“My Heart is a Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole”


Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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174 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    I was going to guess something like a computer wrote it.Report

  2. Avatar Rod says:

    What Jaybird said.

    On the other hand, I had one of those silly FB meme things come across the other day that was the lyrics to the “Hokey Pokey” rewritten in Shakespearean style. So maybe this is the opposite of that.Report

  3. Avatar Chris says:

    I won’t answer because I’m on Twitter, and Twitter loves something with which the author of this work of unparalleled genius is associated, so I would’nt be guessing. I will only say that it was in fact written by a human, though for charity’s sake, I am going to assume this person made heavy use of a magnetic poetry set in composing it.Report

  4. Avatar Glyph says:

    James Franco!

    I will say, like a kernel of corn in a turd, there is one interesting line: ‘Devils not done digging’ (‘Devils not done digging’?)Report

  5. Sweet Jesus, my brain starts to wail at “Kismetly.”Report

  6. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Another vote for Franco or some right-winger.

    I can’t tell whether the reference to Marfa, Texas is some kind of Cormac McCarthy rough and tumble thing or a “Real Amurica” kind of red-state reference.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I can’t tell whether the reference to Marfa, Texas is some kind of Cormac McCarthy rough and tumble thing or a “Real Amurica” kind of red-state reference.

      My head just exploded.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        Por que?

        Though Marfa does have an artsy reputation as well.

        Donal Judd worked out of Marfa and there was the Prada Store exhibit.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Because you saw the name of a town in Texas other than Austin or Dallas or Houston and your first thought was “some kind of Cormac McCarthy rough and tumble thing or a ‘Real Amurica’ kind of red-state reference.” It exploded when I held in what I wanted to say about city people and/or yankees in response.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I think a lot of Texans (not you though) are rather proud of the various images they have in the public imagination as being the types to ride around in pick-up trucks. I know “Don’t mess with Texas” started as an anti-littering slogan but it has morphed into a series of cliches of the Sarah Palin variety and many seem proud of it.

        The whole poem is a mess of cliches and yeah it seemed to convey the image of a somewhat dysfunctional but passionate and broken couple who are just driving around in a pick-up truck and hoping for a better life that never comes or starting a new in some far flung place.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I think a lot of Texans (not you though) are rather proud of the various images they have in the public imagination as being the types to ride around in pick-up trucks. I know “Don’t mess with Texas” started as an anti-littering slogan but it has morphed into a series of cliches of the Sarah Palin variety and many seem proud of it.

        I am not a Texan!!!!111!!11!!!

        I’m sure a lot of Texans are fond of that image, though I don’t think they see that image quite the way you do, or the way you think they do. They certainly don’t see it as having anything to do with McCarthy, and while there might be a lot of overlap, it’s not coextensive with the Palin “real America” trope either.

        “Don’t Mess With Texas” is mostly just Texas chauvinism, or basically the Texas equivalent of your New York-San Francisco dandyism (in the literary sense of the term, though in the 21st century it might be changed to “artificiality and excessive hipsterism” rather than “refinement”).

        There’s this weird coastal city thing in which non-coastal rural limitedness is exaggerated and lampooned, while their own citified limitedness is celebrated. I guarantee you that you are more likely to be welcomed and not looked down upon where they are than they are where you are. I’ve spent most of my adult life with one foot in each world, and I’ll be honest, with the exception of the art and some of the music, I find theirs vastly preferable.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I’ll be honest that I find my urban and Northeastern and Northwestern world much more preferable.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Oh, I know you do. The only real difference between you and me is that I’ve spent a significant amount of time in both, so my preference is an informed one.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Marfa is primarily known for being artsy. Marfa-Alpine was on our jobs radar until we were introduced to the Texas Medical Board (may their lawns wither of the desoloation in their souls). Rural Texas was a complete no-go, though Marfa specifically we might have been willing to make an exception for under different circumstances.

        There’s this weird coastal city thing in which non-coastal rural limitedness is exaggerated and lampooned, while their own citified limitedness is celebrated.

        It’s totally different when you’re limited to the good things in life.Report

      • @newdealer I think you rather spectacularly missed Chris’ point.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Your informed opinion is predicated more on the past than on the future.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        @will-truman, Marfa is pretty awesome. There are a whole lot of pretty awesome places in that whole South and West Texas/Eastern New Mexico area that are filled with cowboys and caballeros along with various types of hippies, stoners, artists, and such. Basically the people who, if you put them all together and turned them into one person, would get you Willie Nelson.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Our impression was that it was more “western” than “southern” and that was a big selling point. We’re fond of the west, and we have the sort of conflicted feelings of the south that I think can only really come from frustrated children of the south.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        Basically the people who, if you put them all together and turned them into one person, would get you Willie Nelson.

        That sounds like a fun sorta place to hang out.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        Not quite my scene honestly.



        This is the sort of stuff that makes me eyeroll at “real Amurica”.

        The Northeast and Northwest are far from problem free but I think people can be equally pretentious about being “down home” This is the sort of pseudo-populism that earns a kind of eyeroll, you aren’t superior for preferring a hunting vest and jeans and slippers to a ball gown and I doubt these people complained about when Laura Bush wore Oscar de la Renta to state dinners.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        @newdealer I can honestly say that of all of the country-ass people I know, and I’d wager I know about half of ’em (if you were country-assed yourself, you’d know what I mean), I can’t think of any who care one single little bit what Michelle Obama’s wearing. Some of ’em might dislike Michelle because she’s the wife of a Democrat, and Democrats suck, but they don’t care what she’s wearing. Hell, most of ’em would do what I just did when I read that she was wearing Caroline Herrera, ask “Caroline who?!”

        I’ll put it this way: you think about them a whole hell of a lot more than they think about you, because for the most part, they don’t think about you at all, unless you’re looking down on them, as you have been here, in which case they’re as likely to wonder what bug crawled up your ass as they are to look down at you defensively. And I will say this again: they are much, much, much more likely to accept you in their bar or their restaurant or their pool hall or even their homes, and to treat you like you were just another one of them, then I suspect you or your friends are to do the same for them. (This is not to say that they won’t have a little fun with your accent or your expensive looking clothes, but they don’t mean anything by it; hell, I get in trouble pretty regularly for making fun of my girlfriend’s accent.)

        And again, a huge part of the reason they are likely to look down on you at all is because they think that you look down on them, and when people talk the way you do about them, it just shows them that they’re right.

        So seriously, if you’re getting your impression of what the bulk of the people who live somewhere other than New York or San Francisco are like from the sorts of Daily Caller stories that liberal blogs are likely to notice and comment upon, you’re not getting a very accurate impression at all. I’ll tell you what, next time I’m in Nashville, you are invited to join me, and we’ll hang out at some honky tonks and line dancing bars, and Loveless and the Bluebird of course, so you can see just how off you are. And we can even stop in at the East Nashville hipster joints (I used to hang out at Bongo Java in the mid-90s, before the Mother Theresa Danish, and my brother went to Belmont) and maybe hang out with Jack White or those brothers from the Black Keys. “It’s kinda like Brian Adams meets Bono…”Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Figured you’d get a kick out of this one, because you’re the one who likes fashion.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Chris, why keep denying it? Wear your Cowboys jersey with pride!

