Why I still love (and hate) my redneck, intolerant, xenophobic part of the country:

It produces people like this: Joe Bageant

Although I sometimes feel like Red Green does about his manhood: “I’m a hillbilly, but I can change. I guess. If I have to.”

I’m not really a hillbilly, but it’s in me. I have lived here in WV as long as I’ve lived anywhere. I’m one of those mutts, Joe, so I hear ya. We’ve got lots of bad habits and not many good ones. But dammit, that’s who we are. (Unwarranted self-confidence, is that one of our character traits?)

How did I get here? I ask myself that quite a lot, actually. My hometown in the East was lacking something for me. I couldn’t see myself long in it. In high school, I never had a date that included conversation. Only drinking, dope, and/or sex. (Just kidding, kids). My girlfriends were good sensible girls, but most fit into the category whose senior ambition was “To marry Buddy and make him happy,” rather than my category, which was “To get the hell out of this town.” Ten years in Southern California nearly killed me with beauty, wealth and good weather, because the orange sellers made me want to cry or write protest songs. Now I am back in the home of my fathers and mothers, watching the last gasp of Appalachia as part of America. Do I fit better here than in the other places? Not really.