Saturday, April 17, 2010

Good Old Boys, Or, Why I Live Here

I'll have to admit, I don't get it. I don't really know why Southern White people with no money would identify themselves with the flag of the Confederacy. I get that poor white southerners feel like a separate ethnicity or culture or something. I know I was thinking about "If That Ain't Country" by David Allen Coe. I watched a video of Coe performing it. It's a simple little song, but he makes a hell of a case for poor white southerners as a misunderstood and disrespected minority and he makes it playing a guitar decorated with a Confederate flag.

So, I'm thinking about good old boys, while I'm sitting in the parking lot at the acupuncture clinic. I get that you've got to honor your heritage and I get that you've got to stand up for who you are and I get that you've got to call 'em like you see 'em and damn the consequences but what all of that has to do with the southern slavocracy I'll never be able to understand.

There aren't many poor white people in Northern California. There aren't that many genuinely poor people here. It's too damn expensive. We have a few people around who sort of fill the good old boy niche. They look like the guys in the picture above. They sit around and talk about Grateful Dead shows in 1967, what pot is selling for these days and why the Republicans are the cause of the world's woes.

Just then a cranky looking old white guy pulled his pick up truck into the parking lot. He was driving too fast and he looked like a bit of a mean old guy. He had a bunch of bumper stickers on the back of the truck. I couldn't see all of them but I could see that he was an NRA life member and a member of The Marine Corps League.

"Oh good", I thought, "maybe he's a real California redneck".

His wife got out of the truck first. She had to help him a little. It took him quite a while to get out of the truck. He was a dried up old guy and it looked like everything hurt. I could see where that mean look came from. I waited for him to walk past before I pulled out of my parking space. I drove past the back of his truck and checked out the rest of the bumper stickers. There were a couple more NRA stickers. There was a big red and orange sticker that said "Once A Marine Always A Marine". There was a sticker that said, "No Farms No Food". There was also a sticker that said, "War Is Never The Answer, Wage Peace" and another that said "No On H8- Everyone Has The Right To Marry."

Honor your heritage, stand up for who you are and call 'em like you see 'em and damn the consequences. God, I love it here.


Anonymous said...

hard hitting, confrontational, inquisitive or're a good writer jon...


theo said...

Hi Jon,
I don’t know if you’ve read any of Joe Bageant’s work. I would give him a look if you haven’t. “Deer Hunting With Jesus” is his latest book. He has a website: and I would offer he writes about America’s white poor as good as anyone.

Jon said...

Thanks Todd.
Thanks Theo. I've been meaning to check out Bageant. I'd recommend back "The Mind of the South" by JR Cash. Written by a Southerner many years ago but still current.

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