A Quick Point



Not speaking of myself or anyone else here: do you know what the big problem is with this line of attack?

The same problem there is with this one.


The last place to talk about reflexive devotion to the family you were born with, the town you grew up in or the person you’re expected to marry, for the love of your scowling ancestors.

We’re restless. We’re ornery progress junkies. And for every “Small Town,” there are the entire careers of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seager and everyone else who couldn’t wait to get out, change names, and define their own weird lives. Many of us do, and the rest reserve the right.

So when you preach reflexive debt to anyone with your last name, and stay-local-die-local canton loyalty, you’re preaching to another country.

S’why the wench is dead.

7 thoughts on “A Quick Point”

  1. If I’m following you correctly, you’re saying that the stay-local-die-local mentality is essentially unamerican. Well, that’s an argument to be made, but for a large portion of America it’s the way they live their lives.

    Sure, some of the people I know made it out of my hometown, but most didn’t, and half the people who left moved all of 20 miles down the road to the next town over. The smart money has them coming back when they have kids, if only for the free childcare.

    And yes, for every “Small Town” there’s a Bruce Springsteen. But for every Bruce Springsteen there’s 10,000 people in the town he left who still look down on him for leaving, and wants to vote for somebody who makes them feel like it’s A Good Thing that they never left, that it’s okay that they took the safe road instead of taking a risk.

    What we do have going for us at this point is demographics. If only because of the death of family farms & the concurrent rise in uber-efficient corporate farming, more and more people are living in urban areas – because that’s where the jobs are. It won’t usher in a new era of progressive politics, because most of these people bring their values with them. But here’s hoping it puts an end to the lip service paid to “small town” america.

  2. 1) Tuck: your comments should be an international form of currency.

    2) Dutch: I’m saying even for those many who do not leave, the option to leave and the idea of starting new are basic references of their American identity. I’d bet money that even the lifelong small-towners would pause at saying that their family or friends who have left are traitors or no good. It’s kind of like the classic Liberal frustration that American poor are more reluctant than most to soak the rich, because they dream of being rich themselves. Being ABLE to leave is like being able to get wealthy. Even if they never do, I think most Americans value the right, as a matter of their identity.

    3) From T.S. Eliot, originally from Marlowe: “Thou hast committed/ Fornication: but that was in another country,/ And besides, the wench is dead.”

    It’s pavlovian with me. I can’t ever talk about “other countries” without some wench being dead.

    But the wench here is Sarah Palin.

    Also, the highway picture above is NOT the one I wanted to use. And the picture, an idea in the post, and the wench thing, were all supposed to be a complex shout-out. Mostly to Bama.

  3. @Bizzo: true. they may defend the ability to move; no argument there. And describing their departed children as traitors is probably a bit strong – prodigal sons is more accurate. At least, that’s how I was looked upon when I deigned to attend the local college and went All The Way down to pagan Ohio for schooling – as if there wasn’t a good school right here in Holland!

    By the end of my first semester, parents were spreading rumors that I had been kicked out of Kenyon, that I had a coke problem, that I had gotten a girl pregnant – all because I had succumbed to The Other.

    Or maybe they just didn’t like Ohio.

  4. … yeah, I think that’s kind of a special situation right there.

    What the hell is wrong with you people?

  5. @Bizzo: you didn’t grow up in a small town, did you. Seriously, the cliche’s you see in movies… really aren’t that far off. That, or every screenwriter grew up in West Michigan.

    Our beaches rock, though. You can’t bring booze on em (or buy it on a Sunday – unless the ballot initiative passes today!) but when you’re twelve, that doesn’t really matter.

    Incidentally, I’d say the only place you could get alcohol on a Sunday in Ottawa County is in church, but most churches moved to grape juice long ago, because drinking is immoral. I wish I were kidding.

    Could be worse, though – the town next door is completely dry. No alcohol sales, ever.

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