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Born May 18, 1953; got saved at Truett Memorial BC in Hayesville, NC 1959. On rigged ballot which I did not rig got Most Intellectual class of 71, Gaffney High School. Furman Grad, Sociology major but it was little tougher than Auburn football players had Had three dates with beautiful women the summer of 1978. Did not marry any of em. Never married anybody cause what was available was undesirable and what was desirable was unaffordable. Unlucky in love as they say and even still it is sometimes heartbreaking. Had a Pakistani Jr. Davis Cupper on the Ropes the summer of 84, City Courts, Rome Georgia I've a baby sitter, watched peoples homes while they were away on Vacation. Freelance writer, local consultant, screenwriter, and the best damn substitute teacher of Floyd County Georgia in mid 80's according to an anonymous kid passed me on main street a few years later when I went back to get a sandwich at Schroeders. Had some good moments in Collinsville as well. Ask Casey Mattox at www.clsnet.org if he will be honest about it. I try my best to make it to Bridges BBQ in Shelby NC at least four times a year.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Offscouring: Billy Redden, Peggy Noonan, Nancy Reagan and White Trash

    The last few days on the recommendation of theatlantic.com --check the end of this blog later for link to their review-- I have been reading haphazardly large chunks of the new book White Trash. What follows is a rough free association review.

    Author Nancy Isenberg teaches at LSU and UVA.

     First I think less of Peggy Noonan and Nancy Reagan than I did previously and neither held either one of them in high esteem. Nancy was one of the most shallow pretentious first ladies we've had. Even Betty Ford after Rehab had more virtue than Nancy Reagan. Her Calling the White House a "pigsty" after the Carter administration is beneath contempt. Its Trash like Nancy and the politics of resentment and wedge issues at the expense of noble vision for the working class and working poor of all ethnicities that is the underbelly of American politics that wreaked havoc on the Southern Baptist Convention. Nancy's enchantment with Frank Sinatra, lowlife with a voice, her astrological ways; well own it Trey Gowdy in Sunday School at FBC Spartanburg.

      White Trash covers literature, the Civil War, and words and phrases like white niggers, trailer trash, lintheads, mudsills, briar hoppers, clay eaters,bogtrotters, scalawags, lubbbers, tackies, squatters, swamp people degenerates and many others to denigrate the white poor in American history. Covers white poor in popular culture, movies, books, Elvis Pressley etc. In concludes with a look at the movie Deliverance and what happened to the banjo player in Deliverance, Billy Redden. It has a focus on Dorothy Allison's Bastard out of Carolina set in Greenville SC and a Chute's novel The Beans of Egypt Maine, rough title.

     Let me focus on a few things. Class struggle in America has been the devil's playground in American politics, one of the strong points in the book. In my world my hero Marshall Frady said for all the flaws of the Southern Baptist Convention, its better lights in the 1960s with folks like Foy Valentine, LD Johnson, Marney, Will Campbell and others held a vision for working class whites even lesser marginal to better integrate them into the struggle for a more perfect union. But with the abortion of that leadership with Paul Pressler's right wing politics of resentment, grafted onto the designs and strategies of Lee Atwater, while Billy Graham and now moreso his son Franklin dumbstruck; well we have the charlatan Trey Gowdy and the tea party antics that have us in this brownshirt moment of Bannon and Breitbart's Trump America.

    We have the Ratfucking of America as Daley lays out in his book on gerrymandering. Google the Betrayal of Democracy Review at nybooks.com

    I'm looking forward to see how Joseph Morgan and his Dad "Brother" john navigate that political issue that really matters in the Southern Torch between now and election day.

   For that see my Dad's friend Colin Harris today at ethicsdaily.com

   White Trash has segments on President Carter and his Brother Billy and Roy Blount's book Crackers; makes reference to the Esquire Larry King piece of 1976 "We Aint Trash No More" I remember reading in the Gaffney SC library that year.

       These bromides could go on for some time.

       Couple resolutions. Isenberg  doesn't do Faulkner justice. Faulkner was more than the corn cob rape of Temple Drake. He was also the Old Testament wisdom writer of our "gross and simple human hearts."

   And Isenberg doesn't include Robert Penn Warren's  story of Jedediah Tewksbury in her literary review.  In a Place to Come To The Latin Scholar of the 40s who goes to Vanderbilt and University of Chicago where he entertains his new elite friends with the story of how his big peckered drunken Father in Dugton, Alabama is killed when he pisses on the asses of his horses, the carriage rears up and the Daddy killed in the middle of town.

    After several tellings, his last time a cynical and hardened class challenged Jed tells his shallow friends: Why don't one of you goddamned fuckers tell us a story about your Daddy!

      Southern Literature has had a rough couple years with White Trash on the heels of Paul Theroux's chapter on it's "fantastification."

      But Lee Smith rounds off many of the edges, shows more virtue in her Dimestore memoir and tribute to Ralph Stanley, in one Chapter than Isenberg in the whole book; while my friend Ron Rash tells more in one sentence from the World Made Straight--"Smarts like yours just didn't spring up like a daisy in bunch of Hogweed"--than White Trash does in several chapters. Nancy Isenberg mentions the columnist Kathleen Parker. She interviewed Rash before the first Obama election. White Trash with all its digging missed that one.

     Interesting  book. I don't have a chip on my shoulder  about the title --though I have episodically over the years ; as Frady said a good many Baptists are a little more status challenged,  less class on the whole than the Methodists and the Uptown Presbyterians.  Offscouring, never saw that word in all my life until it stood out in a second viewing of the Winslet/Winterbottom movie of Thomas Hardy's Jude. Second registry was in this book.  May have that as a reading in my funeral when I go. Lamentations 3:45

      I heard Carlyle Marney speak at Limestone College in Gaffney SC in the spring of 78. He was talking about integrity. He told a group of preachers they knew where it was, in the faces of the devout that set in front of them every Sunday in their congregations. I understood what he was talking about.

    White Trash missed the point. Bible Says we are all The Lowlife yearning for the Grace of God.

  Atlantic review

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/09/the-original-underclass/492731/

Update, Friday August 26. I read the concluding chapter of White Trash last night. Isenberg does outstanding job there of how politicians have played this group historically to the detriment of a more perfect union. I just wish she had done a couple pages on Atwater's memo to the Reagan Bush Committee where he called the "white Populists" the trump card in the game of politics in the South, and his earlier "nigger memo" Wuthnow explores in Rough Country.

  

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