The charms of Janesville aren't easy to capture in a three-minute video. Affordable housing, peace, quiet, good parks, haunted houses. Not the highlights of many highly rated YouTube videos. But Janesville does have a presence online, albeit a subdued one. I've already written about the most exciting videos: the doll in the window and Hay Daze.
Beyond those videos, the offerings are...a bit lacking.
We've got trains.
Trains terrify my mom, owing to being in a car that got drilled by one when she was a kid. She's probably cringing watching this. Even today, when she sees - or hears - one approaching, she shivers. This guy, meanwhile, is a train fanatic. My parents' house is about a block-and-a-half to the left of the tracks in this video. We hear every train that comes through. For decades, the train was one part of an orchestra that included the cars rolling through town on Highway 14. Today the highway bypasses Janesville, slicing the daily traffic. But the trains still thunder by.
Same guy, different train. The poster, a train enthusiast who chases trains from town to town, like a posse on the heels of a Wild West gunman, put up this video of a welded rail train.
Speaking of trains, the Canadian Pacific Holiday train stopped in town. Santa sang a song. This wasn't exactly like seeing the Beatles on tour in 1965, but the band was definitely better than the one we had at homecoming in 9th grade. I'm trying to figure out where they held this. Any answers, Janesvillinians?
There's more to do in Janesville than just watch trains and kids have more options than simply re-creating Stand by Me by attempting to outrun the trains. You can also watch fires. A few years ago, the local volunteer fire department - whose members make some of the best burgers and onion rings in southern Minnesota, at the annual Hay Daze event - set the old stockyards building on fire in order to get some practice. The wind didn't cooperate completely and a house across the street had some of its siding melted.
And here's the most confusing Janesville video.
The description: 2009 Sexy Swimsuit Model Snowmobile Calendar. Zenwaiter visits the swimsuit snowmobile calendar shoot near Janesville Minnesota. Dani is a fabulous sexy girl swimsuit model, and this is the hottest snowmobile video clip I have ever made, all 20 seconds. I guess snowmobilers love sexy women! To contact Dani for modeling work, contact Travis at Double Xtreme Snowmobile Calendar in Janesville, Minn. Tell him Zenwaiter sent ya!
Here's the site for Double Extreme. According to the contact page, it is based out of Janesville. At least, that's where the P.O. box is located. I've never heard of it, but I'm also not a big snowmobile guy - so I'm not up to date on snowmobile calendars, hot or otherwise - and I also haven't lived in town for 15 years. I do wonder if this particular video was shot outside of Janesville. After some digging - in the interest of professionalism - I found some more pictures from the shoot. One caption says the pictures with the lovely - and talented - Dani were taken near Faribault, Minnesota, which is not really near Janesville. This video has more than 224,000 views. The stockyard burning video has a little over a thousand views. Babes trump blazes, when it comes to Janesville videos.
Traveling train bands. Racy snowmobile photo shoots. It's like a hidden world inside the small world of everyday Janesville life. What else am I missing? What else has changed since I grew up in the town of 2,000 people? Are there pagan rituals every Saturday night?
I went to YouTube seeking some insight into Janesville. But now all I have is more questions. Still, this does help explain my dad's sudden interest in snowmobile calendars.