This is a picture I did not take

of the interior of a Mexican restaurant in rural North Carolina on the evening of May fifth, and while the restaurant had plenty of "Cinco de Mayo" decorations hanging, it was also Karaoke night and the DJ was exhorting the dinner guests to lift their faces from inside their enchiladas and come on up and sing a song because you really need to get this party started, and while they ignored him and kept eating and downing their cheap margaritas, the DJ rapped a few bars of Jay-Z before switching to a little Toby Keith, crossing the hip-hop / country divide with astonishing speed, until a short man with a war wound bounded-up onstage and told the DJ to play something by System From a Down, and the waitresses looked toward the stage and grimaced as the night slid from festive into something dull and familiar -- the entire town, it seemed, including the Sheriff, sitting in this small restaurant piled high with the DJ's booming speakers, nearly everyone blonde and slowly getting drunk and finding their courage to sing, while outside, crepe paper decorations and even some balloons that were a few days past their prime swung limply, dangling from the parking lot's Yield sign.