Friday, September 14, 2012

Bethel, Alaska: Where the population eagerly awaits the welcome balm of Death

I sure hope this ad is a put-on by our friends at Taco Bell.  PLEASE don't tell me that there is actually a town in Alaska which is SO pathetic and SO sad as Bethel is portrayed here.

Please don't tell me that the population of Bethel, Alaska is SO lacking in a reason to wake up in the morning that the rumor that a restaurant specializing in piling greasy hamburger and limp onions and lettuce on top of over-sized Doritos sends the whole freaking town into an ecstasy of anticipation.  Please don't tell me that when this balloon was punctured, the town collapsed into mass despair not felt since the county outlawed hunting moose from helicopter and Sarah Palin lost the Vice Presidency.

I  mean, there's no way this town's happiness could hang on such a slim thread- is there?  I lived in Buffalo for four years in the early-90s.  Except for my beautiful wife, there wasn't much in Buffalo.   There were bars, and bowling, and a football team that made the Super Bowl every year, but couldn't win it.  That's about it.  But I don't even remember if there was a Taco Bell around- if there was, I didn't notice.  If there was, it didn't make me happy or make life more worth living.  I guess I just don't get this.

Anyway, Taco Bell makes Everything Better for this town full of hopeless losers by delivering a load of disgusting non-food disguised as tacos, and the hicks naturally react with appreciative cheers and gorging.  Ugh.   Taco Bell gets a commercial, the townsfolk get to eat a lot of junk, and the town of Bethel, Alaska gets to be the laughing-stock of the civilized world.  Congratulations St. Cloud, Minnesota- you've finally managed to get out from under that--err, cloud-- you created for yourself when you decided to whore for Serta matresses.

Except- this didn't REALLY happen, did it?  Because if it did-- once the trucks filled with spicy, fatty crap have gone, what are the people of Bethel, Alaska going to do?  Erect a shrine to Taco Bell?  Sacrifice a virgin once a year to Bring the Tacos Back?  What?


  1. I'm going to go against character and defend the town, in a way. I'm not saying that I'd want a Taco Bell in my town. I wouldn't touch fast food with a 10 mile pole. I would imagine, however, that, way out in the far reaches, an isolated town can feel a bit too isolated at times. An article about the Taco bell hoax mentions that they lament that they can't get any fast food place to come, but I think that's only part of it. There are probably no chain stores or other well known venues where they can go in Bethel and it might make them feel disassociated with the rest of the country, especially when TV is filled with commercials for them. I would posit that they don't necessarily want the tacos, per se, as much as they want to feel more a part of the mainstream nation by having a few stores and restaurants (although in Taco Bell's instance, that's a loose interpretation) that everyone else seems to have. In other words, I think the desire was more social/psychological than food-based. I might be wrong, but I once had a job offer to move out to a relatively remote area and I couldn't help but think of all the things I wouldn't have short-distance access to anymore, and these people have never had that. We can be intellectually elitist and say that they aren't missing anything and they are rubes for even wanting it, just to feel a part of the popular culture, but it's easy to say that when you're not in that kind of situation of isolation. I hate Taco Bell more for exploiting the hoax for their own promotion.

    1. I've lived in small towns, and you hit it pretty much right on the nose. It's the excitement that Taco Bell coming in brings, and the jobs and that the door for other national chains coming into the area has been opened. It's definitely a social/psychological thing.

    2. John, no disrespect intended, but living in Buffalo, as poor as it is, doesn't even begin to compare to living in a small town. I've had to drive upwards of forty-five minutes to go shopping at K-Mart, Walmart, and Hannaford or to see a movie at the five-screen theater near the K-Mart. We were too far out to get cable, which meant the only internet was dial-up. I'd like to think that's changed since I moved, but I know the grocery store situation hasn't.

    3. I spent the first seventeen years of my life in Orange, Vermont, which was (and still is) a "town" of about 400 souls found five miles down a dirt road from Barre, a town of about 10,000. A favorite activity during a sleepover would be to walk that five miles in the middle of the night to the only store in town open past 9PM- Dunkin Donuts. Then walk back. Our nearest neighbor on that dirt road was (still is) 150 yards away. We got three channels- ABC, CBS and Public Television. Barre had one theater, showing one film- when I was ten, it was "Billy Jack" all summer long. When I was thirteen, it was "Star Wars." In the dead of winter you can go outside in the middle of the day, and your ears ring because the silence is so deafening- eventually, it's broken by the sound of a dark barking two miles away. Believe me, I know what it's like to live in a small town- except that it was barely even a "town."