Wednesday, May 14, 2008


My definition of a redneck is "a man who takes pride in his ignorance."

I based this definition on a man I met in 1977. I got a job at a sawmill in Lee's Ferry, which was about twenty miles out into the woods, outside of Vickburg, Mississippi. They put me on the line and they told me to do whatever Albert said, and he was the dumbest guy I ever met. The first thing he did was double the speed of the line until I got buried in half-sawn boards. Then he would stop the line and help me back on my feet, while the rest of the crew had a good laugh.

After a week of this Albert challenged me to a head-banging contest. I declined, but he said I was chicken, and I figured he would bother me until I said yes. I stalled so I could figure out a way to lose the contest and not get hurt. I knew I better not win, because then Albert would want to do it again. So we started banging our heads together harder and harder. I figured if I hurt myself just bad enough, he would let me lose, and then we wouldn't have to do that again.

The sawmill was in kind of a backwoods situation. It was closed down on the opening day of squirrel hunting season. It actually takes brains to hunt a squirrel -- there's nothing wrong with that.

But I'm talking about Albert -- he was the dumbest man I ever met.

I just remembered this because Hillary Clinton has all the rednecks voting for her. So, if you're ignorant and proud of it, I guess she's your gal.

But I'm voting for the smart guy.

MY CAR. I don't believe in personal attachment to vehicles, but it happened anyway. I love my car. It's a 1993 red Toyota Corolla -- I don't give it a name, I won't go that far, but I have developed quite an attachment.

I bought it four years ago from a man in Bellingham. It cost me $2,900, when the car had 130,000 miles on it.

This Toyota was the first car I ever owned which wasn't a Ford or Chevy, so I was crossing the line.

I basically lived in the Toyota for the next three years -- lived out of it, I mean -- camping and travelling and staying with friends and relatives. We drove all over the country -- to Texas, California, Ohio, and New England -- it was a beautiful car. Back then, in 'o4 and 'o5, gas was cheap and we just flew over the highway

The seats were just right -- I could drive 12 hours at a stretch and my butt would never get sore. Nothing ever broke. I just changed the oil every 3,000 miles. And it looked so pretty when I washed and waxed it.

It's four years later now. The Toyota has 220,00 miles on it. It has a few small dents, it doesn't polish up so well, the upholstery has a few spots and signs of wear, and there's a crack in the windshield -- all these things add up.

But it still runs as good as it ever did, and I still love it. People say a Toyota will go to 300,000 miles easily.

This is pathetic -- writing about my car. I really need a girl friend.

A GOOD-LOOKING NEWSPAPER FOR LACONNER. With all due respect to Alan Pentz, the founder of the Channeltown Press, he published one heck of an ugly newspaper. He had a bitter, black sense of humor and he hated art and poetry -- feared it, actually. The current owners have not been able to revise Pentz's misanthropic vision.

In contrast, the Puget Sound Mail, which is the old, original, and true newspaper for LaConner, has always been as good-looking and as optimistic as the community it served. Previous publishers -- Pat O'Leary, Bonnie McDade, Dick Fallis, and myself -- put out a paper that was bright and cheerful. McDade published a very nice-looking paper in the early 1980's featuring Art Hupy's candid photography. Dick Fallis was short on business sense, but he had some interesting ideas. And Pat O'Leary was an editor and publisher of legendary proportions.

My own effort at the Puget Sound Mail was at least cheerful. And it was good-looking too. Helen Farias was the graphic designer, and she was the best in the Skagit Valley.

A good-looking town like LaConner deserves a good-looking paper with an optimistic outlook.

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