YEEHAW!  Country Takes Manhattan with the Country Music Awards coming here for the first time in forty years EVER!  Nothing could make this old Kansas Sunflower happier than seeing a few more cowboy boots trodding the sidewalks of New York and a few ten gallon hats high enough to rival the Chrysler Building. 
    I've heard some folk asking the question WHY New York?  Why on earth would there ever be a connection between country music and the Big Apple, but I beg to differ.  People asking this question are obviously only looking at our differences instead of seeing how there's so much sameness in us all.  As a Big City Hick, I feel obligated to try and bridge this gap.
    Born in Kansas we had a cracker box of a house with no running water and a path to the outhouse "out back".  Now I live in the heart of Times Square in an old school walk up with the tub right in the kitchen.  I've got no need to complain however, because at least it's inside and it's not jut made of tin and hanging on the wall.
    I have come to love New York and if I could just help first time folks to NYC see what a friendly city it can be, if you're introduced properly.  As a former tour guide who for well over a year rode the top of a double decker bus doing five two hour circles of Manhattan every day six days a week.  I really got to know the city up close and personal from that point of view.
    Tickets were good for two days and they were "Hop On - Hop Off" tours so I would often get to see my passengers again later in the day on the fourth or fifth loop around.  When I'd take the tickets at the top of the tour, I'd say, "Where you from?" -Heads lowered, they'd look up at me and mumble "Nebraska. . ."  or "Alabama. . ." as if they were waiting for the mean New Yorker to put them down, but as soon as I'd answer, "Really?  I'm from Kansas!"  they could relax because then I was surely the biggest hick on the bus.
    There's a security in that.  Just knowing that if you felt somebody had tried to out-sofisteeKate you at some snooty store you had to be buzzed into just to look around-just still knowing that if you could find that hick's bus you'd be the top dog again and you could regain your bearings.  I became a sort of security blanket for some of my passengers and It was quite lovely.  People telling me their personal stories when a tour had all but emptied out at the Empire State building and left only an old couple who I simply sat with and they told me about "their New York" when they were young and so newly in love and here for their honeymoon.How they had moved south and created the American Dream for themselves.
    New York is the birthplace of America, the spirit of the American Revolution and there is nothing more American than Country Music, so to me it seems so natural that the country awards show would come to New York.
    Monday there will be Country Music at Carnegie Hall with a cavalcade of today's top country stars, much like the famous sixties show at Carnegie Hall with Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Miss Minnie Pearl, among others.  On one visit with my dear mentor, Miss Minnie, she told me about that night and how gossip mongers had spread rumors of cat fights and competition between all female stars, especially stories about "rivals" Cline and Lynn.
    "When I walked in that dressing room and saw the two of them talking and giggling, I just put my hands on my hips and said, 'Leave it to the two of you to put an end to all this she-squabbling!"
    Speaking of Miss Minnie, with her dangling price tag from her flowered hat, that's another thing these city women have in common with here.  Hardly a day goes by that some lady at my job doesn't walk by my desk,  with price tags tucked up her sleeve so she can return what she's wearing the next day.  I feel Miss Minnie's hand on my shoulder so often in my life and always with a great sense of humor but always a wonderfully humbling message as well.
    Like one time I had been hired to read tarot cards at a very cheecheeLA-dee-dah party in a very beautiful mansion on the Upper East Side and I knew I had to look like I made the money I was charging them.  I found a Thierry Mugler designer purple suit at my favorite thrift store for only $12 -yes I DID say, $12!  I cut out the tag, got dressed, felt great-worked the party beautifully with great soul satisfaction in my readings and floated home feeling so cool.  As I undressed, when I took of the suit skirt off I found the thing that had been poking me all night was the second price tag, reading 2pc./$12.  I burst out laughing at myself and my high and mighty ways and I whispered a thank you to my dear sweet Miss Minnie.
    Yes, Country Music takes Manhattan.  No other artistic community has made as much of a contribution to Post 9/11 Patriotism, consistently being there for our service men - giving them the constant and unconditional support that the Troops not only NEED,  but so richly deserve.  No matter what one feels about the war, we must all agree we support our boys.
        Of course Country Music has indeed made a truckload of money with this theme which is why I find it all the more respectful that the CMAs are honoring that truth by giving back economically to New York City and bringing the Awards Show to the Apple. Even the "purist country folks", some out in Brooklyn for instance would still have to admit they have profited by what to me is the true "Royal Visit".   All I know is, I've never been more proud to be the country hillbilly I always and forever am TRULY gonna be, just like Loretta sang, "When you're looking at me, you're looking at COUNTRY!".
Welcome to New York CMAs and country kinfolk!

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