Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The return of the Rube of the Month and why I love this city.

After taking a break for the month of December, the Rube of the Month award is back! There's no real reason we didn't pass out this award last month. We just kinda forgot. Plenty of rubeish things happened I'm sure. But that was that month. Now it's 2009. So let's get this shit rolling.

You rube of the month for January is Record Managing Editor Don Blount for this piece of journalistic gold that appeared on Page 2 of the Record last week.

Honestly, we're not entirely sure where to begin. The entire thing is fucking hilarious. It starts out promising enough with the sentence "What comes to mind when thinking of Stockton?" Which is probably the most loaded question ever presented in the Record. Lots of things come to mind when we think of Stockton. None of them appear in this column.

But before we get to what we think of Stockton, let's see what Blount thinks of when he thinks of Stockton.

"...perhaps it's University of the Pacific and its Brubeck Jazz Institute."

Yeah, I don't think of UOP when I think Stockton. Mostly because UOP is only barely in Stockton. Which is an impressive feat considering is smack dab in the middle of the city. One time when trolling the recordnet.com message boards I saw somebody refer to UOP as "the island" and I can't think of a better name for it. UOP doesn't represent Stockton at all. Next!

"Some would argue that crime should be synonymous with a city that traditionally ranks near the top of cities its size for crime, according to FBI crime statistics."

This one at least makes a little sense. And to be honest it probably is what most people think of when they think of Stockton. That doesn't make them right, every city has crime problems. Ours is just bigger. Plus that's kind of a depressing way to think of Stockton. Crime shouldn't define any city. Because, again, every city has it. Same with his claim that foreclosures may define Stockton. Although, foreclosures are at least closer to home. (rimshot) But the foreclosures alone aren't what defines this city, but more on that later.

Let's get to what Don Blount thinks of specifically when he thinks of Stockton, and the main reason he's getting the rube distinction this month. We have to warn you though, we don't suggest reading this next part while eating or drinking anything. Hell, if you're chewing gum you might want to take it out and set it on a napkin for a second. The next couple sentences are a severe choking hazard. You've been warned.

"However, let's put some other words to Stockton. Words like: theater, symphony and opera."

Glad I warned you? Yeah, you're welcome.

It's at this point I thought I was reading a satirical column. There's no way somebody is this disconnected from reality. Especially someone who's job is, you know, the fucking news. Sadly, he was dead serious.

Three things: First, we have a fucking opera? Like fat lady in a Viking helmet singing in Italian? Where the fuck is that? Second, symphony? Really? How many Stocktonians have actually been to a Stockton Symphony concert? I'd really like to know the percentage. I've been but that was solely for a music class at Delta. And it was like pulling teeth. It's quite possibly the stuffiest place in Stockton. Oh no! Someone sneezed during the concerto! Time to write a letter to the Record about nobody respecting the symphony! And third, is he just listing shit he goes to in Stockton? Should my list read "bars, strip clubs, and Food 4 Less"?

But hey, let's continue.

"Most of all, the word that applies to Stockton is home."

Awww, how touching. Of course "home" applies to Stockton. So do the words "city" and "area". But please, be more vague.

Finally he kind of sputters out at the end by saying he likes Stockton despite the myriad of problems that afflict the city. Well gee, thanks.

Only a rube would think any of those things actually represent Stockton. Like I've said, I love Stockton. It's a city that grows on you. Sure, initially you see the crime, the foreclosures, the inexplicable spending of tax dollars and think if it wasn't for those things Stockton might be an OK town. Blount said it himself, he likes the city in spite of all the problems that it has. Well you know what? Fuck that. I love this city because of all the problems it has.

Stockton wouldn't be Stockton without all the weird shit that goes on here. Only in Stockton could escape from jail be as easy as switching uniforms and jumping in another line. Only in Stockton would somebody, after successfully escaping from jail, choose to stay in Stockton instead of fleeing to Mexico. Eric Hu's seen Shawshank, right? Apparently Kelly Drive was his Zihuatenejo.

Only in Stockton could a city be so embarrassed of it's residents. It's really Stockton's biggest problem. The city (and when I say "the city" I mean city government, the decision makers) desperately wants to be something it's not. Just look at Blount's column. Opera, theater and, symphony? Is he talking about Stockton or fucking San Francisco? We're never going to be that kind of city. Stockton leaders are like the awkward nerd in high school who, after years of pining, finally worked up the testicular fortitude to ask the head cheerleader out on a date. Only they're getting unmercifully shut down. It's both hilarious and cringeworthy at the same time. We're like every Michael Cera role ever. We're the George Michael Bluth of cities. And I love that about us.

We love that Stockton's the foreclosure capital of the world? Why? Because it shows we're constantly reaching for a better quality of life. And that's what we think of when we think of Stockton. We're the American fucking dream (Not Dusty Rhodes, and yes, we're aware the cheese-o-meter is pegging right about now). We're a patchwork city of people from every corner of the world. Asians, Latinos, African-Americans, white folk all working hard to provide a better future for the next generation. And sometimes that means buying a house you can't afford. It means doing what you can to be able to afford a better quality of life, even if it means signing a mortgage with a ridiculous interest rate that you don't understand and have to work 12 hours a day to afford (Although if you can find a job/jobs with those kinds of hours you're doing better than most Stocktonians). We're a town of scrappy motherfuckers who have to fight for every opportunity.

Hmmm, when I think of Stockton I think of fighters. Where have I heard that before? Oh wait, I said that 6 months ago. And it still rings true today. Sure, foreclosures mean somebody lost their fight for a better quality of life. But I'd much rather have fought and lost than not fought at all.

When people think of Stockton, they're probably going to think negative things. And you know what? If they want to, that's fine. It's understandable. It's easy to think that way. And while this city seems to find new ways to frustrate me every week, I love it so much that I fight through it. Why? Because as a famous Stocktonian once said, "Real fighters are from Stockton."

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