# Culture

Jason Aldean is coming to a State Fair near you

Dan Piller was a business reporter for more than four decades, working for the Des Moines Register and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He covered the oil and gas industry while in Texas and was the Register’s agriculture reporter before his retirement in 2013. He lives in Ankeny.

A cloud now scarcely capable of throwing shade has the potential to become a thunderstorm when country singer Jason Aldean performs on August 20 at the Iowa State Fair Grandstand.

In case you don’t watch Fox News, Aldean became the center of a music publicist’s dream controversy when the CMT country music channel yanked his “Try That in a Small Town” song/video from its playlist. CMT, with a wary eye on its audience demographic that includes both small town and big-city folks, didn’t say why “Small Town” was objectionable. But anyone who saw the video, with its images of urban rioters superimposed over the bucolic images of small towns, could get the message quickly.

Opinions can vary about the latest round of urban disruptions that began in 2020 with the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, but the idea of small-town vigilantism seemingly endorsed by the song is disturbing.

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Finding more than meets the eye when Iowans gather

Patrick Muller is a visual artist living in Hills (Johnson County).

Multiple times a year, teenage athletes from all corners of the state roll into a dedicated tournament venue to showcase their talents and compete for trophies. While forming a sports conclave, these individuals and teams also represent schools and towns. These competitions, then, have the additional potential to be meetings of minds and substrates for community building. When, for instance, Audobon, Bloomfield, Cascade, and Milford contestants meet, why not use that occasion for a pop-up chautauqua, learning commons, or consideration cafe?

While students are heaving a discus or passing the baton, individuals from their schools and towns could get together to share, on a variety of topics, best practices and approaches to opportunities and challenges; learn; network; and even sketch out some multi-community collaborations.

Truly, after nearly a century of championships in some sports, one has to wonder why these affairs are still merely ephemeral, insular, ostensibly single-purposed. 

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Ones and zeroes

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

My wife is an environmentalist. Big time. She cuts up plastic soda can rings, so they won’t trap defenseless birds. She insisted on us purchasing electric outdoor power tools, so we won’t exude noxious fumes into the air. She knows exactly what stuff you can recycle and what you can’t — regulations so arcane, they make the NFL rule book simpler than Fun with Dick and Jane.

So, when she blanched at “No Mow May,” I experienced a Walter Cronkite moment, when “the most trusted man in America” urged the U.S. to get out of Vietnam.

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The racists in our midst

Writing under the handle “Bronxiniowa,” Ira Lacher, who actually hails from the Bronx, New York, is a longtime journalism, marketing, and public relations professional.

My aunt, who raised me after my parents died, would wake up early on Sunday to prepare a meal, then take a cab, at great expense, to visit her sister, confined to a mental institution. “If she were Catholic,” one of the nurses in the ward told me, “she would be a saint.”

But she also threw around the word “shvartze” to refer to black people. “Shvartze” technically means “black” in Yiddish, but it’s also the equivalent of the N-word. So, yes, my aunt was a racist. But she also did good for me, her sister, and uncounted others. And I still say a memorial prayer for her on the anniversary of her death.

No such sentiment may be forthcoming for Scott Adams, the longtime cartoonist who created “Dilbert.”

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Freight writing

Kurt Meyer writes a weekly column for the Nora Springs – Rockford Register, where this essay first appeared. He serves as chair of the executive committee (the equivalent of board chair) of Americans for Democratic Action, America’s most experienced liberal organization.

I don’t know when I first encountered the word “graffiti.” It probably happened in high school. I vaguely recall a late-night adventure that included spray painting “class of ‘72” on a few country bridges… and maybe on the rear window of a school bus. Upon reflection, I think our gang of (mostly) benign rascals was simply ahead of our time. Graffiti was not a major public nuisance at the time.

Then, too, maybe our semi-legible scribbling was an early example of graffiti art, arguably the only visual art form with its origin in the U.S. Since graffiti art is too broad a subject to tackle here, I will concentrate more narrowly on freight graffiti, defined as expressive painting on train boxcars.

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We won't stop watching

Ira Lacher was an assistant sports editor at the Des Moines Register during the 1980s.

Wait for it.

As Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin continues to lie, inert, connected to whatever devices keep him alive, someone is sure to call for American football, a sport unique in the world, to be banned.

Certainly what occurred on the turf of Paul Brown Stadium on Monday night, January 2, 2023, bears introspection. How are you supposed to feel when you witness a 24-year-young man almost dying, in full view of tens of thousands of spectators, and millions more watching on high-definition television?

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