Late 2021 I provided the invaluable public service of explaining to Americans exactly just how basic they are, categorically, what with the way that they seem interested in arguing with strangers about how funny they’re not. During this time I received three categories of feedback, which started at ‘this is funny,’ moving on to ‘I would like to argue with this joke,’ and finally, most notably, landing at ‘please can an online service turn this sprawling list of over a hundred tweets into something reasonably readable to me.’
Reader, I am that service.
Presenting now in largely unchanged form, but with some typos fixed and some new ones added just to keep you on your toes, a blog-readable version of work I’ve already done, in the form of an Australian provides An User’s Guide To The Fifty* States* Of America America.
I know more about America than most Australians. Now, your typical Australian knows a shitload more about America than the typical American knows about Australia (because you’re an empire) but still, I am, in a niche way, a kind of expert. Let us then explain America to you, or at least, the bit of America people mean when they say America, also known as America America.
First up, where to find America on a map? Well, most countries, but if you just mean the material spaces they claim are theirs, like, the landmass, here’s a map of America.
Yep, they have all that! There were laws about guano, and then there were other laws about air bases and then there were other other laws based around the important legal precedent of dibs.
And there are people there!
No, they can’t vote, because, uh, look over there
This means that America, as a country, in reaching from Guam to Puerto Rico, covers 11 time zones, but still only talks about three of them. If you’re about to say ‘uh, there are four mainland American time zones,’ stop lying to me about how much you care about Mountain Time. It also means that the sun does set on the American Empire but only for three hours, meaning that once again, America is the best in the world at something, as long as you ignore all the people who did it better.
‘America’ or as Americans sometimes call it ‘America America‘, is used to refer to this familiar mainland area, which Daniel Immerwahr refers to as the ‘logo map’ of America. Included in this bundle deal is the following expansion pack:
This gets to include one set of islands White Americans like to holiday on (and the locals would really rather they not, right now), after some messy business with trade cartels and deposing a queen, and a bit of land they bought from the Russian Empire in the 1800s. These two bonus states are each comparable in size to the entire mainland of the country when measured from border to border, which is why it’s very important to America’s self esteem that they only ever be presented on maps in tiny little insets that make them both about the same size as one another and also Wyoming.
The logo map is made up of forty-eight states, each of which likes to pretend they’re a country, until they don’t. Each state is defined by its own very specific state culture, and you’d best acknowledge and respect all of them, as represented by the state’s white people.
Oh, and if you’re one of the people who’s never heard it described as ‘America America,’ then congratulations, you’re incredibly white.
Oh, and there’s also two more secret extra states that aren’t states with totally sweet flags that you can unlock by defeating a boss on level 3. One was responsible for reshaping highways because all the diners on the way to it were super fucking racist. The other one has three million Americans there who don’t get to vote. Weird, I know. American history is wild.
Hey, non-American friends, you know all those jokes we tell about incredibly dumb laws or unrealistically stupid American tourists? Well, Americans tell them too, they just tell them about Alabamans. A country band that got their own state. Jimmy Buffett’s from here, but they don’t like him so they can get stuffed.
The biggest state. In fact it’s the biggest state so much if you cut it in half, the two halves would be the biggest state. Has a cool socialist program for distributing oil profits, pretends it isn’t. Sarah Palin is from here, and they’re very embarrassed about it. When I said that on Twitter, someone snitch-tagged me to an Alaskan Socialist who was very pissy about it, which adds to the data for Alaska: they don’t know what jokes are.
One of the states of the southern border. Convinced its problems are the Mexicans. May actually become uninhabitable in the next five years, ha ha, not joking, oh no. Doesn’t use Daylight Saving times. Huge Indian reservations (and that’s what they call them). Tried to make a law where you had to show your papers to walk the streets. This is the place with the ‘cyber ninjas’ and ‘bamboo paper’ stuff that makes the rest of the world go ‘wait, really?’
This summary annoyed an Arizonan, who got defensive about me oppressing them with my Australian Privilege.
And uh, yeah, America, this is why I talk about you like that.
It’s pronounced ‘saw’, not ‘sas.’ Alabamans tell all those jokes about Arkansas. Bill Clinton is from here, and he brought the state ‘from 50th in education to 49th,’ which, I mean, celebrate what you can.
