From Red...to Redneck..to EWWWWWWW!
From the time I was 10 years old, my family spent some serious time in Branson, MO. We first started visiting Branson when it began smelling like NashVegas in the early 80's. We would stay in a run-down cabin on Table Rock lake and waterski with my Uncle, perhaps pausing along the way to buy some Horehound penny candy and whittled cowboy figures. Music was just starting to take off in Branson. I actually remember when Johnny Cash opened up a theater there...this was a few years before Rick Rubin turned him into a badass again (can you imagine the alternate universe possibilities?).
My biggest Branson surprise, though, was when Yakov Smirnoff opened a theater there. This was the early 90's, in the wake of the Soviet Union's collapse, and I think Branson was the only place where people were genuinely unaware that the evil empire was gone. Yakov could keep recycling his old jokes for a blissfully backwards crowd, and everybody goes home happy! I think his tagline was...from RED--TO REDNECK! Yakov even opened an "International" food court on the premises. Somehow, I don't think that the tourists were filling their belly bags with Ethiopian food...or even Russian food for that matter. Imagine my delight when I was perusing the Onion's annual gift guide, and found YAKOV'S FREAKIN' JESUS PAINTINGS! To wit:
"This is the biggest portrait to me. I have it in my living room, bedroom, my office, everywhere. It reminds me to focus on the joy of life, as I'm sure He would have wanted us to. The Bible talks a lot about Jesus rejoicing but you don't see depictions of that very often. It struck me that divinity and laughter would go hand and hand. God loves a merry heart. To me laughter is the Language of God -- laughter is a gift that God gave to man and it's very precious; it is unequal to anything else. I believe that love and laughter are inseparable. Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. Laughter is a confirmation of energy flow in the right way and the energy is Love. So painting this I'm thinking God is Love so He's also Laughter."If you're really into creation...another Onion suggestion impregnation with Vincent Gallo's semen! It'll only cost you a cool million dollars...more if you prefer "natural insemination". Mr. Gallo also has some...um... interesting comments about genetics.