Friday, February 1, 2013

Worldbuilding Blogfest - Laissez les bons temps rouler

Welcome to the 5th and final day of the Worldbuilding blogfest. Today is when we bring it all together with an excerpt. Here is one from The Charge:


Deep Fried Twinkies

The Louisiana Territory liked to make an entrance. A hundred miles’ worth of billboards lined the highway, luring Americans to Louisiana's fine casinos, race-tracks, gun merchants, parlors—aka whorehouses, and apothecaries—aka places where they sell drugs. Warren figured at least the last two things were no longer legal now that Louisiana was a U.S. state again. Taking down billboards must have been low on the to-do list for the new state government.

Warren occasionally listened in history class and he knew that in the final hours of the Civil War, when the South was falling, Texas helped cinch a Northern victory by convincing the slave states along their border, Louisiana and Arkansas, to join the Texas Empire as territories instead of re-joining the Union. The Texas Empire abolished slavery in 1897, but Louisiana and Arkansas stayed a part of the Empire until it fell.

Even after the massive build-up from the signs, Louisiana did not disappoint. Notices were posted at the border reminding Americans that prostitution and the sale and purchase of controlled substances were illegal and offenders would be prosecuted. The signs seemed to have little effect. The area around the Louisiana border reminded Warren of Pleasure Island from Pinocchio although he hadn't seen as many parlors in the Disney movie. In addition to the many opportunities to do terrible things that weren’t lawful in the United States, there were ample miniature golf courses, go-cart tracks, carnival rides, wax museums, drive-in daiquiri bars, places to buy fried Twinkies, and anything else that could be called a tourist trap. Warren didn't say it out loud, but part of him wanted to jump out at his first chance, buy a fried Twinkie and a daiquiri and run over to that go-cart track and play like it was his tenth birthday party.

It didn't take a genius to get why the border was like that. This was one of the major highways than connected the Texas Empire to the east coast of the United States, and everyone who lived in the eastern United States who wanted to be very, very bad with few consequences came here. Apparently, they weren't willing to drive many miles past the border station before they wanted to get out and party, so supply had met demand.

The more obviously illegal places, like Madame Minnie's Saloon and Parlor, had done minor things to seem like legal businesses. For example, the largest sign for Madame Minnie's looked brand new and used the term dance hall, but many of the smaller signs still said parlor. Another place, called Order of the Garter, advertised "jazz and women," which Warren supposed could be left up to interpretation.

Once they got deeper into Louisiana, the land become much less colorful but rather beautiful and humble. They drove over swamps on roads that looked like they were sponsored by the Hungry Alligator Lobby. He marveled at homes built on stilts right in the middle of the swamp. The residents had small fan boats tied to the steps, instead of cars parked in driveways. He couldn't imagine why anyone would look at that mosquito-infested swamp and say, "Yes. I wish to live here," but apparently, that's exactly what they did. He wondered if they did it just to prove they could.




6 comments:

  1. Deep fried Twinkies, sex, and drugs -- now that's a picture I wasn't expecting this Saturday morning.
    Homes on stilts, mosquitoes, not to mention all the other critters. I marveled at the same things when I drove through Louisiana for the first time. To me it was the most 'foreign' place in the US.
    Great description!

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    1. I should have added that Louisiana was also beautiful and mysterious, but definitely odd. What I loved the most was finding the Blue Bayou -- and if your not 'too' old you understand the reference! :)

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  2. Deep fried twinkies sound even more disturbing than deep fried Mars bars. Great excerpt there. It reminds me of stories I was told about over the border in Mexico before the guys decided to leave me in San Diego and party without me. They took me to Las Vegas, though.

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  3. detailed tour sprinkled with flavor! great depiction of who what where & why!
    and people will fry anything! ever heard of deep fried kool aid! ah!

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    1. Sadly, I have heard of deep fried kool aid. :D Never tried it though. I haven't had a deep fried Twinkie either, or any other unusual deep fried item. Although "unusual" is in the eye of the beholder.

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  4. I do like deep fried twinkies well kinda. Loved the description in this. It's a very interesting snippet

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