Apparently running out of local media to criticize, Jeff “Podunk” Pelline has turned his guns toward the San Francisco Chronicle, the newspaper that made Pelline a legend in his own mind.
Jeffy’s ire is trained on a new feature the paper is running, a series of dispatches by Chris Bateman that, according to Podunk, “stereotypes the foothills as akin to the ‘Redneck Rivera (sic)’.” Here’s a sample of Bateman’s work:
“Welcome to Republican California, a land unknown to city dwellers. We in the Mother Lode drink ditch water, drive pickup trucks, hang laundry lines, buy guns, and let our dogs run free. Our lawns go unmowed, and rusting cars clutter our yards. We can buy ammo, while it lasts, at a few of our bars.”
There is some truth to Bateman’s observations. Back in the days when there were new car dealers in Grass Valley, one of them told me half the registered vehicles in Nevada County were pickups. There are plenty or cars on blocks–just drive about Nevada City–and there’s always Kilroy’s to greet the new visitor to Grass Valley.
We do have laundry lines and ditch water, and there are plenty of dogs running loose. I’ve seen “houses” around here that would be condemned where I come from.
We also have big city slickers like Pelline, who advances the backwoods image with references like “Pentucky,” a dig at the supposed hicks who live in the Penn Valley area, and Jeffy’s sainted friend Herb Caen, who made a good living mocking the rural parts of California.
Perhaps Caen’s best known dig was the revelation that the Safeway store in Chico stocked Velveeta cheese in the “gourmet food” aisle. That led to years of snide remarks and what is known today as “snark,” material found amusing by his loyal readers. (He finally made peace with the town by visiting it.)
But this kind of borderline journalism is a tradition at the Chronicle, famed for its exposure of the great coffee swill scandal in the City by the Bay, and the “Last Man on Earth” series that was exposed as a fraud. To think the paper used to be known as “The Voice of the West.”