Walmart started here, so fuck them.
The most populated state, the richest state, the state most likely to have totally warped your perspective on reality like what birds and frogs sound like. They farm tons of food here, weird, right? By default, on fire.
Everyone who decided to comment that ‘they won’t farm forever,’ yes, you’re right, eventually the cold hand of mortality will close around all of us, and everything we know, everything that knows everything we know, will eventually disperse into nothingness and the entirety of our reality and everything we use to give ourselves meaning will fail and be lost and as nothing but dust, and thanks for deciding to bring down the fucking tone, are you happy?
It’s three Os and one A. This place is apparently really nice in that Hallmark buy-your-second-house-here kind of way. I thought it was the origin of ‘redneck’ because colorado means ‘red’ in Spanish, but no. One of the solid packing peanuts in the American package. This is the place the Last Dinosaur was named after, and therefore was probably the first site for a polyamrous gay dinosaur character (he, being my friend, and a whole lot more).
This is part of ‘New England,’ which I dunno, I’d keep that to myself honestly, as someone in new south WALES. Anyway, this place calls itself ‘The Nutmeg State’ and ‘the place of steady habits’ which I think is just an incredible self-own about being Beta Adelaide. It does start with ‘Connect,’ which can help you spell it right. They pronounce it ‘connet’ because America is a land so surplus with letters they just forget they have some.
This *isn’t* New England, and the distinctions as to why are lost on me. Remember that George Washington painting they show us? That’s him crossing the Delaware river. No, not in Delaware though. Why would it be there?
In this state, the police are required to record all arrests and make the record publically available for public accountability (an actually good thing), so hack journalists just grab weird stories there and create the myth of ‘Florida Man‘ as if America isn’t full of em.
Now you may think ‘don’t most places do that’? but the point is Florida has a few million people in it and the police actually do the reports quickly, so it’s convenient for journalists. I’ve been on Fark for eleven years, I know what I’m talking about.
The coolest things to happen in this state were when a bunch of slavers had their shit set on fire, and it’s wild that they’re not all BOO YEAH EAT SHIT SLAVERS WE’RE FREE NOW but are instead all ‘but the fire was very rude.’ Like, isn’t that interesting and weird, hm, I wonder why they don’t identify with the side that wanted to end the slavery, hm hmmm.
Very weak low jabs and air control.
This American state has health care, no rabies, nice beaches, volcanoes, excellent food, Kamen Rider on Netflix, strong cultural ties to countries like Japan and an indigenous population who are statistically Done With White People’s Shit. Hawaii rules.
The state that Montana is sniffing and going ‘is that Potatoes I smell?‘ It’s one of those punchline states about how there’s nothing there, but to be fair there’s a fucking big ass pile of mountains and forests that all look great. Weird how natural beauty and fresh air and parks aren’t considered some kind of ‘stuff.’
Chicago is here and if you listen to Chicago, that’s it. Terrible godawful fucking state flag, like look at that, just pure dogshit. Used to be the central media capital before Hollywood happened because they thought they could escape unions.
But they were wrong.
one of those places people go to college and then leave at speed. The state hosts the Indianapolis (‘city in Indiana,’ great imagination there, good job) 500, a race about going around and around in a circle and getting nowhere, very fast, until someone dies. Mentioning this annoys people from Indiana, who insist I should know about something less famous, but somehow less embarrassing and I gotta say, Indiana, you fuck one goat,,
A state that’s ‘politically important’ because it says so and prays nobody double checks that. At some point another state will put a law on the books saying they need to be the first state to run elections and then the USA will get into a print10 loop and need to be force-quit. Renowned for ‘Iowa Nice’ (stolen from Minnesota) which an Iowan explained to me as ‘WE’RE A FUCKING DELIGHT, SHITHEAD.’ Considered boring empty farmland, largely not farmland. Lot of ag science.
A place most famous for how the most briliant dream a woman can have in Kansas is get as far away as possible. Regarded as rural and backwater and boring and look it’s not actually super rural. Joe Walsh is from here. He left, for Ohio.
I literally mean this with no hyperbole, the governing and voting population of this state may literally be responsible for ending the world. If you have an above average income here, you work for Raytheon somehow. Both state senators are somehow the worst ones.