        Texas is awesome, pure and simple. Objectively so.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I fear that my tone is a little harsh there, but seriously, you’re coming across in a way that is genuinely offensive: whether you realize it or not, it looks like you’ve stereotyped huge swaths of people, and decided that you are superior to them on the basis of the stereotypes. It’s unbecoming, and as someone who, as I said before, has one foot in their world and one foot (roughly) in yours, or one like yours, I take offense to it, as you would if I started making all sorts of accusations about coastal liberals and their talking about helping the poor while wearing clothes that would cost some of those poor a couple months’ salary at least. Which, now that I think about it, I’m pretty likely to do, but most of the people I know are not.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Stillwater, I am a peacenik, but accusing me of being both a Texan and a Cowboys fan is enough to make me break my beer bottle off on the edge of the bar and brandish what’s left of it.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        your tone is a bit harsh. but i’m a big fan of cluebats.
        Good on you for saying something.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        Amen. I’m also one foot in, one foot out. I remember a hilarious moment in the country outside Bloomington, Indiana, when I stopped and asked for directions from a couple buzzcut guys wearing overalls withh no shirts and standing by the dead deer in the back of their pickup. Thought nothing of it, but as I drove off, I realized my wife and the Spanish girl in the back seat were strangely silent. I looked at my wife and said, “they’re not quite what you’re used to, are they?” And she replied, “that’s ok; the weird part was that you sounded just like them!”

        Country folk often love to visit the city; it’s got lots of attractions. They just don’t want to be sneered at. City folks often treat visiting rural America as a frightening descent into the heart of darkness. I say take them for a fast drive on a gravel road and scare the sh*t out of them. 😉Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        I wouldn’t call Nashville country, it seems like it qualifies as a city. Plus more than 50 percent of Americans live within 50 miles of both oceans

        It seems like this is a debate is never ending about who sneers more at who. Why is the automatic assumption that the coasts are out of touch instead of the other way around? You are still going by the “real Amurica” playback with starting on that axiom.

        For every sneering upper-middle class or higher New Yorker or San Franciscan or insert any other city, I can think anecdotally of thousands if not hundreds of thousands or more kids who flee their small towns and country because they can find kinship in the cities that was denied to them in the country. These kids are not necessarily gay but they might be. They could have also just been artsy and danced to the beat of a different drummer.

        And FWIW, my scene is certainly much closer to a city where the Hamburg Ballet or Propeller Group or Cheek by Jowl is likely to stop by on a tour and perform than it is to a Willie Nelson concert.

        I reject the concept of flyover snobbery being the real evil here and I reject the idea that the coasts/cities are somehow not the norm.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        We treat rural america with the appropriate amount of caution.
        When you’ve been run out of your campsite by a herd of Elk, or been a good five feet away from a rattlesnake, ya learn to watch yourself.

        But it’s the same as a city, really. You steer clear of where crime happens, you don’t get bit.

        Ya don’t go asking for trouble (like driving a Prius), and you’re far less likely to wind up in it.

        That said, the thing about Rural America is that it is LOADS more diverse than the cities. Cities tend to be diverse in a way that folks don’t mess with you no matter who you are. Country? Less like that, particularly if you’re not from there.

        Which isn’t to say what I just said applies to most of rural America. But it only takes seeing one bit of 88 graffiti (or one Gold Paul Dollar) to get what I really mean.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Country people basically live their entire lives with one hope: that someone will ask them for directions. That’s why when you ask a country person for directions, he or she is going to have to tell you a long story, rather than simply tell street names and distances:

        “You’re gonna go straight up this street and turn righ’chere where the ol’ feed store usetuh be, and then you’re gonna wanna make drive for… Bubba, how far would ya say it is from where the feed store usetuh be ’til ya get to that little church that Tim’s neighbor goes tuh?… No way, it’s at least two miles. Don’t listen to him. Just drive for ’bout 3 minutes, then you’re gonna wanna turn right at the little church there. It’s got a little cross in the lawn and black shutters. It’s set back in the woods but you can’t miss it if you’re lookin’ for it. Then you’re gonna wanna just drive straight for a while down… that’s 97, ain’t it Bubba? No, darn it, 52’s in the other di-rection. It’s 97. Like I said, don’t listen tuh him. So you just drive for a few minutes when you’re gonna come to a four way stop. Turn left there… what? The second left? Shut your trap, Bubba, there ain’t but one left at the four way stop. Otherwise it’d be a five way stop, wouldn’t it? Don’t listen to him, his Momma dropped him on his head when he was li’l. Now where were we? You turn left onto 97. Right, left off of 97. I was testin’ ya to see if you was payin’ attention. And now you’re gonna be on Arno. You’re gonna wanna go straight on Arno until it turns into a dirt road, then just follow the crick there for about 3 miles, until you havetuh cross it. Heh… I ‘member this time when Bubba and I got stuck at that crossing. His truck sank like a rock in the mud… Nevermind ’bout that, though, you’ll be fine. Water should be pretty low and your car looks like it’s got a pretty good clearance. Once you cross the crick, you’re gonna wanna take the first right… Wait, where were you tryin’ to git?”Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        You really, really come across as clueless.
        Cincinatti’s the norm, not SanFrancisco, or Boston, or NYC.
        (no, pittsburgh’s not the norm. our MSA’s too white).
        Where you grew up, did anyone take off for the first day of deer season?
        (I had teachers who did. True rural folks got the day off regardless of whether they hunted).

        And Philly ain’t a good deal like DC.

        And within 50 miles of the coast are those fine rural folks who
        find burning people’s houses down a fun pastime and a good prank.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        To be fair, Chris, some get straight to the point:

        Crickston? You can’t get there from here.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        more than 50 percent of Americans live within 50 miles of both oceans

        There needs to be a concept analogous to “heteronormativity”.


      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        ND, I think most of the people that would moan about Obama’s dress can more properly described as suburban than rural or country. They might have a faux-connection to country life but nearly all of them have to be at least two generations removed from the farm.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        in pittsburgh, they give directions based on things that have been torn down for five years. (granted, that’s because there is a parkinglot on top of where the church used to be…).Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        @newdealer , if the stereotype of the coastal elite is that y’all are out of touch, you do an exceptional job of reinforcing it.If you wonder why there are some people who aren’t from one the Northeast or the Pacific Northwest who think that y’all aren’t the “real America,” ask yourself if your attitude contributes to that view.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        James and Chris,
        is what happens when writers get lost in Kentucky.
        (Yeah, I can put a review up if you’d like).Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        We treat rural america with the appropriate amount of caution.
        When you’ve been run out of your campsite by a herd of Elk, or been a good five feet away from a rattlesnake, ya learn to watch yourself.

        1. That’s not what folks are afraid of in East Bumfudge, Mo.

        2. You’re telling a country boy the importance of watching out for wild animals? Seriously? Talk about urban condescension.

        But it’s the same as a city, really. You steer clear of where crime happens, you don’t get bit.

        That’s true, and rural folk are likely to overestimate the dangers in the city.

        Ya don’t go asking for trouble (like driving a Prius), and you’re far less likely to wind up in it.

        Christ, you’re just full of condescension, aren’t you? A Prius might get you some snarky comments, but that’s all.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Also, there are idiots everywhere. If we judge a place by its idiots, we’re going to think the whole world is wasteland.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        What, you’d rather I make fun of the bloke from Microsoft who didn’t know enough to not photograph the ungulates during calving season? (that’s where the rest of that story goes.)

        I haven’t had the fortune to be stalked by a ghost cat, but I count myself lucky in that sense. They can stalk you for days.

