Kansas City, located on the Missouri/ Kansas border and at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers, was founded in the 1830 as a Missouri River port. It was originally called Kansas, but by 1854, when the Kansas Territory was formed, it became confusing to travelers as well as wayward sons looking to carry on. Because of this, the “City” part of Kansas City was added. Clearly, people back then were terrible at naming things. During the 1850s, Kansas City and its neighboring town, Independence became jumping off points for Westward expansion, with Independence marking the beginning of the Oregon trail.During the Civil War, Kansas City was an important foothold in the West. See, thanks to the Missouri Compromise, Missouri was considered part of the South and allowed to have slaves, while Kansas was above the Mason-Dixon line, and therefore a Free State. Both of the Battles of Independence were won by the Confederates, but those wins proved fruitless when the Union won the Battle of Westport and booted the Confederates out.
As America expanded, and Kansas City became less and less of a frontier City, a new danger emerged: The mafia. Really. The Civella Crime Family got its start when two brothers, Joseph “Joe Church” DiGiovanni and Peter “Sugarhouse Pete” DiGiovanni moved to KC from Sicily. With their nicknames (which could have given them lucrative porn careers if that option would have been available to them back then), they made their money racketeering and other criminal operations as soon as they got there. Say what you want about Sicilians, but they do NOT fuck around when it comes to setting up criminal organizations.
With Prohibition brought the crime family more money and power, as they controlled the bootlegging of booze. Their criminal activity got so bad that it made the wealthy living in the neighborhood, 18th and Vine, flee to the suburbs and threw the once rich neighborhood into destitution. But the silver lining of this is that by the 1930s and 40s, the neighborhood became the birthplace of Kansas City Jazz, and also the home of many Jazz musicians including Charlie Parker. Here is one of his songs, for those of you who aren’t regular Jazz listeners (probably anyone who reads this blog):
Today, Kansas City is home to the Hallmark Factory and Museum, the Negro League Baseball Museum, and the least offensive Native American themed Sports team. It also is a shipment hub for UPS, FedEX, and USPS, due to it being the most Centralized major metropolitan area in the U.S.
Reason for Visiting
This is a new section, which I never really needed before, as my usual motivation for traveling to, say, Scotland is “Because it’s fucking Scotland.” However, after my last Guide to America found me in Iowa, I think it’s necessary to explain why I went to Kansas City, lest you begin to think I have a travel boner for the Midwest.My reason for heading to the KC was because this crazy douchebag:
Managed to get the Unpopular Opinion Stand Up Comedy Show to come to his town. For those of you who don’t know, Unpopular Opinion is the stand-up show of Cracked.com. It is headlined by their writer and editor Adam Todd Brown. Now, I’ve been a fan of Adam Todd Brown since he started writing regularly for Cracked, and I’ve been a fan of Cracked for longer than I’ve had this blog, so when Kevin (the crazy douchebag in the picture above) told me that he and his fellow Unpopular Opinion comics, Jeff May and Genevieve Mueller might do a show in Kansas City, I knew I had to be there.
Obviously, they did go to Kansas City and do a stand-up show, and they killed it. Great job, guys and lady. And on a related note, Unpopular Opinion has a podcast you can listen to. Check that shit out here.
What the hell is with all the highways here? This has to be the most unnecessarily complex highway system in the Midwest. Calm the hell down with all the roads, Kansas City. You’re not LA, you don’t need all of this. You have two hills and two rivers with a shit-ton of space around them, you can work around those without making a concrete maze of on and off ramps. But, hey, at least the roads themselves are in good shape.
The hotel my boyfriend, Dave, and I stayed at was, to put it politely, devastatingly retro. The Ramada Overland Park Hotel was built around the late 70’s-early 80’s, which Dave picked up on as soon as he saw the indoor gardens. The first thing that hit us as we stepped into the lobby was the smell of chlorine. My immediate thought was that the pool must be in a room near the lobby. I didn’t realize how right I would be. Standing at the front desk and looking to your right, you will see that the lobby is open to an outdoor patio, at least that’s what I thought. See, It was night about 11:00 PM when we got there, so the giant indoor common area right off the lobby was dark and looked like a patio. It wasn’t until I was in the common room and saw the ceiling that I realized I was still inside.
