midwesterner

midwestern gothic is a really under-utilized aesthetic but it honestly has so much potential

think about it, it’s perfect:

endless plains that threaten to engulf you in their silence; abandoned old houses, barely standing, that haunt the prairie as much as they themselves are haunted; the remnants of an industrial wasteland that tower over the plains, rusting and crumbling before your eyes; prairie fire eating up the earth, because sometimes the world must burn for life to flourish; highway signs that scream “hell is real” from the edges of the road like a warning; and those little pockets of picture-perfect suburbia, slowly rotting from the inside out

and you can’t escape it, the nothingness of it all– what’s more terrifying than that?

cornfield gothic aesthetic, because i fucking hate cornfields and i can’t escape, there is no escape, the corn, it grows;

  • dusty barns with half-rotted roofs and vines creeping up the side, JESUS SAVES and WILLSHIRE DIARY, JOHNSON & SON PRODUCE, EVERETT FARMS in peeling paint. flowers grow through the foundations and over rusted tools.  
  • the corn rising over your head and waving in unison, the shhss of stalks, the sound of things growing.  the cornfields ripple like water, and you don’t notice any wind. 
  • the feeling of relief when it’s the off season and you’ve planted soy instead.  soy only grows up to your shins; for once, you can see what’s out there. 
  • clumps of forest in the middle of seas of corn.  the woods are dark.  you never go anywhere without a flashlight.  
  • six ‘grandpa’s cheese barns’ between waterville and dayton; all six are run by the same old man who has too many teeth when he smiles. he is not your grandfather, and his cheeses taste like wine and hot metal.  
  • ponds and streams and lakes filled up with thick green mats of algae, dotted with shining horseflies, dragonflies, tadpoles the size of your thumbnail.  algae clings to the birds and to your ankles.  you pretend not to notice the smell. 
  • crosses made out of toothpicks and matches.  your great aunt leaves them under your pillow, and you keep finding them in the fields.  
  • that back half of trail you can’t convince your horse to go down.  the last time you tried she threw you, and when you woke up on the ground, arranged neatly on the very edge of the corn, you could swear that something was holding your hand. 
  • lights in the fields at three in the morning.  ancient songs.  strange patterns.  “just old man peterson gettin’ an early start on the harvest,” you tell yourself, and go back to sleep.  
  • corn mazes every october, colored flags, clues, your flashlight held tight in your fist.  during the day you run through the maze with all your friends, trying to memorize the best way in and out.  at night you fill your pockets with salt and walk through the maze slowly, eyes on the ground, careful not to piss anything off.  
  • HELL IS REAL signs every hundred miles going down i-75.  hell is real; mrs. bennett brews it in the still behind her shed and trades it for apples the size and color of fresh hearts.  
  • the emptiness after the harvest, when the corn is gone and you’ve burned everything and the earth is black and clean underneath your feet.  safe, you tell yourself, i am safe.  
  • there is something that walks behind the cornrows.  you give him your blood and your sweat and your reverence, and you do not look him in the eye.    

In my experience, it’s not Midwestern Gothic to spot some smoky, many-tendrilled Cthulhu monster creeping out from its murky netherworld home between rows of corn while a harvest moon gleams above your shivering head. 

It’s Midwestern Gothic to walk into a strip mall at 11:43pm, crying, wearing leaking $22 Target rainboots, wander into a Jewel-Osco next to a defunct K-Mart and a Family Dollar, steal a donut from the pastry case, stuff it into your parka, and then scarf it down in the mildew-covered bathroom with the busted lock on the door. 

The Midwest is not a land of cornstalks and dilapidated barns anymore. It’s a land of flat, beige & grey monoculture, Pizza Huts and Radio Shacks, split-levels and broken trampolines in back yards. And what’s gothic about the Midwest is not fearsome otherwordly monsters, or the ghosts of farmer’s wives, or rusty scythes licked by the wind. No, what’s gothic about the midwest is the people, and how they feel, and what their economic and career prospects are. 

3

they’re all daughters, born and breed in the town their great great great grandfathers moved to. each of them a little twisted, a little mad with the years of solitude. all they have is each other, all they know is the cold, lonesome wind that rattles the windowpanes at night. they gather in the early dawn, their long hair leeched of colour and draped over their lace white dresses. they twist their long slender fingers and their lips ghost over necks, cheeks and chests. hours later, their dresses stained with grass and blood, they sit in the church, hands clasped together over a bible

Midwestern Matricide -
This is the Buckley Family. The children’s names were Susan an John. As a Halloween joke, the kids in the neighborhood were going to get a dummy and pretend to chop its head off. The Buckley children thought it would be hilarious to actually kill their mom, so when the kids walked up the door they got an axe and slaughtered her. Once everyone figured out what they had done, they called the police, but the kids were long gone by then. The only picture of them was this photo, taken by a trick or treater. The mothers body was found half eaten.

But here’s the twist. It actually never happened at all. Like certain faeries this was an art project that took on a life of its own. Artist Edward Allen manipulated a preexisting portrait into the murder scene in order to create another piece of Halloween art. Like all good Internet rumors the story became attached to the photo as it began to circulate around the Internet.

You know, I’m a huge fan of southern gothic and all.  Revivalists and voodoo and swamp mysticism– the south is a creepy place.  But you know what I’m really into? Midwestern gothic. Satanists. Trailer park bathtub meth labs. Cultists, dead cats, abandoned farm houses, location based alienation.  Fields of corn that seem to go on forever, the stalks so thick in the dark that you’re lost for hours, days should you lose your way. How everyone always swears that they’re going to get out one of these days, leave this town and never look back, but no one ever does.

For everyone that is paying attention to the US election but isn’t familiar with US demographics and our elections just a couple of things to keep in mind:

- Poll results trickle in slowly, especially at the beginning, and those first few percentages are typically from rural areas that have lower voter numbers. So do not work yourself up over states results when they are only reporting low low percentages. Start paying attention when the city centers and populated areas start reporting.

- Expect the midwestern flyover states to be Republican.  And don’t be shocked when they are.

- The map is bluer on the two coasts.

- The popular vote is great and all but the electoral college is what matters. 

- The states that really matter right now are Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Colorado, Michigan, Ohio, Maine.