Trophy the wife and I came back to Ukiah for the holidays and to see the kids, let our dog die in familiar surroundings and enjoy a fabulous parade down State Street in our honor.
It was all swell except the dead dog part, which took a surprisingly long time to happen, not that we minded.
And having left our house in the south to return to our house in Ukiah we’ve both been asked, repeatedly, the same single question. No one inquires about North Carolina weather and no one asks about food. There were no questions on how the Tarheels might fare against Stanford and no one seemed curious about the price of gasoline or houses.
All anyone and everyone wanted to know was how we managed to survive the crazy racists swarming in and among all those ignorant, backward southerners who go to church and vote for Republicans. But it was mostly just about the racism.
In Ukiah our friends are Ukiahans, and that means our friends are progressives. They fret about rednecks riding around in pickup trucks shooting squirrels, throwing beer cans at poor people and shouting mean things at black folk.
Progressives can’t help it. Progressives have not yet emerged from the swamp of the 1960s. Progressives think “Easy Rider” was a documentary, that “Deliverance” was a training film, that quarts of moonshine are sold at gas stations and that people of color ride at the back of the bus.
It’s all part of the ‘60s hangover. Ancient, out-of-date notions are accepted, obvious facts are rejected, and bias and bigotry harden into dishonest, dogmatic thinking. Progressives believe the South is racist, backward and the best place to avoid in the entire USA.
If we applied that kind of braindead thinking to California where would it lead? Do people in Cleveland assume I spend my Golden State days surfing monster waves at Lake Mendocino unless I’m in a hot tub with Kim Novak? Is it taken for granted that all my pals are gay and that film studios call twice a week to ask me to co-star in a Netflix series? How often do they think I water the palm trees in my front yard?
Do Buckeyes assume I eat only organic, fair-trade, shade-grown, locally sourced tofu and kale? Gross generalities based on outmoded perceptions are stupid, whether assuming the south is racist or that Californians mostly just play volleyball in Malibu.
Deeply tolerant Ukiahans are indignant over supposed racism in Alabama, untroubled by the irony they live in Ukiah, the whitest place this side of a polar bear reunion.
Our North Carolina city is about 30 percent black, and unlike California they aren’t shunted off to a ghetto on the other side of the tracks. My brother, who has lived in South Carolina 50 years, says there is no such thing as a segregated city in the south. Every big city and every small town has a black-white sprinkling through the neighborhoods.
Yet it’s Ukiah that leads the world in boastful “We Can Do Better Racism” signs, a virtue-signaling emblem I’ve never spotted in a yard down south. And (some) Ukiahans are quick and loud to harshly judge others for insufficient levels of diversity and tolerance.
The last time there were blacks in the Ukiah Valley they were herded in, and then out, by the Reverend Jim Jones. Tell me again about terrible conditions down south, and of the utopia that is Northern California.
Meanwhile, in Redwood Valley
Drove out to Redwood Valley (May, ’22) for the first time in a while, and as I left the RV Market I looked across the street.
My memory banks stirred, coughed, and sputtered to life as I recalled the great big hysteriathon over plans to build a Dollar Store on a corner opposite the Market.
As if the dirt patch at School Way and East Road was a lush park or a babbling brook, or even a lousy parking lot. It wasn’t even a genuine vacant lot because it was always littered in trash, junk and fast food wrappers caught on thorny thistles struggling through parched dirt. Yet, bless their sensitive hearts, RV folks could not tolerate a drab half-acre converted to a retail outlet.
No, you wouldn’t want a Dollar Store encroaching on a baked, desolate patch of worn-out tundra across the road from the 100-yard blight known as “downtown” Redwood Valley.
So why did I laugh out loud when I left the Market and looked across the street? What did I see? (Hint: Not a Dollar Store. Storage units! Yes, I saw a hundreds of locked metal crates surrounded by a big metal fence. Exactly the kind of fancy, charming, upscale development the elites of Redwood Valley held out for, and got.
Right between the eyes.
The Assignment: Ukiah column, authored by Tom Hine, enters its 17th year unless my geometry or geography is mistaken. Speaking of mistakes, say hello to TWK, my useless appendage who gets byline credit.