        Times are tough in rural america (at least whereabouts I am) and they’re just getting tougher. If you think some rural folks from around where I am are above that sort of crap? Well, I lived through the whole Japan Bashing thing, and I don’t intend to be the next target. When all the agit-prop says it’s the environmentalists done cost you your job, I wouldn’t be too surprised if someone doesn’t see a Prius as exactly what an environmentalist weenie would drive.

        And I’m out on the trail, not there to defend the car or even say boo.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Who says we don’t?Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        I fine the definition of coastal elite to be rather fucked up from a politics prospective. Mitt Romney lived in Boston. Tom Perkins lives in San Francisco. The Koch Brothers live in New York. These people are the coastal elite and they are in the Republican Party or heavily support it. I’m just one relatively recent lawyer with a good but freelance income who enjoys stuff that is seen as being more European than American in some circles. Never mind that America has a super impressive history with avant-garde art in the 20th century (including in Marfa, Texas). Only in America can a young actress who earns most of her money from bartending being considered part of the coastal elite because she studied theatre or some such.

        I am not so much defending the coastal elite as I am defending the coasts. Most Americans live in the coasts and in cities. We are not the exception but largely the rule.

        Yes there is unfortunate sneering at flyover country and I should work on that but I object to the idea that downhome Wellie Nelson is somehow more American than I am and it is more American to prefer Willie Nelson (or someone similar) to the Brooklyn Academy of Music or Film Forum. And yeah there are plenty of people in coastal cities that really like Willie Nelson.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I don’t get much impression you know terribly much about the coasts, other than the cities (granted, on the NE, that’s not saying terribly much — the coast is just one big city).

        I don’t try to claim I know much about Charleston, or Atlanta, or most places i haven’t been to.

        You drive up the coast often? (FWIW, I did a decent bit of driving in maine, and a good bit of bus in Washington).

        I don’t find Port Angeles to be any weirder/better/odder or anything than most of Rural America (little more American Indian tinge than I’m used to, but I could use some more acculturation).Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I think your problem is you want propoganda to make sense.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        If you think that the people who are on about coastal elites and such like Romney for any reason other than that he was running against Obama, think again. They probably voted for him, but only because Rick and Mike weren’t running.

        You would do well to simply admit that you know little if anything about the people who don’t come from where you’re from, and be done with it. Because you don’t, and I don’t think it’s because you’re from the coasts, but because you’ve decided that you don’t need to because you’re from the coasts. We here in Texas and back in Tennessee fully recognize that not everyone on the coasts feels that superior to us.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        the bloke from Microsoft who didn’t know enough to not photograph the ungulates during calving season?

        *eye roll* Please stop trying to pretend you understand the wild. Your limit on ungulate knowledge is getting a latte at Caribou Coffee.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Wait, there’s a place called Caribou Coffee? Now I know why I hate the coastal elite!Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Okay, I’ll assume you don’t understand women either.
        “But I’ve got a wife, and kids!”
        Yeah, well, I’ve got a herd of deer in my backyard 3 days in 5.
        And I know someone who has done research on deer.

        Now, have I ever seen a deer go snorkeling? Nope, the
        deer stupid enough to be near me are just that — D. U. M. B.
        Self -selection.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        New Dealer,

        Nobody’s making fun of the person from the west coast city of Salinas. They’re also not making fun of auto mechanic in San Francisco. Nobody’s making fun of the Grand National Rodeo at the Cow Palace.

        Nobody, that is, except perhaps for the coastal elite.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        … only went to Caribou coffee because of the 50% off coupon.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I read your digitial moonlight
        Shitheel coaster strafe your foothills
        perforating nature
        pictures of ungulates during calving season
        I’ll suck your bones prettyReport

      • Avatar James Hanley says:


        Dude, Toledo, Ohio and Beirut, Lebanon, both have a Caribou Coffee. so just how backwards is Austin, anyway? 😉

        I’ve got a herd of deer in my backyard 3 days in 5.

        Take a picture when they’re birthing; I promise they won’t take offense at your invasion of their privacy, unless like the non-existent Microsoft person you’re city-stupid enough to get up close with your cell phone.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Oh, and all the nice folks around here talking about how nice the rural areas are?
        You obviously haven’t almost been run out of town for not going to church and staying up late at night.
        [note: it’s an experience. I do not think such experiences are universal. But I’m pretty sure the lass who got her car keyed for saying “my other car is a broomstick” isn’t universal either, and she was in another state.]Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        why would you call me a liar like that?
        No, I don’t have photos to prove it.

        But seriously, you can get anything printed these days:

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Oh, and all the nice folks around here talking about how nice the rural areas are?
        You obviously haven’t almost been run out of town for not going to church and staying up late at night.

        Quit. Making. Shit. Up.

        I grew up in ruralia, you know? So did Chris. Stop fucking trying to tell us what goes on there. We know, you don’t, so just take your sneering urban legends and shove it up your urban sewerpipe.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Neither Toledo nor Beruit is in the South, therefore they are the same.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        why would you call me a liar like that?

        Because Sony doesn’t have tanks.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Chris, as a native Hoosier and a current Michigander, my perspective is that the south begins at Ohio’s western and northern borders. 😉Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        This discussion has reached the point that I can’t tell if y’all are joshin’ each other or not. So maybe that’s a sign that it’s a good time to, you know, cool it for a while.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Oh, Chris and I are definitely just joshing each other. And we’re not about to listen to a west coast elite like you. I’ve been in your town–I know what you folks are like. *grin*Report

      • I hate to pile on here, but maybe my words will carry a little bit more weight as someone who spends the bulk of his time in the part of NJ known as “Prius Driving Lawyers”: expressing disdain at country folk for celebrating where they live isn’t defending the coasts or city folk; it’s sneering at country folk for the offense of being country folk.

        And just like anyone, I can’t imagine country folk terribly care for being sneered at and stereotyped.

        And while I can’t say that I have a foot in both worlds like James and Chris, I’ve at least got enough experience to know that I’ve never gotten more dirty looks than when I’ve made a minor faux pas in the city, and that I’ve never met folks so interested in learning about where I was from than in Kentucky (both the citified parts and the rural parts).

        I also know that there are very few people who more qualify as part of the “coastal elite” than Bruce Springsteen, who is an extraordinarily wealthy and outspoken liberal who spends the bulk of his time in the NY metro area. So clearly, he’s hated by country folks just for that reason. Yup. Hated so much that a country song titled “Springsteen” paying tribute to him . . . was for a little while the most popular country song in America.

        Meanwhile, I used to regularly see the following bumper sticker in and around the coasts: “Stop Inbreeding….Ban Country Music.”

        There’s nothing wrong with preferring the cities to the country – hell, I prefer the city to the country myself. Rural life’s not exactly easy, either. You sneered the other day at the celebration of what you called rural values such as mechanic skills, manual labor,etc. Well, those types of things are actively important in those parts of the country where you need a car to get anywhere and do anything and where the types of employment opportunities are rather limited.

        [Interesting side note – in my extremely limited experience, this dynamic of rural folk being kinder to outsiders than urban cultural elites isn’t limited to the US].Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        You sneered the other day at the celebration of what you called rural values such as mechanic skills, manual labor,etc

        There’s a common theme in post-apocalyptic literature about the hands-on folk surviving and the non-hands-on folk being the first to die.

