quote: One evening I missed my turn on Charlotte Street and kept on driving out College, through the tunnel, and into a whole different Asheville.
This was the land of Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Don Pablo’s and Wal-Mart. Gone were the refugees from Haight-Ashbury and the Friends of Bill we saw all over downtown. Suddenly we were among mountain people. Folks who think roadkill is how you get dinner if you’re a bad shot, who’d rally to a “Don’t Tread On Me” rattlesnake flag, who are still angry over how the Whiskey Rebellion turned out. Families that are watchful in the Wal-Mart parking lot because they’ve got a couple of feuds still a-simmerin’.
In short, Carolina Republican country.
You know, displaced Rhino readers. (Them as can read, anyway.)
That was a joke, folks. Please don’t put nothin’ scary in my mailbox.
What's wrong Mr. Card? Couldn't find a good way to get the word slack-jawed in there? Did in-bred not fit the meter of your story?
Yessiree, roadkill possum, yum yum. I guess none of us hillbillies have the book-learnin' to read your articles.
Yep, just joking, just joking. What's the follow up, an Amos and Andry retread at the NAACP meeting? Pollock jokes at the Warsaw Diner?
It's all in good fun, right? Wink wink, nudge nudge.
Posts: 2848 | Registered: Feb 2003
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It was just a joke, people! I think it's hilarious when people stereotype Canadians as raw-seal-eating, polar-bear-hunting eskimos. Ease down; humor is not a sombre issue.
Posts: 165 | Registered: Apr 2004
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ok first off, the scary part of asheville is 180 degrees from where he's talking about (although that area is getting rediculously full of chain, mall, and big-box stores), and second off, if he things that greensboro is somehow less infested with white trash he's not paying attention. at least in the mountains there's a few remnants of appalachain culture; the piedmont is just plain trailer trash. third off, those "haight ashbury" refugees happen to be the kids of them thar hills.
god, this is so incredibly aggravating. almost as bad as the bit about homosexuals...
Posts: 380 | Registered: Mar 2003
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Heh, whoa, Porce and AJ. I'm just mocking Sopwith in a sly and cunning manner. OSC resorted to a generalization, but the guy's fury over it is well worth teasing.
Posts: 3293 | Registered: Jul 2002
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What ticked me off about this was the praise lauded upon Asheville as something of a shining spot and then a backhanded slap at the folks who make up that region.
Mr. Card had driven outside of the Bohemian part of Asheville and was struck by the mundane nature of the area's inhabitants as if they had dared not to live up to his expectations.
I mean, sheesh, Taco Bell, Wal-Mart, gas stations, possibly even a McDonalds all sitting in this little wonderland of the arts and creativity.
With the picture book illusions gone, it just seemed that he was easy to slap a stereotypes onto a people because they didn't live up to some heroic ideal. Hey they couldn't just be normal folks who want to grab a quick taco on the way home for work or buy some cheap tennis shoes to wear while mowing their yards. He had to turn these folks, my folks, into as someone put it "white trash."
Perhaps I should talk about the real story of Asheville. The one about when the Great Depression hit, how the city had the highest per capita civic debt level in the nation. And how, in the face of that grim specter they didn't roll over and default on their debts like so many other cities did. How they paid off every last red cent.
And how they missed out on the "urban revitalization" efforts of the 1960s and 70s because they were still paying off that debt. You see, that commitment to paying off the debt is what saved so many of the old buildings. They couldn't afford new, so they made do with the old. And somewhere, along the way, these inbred hicks preserved a small, but beautiful city.
And it wasn't the artists that did it... they came much later. It wasn't the handful of writers the area has produced or attracted. It wasn't even the Biltmores. It was just plain ol' honest folks breaking their backs to work for a better day.
And now, because they have the audacity to have a Wal-Mart or an old car, or wear a Lynyrd Skynyrd T-shirt once in a while, they're just a bunch of closet hicks. Like Mr. Card had stumbled across Buncombe County's dirty little secret.
