Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Adventures in Cupcake Land

Here in the Kansas City metro area, the desirable location for the upper class and the upper middle class folks is Johnson County, Kansas. Some refer to it as "Cupcake Land" or even better "Cupcake County".

JOCO, as it is also known, is new and sprawling, full of shops, the newest chain restaurants, and strip malls galore. One on every corner just about. Speaking of corners, one of the first things I noticed about JoCo is that everyone lives on a corner, or at least tells everyone they live on a corner. "I live at 74 and Nall" (ooooooh Perfect Village, aka Prairie Village) or "135th and Quivera" (deep in Cupcake land). Every corner (the E to W streets are numbered) has its own mystique; you can tell a lot about a person from the corner they live on. Of course they do not always live on the corner, it is used solely as a reference and everyone seems to understand.

Cupcake Land bores me to tear, yet I find myself going there more than I want. I have friends who actually live in Cupcake Land, and for those of us on a budget, it is the closest locations for the discount stores such as Target and the like. But it has a certain clinical sterile feeling about it, too clean, too nice, too cute, too.... cupcake. Perfectly packaged, pretty and decorated and oh so sweet but empty of any substance. I try not to go there, but like a cupcake, you crave the sweetness and regret it later.

JoCo is largely conservative, (especially Olathe, Kaw Indian word for "Strip Mall by By the Highway") full of Republicans, rich folk who want to avoid the dirt of the inner city and church goers. Lots of Mega Churches there... lots of Mega everything in Cupcake County. They even duplicated the Plaza, KCMO's upscale historic shopping center, to avoid Cupcakers having to see panhandlers, street musicians, black folk who do not drive Mercedes Benzes and, good God Gertie, provided them plenty of free and flat parking.

After a clandestine visit to the Cupcake, I am happy to get back to the city; streets torn up, crazy drunks singing at the top of their lungs on Broadway and 39th (actually on the corner), rumbly, noisy busses and my funky Sunfresh Grocery Store. No Cupcake for me, I'll take the tiramisu, please.

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