Still the spring winds come and the young girls walk by in their beautiful way. All is never lost. And in the face of eternity, what we consider all and everything is truly nothing
March 28, 2011 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Joe Bageant, influential voice of the silent underclass and cartographer of the American Hologram, has died at 64. Bageant, author of Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches From America's Class War and a prolific essayist known for his humor and irreverent style (shades of Thompson at his most human echo), spent a career reporting the rise and fall of the American working class and documenting the colorful lives of the people therein. posted by byanyothername (54 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
He could be obtuse and infuriating and damn was he self-righteous, but I always liked reading his stuff and at times he could generate some truly beautiful pages of writing.

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posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:45 PM on March 28, 2011


Damn. A sample chapter of Deer Hunting With Jesus has been sitting on my Kindle for months waiting to be read. Guess I'll go do that now.

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posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:47 PM on March 28, 2011


That's a damn shame. Wish he could've gone out with the country in a better way.

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posted by codacorolla at 8:57 PM on March 28, 2011


I think if there's any phrase that's underused in today's society, its "class war".

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posted by hal_c_on at 9:00 PM on March 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fascinating and relevant writing, and an equally fascinating life.

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posted by cybrcamper at 9:21 PM on March 28, 2011


As an Anglo European white guy from a very
long line of white guys, I want to thank all the
brown, black, yellow and red people for a
marvelous three-century joy ride. During the
past 300 years of the industrial age, as
Europeans, and later as Americans, we have
managed to consume infinitely more than we
ever produced, thanks to colonialism, crooked
deals with despotic potentates and good old
gunboats and grapeshot. Yes, we have lived,
and still live, extravagant lifestyles far above
the rest of you. And so, my sincere thanks to all
of you folks around the world working in
sweatshops, or living on two bucks a day, even
though you sit on vast oil deposits. And to
those outside my window here in Mexico this
morning, the two guys pruning the retired
gringo's hedges with what look like pocket
knives, I say, keep up the good work. It's the
world's cheap labor guys like you -- the black,
brown and yellow folks who take it up the
shorts -- who make capitalism look like it
actually works. So keep on humping.
Remember: We've got predator drones.


I'm going to miss that guy.
posted by fartknocker at 9:25 PM on March 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


What a shame. Bageant was the kind of writer, and the kind of guy, America needs more of, not fewer. I found Deer Hunting with Jesus a bit preachy at times, but his columns were frequently both hilarious and well targeted, an enjoyable mix of ranting and reporting.
posted by RogerB at 9:27 PM on March 28, 2011


The guy could really craft a sentence and maybe more importantly, a sentiment.

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posted by telstar at 9:28 PM on March 28, 2011


Dammit.

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posted by heurtebise at 9:29 PM on March 28, 2011


How is it that I was completely unaware of this guy until he died? Well, thanks for the introduction, even it it's a little late.
posted by lekvar at 9:50 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


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posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:51 PM on March 28, 2011


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posted by Skygazer at 10:07 PM on March 28, 2011


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posted by sobell at 10:10 PM on March 28, 2011


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posted by piedmont at 10:12 PM on March 28, 2011


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posted by Mister Bijou at 10:13 PM on March 28, 2011


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good man.
posted by gcbv at 10:16 PM on March 28, 2011


Just from his book title, you can tell he's a white guy trying to win status with white guys by hating white guys. In other words, self-hating.
posted by Yakuman at 10:28 PM on March 28, 2011


Aww man, I remember digging this guy when I was in my 20s, he did some really great stuff, good for getting the blood up. Bummer.
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:46 PM on March 28, 2011


Hey, Yakuman: nothing wrong with self-hating, pal. It can drive people to incredible things.
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:49 PM on March 28, 2011


In other words, self-hating.

You think? Dude partied with some of the hardest partiers ever to, umm, party. Seemed like he enjoyed his life to me. Anywayz, I hope he did. I enjoy his writing.

So, if I'm white, I have to like all white folks. Is that how it works?
posted by fartknocker at 10:52 PM on March 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I read Shoot the Fat Guys, Hang the Smokers about a year ago, and am now reminded about how much I liked this:

"To see smoking, physical attractiveness and other human attributes and frailties politicized is chilling. To see the left (which apparently does not own a single mirror between them) so whole-heartedly taking part in such cannibalism bodes even grimmer. Among other things, it means that the worst people among us have managed to turn the left once again against their brothers and sisters on this earth, against the very people who most need what liberalism and the left has to offer humanity. Things like justice, genuine equality, environmental healing, freedom from hating and being hated -- all of us bound together by our commonalities as human beings. By acknowledging our equal weaknesses, we become equally strong."
posted by heurtebise at 10:58 PM on March 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


In other words, self-hating.
You could hardly be more wrong if you tried, life of fierce love.
posted by Abiezer at 11:04 PM on March 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just from his book title, you can tell he's a white guy trying to win status with white guys by hating white guys. In other words, self-hating.

Yeah, reading comprehension is a pretty difficult skill to master.
posted by TwelveTwo at 11:19 PM on March 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


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posted by c13 at 11:24 PM on March 28, 2011


I really dug his ex-pat blog. :(
he was on my mind a lot lately because awhile back we discussed the ex-pat life. I always thought if him as loveably cranky and a keen observer of the human condition.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 11:53 PM on March 28, 2011


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posted by hal9k at 1:47 AM on March 29, 2011


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posted by acb at 2:08 AM on March 29, 2011


Reading Joe's stuff has been a fixture of my life since I first discovered him four or five years ago. Although he could write about the predations of political and economic elites with a lot of fire and brimstone, I don't believe that hate (of the self-directed or any other variety) was really the point for him. Status certainly wasn't.