Mr. Card, the vast majority of mountain roadkill is caused by snooty tourists who can't see what's on the road because there's a blind spot right in front of an indignantly raised nose.
Sopwith, just remember that it takes time to understand others, and for most people it's easier to judge on appearance alone. Since we moved to Louisville, I've heard tons of hillbilly jokes from my family, who live a whopping 2 hours away in Indiana!
Actually, those comments do seem weirdly out of character for Card. I mean, I remember very clearly when we were less snooty and ate at McDonald's all the time. We were poor and not very picky, but that didn't make us any less cultured or more likely to eat possum. Strange that it has become so foreign to him now, and that he would make fun of people raised in the rural South so soon after his son married into a rural Southern family.
The only explanation I can think of is that he meant it entirely as a joke that everyone would laugh with, and that it doesn't reflect his true attitude. But he may have missed the mark ... I mean, I always give him the benefit of the doubt, and that quote is downright surprisingly rude.
Of course, I didn't read the whole article when it came out, so maybe there are mitigating factors I'm missing.
Posts: 1907 | Registered: Feb 2000
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I used to think that some of the scariest people I ever came across lived in the desert in Arizona, on the beaches of California and in the Ozarks of Missouri. A wonderful combination of states I grew up in, don't you agree? Moving back and forth between these states as I did not only opened my eyes, it also opened my eyes.
With eyes wide opened I moved to North Carolina. As an adult, I cried, literally cried, knowing that I'd finally moved to the original wierdville. I missed the normal strange people that I grew up with.
The moral as you know...wierd people are everywhere.
I must say that it IS rather annoying to be painted with the hillbilly brush. People from Appalachia are still some of the most blatantly discriminated against people in America.
And, yeah, there are scary people, ignorant people, everywhere.
On a recent trip to a bike trail in southwest Virginia, we met a family from Asheville on the trail. We had a nice chat, and a pleasant one. The lady told us a story about a doctor who rode his bike in a certain area outlying Asheville (this in itself is a feat, because that area is VERY hilly, with climbs that would slay most non-pro cyclists).
Seems a pickup truck tried to run him off the road. He recovered, managing not to go hurtling into a ravine. The truck *turned around* and this time DID run him into a ditch. But he got the tag number. The woman was charged. Her husband then caught the doctor in the hospital parking lot and beat him.
The woman related this story with the kind of puzzled amazement that accompanies all such stories. It seems so completely stupid and senseless. I guess it goes to show that every place has areas you 'just shouldn't go if you're not from there'. Most of those places in non-urban centers are called 'white trash' areas. When I lived in Chicago, the big one was Cabrini Green, a very rough housing project.
The TRUTH is, sometimes the most dangerous thing a person can be is "Other." When my dad retired from the military, my family moved back to the mountains of East TN, every culturally similar to Asheville, and close by. My folks seemed to fit right back in. They spoke the language. I did not. I made friends with a few other 'transplants' and was considered a snob because I genuinely didn't understand the dialect, sometimes. When I rode my bike around, sometimes kids threw rocks. Somebody told me once that so-and-so's older sister said I was a 'bitch'. I had never met so-and-so, or his older sister, but they knew me. I was practically a foriegner. I was OTHER.
It kills me that people have asssumptions about me when they hear where I was born, when I was never accepted there. I just can't win.
I agree that people with the label "poor white trash" seem to be exempt from any PC protection. It is somehow OK to say terrible things about this group of people who are as deserving of respect as anyone else.
What difference is there between writing those words and referring to the black area of town in disparaging terms? None, in my mind.
And Jebus, I thought your comment was downright mean. If someone is feeling down about something, is it necessary to grind it in?
Posts: 10890 | Registered: May 2003
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Eh, I'm a Republican from rural North Carolina and OSC's editorial doesn't bother me too much. If I thought there was any spite in it then things would be different, but it me it just looks like good-natured ribbing.
Honestly, I'm flabbergasted at the things people get wound up about nowadays. Sticks and stones, folks. (But the Whiskey Rebellion? Don't get me started.)
Posts: 224 | Registered: Aug 2002
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