Amazing food, amazing music, amazing architecture, amazing history, amazing in a lot of ways that America seems to be like, embarrassed about? Once a cemetary here flooded and filled the streets with floating, farting coffins. Vampire pelican flag. Oh and I dunno, there’s this place called Baton Rouge, there, something that isn’t New Orleans.
Hawkeye Pierce is from here and I don’t care that he’s fictional, MUM. Basically Canada. Uses ranked choice voting, which is the best voting system America has. Seceded from Massachusetts at one point, which, I mean, that seems prudent. Excellent uppercut.
Just mention ‘old bay seasoning’ and ‘FUCK YOU BALTIMORE’ and they’ll think you’re cool. The flag sucks ass.
So like, this state is comparable in size to the city of Sydney. And every single part of it is very old, and insistent on pointing out how cool it is that they’re old, but not that old, because when we got here it was empty, honest. Boondock Saints T-Shirt State.
Used to make cars and now like a guy who was a quarterback in high school, will not shut up about it, as if it was only when the state’s government was primarily white people it was doing anything anyone cared about. Pronounce the word ‘for’ ‘fir,’ to save on vowels.
Oh hey that’s where that is. PZ Myers is from here and it gets real cold. Reaching out to high-five Michigan. The ACTUAL Minnesota Nice. Picked as the spot for ‘nothing happens here’ cold media, like Fargo, Jingle All The Way, and The Mighty Ducks.
famous spelling bee hurdle. I can remember how to spell this state by hearing Simon of the Chipmunks in my head. State flag has a religious oath on it. Fuck you, MISSISSIPPI. Not mad at all about losing the civil war, never mad at all, ever.
Famously of a compromise and it’s weird how slavery and the civil war keep coming up when we talk about these places from the outside, well I’m sure there’s nothing to reflect on there. Birthplace of many evil empires including the Disney corporation and Monsanto.
First time I did this thread I completely missed Montana and nobody noticed which I think says enough. This place is why Montana Max was called Montana Max – it’s a reference to Yosemite Sam (same kind of place/name hybrid). Montana is sniffing Idaho’s potatoes. This is another of the spacefiller states, made to run up the numbers to fifty. I do not know anything about it but don’t worry, nobody is going to check.
There is at least one Cinnabon in this state, as represented in the documentary Better Call Saul.
A desert with a tax dodge in it that accidentally wound up flywheeling the whole economy. Las Vegas is here and so is Reno! Look everyone, it’s Reno, don’t forget about Reno. Neither Reno nor Las Vegas are the capitals but I can’t remember what is. Very flat.
Don’t make eye contact and it won’t go on about the pilgrims and quakers and its glorious ancient history. Motto is ‘live free or die’ but despite this bold position, most people who live there die anyway.
The beliggerent swaggering stepbrother to New York, where the family keeps all the stuff that’s too nice to throw away but they don’t want to have to look at it all the time. This state has absolutely gotten into a fist-fight in a fountain. Complains about being primarily known for the thing it’s most famous for, as if they really want me to mention The Situation so they can complain ‘oh you would bring THAT representative iconic piece of internationally famous art,’ at me. Chris Christie shut down a bridge here. Oh you don’t want me to mention that either?
This place has an actually really good flag. It’s also the place Breaking Bad is based out of and let me tell you, we white people love to talk about Breaking Bad. It’s like Scarface but even more approachable.
So this state is where you’ll find Rochester, home of the Garbage plate, Albany, one of the coldest state capitals, and Utica, where they don’t ever use the term ‘steamed hams.’ Utica is my favourite American place to mention because they don’t even know where it is.
This place claims they invented flight, which is why birds shit on it all the time. Also calls itself ‘first in freedom,’ because of when it was founded (when there were thousands of slaves in the state). The Not As Bad Carolina.
… you have two Dakotas? Why?
Wait, don’t answer that, I know it’s for Senatorial reasons, I’m just underscoring that neither Dakota is worth having.
The backup Florida. A place for white politicians to piss themselves over on election night. America’s divide by zero error. The state of learned helplessness. 24 American astronauts are from Ohio, a disproportionate number showing people will flee the planet to escape Ohio
This place is Texas’ test server. There are a bunch of dildo stores right next to the border.