        That’s no good reason to sneer at the white collar types, and I hope to god no apocalypse actually occurs. But it is good reason to think maybe we should value those folks, and figure out what we have to offer them in case we’re ever in need of their help to survive and rebuild society.Report

      • @james-hanley More than that, trying to discourage folks from having those skills is probably a pretty good way to create a post-apocalyptic world. “No Farms, No Food” may sometimes be an annoying and abused slogan, but it’s also true as far as it goes. All the intellectual achievements in the world mean little without plenty of people who can make them work and keep them maintained (and I’ll be the first to admit I’m not such a person).

        Besides, the more of you folks who can do that sort of thing yourselves, the less people like ND and me need to worry about paying to have someone come in and do that work for us. So, there’s that.Report

      • Avatar Shazbot3 says:

        Having lived in a town of about 1000 for much of my life, in rural Western Canada, I can tell you that ruralia is more homophobic, sexist, racist, small-minded, and anti-science than cities, especially liberal cities. There is also widespread cultural malaise, obesity, depression, etc. In this sense, these rural, small-town places are objectively worse places to live than where there is less of each of these attitudes.

        The statistics about people’s attitudes (let’s not cite here) say much the same is true of the South and Texas in the aggregate. Yes, not all Texans are depressed, small-minded, obese, racist folks. We’re talking aggregate. And yes, Texas has some nicer enclaves, as anywhere that huge would.

        Given that Texas is in the aggregate worse on these important measures, there is some truth in saying it is a bad place to live and other places are to be preferred. However, it is also true that the gross generalization covers over more than it reveals.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        The urban-rural depression divide, which is in the neighborhood of 1 percentage point (1 percentage point!) disappears when you account for demographics. California has a higher rate of depression than Texas, and Texas and Georgia have rates similar to New York’s. The lowest depression rates are actually in the most flyover of flyover states: Colorado, Montana, Minnesota, Iowa (the Gateway to Illinois!), North Dakota, and Wisconsin, all states with large swaths of nothing (well, in Iowa’s case, of corn).

        Depression is highly correlated with a lack of education, poverty, and poor health, three things that are also highly correlated with each other, and which seem to me like things that should invite compassion (not pity!), and a desire to help and fix the structural conditions that cause them, rather than condescension.

        I fully recognize that the superiority of city life vs. rural life is a matter of preference and temperament. I’m in a city longing for the country, and I know a lot of people in small towns are dying to get the hell out and to the city. And I won’t pretend that the country i a utopia where everyone gets along and the birds land on people’s shoulders and sing them little tunes, but there are problems everywhere. Except the suburbs, of course. Everyone’s happy in the suburbs.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Yeah, I admit it, I ain’t from a small town, but from a suburb.
        That doesn’t mean that I don’t pay attention when you say something,
        or when Mike says something, or when a coworker says something.

        Am I saying because one affluent small town wanted to run out
        anyone remotely different, that any other small town would be like that?
        Nah. If anything, I’d put it under the “rich folks are often assholes.
        particularly when they congregate together.”

        Ruralia is a mixed bag — because it allows for such self-selection.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Now that I think about it, I have no idea what [author]’s politics are, if there are any.

      Nor the slightest concern.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I don’t think there any author politics either.

        I think the image is very cliched though in the way I described above. Beat up pick-up trick, couple just looking for a home in a place that is a new frontier, largely uninhabited, sparse, they both have a hurting past.

        This is not exactly a new image to American pop culture or even sub-culture. You can find love on the margins stories everywhere and they often have this kind of imagery of driving down to Marfa. It is all over from music videos to Sam Shepard plays.

        The real America comment was probably a mistake of mine but one cannot deny this kind of cliched image exists.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Oh, the trope is real, and you see it a lot in a certain breed of pop music, but my impression was simply that they were driving through Texas (particularly with the “pan handle” reference later).Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I guess we will have to disagree. I think she is going for the trope’s imagery.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

      Plus more than 50 percent of Americans live within 50 miles of both oceans

      In Panama, or in Tierra del Fuego?Report

  7. Avatar NewDealer says:

    Now that I googled it, I shouldn’t have guessed Franco because you would have commented that we have a winner.Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:

    George Lucas.Report

  9. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    (Pleasebesarahpalin, pleasebesarahpalin, pleasebesarahpalin….)Report

  10. Avatar zic says:

    I’d go with a computer, too.

    My sweetie’s been working on getting two chatbots to talk to each other; if they avoid the ‘I’m sorry” loops they tend to slip into (chatbots apologize a lot, and it seems to be how they respond when there’s nothing in their conversational database to draw on for responding; first one will apologize, which makes the other apologize and on into infinity.)

    If you can get them conversating, it often looks like this; no sense of anything but literal meaning.Report

  11. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    Mel Gibson.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      Haha… I laughed out loud at that answer. I wish it was Mel Gibson.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Indeed, another excellent but not right guess.

      Here’s a hint: the author is a woman. (But she’s not Sarah Palin, @tod-kelly , sorry; if it had been Ms. Palin, “Marfa” would likely have been “Wasilla” and I doubt Ms. Palin would have coined the jaw-dropping neologism “kismetly” but other than that I expect its content would have been quite similar.)Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        How is kismetly a “Jaw dropping neologism”?
        I know writers who have coined real neologisms,
        and, um, they were a heck of a lot more creative than this.

        To say that, you say that the word pea is a “Jaw-dropping neologism”
        … except pea is more innovative than kismetly.

        Now, I like kismetly — it chinks it chimes, like glass ringing and clanking against glass.
        Musically jangly.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Here I use the phrase “jaw dropping” to indicate my opinion that “kismetly” is an “astonishingly awful, terrible, horrible, lousy, very not good” neologism. If she meant “fatefully” she should have used that word. She might even have got away with “karmically,” although I’m given to understand that “kismet” is closer to the English language concept of “destiny.”Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I think this actually makes sense… “reading a clock and by reading it seeing into the future” is how it reads to me. And then the next bit is what was seen.

        It’s nowhere near as weird, ghastly, or morbid as “I’ll suck your bones pretty.” (assuming we’re not talking about sucking a D — which the plural argues against.)Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        @kim As to one of your observations — don’t be so sure.Report

  12. Avatar Kim says:

    The word that sticks in my mind is reared. Is that a synonym of raised? Or is it the past tense of rear?

    I wonder if this poem is supposed to be about sex.

    It seems like a poem that…drifts and flows back. Uncentered.

    The best of it’s lines would be welcome in any poetry journal:

    “…I’ll suck the bones pretty.”
    I like the use of dialect here, though I can’t place it…

    “One honest day up on this freedom pole
    Devils not done digging
    He’s speaking in tongues all along the pan handle
    And this pining erosion is getting dust in
    My eyes”

    If that was the whole poem? I’d love it.
    This just needs some real editing.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      As I wrote in the OP tags, I feel sort of bad about lampooning the poem thus. I suspect it attempts to distill an intense emotional moment in the author’s life which ought not to be lampooned, an intense emotional moment which caused her some public shame as well as some private pain.

      And potentially, the author could develop some real talent with using poetry to express herself. I’m sure that we all wish her well in exploring that path should she choose to do so. Now, whatever potential she might have, and I don’t pretend to be a literary critic, I agree with you that this work lacks focus. In fact, I think that’s something of an understatement.Report

  13. So I lacked the patience to guess and thus clicked on Chris’ link.

    This was approximately my reaction:

    Ok, I’ll admit – I was really just looking for any sort of pretext to post that.Report

  14. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    I just looked, and… Wow.

