MARCH 28, 2011
We don't last, and there's no warranty
Joe Bageant and Fred Reed in Ajijic, Mexico, 2008
By Fred Reed
Jocotepec, Mexico -- Joe lived awhile down the lake. We would visit him of an afternoon, Vi and I, and find him, a bear of a man, bearded mountain Buddha, writing on the porch of his one-room place in Ajijic. Always he wore his old fishing vest, in which I suspect he was born, and sometimes he carried a small laptop in one of its pockets. Usually we adjourned to the living room, which was also the bedroom, dining room, and salon. He would fetch bottles of local red, or make the jalapeño martinis he invented -- there was a bit of mad chemist in him -- and we would talk for hours of art, music, the news, politics, and people. Especially people. Sometimes he grabbed one of the guitars from the wall and sang blues, at which he was good. I guess growing up dirt poor in West Virginia puts that kind of music in you.
Joe could fool you. He talked slow and Southern, lacked pretensions, and you could talk to him for weeks without realizing how very damned smart he was. One day we dropped in and he said he had just found that he had cancer. It went fast. He died Saturday.
MARCH 27, 2011
After a vibrant life, Joe Bageant died yesterday following a four-month struggle with cancer. He was 64. Joe is survived by his wife, Barbara, his three children, Timothy, Patrick and Elizabeth, and thousands of friends and admirers. He is also survived by his work and ideas.
According to Joe's wishes, he will be cremated. His family will hold a private memorial service.
MARCH 20, 2011
A Review of Joe Bageant's Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir
By Michael Donnelly
Q: How do you know if you are rich, middle class or poor in America?
A: When you go to work, if your name is on the building -- you’re rich; if your name is on an office door -- you’re middle class; if your name is on your shirt -- you're poor…and, if someone else’s name is on your hand-me-down work shirt.
You always hear about natural-born musicians, artists, teachers, nurses, even businessmen. But what happened to the natural-born farmer and extended farm family when the rural-to-urban migration saw us go from 92% of Americans making their living (and dying) on the land in 1900 to around 2% today? What happened to the natural sense of community that engendered -- that "we're all in it together," culture we now long for? And, what about America's supposedly classless society? How's that working out for ya?
Here’s a new book that answers these questions and more.
MARCH 10, 2011
Posted by Ken Smith (Joe's web grunt)
Joe Bageant was pleased to learn this morning that his second book, Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir, has finally been listed for advance orders on Amazon-US. The book is listed as "temporarily out of stock" even though it has never been "in stock" for US readers. A shipment of Rainbow Pie has been sent to Amazon-US and deliveries to US buyers should begin within the next week or two.
Rainbow Pie was first published six months ago by Scribe Publications in Australia where it quickly made the best-seller list. Scribe is also the publisher for the US edition. In the UK,Rainbow Pie was published by Portobello/Granta.
Set between 1950 and 1963, Rainbow Pie is a coming-of-age memoir discussing one of America’s most taboo subjects -- social class. Combining recollection, accounts, and analysis, the book leans on Maw, Pap, Ony Mae, and other members of this rambunctious Scots-Irish Bageant family to chronicle the often-heartbreaking post-war journey of 22 million rural Americans into the cities, where they became the foundation of a permanent white underclass. Telling the stories of the gun-owning, uninsured, underemployed white tribes inhabiting America’s heartlands, Rainbow Pie offers an intimate look at what was lost in the orchestrated post-war shift from an agricultural to an urban consumer society.
FEBRUARY 12, 2011
After a month in hospitals, cussing doctors and wanting to escape, Joe Bageant is back home in his own bed in Winchester. He is continuing the chemotherapy as an out-patient.
I talked to Joe by phone this morning and he sounded quite strong -- compared to when I last saw him New Year's Eve at the Guadalajara airport as he left for Virginia. "I'm feeling better and better every day," Joe said. "But, I'm so busy keeping track of when and how many pills to take that it will be a while before I get back to writing. I haven't even touched my laptop in two months."
