Sunday, November 30, 2008

Looking Back - Hooterville, Four Years Ago - Part 1

I started this blog four years ago.

I didn't start out thinking of myself as a writer. I left college in my first year to go on the road as a musician; I took a four-year detour to work in the circus and carnival, went back to music and that's where I've been ever since. I moved to Los Angeles in my late 20s to see where I could go with my music, and ended up finding love, marriage and children - something this old road hag did not expect to find. I also found myself as an artist, and settled into a nice groove of music and family.

I grew up with two progressive parents, and always thought of myself as liberal, but was never what you'd call politically active or even particularly politically aware. My first glimmerings of attention to the particulars of politics came when Newt Gingrich mobilized the Republican Party and began his campaign to destroy Democrats, demonize liberals and hijack the government. The 'Contract on America' I found offensive in the extreme, and the subsequent hunting of the Clintons left me slack-jawed with astonishment at the gall and hubris of the right wing. I began taking notice of the names of the players, but I still wasn't in the game.

During the 2000 campaign, I was repelled by George W. Bush. I learned all I needed to know about him when I read about the Karla Faye Tucker incident. That someone who had the power of life and death over other human beings (and flexed it more than any other governor) could laugh and joke about killing a woman who was begging for her life, (and had been 'saved' and forgiven by the same Jesus who purportedly turned Bush's life around, his sister in Christ) showed me that that this loathsome man was a sociopath as well as an ignoramus and a boor. I was shocked that quite a few of my progressive friends were considering voting for him. Yet, even as I worried about the appointment of Supreme Court justices by a conservative president, I had no idea of the damage this ne'er-do-well smirking frat-boy could inflict upon this country. Even as I was taken aback by the audacity of Dick Cheney appointing himself Vice-President, I did not have an inkling that we were about to be driven over a cliff, along with so many of the basic rights and freedoms that we had taken for granted as irrevocable.

I didn't think he had it in him. I thought he was too stupid to do much damage; that his Daddy's old friend Dick Cheney would keep him in check; that he'd be in and out so quick that we'd hardly know he was there, sort of like Gerald Ford. I did not know that I would soon not recognize my own country.

After 9/11, after the Patriot Act, after the invasion of Iraq, after "smoke 'em out", "Axis of Evil", "dead or alive", "bring 'em on" and "Mission Accomplished", I knew better. And, I thought, so did the rest of America.

But on the morning after the election of 2004, I was staggered to find that George W. Bush was still occupying the office of President of the United States. Gobsmacked might be a more apt description.

I felt as though my perception of reality had shifted. Had I landed in the Twilight Zone? Was I the only person who was outraged by the actions of this criminal and his gang? Was there something I was missing that everyone else was understanding?

I was absolutely 'dazed and confused.' I wandered through the next few days in a fog. But then, an idea came to me.

Earlier that summer, I had heard about 'blogs'. I didn't know what they were, so I Googled 'blog' and found out. I was interested, not so much from a writing standpoint as from amateur geekitude. I checked out WordPress; I wanted to see if I could make it work - it would be cool to install those little bits of code and see what happened. I got a nice-looking little site going - I was mostly interested in the aesthetics and design aspect. It was a lovely, lovely blog. All it needed was something to say.

I put up a few posts, mostly along the lines of "uh, it's eleven o'clock at night and I have no idea what I should write about." They weren't even posts; they were place-holders - lorem ipsums in English. But as I explored the blogging platform, I found myself stumbling across political blogs. I happened to be reading a Washington Post blog - have no idea who the columnist was, but the commenters intrigued me. One in particular interested me enough that I went to visit his blog, a Blogger blog called Left of Center, and we began corresponding. Although my own blog was still empty, I found more to say in my conversations with Mr. M. But I was still in no respect a real 'blogger'.

Fast-forward to the fall and my dilemma.

What about blogging?

I could rant and rave as much as I liked on a blog, and maybe it would help me pick myself up and start moving again. My WordPress blog didn't quite seem right for a political blog, though, and most of the blogs I had come across from the Left of Center blogroll were Blogger blogs. Mr. M suggested that I get a Blogger blog, a StatCounter account and a BlogRolling blogroll, and I would be on my way.

But what should I call it? As I thought about this, I realized what my feelings of disorientation and confusion reminded me of. I remembered watching an old sitcom called Green Acres as a kid, and feeling a similar sort of unease while watching poor old Mr. Douglas get played by the local yokels. It was a place where brains and good intentions were no match for corn-pone cunning and chicken-fried chicanery, and everyone was in on the racket, including his wife; a place where he was lied to, stolen from, and tricked into buying things he already owned, and where pigs held positions of prestige and influence. Green Acres, we are there!

And Hooterville it was.


Fran said...

I loved reading this- thank you.

Anonymous said...

Like you, I started blogging because of how isolated I felt after the 2004 elections.

I'm glad you blog so I've had a chance to get to know you!

Tengrain said...

And another one, Alicia, only I started in 2006.

I'm really enjoying your book - almost done with it.



Alicia Morgan said...

I feel the same way about you guys. What a treat to meet people who I am so in accord with and fond of online, and who I admire so much, when our paths would never cross in our daily lives.

Look at the four of us, for instance - Georgia, SoCal, Bay Area, NY - but here we're neighbors and comrades-in-arms and BFFs!