    I’ll say this: “kismetly” has a certain old-timey charm coming from a person of that age (sorry to sgive another slight hint. Like she hangs out with a lot of early-boomer proto-hippies or something (which I imagine is entirely possible).Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      Oh, this isn’t Monday Trivia, there’s no structure here. Just leave enough room for people who want to play the game to do so — and I thought it might actually help appreciation and evaluation of the poem to not know the poet’s identity.Report

  15. Avatar zic says:

    On re-reading, it sounds like shooting up in a boarded-up building by the light of a cell phone.

    An addicts loving tribute to the needle.Report

    • Avatar zic says:

      I should say smoking, heroin, not shooting up.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I dunno, you could be onto something with the needle…

        Your nature perforated the abrasive organ pumps perforated=punctured, remember the heart is a wiffle ball here, and a freedom pole could be a needle

        Spray painted everything known to man,
        Stream rushed through and all out into
        – arterial/blood imagery?

        All of the fire/flame stuff could be cooking the spoon.

        You know, I’m not going to say this is GOOD by a long shot; but the more I read it, the less I hate it.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I actually feel the same way. If you throw out some of the obvious issues… her weird use of “ubiquitous,” some of the rhyming and structure… it’s really not terrible. I mean, it’s not what you’d want from a professional poet, but as a first draft by a student, I’d probably be pretty happy with it, were I a professor of poetry/writing. I’d make a bunch of suggestions, but still.

        It took me a few readings to get to that point, though, because some of it is pretty bad (the neon on black image, for example), and “kismetly” is distracting enough to throw you off for the rest of the poem.

        In one of the links I posted above, there’s a UCLA poetry professor commenting on it, and he’s with us.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        Perforation is also they way they say things like “punctured” (or “torn,” etc. – any kind of unwelcome hole) in the doctor-world, I think. So if you’re talking hearts it’s not like it’s some bizarre or pretentious usage. (Maybe you were taking that for granted.)Report

  16. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    I googled it. Should I know who that person is?Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      If you had teenagers in your home, you would know who she is. She is the star of the movie version of the popular teenage romance books about vampires and werewolves.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        I have a teenager (until his next birthday) in my home during summer vacation, but he’s not a big supernatural romance fan.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        She was also in a piss poor adaptation of On the Road as the wife of Neal Cassidy/Dean MoriartyReport

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        My wife was induced to watch those awful, awful vampire / werewolf / teen romance movies by a friend. So I caught bits and pieces of them contaminating my television, maybe an hour and half’s worth of screen time spread out amongst the four? five? wretched movies and after about ten minutes of horrid dialogue each time I would commence mocking the characters mercilessly.

        Point is, not once did I see her smile. She bit her own lip a lot and looked pensive a lot but not even when she was with either the hot werewolf boy or the hot vampire boy did she seem to be either in love or enjoying their company. If she was trying to convey “I’m trying very hard not to project any emotion to anyone” she succeeded. I also didn’t see On The Road and had little desire to since it seems to me the right way to get On The Road is to read it, all in one sitting, a continuous stream, as on the large roll of paper upon which it was originally written. But I did see a preview, and at least Ms. Stewart was smiling in it as she had fun and danced.

        She looks quite pretty when she smiles. I’d suggest she do it more often.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew says:


        When she smiles on screen (and, I rather imagine, off) it’s almost like she immediately catches and rebukes herself for allowing a ray of sunshine to break through the overcast sky of her affected self-loathing and shame-inflected ennui.Report

      • Avatar Patrick says:

        This video is twenty-six minutes long


  17. Every time I re-read it, my brain gets caught on some new horror.

    “I’ll suck the bones pretty” did it this time.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      I know, it’s such a nice horror line.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I’ll say this: I bet none of the youthful love/heroin poems that us folks here wrote got this many comments or rereads. Hell, the only people who read mine were the girls I was trying to impress, and if I could call them up and apologize for making them reading them , I would do so.Report

  18. Avatar NewDealer says:


    My tone has been too strident and you are right that I am judging country people by the idiots. This is wrong. I get defensive over culture issues and my likes are truly not in the main.

    I apologize.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      I apologize for my tone as well. I’m quite certain you and I would get along well in person (you may not feel the same, but I’m older, you should trust me 😉 ), but man do I get bugged by people in either of the world’s in which I have a foot looking down on people in the other world, particularly if they have little or no exposure to the other world. It drives me crazy. The only people whom it is OK to make fun of without having much experience with them is the French. Everyone knows that.Report

  19. Avatar NewDealer says:

    @james-hanley @mark-thompson

    The city and country fight is nothing new. William Jennings Bryan made it a left-wing issue in the 1896 Presidential campaign or being pro-country as being a left-populist idea.

    I didn’t mean to sneer at country/manual labor skills and values. I did not include farming in my swipe. My swipe last week was mainly at suburban or exurban macho guys who pretend to be country and think that real men know how to do things like fix a 1968 Chevy. This is not a skill that is going to help anyone in the probably not-happening apocalypse.

    Generally political arguments based on imaginary events are silly. Could I be of short order and low skill in a zombie apocalypse or some other apocalypse? Sure. What are the chances of this happening, not much as far as I can tell. I feel the same way when people on the environmental left talk about resource wars in 2150.

    I generally think that in American Culture War politics one is supposed to down play intellectual and artistic accomplishments over physical ones because intellectual and artistic accomplishments are perceived as making you elite somehow because it involves education. I am tired of this and push back against it.Report

    • Avatar James Hanley says:

      things like fix a 1968 Chevy. This is not a skill that is going to help anyone in the probably not-happening apocalypse.

      Actually that will be a skill, because a 1968 car will be pre-electronic, and you’ll actually be able to run it.

      Of course true apocalypse is unlikely, but far from impossible. An EMP is, as I understand, a real possibility. The Yellowstone supervolcano is solidly within its historical window for a major eruption (although it’s a big window, in human terms), and a serious asteroid strike is a certainty over a long enough time frame.

      On a smaller scale, people with practical know how are invaluable after natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards and earthquakes. A person who’s comfortable with a chain saw, or who knows how to find the gas shutoff valve, or how to construct shelter can make your post-disaster experience a whole lot better.

      I agree it’s not about masculinity. Women can be good at all that, too, and it’s not unmanly not to be. But it’s valuable to have at least a modicum of those skills.

      Saves money, too. I had a quote last year for $1800 or so to fix a rotted foundation beam on my house. A friend and I ended up doing it for less than $10, including materials and house jack rental. And the sense of accomplishment can’t be bought at any price. Not that I try to do everything myself, but it’s a good feeling to know that if a tornado wrecks my neighborhood, I’ll be the guy cutting through the wreckage with a chain saw to get people out and giving them basic first aid.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        +1 on fixing pre-digital engines; an alternator that functions and a good battery are pretty nice to have in the Chevy, though.

        But the benefits of mechanics extend beyond the car. You can run a short-wave radio on a car battery; you can power other mechanical processes with engines, a particularly valuable skill when physical labor is in short supply.

        Understanding a clutch and transmission? Priceless skills.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Some of the “everybody should fix their own cars” is simply a matter of the bias towards everybody knowing how to do what we (a) know how to do and (b) consider very simple.

