14 June 2006
Joad, party of thirteen
According to the L.A. Times, even Oklahoma's gung-ho love for college football has its roots in the destitute hellhole of the Dust Bowl and its era of toothless, gangly, bug-eyed, backwoods, mattress-strapped to-the-top-of-the-jalopy Okies.
How often do you think a newspaper or magazine story about Dallas, Texas, dredges up the Kennedy assassination? How often do articles about modern-day California delve into the 1906 San Francisco earthquake? When will mainstream media be able to mention Oklahoma without a reflex nod to the Dust Bowl?
Evidently not yet. Chase McInerney, June '06:
Witness this ostensibly benign review in The New York Times Review of Books for a new book about Oklahoma's alt-rock band, the Flaming Lips:
"[Author Jim] DeRogatis, the pop music critic for the Chicago Sun-Times and the author of a biography of Lester Bangs, does a nice job rendering the 60's and 70's cultural dust bowl that produced these alt-rock lifers ..."
Huh? Is it possible for The New York Times to get past Oklahoma's dust bowl?
Maybe not. From a Jan. 14, 2004, feature in the Times about Wayne Coyne and the Flaming Lips:
"Onstage [Coyne] usually dresses in a white suit and an open-collar shirt, looking something like a charismatic New Age guru. More than anything else, though, he and his bandmates come across as Dust Bowl Everymen with Bible Belt work ethics."
Is it possible for any major metropolitan newspaper to write about the Flaming Lips without conjuring up the 70-year-old specter of the dust bowl?
Not gonna happen. I explained why here:
[T]here are surprisingly many grassy-knoll references in East Coast coverage of Dallas, and for pretty much the same reason the Times harps on Steinbeck's version of Oklahoma: they don't know anything else about the damn place. It's convenient shorthand, and it fills up column space, and their local audiences, having heard exactly the same stereotypes all their lives, sit back and nod, "Yes, that's true."
The Lips book by DeRogatis is titled Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips: I mumbled something about it back in April.Posted at 6:02 AM to Soonerland