That dried that desire up pretty quick.
As for the room, it wasn’t anything special: Bed, TV, mini-fridge, couch, crap closet (That’s my new name for ‘bathroom,’ although it does work equally well for butthole,) You know, the standard stuff.
And every morning, in an area that I think used to be a restaurant was the continental breakfast. It had the normal breakfast foods. The eggs were bad, even by hotel continental breakfast standards, but I managed to eat them by putting them on my waffle and slathering them with maple syrup. This meant that I got to eat a lot of waffles every breakfast, which is an ongoing life goal of mine, so I cannot complain about the eggs that much. Keep it up Ramada Overland Park Hotel!
First, let’s talk about the most well-known attraction in the Kansas City area- Schlitterbaun.I didn’t visit it. It was too cold and rainy. Actually, I don’t even know if it was open when I was there. However, The second most well known attraction in Kansas City is the WWI Memorial and Museum.
Which we only spent a total of a half an hour at. See, ran a little late that day, so by the time we made it to the memorial, the museum was getting close to closing, and the people who worked there told us that we wouldn’t have enough time to get a good look at everything. So we went up to the Memorial instead. And since it was windy and cold, we only stayed long enough to get some pictures before running back to the car.
Now, it would be unfair of me to judge these two sites, after not being able to experience them first hand. But fuck it- that’s what I’m about to do. Shlitterbaun (now dubbed SHITTERbaun) was about as much fun as diving into a dumbsterfire, and twice as filthy.* The workers threw rocks at the riders as they made their way from waterslide to waterslide, and I’m pretty sure there was a corpse floating in their Kristal River.*
As for the WWI Museum, at the risk of sounding unpatriotic, the museum is the worst thing to happen to America since the White man came stomping through these parts. Most of the exhibits were either erotic clown paintings or the words “Fuck Brown People” scrawed on posterboards with sharpies, and every tour guide yelled at the guests in German.* I cannot in good conscience recommend either one.
*None of these statements are true. Please don’t sue, Schitterbaun and WWI museum people.
But the Memorial is great, and you get an Amazing view of the city from it. Definitely check that out, especially if you like Giant stone dicks sticking straight up in the air. And according to Kevin, it is a life size replica of his member, so let that mental image sink in.
After visiting the memorial, we visited Legends, which isn’t some magical realm where you ride horses and fight monsters, but a fancy Outlet Mall. Yeah, I was disappointed too.
Despite my total disappointment in not being able to slaughter an ogre and then use its blood for lube so that I could jizz on its corpse (as is the custom in magical realms), Legends is actually a pretty cool outlet mall. Among other things you’d expect to find at an outlet mall, they had a store/ restaurant called the T-Rex Café. If you’re a kid (Or a sexy man-child such as myself), it is the greatest thing ever. All over the place in the restaurant, they have giant, animatronic dinosaurs and sea monsters, they have an excavation site for the kids to dig around in, and a build-a-dinosaur work shop. Shit. Where the hell was this when I was a kid. All I had was crappy Rainforest Café, and that was only in Downtown Disney.
(Note, due to Legends being located in Kansas City, Kansas, all the pictures came out sepia toned, just like pictures do all across Kansas. These pictures of the T-Rex Café are in color because I photoshopped the color back into them. You’re welcome.)
The most interesting thing I saw in KC, however, was all the Mormon History stuff.
To anyone who isn’t a Mormon, you may be wondering what they have to do with Kansas City. Well, I spent an entire day learning about it, so I’m going to force that knowledge unto you!