        I think everybody should know how to put together a computer. Not useful in the case of an apocalypse, and not particularly masculine, but everybody should all the same. I look at “You mean you pay someone to fix your car?” in that context as much as any other.Report

      • @james-hanley Thanks for pointing out the natural disasters bit. I forgot to mention that.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:


        Excellent points.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        Will, with m brother’s help I once replaced the hard drive on my computer. A surprisingly simple task, but one I never would have attempted on my own and still don’t want to repeat. The thought of screwing up that senditive electronic device gave me the sweats.

        But I have no qualms about rewiring my house, and my brother wouldn’t have any idea where to begin. It’s good that we are good at different things, even if, as you say (if I may extrapolate), we tend to think our own know-hows are what everyone should be able to do, because then we can help each other out.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        You can run a short-wave radio on knitting needles and coconuts, if you don’t mind destroying your acting career.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        @mike-schilling I would knit with the needles and cook with the coconut, but I never had an acting career to destroy. The shortwave radio does require both a power source, so there’s this:

      • Avatar Kim says:

        I totally agree with putting together a computer. That’s easy as pie.

        It’s a lot less nervewracking with a static strip — though most pros I’ve talked to
        just put everything in without it (except the memory, which can be sensitive).
        Also, it really, really helps if you get a good case (with room to work).Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      For what it’s worth, I have more in common with city mice than I do with country mice. I have a college degree and though it’s in a technical field my education – and perhaps as importantly my favorite part of my college education – went beyond that. I don’t drive a pickup, I don’t wear cowboy boots, and I pay somebody to change the oil on my car. The vast majority of the time I don’t speak with an accent and in fact tend to speak with longer and more precise language.

      I’m not going to say that I ever felt at home in ruralia, but I will say that despite all of the above I was rarely treated poorly. I’m not going to get into Who’s More Sneering Than Who debate, but I will say that the fact that I was from the South incited more commentary in the Pacific Northwest than anything biographical (from the city, college degree, interested in this but not that) did in the Mountain West. But seriously, it was mostly a non-issue in both places.

      It probably would have been different if I’d gone to PNW and talked to everyone like they were perfumed effetes, or if I’d moved to ruralia and actually acted superior. But that’s a choice.

      A whole lot of the sneer-talk is really just talking. People like where they’re from, they don’t like other people not liking where they’re from. Throw in some cultural differences and a comparative lack of taboo about what you can say about one another and you get a whole lot of talk. It’s not always pretty. It is pretty bilateral, but when you get down to it most people on both sides of the divide are pretty fundamentally decent across cultural lines (insofar as people in general are decent).Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        “A whole lot of the sneer-talk is really just talking. People like where they’re from, they don’t like other people not liking where they’re from. Throw in some cultural differences and a comparative lack of taboo about what you can say about one another and you get a whole lot of talk. It’s not always pretty. It is pretty bilateral, but when you get down to it most people on both sides of the divide are pretty fundamentally decent across cultural lines (insofar as people in general are decent).”

        I concur with this.Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        I live in Vacationland, and in a resort town. It’s also on the edge of the Northern Forest, which people all over the country think they a say in managing for their personal recreation, even though it’s a working forest except for a few small patches of protected wilderness.

        In general, I see people being pretty easy at crossing the tall city/wide country divide right up to that edge of land use and income. From my perspective, I’ve seen city people come and get all huffy about clear cuts, etc., while standing in their expensive down-hill ski gear, getting ready to go take a couple of runs on some on one of the local mountains where the trails are maintained clear cuts. (Vermont’s pretty much a clear cut, too.) Similar problems with access to Maine’s 3,000 miles of ocean frontage; privately owned, demanded for public use, and the local fishermen are being squeezed out in the process.

        I don’t know how to create a social expectation that one should pause and consider there might be a lot you don’t know about another place, and that it’s good to ask what people think instead of casting judgment on them. Because it’s darn easy to look at Vermont’s rolling green hills and see farms, not clearcut forest.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        all I can say is that when I see clearcut while out hiking (last seen when I was hiking out to a ghost town), I think of the erosion, and my heart hurts a bit.
        There’s no need for us to deliberately impoverish ourselves to the level of Europe’s soil
        (not that I’m saying farming is impoverishing — farming is using our wealth. clearcutting seems like throwing our wealth away).Report

      • Avatar zic says:

        It is heart breaking, but it really depends on how it’s done and the species of trees. And the messier it is; the more slash (that’s limbs trimmed off the tree) left on the ground, the better it is.

        But here’s the difficult part to grasp: the worst practice for controlling erosion is repeated access year after year; so one clear cut may be less likely to cause problems then a little bit of selective harvesting with heavy machinery every year.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Thanks! I’m always glad to learn something about forestry.Report

    • A few points:
      1. I think you need to provide an example of culture requiring people to downplay intellectual accomplishments.

      2. Thus far, the times you have cited to a supposed example of this, it’s just been people celebrating where they’re actually from or places they’ve actually been. That’s not any kind of an attack on urban lifestyle, and can’t possibly be conceived as such.

      3. You’re so insistent that rural folks* are contemptuous of city folks, but you’ve so obviously never actually spent any meaningful time in rural America. When people who are familiar with those areas – and specifically two people with culturally liberal leanings with ties to the cities – contradict you, you double down rather than acknowledging that you haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about.

      4. As for whether culture war politics requires downplaying intellectual and artistic accomplishments, and particularly urban accomplishments…..seriously? American culture is the world’s dominant culture – indeed, culture could be viewed as our primary export – and is consumed heavily in every part of the country. And that culture is almost wholly dominated by New York and Los Angeles. Conor Friedersdorf had a post a couple of years ago pointing out that the overwhelming majority of network television isn’t just produced in New York and California, it’s also set in New York or California. It’s only in the last year or two that rural culture has been prominently featured in our national culture – and in some cases I’m not sure if the reason it’s being featured is more to throw rural America a bone or to give urban America some rubes to laugh at. Indeed, as much as I despise all the “Real America” talk, the reality is that a good chunk of it indeed stems from resentment that American culture is indeed so wholly dominated by just a couple of coastal areas. I strongly suspect that this is a big part of why there was so much of a backlash against A&E for suspending Duck Dynasty – while a good chunk of it was surely conservatives just trying to justify homophobia, I suspect no small part of it also stemmed from a sense that one of the only things in American national culture that they could claim as theirs was about to be taken from them.

      Outside of that, yes our culture celebrates sports more than musicals. So what? That’s not a rural/urban thing, and it’s not an intellectual/anti-intellectual thing, either. One can love sports and still like the theater – they’re not mutually exclusive. But all it takes to play most sports is a ball and a friend, and physical activity releases adrenaline in a way that acting cannot (“runner’s high” is a real thing). And the emotional drama of watching events that are different every time, which are always unpredictable, and whose emotions are very, very real – and being able to do so for free, from the comfort of your own home, whenever you want – well, that’s a competitive advantage if you want to insist that there’s a competition (and there’s not, since they’re far, far from mutually exclusive). Liking sports isn’t anti-intellectualism – it’s just liking sports, no more and no less.

      *well, now you’re saying it’s suburban and exurban folks, but as one who knows the suburbs and exurbs plenty well, I can say for certain that you’re even further off base with that claim, since the first thing people from the suburbs usually say when asked where they’re from is “just outside of [insert nearest big city], and folks from the exurbs like to frequently say that they’re from “between [city A] and [city B].” As Will Truman has pointed out several times on this site, the suburbs and exurbs are the main battleground in the Culture Wars.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I don’t recall ever having to hide intelligence or education anywhere, city, small town, suburbia, or country, but I do know that my now atrophied Middle Tennessee accent earned me the nickname “The Redneck” in college (in Kentucky! because a lot of students were from Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio), and more than a little condescension.