This is the demilitarised zone between Washington’s sodden nowheres and California’s cultural omnipresence. Constructed largely out of aspirational twee aesthetics, the state of Oregon functions as a kind of cultural waterbreak, constructed by bearded beavers. Fantastically, shockingly racist, like, probably as bad as Utah.
Here’s a state I know very very little about beyond Philadelphia, which is where the hockey mascot that hunts fascists is from, the worst football fans, the worst baseball fans, the worst lacrosse fans – look, it’s ‘fuck around and find out,’ the city.
Home of Paragon city and once, a state name that was so long its full expression wouldn’t fit in a 140 letter tweet. I know a lot about Rhode Island -in general- because I have rp’d being a superhero there for a decade. I’m not proud. Or tired.
The other, worser Carolina. You know that asshole southern politician who’s always getting clipped saying the stupidest shit in a fake comedy southern accent like foghorn leghorn? He’s from here. He’s one of their SENATORS. He’s been there for eighteen years.
If you’re thinking ‘Lindsey Graham doesn’t have a Foghorn Leghorn accent, that’s this other guy, from Kentucky,’ shut up. You should be shocked I know who Lindsay Graham is, pissing about how there’s a more specific senator I could name for ‘faked up southern accent designed to appear folksy’ doesn’t matter to me and it shouldn’t matter to you. The rest of the world is aware of Lindsay Graham, that should be enough of a reason to make you feel humiliated.
One of the Dakotas has Mount Rushmore in it and until I grabbed this flag, I was going to joke ‘so flip a coin,’ but they kinda gave that game away. Bunch of cool Native American history that white folk dynamited over because they found gold.
Here’s where all the country music comes from. Helped make the atom bomb. Hollywood for white people afraid of queers. I’m personally, deeply amused to know people who tried to make it here as Christian artists and failed. Confederate shit on the flag. A bag of shit with a folksy smiles.
The second biggest state. The second most populous state. The second largest economy of a state. Everything’s appropriately sized in Texas. You know that beardy podcaster who tries to get in twitter fights with children? He’s a senator here.
Nice doesn’t mean good. Famously a ‘good, clean, well-scrubbed’ place that means no black people. Overwhelmingly controlled by the Mormon church, an organisation founded to orchestrate a white supremacist overthrow of the US Government by a conman. Bad coffee.
You know that weird frazzled looking guy who espouses really modest centre-left positions like making tertiary affordable and public health care? He’s their senator. And Americans think that he’s a commie.
This state was once ruled by an uptight christian dickhead so weird he had the state seal with its titty out covered with a cloth while he was at work so he wouldn’t get seal-horny. Cool with murdering someone, not cool with a tity out. Americans are weird. Has Quantico
Okay, so, this is a state over on the far left of the mainland and it has Seattle and like, probably a Portland (they have a lot of those), and it kinda just wants to vibe. It’s NOT the capital of the country. Yeah that’s dumb and confusing, but what are they gunna do
The bit of Virginia that bailed on Rest of Virginia during the civil war because holy shit that was too racist for them, and then inexplicably has a reputation as being really backwards and racist? I don’t get it.
The rock to Michigan’s scissors. They make cheese and have a unionised football team. GO PACKERS. I promised i wouldn’t look, but the Wikipedia page for it where I got the flag and map has an entire entry labelled ‘ALCOHOL CULTURE’ in level with ‘ART’
Here’s what happens when you leave your pencil case on the map you’re drawing and don’t bother to fix it. It has half a million people and the population density of seawater. If someone prints this out and mails it to Wyoming they may be able to confirm or deny by radio.
As for those two unlockable bonus states that aren’t actually states, one is WASHINGTON DC, a city that gets taxed and doesn’t get represented which is something Americans get really pissy about when it’s happening to them but don’t actually give a fuck about if it happens to someone else, weird.
Alright, alright one more PUERTO RICO. Back in 2020, at a protest outside the governor’s mansion, pissed protestors assembled a fucking guillotine, and I think as far as ‘if you only know one thing’ about the place, that’s a real good thing to remember, and energy to carry.
You will be assumed, in any given situation, to already be aware of the local cultures and specific traditions and habits or you’ll offend people, as long as you’re dealing with anyone from these specific locations highlighted in red.
Oh, and, Americans trying to nitpick details and add their own jokes that are less funny, or to defend the honour of their empire without realising how stupidly parochial it makes them look: Hello.