Joe has received several thousand emails from his readers, more than he could read and acknowledge even when healthy. Joe's wife Barbara and his son Tim select several emails every day to read to him. I am saving all of Joe's email and will send him a package of well wishes when he gains even more strength and feels like reading again.
-- Ken Smith
JANUARY 04, 2011
Dear friends, associates and fellow travelers,
As you may or may not know, I have been struck down by an extremely serious form of cancer. Presently I am back in the United States receiving treatment through the U.S. Veterans Administration hospital system. Due to the nature of the massive internal tumor, I am currently unable to even carry on email correspondence or Skype conversations.
Right now I am at a hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. Once a treatment program has been designed and set in motion, I will probably be transferred back to the Veterans Administration facility near my home in Winchester, Virginia. The condition is inoperable, but it is hoped that with chemotherapy plus the use of a pain killer such as OxyContin, I will be able to resume my online work.
As soon as I am able to sit up long enough to work online and carry on Skype conversations, I will do so. Until then, please have patience and bear with me in this frustrating and difficult time. Business correspondence and relationships will not be interrupted during this period of recovery because I have several persons willing to work with me through dictation.
Thank all of you very much for your friendship and patience.
-- Joe Bageant
DECEMBER 07, 2010
Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga
By Joe Bageant
Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico
If you hang out much with thinking people, conversation eventually turns to the serious political and cultural questions of our times. Such as: How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-fucked? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit.
One explanation might be the effect of 40 years of deep fried industrial chicken pulp, and 44 ounce Big Gulp soft drinks. Another might be pop culture, which is not culture at all of course, but marketing. Or we could blame it on digital autism: Ever watch commuter monkeys on the subway poking at digital devices, stroking the touch screen for hours on end? That wrinkled Neolithic brows above the squinting red eyes?
But a more reasonable explanation is that, (A) we don't even know we are doing it, and (B) we cling to institutions dedicated to making sure we never find out.
OCTOBER 25, 2010
Is the 'digital hive' a soft totalitarian state?
By Joe Bageant
Sitting in a trendy wine bar, one of those that brings out food to match your particular choice of wine, mystified by the table setting. What was that tiny baby spoon for? Cappuccino surely, at some point, but why no big spoon to go with the knife and fork? The things a redneck American does not know grow exponentially in Bella Italia, starting with the restaurants -- not to mention several civilizations beneath one’s feet. Being in a house that has been continuously occupied for over 1000 years -- resisting the temptation to piss in the hotel room bidet, that sort of thing.
One thing the Italians can never be accused of is being a culture given to vinyl sided sameness, fast food franchises. Another thing is lack of a good educational system, given that Italy’s is among the very best in the world. So here I am sitting with some college kids trying to hang onto my end of a discussion of evolutionary consciousness, and whether Italy can withstand the cultural leveling of globalism.
OCTOBER 08, 2010
On his recent tour of Australia, Joe Bageant was interviewed the Australian Broadcasting Company's Steve Austin at the Brisbane Writers Festival. Austin is a great interviewer and quickly got to the heart of Joe's second book, Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir, which has been published in Australia and will soon be available in North America and the UK.
The interview is an hour long and is available in MP4 and WMV video formats. Also available are a short video of highlights of the interview and an MP3 audio format. Click here and look in the left column to choose a format.
SEPTEMBER 23, 2010
"The Tea Party is a media spectacle to make working people believe they have power," Joe Bageant said during an interview on RT, a global television network based in Moscow, Russia.
On The Alyona Show, host Alyona Minkovski starts the interview by pointing out that 43 million Americans live below the poverty line. "For some reason," she says, "in this country, there's always been an assumption that the poor, or the underclass, are the non-white people that live in this country, and the fact that there has always been a white underclass has become taboo."
Click here or on image to view six-minute video.