Browsing Posts in Culture

Originally written on April 19, 2010

There has been so much discussion, derision and general hoopla concerning the so-called “tea party movement” as of late, I thought I might share some of my insights into this quasi cultural phenomenon.

Now, when I think of a tea party, the first thing that comes to mind is a few six year old girls sitting around pretending to pour and sip tea, usually with some stuffed animals enjoying the party as well. I suppose when I get into a historical type of mindset, the Boston Tea Party comes to mind; this is the allegorical reference inferred by the modern tea party movement. For a refresher on eighteenth century American history: this was a symbolic act of protest to the unfair taxes levied against the colonists who had no representation or self-determination despite paying these taxes. continue reading…

Love Will Turn You Around

Originally written on April 17, 2010

My first exposure to nascar/stock-car racing came at the age of six. This was when one of the most underrated films ever made, Six Pack, was released. If one does not believe that Kenny Rogers’ striking and moving portrayal of down and out stock-car driver “Brewster Baker” was an awe-inspiring tour-de-force of cinematic history, then perhaps one needs to develop a more articulate cinematic palate such as myself. Aside from this groundbreaking movie, I had never heard of nascar, and for the most part, would have limited knowledge of its existence and surrounding subculture for another fifteen years. continue reading…

 

Originally written on April 15, 2010

At a recent social gathering in Southern Pennsylvania (near my home), I was chatting with an acquaintance from the city who was proclaiming his disdain for all of the Confederate flags being flown in the area. He stated, rather emphatically: I can’t believe there are so many rednecks around here!

Just as he was making his proclamation, a gentleman with what I would call a “mullet to end all mullets” was walking behind him. The mullet-clad gentleman didn’t bat a brow, yet I felt equal parts embarrassment and fall
down hilarity at the statement and the situation.

This got me thinking about my own “redneck” history so to speak. I grew up in Laramie, Wyoming. While being the cultural epoch of Wyoming due to the University residing there, Laramie would definitely be considered redneck territory. In seventh grade, all students were required to take a “Hunter’s Safety” course in which 12 and 13 year-old children were ultimately required to shoot live rounds from .22 caliber rifles in the gymnasium to pass the class. I would assume this class is no longer a requirement of Laramie Junior High School, but it demonstrates a mentality that many would classify as “redneck.” continue reading…

Originally written on April 9, 2010

I’m going to write a terrific article today! And I’m gonna help people! Because I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and, doggonit, people like me!

That, for all of you old enough to remember, is a paraphrasing of the famous Stuart Smalley; played famously of course on SNL (back when it was watch-able) by current Minnesota Senator Al Franken. For some reason or another, I awoke this morning with a bevy of mixed feelings and emotions from a memorable dream, and I thought of that old skit that cracked me up so much as a thirteen-year-old miscreant.

In some ways I can identify with Smalley’s character: an insecure, emotionally devastated wreck of a man who resorts to looking at himself in a mirror repeating hollow twelve-step mantras to make him feel less pathetic. No, I don’t look in the mirror telling myself that; I’m good enough, smart enough and people like me. I know who I am and who I am not. continue reading…

Originally written on March 29, 2010

I have been contemplating my own cultural identity as of late and would like to explore exactly what it is that makes me, or anyone else for that matter, unique from anyone else in the world. I was born and have always lived in the United States. Does that in and of itself represent any sort of cultural significance? I have lived in several states in various regions of the United States. Do these particular regions offer one a unique cultural experience different from any other region or state? I am of mostly Irish-Catholic heritage, have relatives still in Ireland, yet have never been to Ireland and experienced what is unique to their culture. Does that play any role whatsoever in my own cultural schema?

To some extent, I identify myself as “Irish” and would like to think that makes me unique in some ways to someone in the United States who identifies with their Italian, or Polish, or Greek heritage? At the same time, Ireland is overwhelmingly Catholic, a religion that I disassociated myself with many years ago. Is that a subculture in and of itself: anti-catholic Irish Catholic? Perhaps I’m just another middle-aged white American, but is that a distinctive cultural identity in itself? Most white Americans think of Americans of African descent as having a unique cultural bond simply because of color and the uglier aspects of American history, although race is entirely a social construct. We are all inherently human and identical in biological function regardless of nationality or skin tone. continue reading…

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