I suppose that first visit to Mitchell, South Dakota was my own personal uncloaking of Oz, of becoming aware that the adult world at times conceals suspect motives. The Corn Palace was Oz and I was angry. I wouldn’t regain my balance until we reached the Black Hills, and the beauty of the West finally really did shine through.

So thank you, Corn Palace, for creating such a cognitively dissonant gateway to the American West. Whether you’re a palace, a phallus, a fallacy or just an ace pal, your quixotic commitment to a single species of plant, to a life’s path built on that great irony called ‘monoculture’ and lived with the hubris of a conquering soldier, gets you voted

The West’s Fiftieth Greatest Man-Made Icon Ever!

You exemplify all that is questionable about the stories we’ve been spinning about ourselves, and maybe offer a path to a more honest future. Your dismemberment will come soon enough, as beautiful dreams do, but the Black Hills will still be there, and people, if we’ve survived, will no doubt start spinning the next round of American myths and maybe even better cotton candy. Hopefully we’ll also do a little more mothering of the land. Now is the time.