There are many things I don’t understand.
I don’t understand yogurt or the need for chewy milk in general.
I don’t understand the continued popularity of the boy band phenomenon and how or why 13-year-old girls gush and cry on cue when the latest Col. Tom Parker generates a new marginally talented, just-rebellious-enough-to-convince-teenage-girls-that-they’re-rebels-but-not-actually-even-close-to-hardcore-enough-to-prevent-parents-from-buying-$60-concert-tickets boy band every few years, consistently crafted with five pre-teen boys with frosted hair, matching clothes and choreographed dance moves, rushes on-stage to sing a song most toy poodles of above average intelligence could write.
I don’t understand why America continues to hate the French. They’ve been on our side in a lot of wars. They’ve got good wine, good toast, great fries and haven’t fought against us since the mid-18th century (even before “we” were “us”), yet we always make fun of them like they’re Sweden.
I don’t understand why we don’t make fun of Swedes more often.
I don’t understand why people like watching celebrities dance with non-celebrities. Seriously, it’s the most popular show since the “A-Team,” and, at least the “A-Team” had Mr. T. and proved to the world that it’s possible to fire 400 bullets in a 42-minute period without really seriously harming anyone.
And, I don’t understand why we, in Dalton, have the ridiculously high unemployment rate that we do.
We shouldn’t have the highest unemployment rate south of West Virginia. Dalton’s the “Carpet Capital of the World.” We’re not just the carpet capital of Northwest Georgia, not solely the carpet capital of the South, not even merely the carpet capital of the Northern hemisphere. We’re the capital for carpet on the planet Earth, and, as far as I know (future NASA Voyager discoveries on Neptune aside), that makes us the carpet capital of whole darn universe. And yet, lately we have the highest unemployment rate in the state, and we’re competing nationally for this dubious honor.
When the economy, as a whole, tanks, Dalton always rides the crest of the wave of sadness until it crashes on the beach, taking down a child’s sand castle or two and eroding the rapidly shrinking dunes of personal saving and investment. When things are good, we’re usually riding that curl too, but it’s easy not to analyze yourself when life is good.
And here’s what I understand least (other than boy bands — even the early ones were awful, but at least The Monkees had some songs written by Neil Diamond), Dalton has everything a town might need to make any industry work.
We’ve got infrastructure. I know that that’s a nebulous word, but think about it.
We’ve got factories. Some of them are sitting empty and useless, collecting mold and housing the occasional homeless man, who might just have formerly worked there, but the factory buildings are generally still around. Since they’re just going to sit there anyway (even my limited business knowledge gained from playing McDonald’s Monopoly tells me that it probably costs a lot to tear down large buildings), we could do something else with them. At the very least, we could set up realistically scary-themed haunted houses, without even having to move the homeless guys out. Or, we could do something more productive with said factories, like make something else. I don’t know what we should make, but that leads me to my next point.
Dalton’s got more than its fair share of entrepreneurial visionaries who haven’t, in the past, been afraid to make bold, risky decisions, some of which didn’t pay off until later. Bob Shaw’s creating what would have been pretty much anywhere other than Georgia, the fanciest golf course in the state, seemed a little odd for Dalton at first, but it’s generated good national press for Dalton (for something other than our teen pregnancy apparatus, which, even when I was in high school here in the 1990s was expansive and good enough to get us on CNN, leading to a confusing moment: “Should I be proud of this?”). The Farm’s also generated revenue for the town with tournaments and their peripheral money and just catering to the traveling golfer. Even if you don’t golf or don’t care about the sport at all, having tourists come and perhaps buy something from you is good.
Julian Saul bought Barnsley Gardens. It already had a cool mythology and a creepy, in a good haunted-Georgia way, back story and is just as beautiful, picturesque and semi-isolated as other similar national castle parks like Biltmore in North Carolina and the Hearst Castle in California. Seeing as America, purposefully and for a pretty good historical reason, doesn’t have royalty, other than boy bands, it’s amazing that we even have that many castles. Canadians rarely storm the gates of any of our buildings, and so few American buildings really need a moat. No offense, but why should Biltmore get more press? Barnsley is beautiful and yet interactive, haunted and yet family-friendly (not the easiest thing to pull off), and sits 40 minutes away and yet feels like you just drove to another time (which I guess you did if you factor in the Earth’s rotation and the whole time-space continuum, but I digress ... again ... sorry).
Sure, Dalton’s business leaders get most of the press, but I want to actually applaud, slightly (more of a subdued golf clap is really all politicians get), whoever the political visionary who in the last year floated the idea of turning downtown (the real downtown, not Walnut Avenue) into a walking-oriented, land-locked River Street-esque shopping destination. I’ve mentioned this before, but that wonderful idea, combined with a Mount Rachel green space with a tourist incline tram, is the best idea for Northwest Georgia since they opened Parker’s Restaurant. And, speaking of, Mrs. Parker should be included on that list of visionary business leaders. The food’s consistently outstanding. There’s a picture of former Atlanta Brave Brett Butler on the wall. I’ve never seen anyone sneeze on the salad, but they could since there’s a sneeze guard. There’s never been a restaurant with as little staff turnover (meaning that it’s a good place to work and it’s a family business, not that the staff is forced to sign indentured servitude lifetime contracts like the mafia or old Hollywood).
My point is, Dalton’s not lacking for men and women with vision. We’ve got moxie enough to spread our peacock designs on the clothes lines of the world, or some better metaphor. We all want Dalton to keep its niche as a capital of the world. We could try other carpet avenues, new ideas or recycled trends of the past.
We could re-popularize the carpeted automotive dashboard. It existed in many a van in the 1970s. Sure, it was a bad idea even then, but that never stopped America from intensely pursuing a trend, especially in the ’70s. Do you remember the gold chain man-necklace, the platform shoe or Gerald Ford? I saw a YouTube video the other day about a suction-powered, Spider-Man-style wall climbing device. The hand paddles were big and cumbersome, but America is great at making big things smaller, and trust me, personal Spidey-climbers will be a trend at some point. They also functioned on non-smooth surfaces. I saw a college kid climbing a brick wall, meaning that the climbing surface for Spidey-motion doesn’t even need to be flat glass or the sparkling white plastic of the standard 1950s vision of the future. My point is, at some point we’re going to need to carpet walls and ceilings, and with the Spidey device, we’ll be able to vacuum them.
But in case carpet sales don’t pick up when the housing market does, we have the tools to become some other capital of the world.
We have the brain power, the drive and the financial resources to be create the world largest trampoline and, thus, become the “Trampoline Capital of the World.”
We could be the “Crab Walking Hand Shoe Capital of the World” (of course we’d need to make crab walking a cool trend again, but I’ve seen dumber trends — see above or google Miley Cyrus).
We could perfect the “Flying Skateboard Capital of the World.” It’s not fair that so far only Michael J. Fox has gotten to ride one. Just think, we could provide the heavier insulation that flying skateboard knee pads would require, and we could make them from leftover carpet.
For real, we can do this, or something much more useful. We can keep our mantle as the carpet kingdom while simultaneously conquering another niche market for the world. I’m just hoping we don’t become the “Boy Band Capital of the World.”
Orlando already has us beat in that department. And Orlando’s awful.
Bowen Craig, a 1993 Dalton High School graduate, resides in Athens. He’s OK with never receiving a Backstreet Boys CD for Christmas.
There are many things I don’t understand.
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