August 10, 2011
California....we got hillbillies too!
As I left my billy homeland 8 years ago expecting it to be a far cry from my new life in California, I have since come to realize one important thing... even California has hillbillies. And lots of 'em, you just have to know where to look. You can't run from redneck, people - if you got it, it's not going away just because you've left the home state. Aside from watching the Clampett's on tv, the misplaced family bumbling through their lives as hillbillies in Beverly Hills (thank you Nick at Nite), most people seem to assume the West Coast is a billy free zone. And they are absolutely wrong.
In LA it is common knowledge that the Inland Empire, aka "The 909" is our motherland of all things redneck in SoCal. There are pockets of seriously impressive levels of white trash through the San Fernando and San Bernadino valleys as well, but The 909 takes the cake. I witnessed 909'ers in full glory at an outdoor festival about 2 years ago. Our local classic rock station, 93.1 Jack FM, has a huge summer concert blowout each summer called "JackFest", with names like Billy Idol, Def Leppard, and Heart performing, and many more ridiculous artists that make you go "no WAY" when they make the announcement. There were more 40 year olds in faded, fringed Def Leppard belly shirts (men too) than I ever seen in one place in my life. And I'm pretty sure they have owned them SINCE that first concert and await patiently their annual chance to rock the shirt once again. At one point during the final encore with Def Leppard, as "Photograph" came on to screams from the crowd - I watched as one billy complete in jean shorts and 80's tee & his equally lovely wife lost their shit dancing on a retainer wall above the crowd. As they flailed around dancing, the wife reached for hubby's sleeve to get a Marlboro Red from his tucked in pack (yep rolled up in his sleeve - swear), she lost her balance and fell OFF the retainer wall and into the crowd about 20 feet below. Her husband was so entranced by his favorite jam from 1983 that he didn't even flinch, he just yelled down for her to toss his cigarettes back up. And she did. Later I saw her in a line (for more beer obviously) and asked her if she was ok, and she was thankfully, and then told me she was a 2nd grade teacher. Awesome.
Tomorrow I'm heading on a road trip up through California and into Oregon and Washington, spanning about 2 weeks total. It is my mission to find as much California redneck action as possible and document this for all the Daily Billy world to see. Days trekking through NorCal farmland and nothingness, into the odd vastness of Oregon (where I hear billies are at a whole new level) and then into Washington, I'm confident I'll find some doozies for ya'll to see. Stay tuned!