Niagara Falls: Eminem v your grandmother in the zombie apocalypse

Niagara FallsSomething went wrong in Niagara Falls. It’s a place utterly defined by a piece of stunning natural beauty, artwork of the gods, yet is framed by the flabby vultures of casinos, savory as piles of crusted pus.

Good morning!

That was my feeling in Niagara, at least the first half, as it struck me as a prime example of the overlapping and concurrence of the sacred and the profane. What should be a temple to tangible spirituality, awe, and gratitude is instead devoted to the counterfeit capitalist god of the dollar.

Niagara Falls townThe town seemed to be dominated by aggressive-looking Eminems with bad posture under oversized clothing who only left the house to walk their pit bull to the corner store to buy more booze. I looked at the towering casinos and wondered how they’ll come down. Environmental catastrophe, war, and zombie apocalypse are my best guesses. I love the idea of their deliberate disassembly by a humanity that has rediscovered its divine capacity and benevolently retires the mistaken decadence of the past century…but I think zombies are more likely.

On the ride out I’d again marveled at people’s ability to peer in and tap on their cell phones for hours on end, and I suspected the zombies are already here. They’re not the risen dead, just the mentally and spiritually e-mutiliated.

But then I had lunch. As my blood sugar rose, my spirits went with it.

Niagara Falls lunchI enjoyed my fast food, white bread sandwich provided by Tim Horton’s (aka the Canadian Starbucks) while sitting on the floor in front of large windows tinted white by the mineral deposits of endless spray.

The first person I people-watched while I ate my “hearty” vegetable soup was a girl of indeterminate age who flung three pieces of paper over the edge. My jaw dropped, chicken salad splattering everywhere, as I marveled at someone so immune to beauty that they would want to throw their garbage into it.

But I kept chewing, and noticed the father and daughter who threw snowballs instead and watched them fall into the torrent, then clapped. And there were the couples, kissing in front of the vista while a friend took their picture, smiles all around. Or the honeymooners, holding hands crammed in a pocket against the chill.

I went outside, felt the spray on the back of my neck, and laughed out loud.

Niagara Falls neighborsThe last piece of my perception was the town itself. I come from a tourist destination too, and am well accustomed to hearing people bitch about visitors. They don’t know where they’re going, jack up prices, and take all the parking! Mah! MAH!

What is this, a whole town of Dick Cheneys?

But it seems to me that, as I mentioned in my last post, humans have the capacity to choose their reality. You can bitch about the foreigners, or you can take pride in the place you live, that people would want to come visit it.

On my walk to the falls I passed houses with giant “NO TRESPASSING” signs in their windows, on their trees, and even guarding a vacant lot. There was little sign of local life, and I wondered if they had all either fled or been eaten in the casino buffet. “Mmm, roast local, delicious!”

But as I stopped to take one more picture of the beautiful chasm of the Niagara River with its mineral green water and ice chandeliers, an elderly lady coming up the path called out “Would you like me to take your picture?”

Sure, why not, I think I have about 4 pictures from the past 4 years of traveling (when K is not with me). I thanked her.

Niagara Falls downstream 2“I’m a local, and people have done it for me when I travel, and I’d be glad to do it for you. Where are you from?” We chatted for awhile about destinations, California, and the Falls. Canadians do seem to be as nice as I always suspected (except when they’re driving, even they can’t stay friendly in those mobile anger chambers) but this lady takes the cake. In fact, I bet she bakes the cake, and every day’s your birthday.

Did you know you have a Canadian grandmother? I’ve met her, she’s rad. She lives in an interesting town next to a beautiful natural wonder.