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In Corn We Trust

“I’m going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come”
(liturgy best performed by John and Paul)

What do people who haven’t been to Kansas City think of it? Coming here from a different country some 20+ years ago, settling down, living for 15, moving to California and occasionally coming back I must say they are mostly wrong. Tired of questions “how big was my farm and how many cows did I have” I tried to explain that life is quite different from what many people may think it is.

Well, watch this short aerial film and see …

First things first. People often confuse Kansas state and Kansas City. The two bear the same name but trust me – they are different (and I can’t speak much for the former). I don’t know how to farm and have no (zero!) cows in my possession.

For the record: I am not against farms and cows, after all we eat every day and someone has to farm to make it a reality.

Meantime, the city is a diverse and vibrant place in and of itself so the one time I was there for a week or so I couldn’t stop but make a short video about it from bird’ perspective. One picture is better than 1001 words, as they often say.

It all started in a corn field near Hays, KS (that’s the state). “In Corn We Trust” stuck in my head and made its way to the title of the film. It turns out green corn field is hard to find in Kansas the state, to say nothing about the Kansas City. Much like bears don’t really walk in the middle of Russian cities, contrary to the popular belief. Maybe a goat or two but no bears. Trust me. I lived there first 33 years of my life.

Sunny day. A bit windy but still OK to fly my co-conspirator – DJI Mavic Pro drone into the friendly skies above Crossroads district, with magnificent view of downtown and Liberty Memorial park on the way back. Unless you are a bird or an airplane, the chances are you are not accustomed to this perspective, but worry not. People on the ground go along with their lives and care less about you – a small piece of technology with a photographic eye hovering above.

Country Club Plaza. Magnificent. One of a kind place in the entire American world! With omnipresent shopping, dining and wining. Window shopping open from 7PM till late. Very late. Or even early. Build in 30’s by active participation of local mafiosi Tom Pendergast “The Boss” as replica of Seville, Spain. I am sure it holds tons of secrets under its concrete foundation many of us may not want to know while drinking Pinot Noir in the restaurant on 47-th street. For everything else there’s Wikipedia and some other time.

Plaza at night is beautiful in its own way, but photographic eyes of my bird named Mavic, can’t possibly capture this. Just imagine! That’s all what it comes down to. All films, pictures and sounds are nothing but a trigger for imagination.

From up above everything is fresh and rosy. Brush Creek, bridges, flags, gondolas, Intercontinental hotel and the gorgeous statue of Venus, not fas from ever-drunk Bacchus and metal Roosevelt couple on the other side of the creek.

Just a few blocks away there’s green field with iconic shuttlecocks. That’s Nelson-Atkins museum of art. Rodin’s “Thinker” is right outside the entrance. It’s difficult and illegal to fly inside so I encourage you to get there by foot. You won’t regret, no matter what you taste for art might me – from early classical to Monet to modern avant-garde. Including no taste at all. Last resort – they sell Boulevard Unfiltered Wheat beer. Quite popular here and around.

The compass points to NNW. We are near the newly constructed two-hall Kauffman theater. It seems you are in Sydney, Australia but not. You are in the heart of American midwest.

Kansas City, MO downtown. The business heart of the city where people spend hours and hours in their cubicle-cells pretending they are doing something useful. Or doing something at all for that matter. From bird’s perspective however, this is all shining glass and metal pointing up to the skies. Oh, we can fly a bit higher than the tallest Kansas City One office building.

As you can see so far, it looks like a city, doesn’t it? And just like any other midwestern place, large portion of Kansas City is covered by endless “Sleepy Beauty” – suburbia. It’s neither countryside nor urban life style. It’s right in the middle. And this is where most locals live, especially families with kids, cats and dogs. Let’s take Overland Park, KS – the second largest town in the entire state of Kansas. And the place where I used to live. 15 years of my life, one third. Houses, cul-de-sacs, streets from east to west, avenues from north to south, golf courses, parks, shopping malls, cinemas, corporate America highlights – McDonald’s, Starbucks, Best Buy, Bed, Bath and far-far beyond … From up above all this looks like a gigantic checker board with nearly ideal squares, filled with roofs.

I don’t want to write a complete guide to the city. Or any guide. I simply can’t. These are just the highlights, first impressions visible from some 400 feet (120 meters) in the air. Birds are seeing it all the time. Gees, crows, gulls – that kind of birds, not the mechanical one I am flying. They have been over there for a while. If only they could shoot video or better yet, speak to us or write in a computer keyboard.

Sports deeply ingrained in local culture. It’s more than just a competition of athletes. Million times more. And billion dollars too. Particularly American football (not to confuse with the game of the same name popular throughout the outskirts of the rest of the world, referred as “soccer” here). My hands on the control sticks can’t stop by make my mechanical bird by the name “Mavic” fly over Arrowhead stadium in the eastern part of the city, home of beloved Kansas City Chiefs. Go Chiefs, Go! You’ll be the champions some day. Someday soon, everyone religiously believes.

I must admit people here religiously believe in many other things including various religions and cults. Churches everywhere. Small, large, tall, one-story, with the cross and without. The sky’s the limit, as birds around say. I don’t know their language, and I am not 100% sure they say anything – at least to Mavic flying around – but they easily could. That’s good enough to believe in cult of Speaking Birds.

One of the church buildings in Independence, MO, few minutes drive west from the city, specifically attracted by attention. Not by its cult or religion, but architecture and shape of the building. Strictly speaking it’s not a church. It’s a Temple of the Church. I don’t mean to confuse you, but this is how Temple of the Church of Latter Saint Days, or LDS (be careful not to shuffle letters in this acronym) is known today. Mormon Temple, for short. The building is a spiral, winding up and pointing above, supposedly to the deity. And to Mavic drone hovering right above at the moment. Notice the pattern near the entrance? This is not worn-down concrete with brown patches (as I frankly thought of it first). This is the map of the world.

Missouri part of the world is full of rivers, lakes, hills, and valleys. Kansas-the-state is flat and plain for the most part. On the one hand I seem to like plain. I realized this after living for a while in mountainous California. Plain Kansas lets you see the horizon in each direction with literally nothing on it, and after just 20 minutes driving out of the city limits. Plain fields put in the in the middle of ocean. Ocean of corn and sunflowers. And from the bird’s point of view you can see even further – Great, Great Plains below with the clouds right above, casting shadows on the green fields. On the other hand, well, it’s plain ..

The bird is tired. The flight is over. And so is my short dive into midwestern lifestyle. It’s time to move. If I only knew where …