The Prophet of the Church of Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith, Traveled west to find a place where his kind could be accepted, and eventually ended up at the edge of the country at that time, Independence Missouri. It was there that God told him that that place was to be where Jesus would return for is second coming, Really.Knowing that this town would be the Mormon Zion, Smith had his followers make a pilgrimage there over the course of several years in order to not overwhelm the current residents. Just kidding, of course they didn’t do it that way. The Mormons flooded in, about 1,000 of them, into the small town of Independence, buying land and building houses before winter came, and probably making all the (kind of) native Missourians uncomfortable with their upbeat and impossibly positive attitudes.
After a series of escalating conflicts with the locals, up to a battle that cost the Mormons most of their men, Joseph Smith and several Church Leaders were put in jail, and the Mormons were forced out of Missouri all together via an extermination order put out by the fucking Governor of Missouri. (On a sexy side note, these events are what lead to the Mormons to adopt polygamy. After the battle, only 10% of the Mormon population was male, and since the women needed taking care of, the Church allowed men to have multiple wives.)
So, yes, The Mormons left, and were eventually allowed to return during the last Century. And now, the different offshoots of the Mormon faith have all built their Churches there to Welcome Christ back. The one tiny snag, however, is that the actual site where Jesus is supposed to return is owned by more than one group, and therefore, no one can build the church on it. They’ve remedied this by putting up a sign noting the significance of the vacant lot and having good faith that it will all work itself out, as I think we all know disputes over land ownership are wont to do.
Now, since I visited these Mormon sites with my boyfriend, we felt the need to disguise ourselves as to not give away that we are unrepentant sinners. This is how we did that:
The Visitor’s Center also has an impressive and muscle bound Jesus statue, historical pictures of The Mormon’s time in Independence, a brief explanation of what the Book of Mormon (Not the Broadway Musical) is about, and all the languages it has been translated into. Plus, if you are as lucky as we were, you’ll get the sisters to all come out and sing a hymn for you. Let me repeat that: They sing for you. And they are good at singing! How fucking is that?! No museum has people on hand that can sing songs for your entertainment. The Smithsonian? No. The Guggenheim? Nope. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum? Are you kidding me? Those mopey bastards over there won’t sing for you! Only at the Mormon Visitor’s center in Independence will that happen. Kudos for standing out, Mormons.The Liberty Jail Historic Site was even more impressive, because they partially rebuilt the jail based on notes a Church member took when the site was rediscovered and then built a giant room with surround sound around it, so that you walk around the jail, but still feel like you’re in the middle of the narration and sound effects. And at the end, if you wish, you can receive a free copy of The Book of Mormon (again, not the Broadway Musical). True, That is easily the weirdest souvenir I’ve ever gotten, but all this Mormon talk got me curious about what they believe, so I’m probably going to read it.
Barbeque. That’s all I really need to say. Kansas City has amazing Barbeque. I ate at two different BBQ restaurants while I was there: Joe’s KC BBQ, and Grinders (Heads up, they do not sell hoagies) Both were amazing. Joe’s KC is the more famous of the two, The President having ordered their $2,000 of their food and had it delivered to the White House on Air Force 1. I had their signature sandwich, which was amazing. My only problem with their food is that I’m not a fan of seasoning on my fries. But I ate them anyway, because I’m an American, and that’s what we do.Personally, I liked Grinders better, partially because I liked their atmosphere, but mostly because they load their sandwiches up with meat. Dave argued that Joe’s KC was better because the meat was more tender, but I didn’t notice because I practically swallowed both sandwiches whole.
I actually didn’t drink at all during this trip. So let’s just assume that Kansas City has no locally brewed alcohol. They have plenty of bars though. Check those out. Or not. I’m not your lush of a mother.
The first group I would like to talk about are the Mormons.As I mentioned before, Independence is crawling with members of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter Day Saints. Because of this, if you are going to visit either the Mormon Visitor’s Center or the jail where Joseph Smith was kept, you will end up talking to Mormons about God. And when that happens, you will see that their religion works for them. They are a caring, friendly, good natured people who have a passion for their religion (Which they should, since they’re working in the Visitor’s Center and the Prison Museum and all). It was a great experience getting to talk to the girls who gave us the tours. And therefore, I have nothing negative to say about Mormons. They may not accept gays, but I accept them.
