Monday, July 11, 2011

My Summer Vacation in Central City

I spent my summer vacation in Central City.

As longtime readers know, the ridiculous layout of Central City is one of our pet obsessions here at the Absorbascon.

Central City, fabled in song and story. The streets and plazas are absurdly broad and unoccupied, and always attended by a background of impossibly tall buildings that remain along the horizon, no matter where you are in the city.

In past posts, I have hypothesized several reasons for this, including the artist's possible unfamiliarity with the midwest (or perhaps with the east coast? or, just, you know, buildings?), the simple need for an appropriate venue for displaying the Flash's speed, or a sheer dimensional perversity intrinsic to Central City that affects anyone's attempts to draw it in our reality.

Little did I know the truth; it's because there is a real life Central City and it's almost exactly like this. And I just spent a week there.

Last week, I was away at the annual international barbershop chorus competition, doing, well... this with 100 of my closest friends:

You can't see me in this pic; but trust me, I look fabulous in Cobalt Blue.

I roomed, as usual, with my wingman, Cobra Misfit, pictured below...

It's surprisingly hard to catch a cab when you stand this way.

Now, we weren't expecting a lot from Kansas City. It's not exactly the first place that pops into your mind when you think "international chorus contest", or, for that matter, "international" anything. Misfit explained on his blog how our eyes were opened to the Glory of Kansas City much better than I ever could.

This is a giant wind turbine/sculpture that generates electricity in the middle of a random giant plaza. Why? Because it's Kansas City/Central City, that's why. Or it has something to do with the Weather Wizard. Or the Tornado Tyrant. Or the Top.

It has been said that Central City/Keystone in the post-Crisis era are, essentially, Kansas City Missouri and Kansas City Kansas. I never believed it. Now, having been to Kansas City MO, there is nothing I believe more firmly.

In Kansas City, if you want to catch a flick at your typical mall multiplex, you're out of luck. If, however, you're looking for the kind of theater that makes you want to shoot Martha Wayne for her pearls, Kansas City is the place for you.

It's the kind of city where a questionable looking manufactury in an inappropriately fabulous building (like say, the Hanna Rubber Company) is directly across from the Drum Room, home of weekly swing dances, on the same street where, for no apparent reason at all, the Solar System dwells, in miniature.

From now on, I will always think of Uranus as adjacent to the Kansas City Mexican Consulate.

For all it's bizarre fabulousness, Kansas City -- just like it's Earth-1 counterpart, Central City -- seems to be
utterly devoid of people. Really. Misfit, C.C. the Man of a Thousand Talents, me, and the Cobalt Blue Gang were there for a week, and yet...

The arrival of these three people doubled the population of Kansas City.

...other than wait-staff and the two half-hearted beggars who were obviously hired by the Chamber of Commerce just to give the city an urban feel, we saw no indigenous citizens. Zero. Move to Kansas City today; the real estate market's wide open.

In Kansas City...this is what a park bench looks like.

Being our version of Central City, Kansas City has a near infinite amount of real estate. Here for example is an unused building that would make a perfect evil lair for even the most discerning supervillain.

Oh, here's a little place that will freeze your soul. A convention center topped with four Gigantic Death Spires that surely shoot out rays of pure power, or control the weather, or radiate mind-control signals, or vibrate in such a way so as to keep the city out of sync with the rest of our world. In Kansas City, this is treated as perfectly normal.

Here I am wearing a child's-sized tee shirt (for political reasons) with C.C., the Man of a Thousand Talents, standing in an absurdly large and unoccupied plaza, beside a fountain that stretches to the horizon. Welcome to Central City. I half-expected Captain Cold to appear out of nowhere and freeze the fountain so that C.C. couldn't run through it at super-speed.

Gee, overly broad, flat streets and public spaces with a flat skyline of tall buildings along the horizon. Remind you of any place?

Ladies and gentlemen, Kansas City IS Central City. If you don't believe me, go there yourself and tell me what you think.

P.S. "Blue Valley", the town where Wally West grew up? It's a neighborhood in Kansas City.