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Welcome to the Rest of California
February 4, 2013 10:57 AM   Subscribe

Lisa Hamilton's Real Rural project uses photographs and interviews to document the lives of people living on California's farms and in its small towns.

Hamilton's work on the Real Rural project has been praised by NPR.org & The Columbia Journalism Review. And today, Alexis Madrigal (of The Atlantic) contrasts the project with Dodge's arresting Super Bowl halftime ad, "Farmer."
posted by .kobayashi. (32 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
I saw this a few months ago after hearing about it on California Report. It's really wonderful.

Opinion of the Dodge Super Bowl ad from the folks I was hanging out with yesterday: FUCK YOU. We agreed that we vastly preferred the emotional manipulation from the Budweiser Clydesdale ad.
posted by rtha at 11:05 AM on February 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I grew up in the more urban county seat of a rural county in California. Now that I live in Texas, people are sometimes surprised when I talk about the similarities more than the differences - I think most people would be hard pressed to determine the location of this photo.
posted by muddgirl at 11:09 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having spent 18 years living all over California, it's one of my pet peeves that many people think that California = Anaheim/LA/Malibu. As I try to tell them, it's a big state. There is a lot of variety.
posted by caryatid at 11:16 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Neat post. I always find California to be a sort of meta-place, since it's in so many movies and tv shows. It all seems familiar.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:17 AM on February 4, 2013


Opinion of the Dodge Super Bowl ad from the folks I was hanging out with yesterday: FUCK YOU.

I would have preferred the more accurate "So God Made an exurban douche bag who thinks five acres and a truck to commute to the city makes him a farmer," but I guess that didn't test well.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 11:25 AM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having spent 18 years living all over California, it's one of my pet peeves that many people think that California = Anaheim/LA/Malibu. As I try to tell them, it's a big state. There is a lot of variety.

Outside of America, something as big and varied as California with California's economic size and population is called a "country."
posted by GuyZero at 11:28 AM on February 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


As I try to tell them, it's a big state. There is a lot of variety.

Yes! Recently I took a drive out to UC Merced, because, well, I have a small goal to see all the UC campuses. So I started in Orange County going north 372 miles. I was surprised by a few things like the historical buildings in downtown Fresno and how big Bakersfield is. The biggest surprise is when I got to UC Merced. The university is actually like a 5 minute drive outside the town itself, and approaching it and looking at it surrounded by vast farmland is hard to describe. The best comparison I made is like someone was playing SimCity and just spent $50k on a shiny new university on a new town map. In fact there are still parts of it still under construction, and it just looks so new.
posted by FJT at 11:38 AM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I would love to retire in rual Cali. Can't stand the whole LA scene but when we were driving around outside of Orange, it was perfect. I wish I could figure out a way to move there now. But since both of us have to work, it would be typical CA life and trying to figure out how to afford it there.
posted by stormpooper at 12:09 PM on February 4, 2013


I wish this included a map of the proposed route of the high speed rail line.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:23 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Solar farms are likely to have a much bigger impact than a rail corridor.
posted by rtha at 12:30 PM on February 4, 2013


Oh this is neat.

I've lived in several of the parts of rural California mentioned (Shasta County; Humboldt County) and now live in LA County and traversed most of the rest.

Another rural part of California in which I've resided is oddly missing -- the Eastern Sierra, which, to my eye, is the most beautiful part of the state.
posted by notyou at 12:41 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


This site is amazing, and that Dodge Commercial is panderingly conservative, but damn that sermon is amazing too.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:30 PM on February 4, 2013


it's one of my pet peeves that many people think that California = Anaheim/LA/Malibu.

Anaheim?!?
posted by 2N2222 at 1:47 PM on February 4, 2013


Anaheim?!?

Disneyland and the surrounding whatever-Anaheim-is.
posted by GuyZero at 1:53 PM on February 4, 2013


We agreed that we vastly preferred the emotional manipulation from the Budweiser Clydesdale ad.

God, me too. The horse had me in tears, while the stupid farmer crap just made me mad. Just about as creepy as the horribly exploitative Oprah/Jeep "honor the troops" advert.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:55 PM on February 4, 2013


An appropriate time for this handy graphic.
posted by Longtime Listener at 1:55 PM on February 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Disneyland and the surrounding whatever-Anaheim-is.

So you mean Orange County, which is really just part of LA anyway.

If I was going to stereotype California, it's be: LA/Bay Area.
posted by sideshow at 1:57 PM on February 4, 2013


It's a shame we can't link to individual photos, since the "Morning fog, Stanislaus County" one is both so beautiful and so eerie, reminding me of how it seemed like multiple times every winter I'd read in the Bee about a 20-car pileup on Highway 99.
posted by psoas at 2:00 PM on February 4, 2013


An appropriate time for this handy graphic.

Wait, people think the Golden Gate Bridge is orange?
posted by psoas at 2:07 PM on February 4, 2013


And what color do you think it is?
posted by GuyZero at 2:09 PM on February 4, 2013


The Golden Gate Bridge is International Orange.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 2:15 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


So you mean Orange County, which is really just part of LA anyway.