        One of my most vivid memories from my freshman year is of being laughed at in a sociology class because I said I was from Nashville with a heavy accent (hell, I didn’t think I had an accent, because where I was from, everyone talked that way). Thank god I didn’t have an Appalachian accent.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I was once tagged for acting hoity-toity because of the complex way I sometimes talk. It was by an eventual friend, which he commented about after we had become friends. Along the lines of “You know, Will, I didn’t like you at first because you were just full of ten-dollar words. But you’re actually a pretty okay guy.” That was (red state) blue collar suburbia, though, and not ruralia. I ended up taking that message to heart and modifying my language complexity to match those I am around. That could be construed as “hiding my intelligence” if you tilt your head a bit and look at it a particular way.

        I’ve never felt any need to hide the fact that I have a college degree, or to act like I know less than I know (other than deference… someone is saying something that is wrong, but there’s just no percentage in correcting them).

        I tend to keep my accent subdued, most of the time, unless I am drunk or nervous. I’ve only once been mocked for having one – to the extent that I do – and that was by someone in the South.

        The biggest thing about when I moved to the PNW was when people would ask me where I’m from and I would reply, they thought it was funny to say “Oh, man, I’m sorry…” I got that a few times. My wife seems to attract similar things more than I do. She has no accent at all, and so when people find out where she is from, as she describes it “They act surprised that I have only one head and no green scales.” This didn’t just happen in PNW, though it happened more frequently there than elsewhere. (And Boise, it happened quite a bit in Boise, where a lot of people think of themselves as being like Seattle and Portland.)Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

        (And Boise, it happened quite a bit in Boise, where a lot of people think of themselves as being like Seattle and Portland.)

        Well, yes. Boise has about as many Mormons as Seattle and Portland combined, so it’s very much like them.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I don’t know if I can provide anything beyond anecdotes but there are plenty of movies where the city people get taught about “real life” and learn the morals of where the country is where it is at. This can range from the original Mr. Deeds Goes to Town to Doc Hollywood to there was another recent rom com about a city girl learning that real men were small town types. I can’t remember the name.

        There is also the fact that liberal arts and humanities types tend to be the constant but of jokes on a “buck fifty and an English degree get you a cup of coffee” When was the last time you recall a character in fiction being more attractive because of their knowledge on art and literature?

        More anecdotal examples, I’ve overheard several people in San Francisco and New York who came from more rural/red state areas. They decried the conservative politics of their hometown but said they missed the country because country people were “real people”. What makes country people “real people” more than city people? What about city/suburban people who like cities as “unreal”?

        I don’t buy the whole “down home” view of the rural life as being necessarily true and part of this could be as Will noted above that I am a third generation NYC-metro area American. I find rural settings can be pretty but I don’t see it as being more real than people who prefer Brooklyn Brownstones.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Dude, chill. Nobody here has defended the “more real” trope, ok?

        And if we want to compare movies, I’ll give you all the ones that emphasize dumb yokels and inbred country folk, from Deliverance to Harold and Kumar.Report

      • @newdealer Thing is, it’s easy to recall the movies that proclaim the virtues of rural life because they are far and away the exception rather than the rule – in reality, in the bulk of movies, rural life doesn’t even exist at all (which is what it is – people write about what they know andmake movies about what they know). And, well, Doc Hollywood is a relatively obscure movie. Deliverance was nominated for a bunch of Oscars and is considered one of the 100 best movies of all time. There’s also surely no shortage of movies where rural America is a punchline that is in the movie for nothing but comic relief.

        And while I’m not a fan of the phrase “real people,” it’s worth emphasizing that your reference point is friends who actually moved to the city and (presumably) spent significant time there while struggling to fit in. The reference point isn’t people who are just going by stereotypes. It’s worth asking what about SF made it difficult for them to fit in. I can’t pretend to know about SF, but I do know that I’ve encountered more than my share of plastic smiles in NYC and DC. And while I generally love the way that places like NYC and Philly (and NJ, for that matter) have earned their reputation for being tough, stoic, and hard-nosed, the hyper-speed and competitiveness of big cities in the Northeast isn’t particularly conducive to friendliness and warmth.

        Finally, although I agree that liberal arts degrees are generally underappreciated in national discourse, it’s worth emphasizing that this isn’t an issue of rural versus urban, nor even liberal versus conservative or anything else really with the culture wars. I mean, Newt Gingrich’s background is as a history professor! Instead, it’s a function of the fairly logical (but IMHO, somewhat misguided) belief that the liberal arts don’t prepare you for a career and (quite reasonable) belief that college is an expensive investment and thus is a big waste of money if it doesn’t prepare you for a career where you can make significantly more money than you would without going to college.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        There is also the fact that liberal arts and humanities types tend to be the constant but of jokes on a “buck fifty and an English degree get you a cup of coffee”

        Is being the butt a joke really the worst thing in the world? Hell lawyers and Jeff Foxworthy have a field day making fun of their own.

        The problem with you liberal arts folks is you’re so deep in debt serious you don’t notice whether the joke is funny or not.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        What does a philosophy major do when she gets to work?

        Comments on blogs.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Doc Hollywood is a relatively obscure movie.

        Pixar’s remake is much better-known.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        You might find a bit of resistance to folks going to college…
        but that’s mostly from parents who have seen people leave and not come back.
        (and a lot of the people I’ve seen doing farming have college degrees.
        Heck, a lot of them used to be college professors. Note: yes, this is biased.
        I very much have a tendency to buy from scientifically minded farmers.)Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        As to hiding intelligence — I got that at work. Apparently it’s confusing to use ten-dollar words, even if they’re accurate (like kerfluffle. i don’t know how you express that in another single word — it’s economical).Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      I generally think that in American Culture War politics one is supposed to down play intellectual and artistic accomplishments over physical ones because intellectual and artistic accomplishments are perceived as making you elite somehow because it involves education. I am tired of this and push back against it.

      This is a little like saying that, “in Los Angeles gang wars, gang members wear red to signal their affiliation with the Bloods.” It’s true, but you’re pretending that there is not another side.

      Sure there is sneering coming from the rural areas and those claiming to represent the “real” America, but there is also plenty of sneering coming back from coastal enclaves as well.

      I know people who place an awful lot of value on the brand and size of a man’s pickup truck and I know people who conspicuously mention that they don’t like sports whenever they get the chance. It’s all status-signalling and I’m not sure that, on the whole, one is worse or more annoying than the other.Report

  20. Avatar NewDealer says:


    Slight point on the city people comment but I do also know plenty of people who fled their small towns for the city (NYC and SF) and refuse because here they can find their tribes instead of being the one gay kid, or artsy kid, or physically disabled kid, or atheist kid, or other non-conformist who stuck up and was beaten down and beaten down hard for it. Cities allow people to find their tribes. My friend J refuses to return to his rural Michigan hometown for these reasons. He has no love of small town life despite being from there.

    So there might be some warmth in small towns that is contrary to the hard charged nature of NYC but there is not as much of an ability for the different to find their place and small towns have strong enforcement mechanisms against dissent. In his original comments, Chris did not exactly say that these people were super-enlightened politically and did admit that the would hate Michelle Obama because she is married to a Democrat and Democrat’s suck.