Quite a loss, this.
posted by metagnathous at 2:54 AM on March 29, 2011


Shit.
posted by dustyasymptotes at 3:50 AM on March 29, 2011


A unique and deeply needed voice lost.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:16 AM on March 29, 2011


Dammit. May he hunt forever on a ridge somewhere in the company of his father...
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:27 AM on March 29, 2011


A unique and deeply needed voice lost.

Amen!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:34 AM on March 29, 2011


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posted by fixedgear at 4:45 AM on March 29, 2011


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posted by biddeford at 4:46 AM on March 29, 2011


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posted by symbollocks at 5:08 AM on March 29, 2011


I spent some time reading the Amazon reviews of Deer Hunting with Jesus and contrast was amazing. About 75% were of the "Wow, this is really good, more people ought to read this so we can understand each other better" variety and virtually all off the remaining were rants accusing him of socialism, communism, hatred of small town people, hatred of white people, etc etc etc. It was pretty incredible.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 5:18 AM on March 29, 2011


I spent a long weekend with Joe, shooting for a photo essay I never did anything with. We explored his world, where he grew up, where he spent his time. I had a blast, was sent home with a trunkful of books and manuscripts and a quiet pride in the fact that he spent lots of time telling me I was his brother and a kindred spirit. It's been a few years since we talked, but I had a very quiet morning yesterday when I found out he died.

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posted by nevercalm at 5:30 AM on March 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I first heard of Joe years ago from some link right here on metafilter. Thank you for turning me onto him.

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posted by sixpack at 5:40 AM on March 29, 2011


Oh no! This guy was just starting to get the attention he deserved. I listened to several interviews with him, likable and intelligent fellow he was. We need more like him.
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:24 AM on March 29, 2011


I'm a fan.

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posted by box at 6:36 AM on March 29, 2011


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posted by languagehat at 6:42 AM on March 29, 2011


I first heard of Joe from metafilter too. He understood, and lived, the middle-aged angry American white guy ethos. He was able to communicate about how that world could - and needed to - be re-connected to traditional liberal values, and wrote with a style that was uniquely personal and engaging. He presaged the Tea Party, and made me hope that with a few more Joe Bageants, the Tea Partiers' rightward veer might have been headed off. But there was only one Joe Bageant, and I'll miss his voice.

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posted by kgander at 6:46 AM on March 29, 2011


Just from his book title, you can tell he's a white guy trying to win status with white guys by hating white guys. In other words, self-hating.

Just from your comment, I can tell you're the type of asshole who likes to take a dump in obit threads of people whose work you have no knowledge of.
posted by windbox at 6:58 AM on March 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I found Joe Bageant through Deer Hunting with Jesus. I was stunned with how well he captured Winchester,Virginia and his observations were like he was reading my mind. Since then, I've devoured everything I could find on his web site and Alternet.

To me, he was Virginia's Molly Ivins - and that's big praise in my book. We desperately need more people like Joe (and Molly) who are not afraid to speak truth to power.

R.I.P.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 7:01 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other words, self-hating.

Right. He hated himself so much that he used his VA benefits to have medical care for the cancer AND came back to America - to try and extend his life.

VA benefits that came from the same place he 'became an Ex-Pat from' and had often said statements about the military-(congressional)-industrial complex which would be less than flattering by stating his direct observations VS slapping a yellow magnetic ribbon made in China that said "I support the troops" or repeat the platitudes of Fox News.

Perhaps you are one of the people who sees their own skin color as a big part of self identity. You might be happier at Stormfront, aztlan.net or some other places which reflect such an attitude. Given Mr. Bageant expressed solidarity on economic levels and not genetic, your position just isn't supportable.
posted by rough ashlar at 7:18 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing I always valued about Bageant's work was his willingness to admit "I may be talking out of my ass here" within rants that were otherwise structured and obviously knowledgeable. His writing had a warm and human quality that's sometimes lacking from similar observers of American society—and yet he could be as crotchety as any of 'em.

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posted by AugieAugustus at 8:38 AM on March 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


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posted by velvet winter at 9:53 AM on March 29, 2011


Every American should read Deer Hunting with Jesus.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 12:52 PM on March 29, 2011


shit :(
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:18 PM on March 29, 2011


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posted by jtron at 4:38 PM on March 29, 2011


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I've been circling Rainbow Pie in the local library for a few weeks now waiting for it to come off loan, guess I should get in there tonight and put a request on it, if it isn't back yet.
posted by fido~depravo at 4:44 PM on March 29, 2011


That first linked essay is amazing

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posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 1:05 AM on March 30, 2011


A quote I like from a great Bageant essay:

"...the few very comfortable elite folks on this earth said of [James] Lovelock: 'This guy is full of shit, a nutcase being adored by a bunch of naked tattooed pagans and gloomy intellectual types,' both of which number among my favorite kinds of people."

They're among my favorite kinds of people too, Joe. Bless your heart. Rest in peace.
posted by velvet winter at 4:46 PM on March 31, 2011


Huh, I'd never heard of Bageant til we got his "Rainbow Pie" in at work, thought it looked interesting & nabbed it before it went out to the branch libraries. It's a fascinating read, I'm not saying I agree with everything in it, but as a non-American reader it makes for a good book.

RIP Joe
posted by Fence at 11:36 AM on April 6, 2011


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