Take me to Dogpatch
By Stacey Warde
Dell Franklin is the only man I know who would give up his bed for his dog.
Visit Dell’s place any evening and you’ll find his companion, Marley, a black lab mix, sitting like a king atop the made bed, with Dell reclining on his sofa in the living room—newspapers and manuscripts spread everywhere, an opened New Yorker, books falling off dusty bookcases, TV blaring—watching baseball or basketball or Chris Matthews on MSNBC where, eventually, he falls asleep for the night.
The habit suits his Dogpatch lifestyle, full of ramshackle dwellings and rusty old cars and beggarly dogs and feral cats and women, a tradition of living how he wants to live. It’s not for everybody, but it’s worked beautifully for him and has been good enough for others. Remember Lil’ Abner?
Well, if you look closely, through the filters of our increasingly and sickeningly politically correct coastal paradise, you’ll find a few remnants of Dogpatch here and there, thank god, a beach shack in disrepair, an untended lot filled with rusted metal scraps, the last stubborn holdouts against well-heeled intruders and greedy real estate agents. Our cover highlights one of the last remaining Dogpatch outposts in Cayucos, a decrepit lot once occupied by Dell himself, where he read the newspaper every day and taunted his neighbors and growled at Marley for his incessant and obnoxious barking.
Dell’s got a new place now, a different ramshackle dwelling a few blocks up the road with its own Dogpatch charm. In an effort to prolong, if not revive, the Dogpatch tradition, and as a consequence of his recent move, he’s written “A guide to furnishing a beach shack” (see page 17). Take a lesson from Dell and live free—without the unnecessary burdens and expenses and neuroses of our well-heeled neighbors.
David Ochs is another one of those individuals who finds solace in ramshackle havens, like the rundown hotel room he and his girlfriend occupy for an evening of fitful rest, noisy neighbors, and redundant porn on TV. Ochs, a newcomer to The Rogue Voice who writes from Santa Maria, tells the story of immigration and naturalization in “They come to America” on page 23.
And what would America be without the great protectors, the virile young soldiers of the “Culture War” who have opted for a life of ease, and making millions upon their exit from college rather than join their peers fighting the dirty war in Iraq? These earnest Chickenhawks roost in sanctuaries like Cal Poly and have decided that they can best serve their country by staying home, drinking beer and chasing pussy, protecting us from liberals who would question the cronyism and corruption of the Bush administration, where war is peace and science is weird. Find out more in this month’s Cabby’s Corner, where we meet four fine young men about to graduate, and who vehemently support the war in Iraq but refuse to fight in it, page 11.
Sometimes, though, a man must finally answer the call to do his duty and fight. Window washer Ben Leroux answers such a call in his battle with frosty old Toy Store Bob in Lockhart, Texas. Eventually, in the face of such Southern resentment and hostility, a man, especially a California man, must make a stand, as Ben does for a classic western showdown in “the town where they used to kill a man every day.” Turn to page 8 for Ben’s closing episode of his two-part series on a taste of Southern gothic in a place Texans revere as “the barbecue capital of Texas.”
Other times, when faced with obvious or subtle forces that bode ill for us, our best defense is simply a polite refusal to participate in what inevitably will lead to our demise. We can just say no and refuse to go along with the game plan. It might mean the difference between life and death, as you’ll discover in Steve Bird’s fine vignette of the day in the life of a young mother in Eugene, Oregon, in “The choice.” See page 21.
We have plenty of other stories of heroes in their struggles against crooks and tisseyprissels of the culture war, including our Rogue of the Month, Big Lou, a New York Italian, and courtly bartender at the Eagles Club in Morro Bay who’s got 42 years of pouring drinks and two robberies under his belt, page 15; a Father’s Day tribute to my adopted New Jersey Italian father, John Joseph Radice, who taught me respect and the importance of playing the game right, page 19; and Darren Delmore’s battle of wits against one of the Army’s best weapons in its war arsenal, a recruiter in Humboldt Chronicles, page 13.
We decided this month to drop “Central Coast” from our nameplate. Over time we’ve discovered that interest in The Rogue Voice reaches well beyond the Central Coast, with support coming from Paris, London, the East Coast, Midwest and Northwest. However, we will continue to draw our inspiration from life here at home, which, we’ve learned, is not too unlike life elsewhere in small town America. To show our continuing appreciation of where we got our start, we will maintain our free distribution throughout San Luis Obispo County.
Meanwhile, we will put more effort into building a larger subscriber base to better finance this venture of presenting literature and art born of struggle, mishap and humor. As interest grows, both from contributors and readers, Dell and I are looking for ways to thrive in a market that tends to look with suspicion upon art and literature, especially the Dogpatch variety. It’s really simple: The more of you who subscribe, the better off we’ll be. At $25 for the year, we think it’s a bargain. When we have enough subscribers, we’ll get to visit the Tavern more often and pay our contributors, discover new artists, diversify, grow and improve.
We’ve also printed fine T-shirts with the Rogue Voice logo, which can be purchased for $15 (add $2 for shipping), a handsome addition to your wardrobe, and you’ll join the ranks of fearless readers who support a unique, original and brash publication that ought to be national, even if it isn’t. Each purchase helps us grow our budget.
Additionally, as our budget grows, we will work toward improving not only content but the format and quality of the paper on which we print. Already we’ve had several readers, collectors, inquire about back issues going back to the very beginning. Eventually, we hope to be able to print on paper that will last as long as collectors wish to keep our monthly editions.
If anyone knows anything about magazine collecting, Matthew Rothschild, editor of the prestigious liberal journal, The Progressive, does. His fine monthly, “a leading voice for peace and social justice since 1909,” has featured some of the country’s finest social critics and authors, including Howard Zinn, the late Molly Ivins, and Barbara Ehrenreich, among others.
Matthew, a writer’s editor who’s written his own book, “You Have No Rights: Stories of America in an Age of Repression,” will be visiting San Luis Obispo on August 14 to hold a forum to discuss the current state of the nation. Watch for details in upcoming issues of The Rogue Voice. Matthew’s visit promises to be a good show, and an opportunity to meet one of America’s finest liberal editors. §
Stacey Warde is editor of The Rogue Voice. He can be reached at email@example.com.