodies of water.
posted by brennen at 10:52 PM on July 26, 2016 [7 favorites]


a) I am from a very, very small town in Central Wisconsin. A very small town that is about 50 miles exactly due west of Oshkosh, home of the Experimental Aircraft Association. Every year, a stunning variety of amazing planes used to fly low right over our house, sometimes low enough to acknowledge us when we waved to them. I have warm memories of being flown over.

b) I'm used to it being sort of a self-deprecating joke used by midwesterners to describe themselves. I just flew out of LaGuardia* with a friend and we started riffing on how they were probably just going to toss us out of the plane somewhere vaguely over Minneapolis because who even goes there?


I guess I haven't really heard it used in a really harsh, nasty way, so much as a mild fun-poking way, and mostly by other midwesterners. We tend to be a humble people though, who enjoy not being noticed by those who would inflate the Hell out of the rent.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:40 PM on July 31, 2016 [2 favorites]


Late to this discussion, but I was the original poster of the linked post, and I'm sorry to have offended anyone. I am myself a downstate Illinoisian, as flyover as flyover gets. It was not meant as a pun or anything. I thought rural users would appreciate the post, and city users might find the photos interesting.
posted by cass at 2:07 PM on August 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


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