A new feature in The San Francisco Chronicle stereotypes the foothills as akin to a “Redneck Riviera” — missing some of the changes occurring along the way. It ignores the emerging arts and culture, food, wine and “ale trail” experiences in our region, instead looking to our past from more of a “get off my lawn” mindset.
Written by Chris Bateman (“At 70, I’m firmly within our retirement demographic”), “Welcome to Republican California, a land unknown to city dwellers,” it reinforces the stereotypes: “We in the Mother Lode drink ditch water, drive pickup trucks, hang laundry on lines, buy guns and let our dogs run free. Our lawns go unmowed, and rusting cars clutter our yards. You can buy ammo, while it lasts, at a few of our bars.
“In the interests of letting The Chronicle’s readers know and understand a little more about their neighbors in the Mother Lode, I’ll be filing the occasional dispatch from my Tuolumne County home.”
For a Gold Country “seniors” publication, Bateman has written articles such as “Sonora, Jamestown, Moccasin: Future border towns in State of Jefferson?” An excerpt: “You may scoff, dismissing Jefferson as a heated fantasy of the far right. Oz, Middle Earth and Tatooine, you reckon, all have better shots at statehood. But admit it: You didn’t think Trump stood a chance either. And with his win, Jefferson’s chances are also rising.”
Though some of it is tongue-in-cheek, Bateman is clueless in some observations. “(Hillary Clinton did eke out a win in Nevada County, perhaps due to Grass Valley back-to-the-land enclaves left over from the ’60s.)”
Grass Valley? I think Bateman means Nevada City. Duh.
Bateman ought to attend the Wild & Scenic Film Festival in Nevada City and Grass Valley this weekend. Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Gary Snyder and woodblock artist Tom Killion (from Marin County) will be speaking.
He also ought to read the Sacramento Bee’s coverage of “Gold Country,” which exposes the diversity of the region rather than clinging to stereotypes. One example is here. Another, a four-star restaurant review, is here.