Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell:
Nowadays, Lafayette is a place, not a person. Lafayette is a boulevard in Phoenix, a Pennsylvania college, and a bridge across the Mississippi in St. Paul. It’s the Alabama birthplace of boxer Joe Louis and three different towns in Wisconsin—four if Fayette counts. If so, then it’s also Fayette County, which the Chicken Ranch, better known as the Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, put on the map. It is without question Lafayette, Indiana, where the founders of both C-SPAN and Guns N’ Roses were born.
When I bumped into an old neighbor whilst visiting my Montana hometown, she asked me what I was working on, and I answered a book about Lafayette. So she inquired if I would be spending a lot of time in Louisiana. I was confused, wondering if she forgot that Thomas Jefferson decided against his initial impulse of appointing Lafayette as the former French colony’s first governor after the Louisiana Purchase. Then I realized that the city of Lafayette, Louisiana, must be her go-to Lafayette-labeled noun—even though from Montana it’s actually a closer drive to Lafayette, Utah, not to mention the ones in Oregon, California, Kansas, and Colorado. So I explained that I meant Lafayette the French teenager who crossed the Atlantic on his own dime to volunteer to fight with George Washington in the Revolutionary War. Therefore, I said, I was more likely to visit Pennsylvania, where he got shot. She nevertheless professed her fondness for zydeco.
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