No, I really mean Anaheim, as in home of Disneyland. Lots of people go to Disneyland once and think they have seen California (and they think they are qualified to critique the entire state based on this experience).

And, yes, what other color could the GG possibly be other than International Orange?
posted by caryatid at 2:19 PM on February 4, 2013


That color might be called "International Orange," but how would anyone not see that as red?
posted by psoas at 2:32 PM on February 4, 2013


I would be really interested to know what fraction of Dodge and Ford and Chevrolet pickup sales go to people who use them for passenger car purposes 99% of the time. If you compare the number of farmers in the country and the number of pickup trucks sold it must be orders of magnitude. Like times a friggin' hundred at least. So the marketing storyboard is for city guys daydreaming about themselves as cowboys.
posted by bukvich at 2:43 PM on February 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


That color might be called "International Orange," but how would anyone not see that as red?

Because it's orange? I mean, it's not quite orange like an orange, but it's not red.
posted by GuyZero at 3:00 PM on February 4, 2013


I would be really interested to know what fraction of Dodge and Ford and Chevrolet pickup sales go to people who use them for passenger car purposes 99% of the time.

I'm sure it's roughly equivalent to the fraction of SUVs that never go offroad in situations that a sedan wouldn't handle equally well. "Lifestyle vehicles" are less about actual capabilities than about communicating something to others. Cf. people who wear hiking boots/shoes to their office job every day.

Although a lot of what a pickup truck communicates is "I'm somebody who can save you $75 bucks on delivery charges when you buy a major appliance at Best Buy." So that's something.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:05 PM on February 4, 2013


I see this as red; I see the bridge as more orange than red. Do they both look the same to other people?
posted by rtha at 3:12 PM on February 4, 2013


like multiple times every winter I'd read in the Bee about a 20-car pileup on Highway 99

20 car? That's the old Tule Fog just warming up before it's mourning run. If it wasn't for all the fire and death I'd find the 120 car pileups that happen almost comical.

That ain't snow in the valley there, I can tell ya that.

Kern County is in fact a mini Texas
posted by The Power Nap at 4:20 PM on February 4, 2013


I saw Lisa speak about her book, Deeply Rooted, a few years ago. Not only is she a salt of the earth person, but this book is a gem of nonfiction prose - truly enlightening, offering three deep, respectful and rich personal profiles, and an excellent framing of the conudrums of present-day farming - especially of trying to do things differently. I highly recommend reading it.
posted by Miko at 5:13 PM on February 4, 2013


That ain't snow in the valley there, I can tell ya that.

Wow. Wow. Growing up under tule fog I always knew it was thick, but wow.
posted by psoas at 4:51 AM on February 5, 2013


Very cool. I hope it grows to include Imperial County, and some of the Eastern and mountain Counties. Inyo, Mono, Lassen, Placer, Sierra, Plumas, etc.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:27 AM on February 5, 2013


Another layer of Californioids:

From the time I was three years old, we followed the crops from southwest Arizona all the way to Redding, above Sacramento. But then we found a place to stay for more than one season, or the time it takes to pick out a field or orchard.

When I was still in my single digits I lived on the outskirts of Five Points. It was a town with a gas station and post office, two houses and a trailer, in the middle of the great west side desert in the central San Joaquin Valley. We lived on a ranch owned by the Wright family. My brother, then in his 20's, drove farm trucks and did other chores on the farm. My mother, my brother, and I, lived in a two-room workers cottage, in a row of six or seven identical cottages that were occupied by the workers. One room was the living room, bedroom, and kitchen, the other room was the bathroom and shower. Single walls (no insulation), but the roof didn't leak. I was friends with the rancher's son. He and Irode their horses, bareback and without headstalls, in the 50-acre pasture between the rancher's house and our row-shack. We prowled the windbreaks with either BB guns or a .22 rifle in search of legitimate prey. No owls, or hawks, was the rule, but pretty much anything else was legitimate, especially if it was edible.

Almost thirty years later, we'd long been gone from the ranch, but my brother had been working for the Lacey Milling Company for over twenty years. He had rigged up a system where one man could do the work of four, when the trucks came, and the grain was transferred to the silos for processing--transfered via conveyors, ground into flour, then sent to the storage bins. Another crew did the bagging, per order, from the merchants. All the machines needed regular tending, because the shakers often became clogged, and channels forever needed clearing. Mill dust seeps into everything that doesn't have laquer on it. Like human pores. He raised four kids and paid off his mortgages. Then, when he was about to retire, old man Lacey died, and his son reorganized the mill, and let my brother go, with a month's pay, no pension. My brother drew unemployment for the first time, and it sat on him bitterly.

Then he got a job for Kings Country, driving around rural roads and checking to see that the stop signs and other road signs were in good repair. If needed, he would take the appropriate replacement sign out of the back of his truck and mount it. Sometimes he had to plant a new post. He felt guilty abut taking their money, he said, because most days he just drove around looking at scenery and thinking about all the good fishing grounds in the sloughs of the area. He spent twenty years doing this, and retired on a minimum pension, but, an Okie transplant, he still is a portrait of frugality, and his modest investments let him live comfortably.
posted by mule98J at 9:33 AM on February 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


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