The second group were just the average people I got to talk to on the street in Independence.They were oddly dressed, but helpful. Although, they did have some knowledge that isn’t all that useful for your average, devilishly handsome, modern man such as myself. Finally, the last local I want to talk about is this crazy asshole: This is Kevin, longtime fan of this blog and Internet friend to me. We had never met in person, so when he was able to convince Adam Todd Brown of Cracked.com, along with stand-up comics Jeff May and Genevieve Mueller to come to Kansas City for the stand-up comedy show, and I planned my visit, it was going to be an added bonus meeting him for the first time. And hey! Here is a pic of us on our first (totally not staged) meeting:
But just after that picture was taken, tragedy struck. It struck like a drunk man whose woman wouldn’t shut her damn yap for one goddamn minute. Black clouds materialized above us, blotting out the sun and kicking up wind. As the wind picked up speed, its howl became a roar. Shingles ripped off of roofs of houses, tree limbs snapped, garbage cans rolled down the street as if they knew what was coming and they wanted to get the fuck out of here. And then, From behind Kevin came a towering, smoke grey tornado.
“Tornado!” Dave and I cried in unison.
“Don’t worry, I’ve got this!” Kevin screamed as he pulled out his penis.
As Dave and I dove for cover under the car, Kevin’s penis tied itself into a lasso and threw itself at the oncoming tornado. Kevin struggled while the fierce winds of the tornado fought against his mighty penis. Somehow, physics be damned, Kevin’s member lassoed the cyclone, which thrashed back and forth against the superpowered schlong.
“That’s no tornado!” Kevin yelled over the roaring wind, his penis tightening its grip around the cyclone, “This is my arch nemesis!”
The tip of Kevin’s penis reached up to the top of the tornado, and ripped off the mask to reveal-
“Martin Lawrence?!” I cried as I stared dumbfounded at the star of such classics as Big Momma’s House 2 and Wild Hogs.
“I’m confused… by so many things,” Dave added, “But who is Martin Lawrence?”
“A failed actor-“
“Fuck you Erecto!” Lawrence screamed. Kevin’s penis tightened its grip.
Kevin continued, “Who turned into a mad scientist after the movie ‘Death at a Funeral.’ He is also a master of disguise.” “My real name is Kevin Kamend, and this” he explained, pointing to his waving dick, “Is my superpowered penis, more commonly known as Erecto.”
Dave and I did’t reply. We just stared, expecting Kevin to laugh and say that he was fucking with us. He didn’t.
“Unfortunately,” Kevin Kamend added after the long silence, “I need to take Mr. Lawrence back to Prison.”
“You haven’t seen the last of me, Erecto!”
Kevin’s penis slapped Martin Lawrence across the face. Then, it stretched up, above both their heads, and begun to spin like a propeller. Kevin stepped up to the bound actor, and wrapped his long arms around him and locking his hands together. He rested his head on Lawrence’s chest and closed his eyes, as if this was his happy place. After only a few seconds, the penis was spinning so fast that it began to make the rhythmic “wop wop” sound of it slicing through the air. Then, the helicoptering penis lifted Kevin and Martin Lawrence into the air and flew away, leaving Dave and I in the middle of the wreckage of the tornado/Lawrence disguise.
“So,” I said, turning to Dave, who was still staring at the shrinking peniscopter with his mouth agape, “I guess it’ll just be you and me today.”
(Writer’s note: Kevin wanted me to put a story filled with our inside jokes about his super powered dick in here, not me. So what I learned about non-Mormon Kansas City natives is that they’re weird and you shouldn’t talk to them unless necessary.)
Kansas City isn’t nearly as desolate wasteland devoid of culture as Kevin claims it is. The people are friendly (I only talked to Kevin, the Mormon girls, and a few owners of businesses, so that assumption may be skewed a little), the BBQ is amazing, and the sites are interesting, especially if you’re into History. My only wish is that I would have been able to go to Schlitterbahn, but that just means that I’ll have to make a second visit! But still, fuck all these highways.