On most Friday nights of my childhood, I watched "The Dukes of Hazzard" right after "The Lawrence Welk Show." This strange juxaposition might explain a fair amount about my life now, dare I ever venture into the pit of hell known as me in therapy, but alas, I can't see myself dwelling on the trauma of knowing not only Bo and Luke Duke, but their cousin replacements, Coy and Vance, and my joy at knowing this trivia turning to sorrow when I saw my friends look at me with pity for a life ill-spent. And don't get me started on Mr. Welk -- I was the youngest person to ever willingly (I use that word loosely -- I was not held at gunpoint) visit his birthplace on a date. Anyway, despite the overt racism of the General Lee (their car adorned with the stars and bars -- even at ten, I wasn't buying that "state's rights" bullshit rap about it), I loved the show and its championing of outlaw ways. The Dukes were never on the right side of the law -- they played fast and loose with it and always outsmarted the man. Since almost everyone on the show was white save for an occassional extra to fill in scenes at the Boar's Nest (the main hang-out and provider of employment for cousin Daisy), it was poor white man against rich white man (played with pathos and subtlety as Boss Hogg -- a short little dude prone to white leather suits and counting his money while laughing).
The great late Waylon Jennings narrated the show -- he let you know the finer points, filled in the gaps. Much of the philosophical point, if you will, was that you could get around damn near anything with some smarts, a fast car, and a pretty decoy (in this case, it was Daisy and as the boy's cousin, she was off limits sexually -- yes, even in the south!). So the show wasn't really about the boys hooking up with girls or running moonshine for Uncle Jesse, it was about defeating the system. When I catch glimpses of it on television now, I see why I was so drawn to it -- it had an optimism, not a bullshit kind of fairy-tale type, but a joyous celebration of speed, energy, and keeping one's wits in the face of pressure. Many shows about the struggles of poor whites would follow it, but none, dare I say, had its happy charm while retaining a certain kind of realism. I saw my world reflected in it, the world of the small town, the world of poverty and struggle, but it wasn't bleak. Unlike other reflections in culture, it wasn't being mocked. In thirty minute episodes, shit would happen, get fixed, and from the knowing smiles of the actors, you knew that next week, it'd be something else. Just like in your world.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Lord, it's the same old tune, fiddle and guitar/ Where do we take it from here?" Waylon Jennings
Drinking music suggestion: A Man Called Hoss Waylon Jennings
Benedictions and Maledictions
30 days until The Sopranos airs!