    So small town’s can be friendly if they perceive of you as someone who fits into their norm but I question if they are if you don’t fit in that norm.Report

    • Avatar Chris says:

      There are Democrats in small towns. Fewer of them in cities, but they’re there.

      And of course there is less diversity where there are fewer people. On the other hand, it’s easy to get lost in the big city (I don’t mean not being able to find a physical place). Like I said somewhere up there, it’s a matter of preference and temperament. Small towns are for some people, and not for others. Same with cities.

      I’m glad I grew up in a small town, with two creeks in the backyard, woods all around, farms, wildlife, and such. I miss that, and I miss the friendliness (Austin is not a friendly city, though San Antonio, which is bigger, is remarkably friendly), and I miss being able to see the stars and hear the wind in the trees instead of drowning in a sea of light and noise pollution. But I like things about cities as well, like the nightlife, the diversity, and the restaurants (though man, this town is in desperate need of some southern food). So I get both worlds, and I get the people who choose to live in them. Well, for the most part.



    • Ugh. No one is arguing that small town America doesn’t have more than its share of problems. You’re moving the goalposts now.

      As for the point about Michelle Obama – do you not honestly think that you’d get exactly that same reaction in most of our major cities if it were a Republican First Lady? And how politically enlightened do you really think most people in the cities are? The reality is that most people in most places have bigger things on their mind than taking the time required to become politically enlightened.

      Look, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use “elitist” as a slur for anyone who likes wine instead of beer, prefers the theater to sports, etc. I have however heard it frequently used as a slur for those cultural elites (and there’s a world of difference between being one of the “elite,” which is a good thing, and being an “elitist”) who mock and criticize the culture in the rest of the country even as they isolate themselves from it and know nothing of it. It’s the sneering and the sense of self-superiority that make one an elitist, not the types of stuff they do for pleasure.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

      I agree that ND is moving goalposts. No one is saying small towns are perfect or thst they’re for everyone. But some of us who grow up in ruralia, then move to the city, are happy to move back. I’m one, and I’ve lived in SF and the L.A. suburbs. My friend Jeff grew up on a far in NW Iowa, lived in LA, Minnesota, and Seoul, and now lives in a town of 300 in Iowa. We’re both college profs who don’t get any grief from our neighbors about our education.

      Small town America is changing, too. It will never be as diverse or liberal as cities, but I noticed huge changes from when I left in the late ’80s to when I returned in the early ’00s. Part of it was increased diversity ethnically. My formerly all white country high school has a small number of black students now, kids whose parents moved just outside the city, and still work in the citu, but just far enough outside to put their kids in a rural school district. There was also an influx of South Asian doctors, at least in areas of the Midwest, whose kids go to the local schools, too.

      And while the smaller the town the less likely a gay kid is to have others like him/herself, purely as a function of numbers, acceptance is growing.

      And my small town is very conservative, solidly Republican, but our schools have a very active performing arts program. The newest addition to the high school is a very nice theater, they recently raised the funds for a Steinway grand, and every spring at the all-schools orchestra performance you’d be amazed to see how mamy of our town’s lower income students are learning violin, viola, cello, etc.

      You’re engaging in an awful lot of stereotyping, ND. Of course small town America differs from big city America. But those “refugee” friends of yours? They’re the ones who were least happy there, so you’re going to get just one perspective from them, the one that’s going to be most negative. Have an open mind, like you coastal elites (*grin*) are supposed to have.

      Think about the neighbor who always clears the snow from my 83 year old mom’s driveway and rebuffs any payment. Think of how there’s a guy on my street who runs a snowblower up and down both sides of the block. Think of how my neighbor, a factory worker, leaves his garage unlocked and tells me, “don’t go out and buy that tool, just come over and get mine when you need it.” A guy, by the way, who raves about when he and his wife got to see the Blue Man group.

      There’s also meth, kids at my daughter’s school who think interracial marriage is wrong, and a bit of bias towards outsiders. They’re not perfect; they’re people. But they’re also not stereotypes; they’re people.Report

    • Avatar J@m3z Aitch says:

      Oh, regarding the Michelle Obama bashing…

      Michelle Malkin, who started the snarking about Obama’s ball gown was raised in Pittsburgh and went to Oberlin College. She’s lived in L.A., Seattle, and D.C.

      So perhaps the people you should really be angry at are urban liberal arts types? 😉Report

  21. Avatar NewDealer says:


    Someone needs to be serious or remind people that there are things to be taken seriously. Not everything in life is a joke or to be take facetiously.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      I’m happy to let you take on that role, New Dealer. I know I don’t want it.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:


        This is not to say that there is not a time for humor either or I am opposed to laughter but I often see that too many people have a reaction of snark first and this causes them to miss nuances or facts because it gets in the way of the ability to make a snarky comment.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        You are indeed a paronomastic savantReport

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        “A liberal art’s degree and a buck fiddy will get you a cup of coffee.”

        “Are you saying that to demean me and people who have liberal arts degrees because you sneer at our lifestyles and devalue our personal achievements, or are you just making a lighthearted joke which isn’t at anyone’s expense?”

        “Uhhh….. What?”

        Sure, some humor can be offensive but not necessarily for lack of seriousness about the topic. They’re offensive because some people think you shouldn’t make jokes about those topics. It seems to me people can take an issue seriously and make jokes about it. Why couldn’t they?

        Now, ridicule is another story. Do you view every joke about liberal arts degrees as expressing ridicule?

        And why do you think liberal arts degrees are topic of such grave importance that jokes can’t be made about those degrees or people who have them? You act as if you think there’s something at stake here, something of vital importance. What is it? I’m just not seeing it.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Piling on with Stillwater a little:
        The more you bitch about liberal arts mockery, while you let Anti-semitic mockery of Jews stand unmolested, the worse you look.
        (Don’t look at me, I’ll laugh at Hitler jokes).Report

  22. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    And Boise, it happened quite a bit in Boise, where a lot of people think of themselves as being like Seattle and Portland.

    My sister married a guy from Boise she met at college in Walla Walla, then moved to Portland with him and lived there for four years before moving back to the midwest and then south. Judging by his demeanor (he’s a guy who wears his feelings pretty much on his sleeve), the first three places were all of a piece, and he was fully at home (sort of the same home) in any of them; then moving to Indiana was a pretty big trauma. Being that his family is from Boise and Indiana’s a lot further from there than either of the other two, i do understand that completely. It was still pretty striking the way he regarded all three places in the northwest as basically same-same. I have no such equanimity regarding, say, Madison, the Twin Cities, Milwaukee and Chicago. Each one of those upper-midwest cities, all on a fairly narrow & short NW-SE axis, is entirely its own thing for me. To say nothing of New York, the only other place I’ve lived. (Although there are ways I can relate New York to Madison, or Minneapolis to Chicago, Madison to St. Paul, etc, of course…).

    (I haven’t lived in Milwaukee… just throwing that in bc I’m reasonably familiar with it.)Report

  23. Avatar Kim says:


    Okay, this is explicitly not the town I was referencing earlier — that’s personal, and around here we’re allowed to keep those names to ourselves.


    I could list a bit more on Hanover, but, I think you get the picture.
    (Also: PA is the heartland of the current KKK).

    [This is not at all to suggest that evil folks don’t hang in cities.
    A friend of a friend had an awful
    lot to say about white power militias in Detroit trying to recruit him…]Report

  24. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Honestly, I can’t tell the difference between this and Ginsberg. And I don’t mean that as praise of this.Report