Thursday, July 03, 2008

I love this

It's quiet, no one's stirring yet and I have time to go over lists and just...sit. We've got some gardening and tidying to do out in the yard, and today looks like a perfect day for it. Costco and the Jewels will be getting a decent amount of my money later today; Binny's Beverage Depot already got their cut.

MizBubs got the day off work and she's sleeping in, bless her heart.

I'm about halfway through a really good book: Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War by Joe Bageant. If you liked What's the Matter with Kansas? but wished it had been more brutally direct, or set in Appalachia, then this is the book for you.

The author, Joe Bageant, has a great home page here. You can read some of his essays, pungent little exercises with titles like "The audacity of depression" and "Pissing in the liberal punchbowl again."

The very first thing I ever read by him was this piece:

Welcome to middle class lockdown. Now shut up and buy something.

It opens with this quote:

"Take away America's Wal-Mart junk and cheap electronics and what you have left is a mindless primitive tribe and a gaggle of bullshit artists pretending to lead them."
The instant I saw the term "bullshit artist" I was hooked.

A little farther down I came to this passage, and as someone who is actively contemplating his exit to that imagined simpler, more pastoral life, this really hit me:

Now it took me one helluva long time to claw my redneck self into the middle class and it took me even longer to figure all this out about its inauthenticity. Always one to fuck up right in front of the whole damned world, I loudly declared American middle class life to be a crock of shit and vowed to kiss it off. Go someplace simpler. Run nekkid in the surf in Saint Kitts or smoke pot in Belize. Catch my own damned salmon on the Galician Coast. But whoaaa hoss! This bad news just in: Not only do you have to buy your way into the American middle class through forceful consumption of the lifestyle, but you have to buy your way out of it. I'm serious. Buy your right to live in poverty. Let's say you've managed to get your kids through college one way or another, usually via a second mortgage and loans, and you decide like I did to say: Fuck this. I've done right by my family. Now I've got high blood pressure, a bad back, and a million other stress ailments. I'm overweight and have terrible lungs. Now I want to escape the ever rising cost and stress of playing the game, the grinding chase after enough net worth to feel safe about such things as health care and a safe place to shit. Spend a few years in some warm place blinking at blue, unpolluted sky before I go tits up. To my mind, these are completely understandable sentiments for any reasonable person. But, alas dear hearts, the American middle class is a lockdown facility. One that takes a lot of cash bribes and blackmail payoffs to break out of.

Sorry if that seemed like a little bit of a downer. I didn't mean for it to. I actually find his writing to have a galvanizing effect on me, which I need more often than not. As the holiday approaches we need a Joe Bageant to cut the grease from all the "God bless the USA" we're going to be subjected to for the next couple of days.


Some Guy said...

You sold me! I'll have to pick that one up.

Writeprocrastinator said...

"The instant I saw the term "bullshit artist" I was hooked."

I believe Phillip K. did a book called "Confessions Of A Crap Artist," which leads me to one of my favorite French words- Barjo.

Which was also a decent flick.

Bubs said...

WP, I've never heard of that. Another one for the Netflix queue!

SG, you'll definitely find it a good read.

FranIAm said...

WOW. Just wow.

This is not really a downer Bubs, it is a great post.

Much needed.

Thanks for the info.

Tenacious S said...

Great post! Can't wait to get my hands on that book. My mom spent her childhood in Appalachia, so I am always interested in hearing voices from there.

Anonymous said...

I hope our library will get that book.

Bubs, you and I have been over this, I think. Like the author, MathMan and I opted for what we thought would be the simpler life. Instead we found that having the basics (okay, perhaps we could redefine the basics once the kids are grown and gone, but now? doubtful) cost us a good deal more. Plus the commute is killing us.

Even so, I'd love to have an underground house, a huge garden, some wind and solar generation, a smattering of chickens, goats for lawn mowing and milk and a cow. Ah, to be off the grid would be lovely.

And the credit card companies and banks could go fuck themselves.

Wren said...

Oh, I do like Joe Bageant's writing and his tendency to tell it like it is. One of the essays that really got to me was the one about the "Born Again" novels. Well worth the read, and while there are bits that will make you laugh, there are more that will chill you to the bone. He's a great writer.

Also, can I come to your place for pulled pork sandwiches? Man, that sounds like one tasty holiday meal.