Sunday, May 5, 2013


I admit that I'm a small town boy, but, unlike John Cougar Mellencamp, I'm don't think it was a great experience for me. As matter of fact, the best way I could describe my formative years in Lebanon, Missouri is a hellish nightmare world. It was not Mayberry, more of a cross between Twin Peaks and Peyton Place.

I should note that I was not the first person to be critical of Lebanon, Missouri. Harold Bell Wright, who had been a minster in Lebanon, wrote a novel about Lebanon called The Calling of Dan Mathews. In the story, a young minister becomes so disgusted with the hypocrisy in the town that he resigns from the church.

Country music likes to portray small town life as being without problems and a model for all the other cities and nations of the world. The truth is most small towns have a "dark side." This is why there have been so many successful novels, plays, movies and TV shows revolving around the "idyllic small town" that is later exposed to be filled with sex, murder, drug abuse, alcoholism and a thousand lies. Besides The Calling of Dan Mathews, there is also Main Street and Babbitt by Sinclair Lewis, Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson, Our Town by Thorton Wilder, the aforementioned Peyton Place by Grace Metalious and David Lynch's Twin Peaks.

All of these artistic creations all address the problems of class status and conformity to an expected place in the community. The poor kids should never date the rich kids and visa versa, nor should a poor person try to surpass a rich person's success. There are traditions in small towns that need to be adhered to. "That is the way things have always been and don't try to change it."
I think the contributing factor to this "dark side" is the claustrophobic feel that is compounded by the fact that "everybody knows everybody in town." There is no such thing as anonymity. If you do something or say something out of line, everyone knows about it. Trust me, there are people who are still holding things I did in seventh grade against me.

Which leads to one of the worst problems with a small town: GOSSIP. People is small towns would rather say bad things about each other than positive things and if someone can find some juicy secret, that is even better. Sadly, the Internet has made this worse. Lebanon has a message board, connected to the newspaper's website. I used to like to read it, but it has went to the dogs. When it isn't filled with right-wing propaganda and the most racist, homophobic, violent, hate-speak, it is vicious gossip about people I have known for years. Many of these people are personal friends and even some of my family members. They never think that they hurting their neighbors and community with these asinine rumors. We don't care that you think the fire department wrecks its truck to get the city to buy them a new one. We don't care that a boat company was defrauded. It is a big company...they will get over it.  

If that wasn't bad enough, every city and town has a Topix forum, which is even more disgusting. This board usually has discussions about which woman in town "sleeps around" and which women "turn tricks."There also are threads started by parents about "weird kids" or kids that "I-told-my-kid-not-to-friends-with-that- kid." These types of threads are why I have suggested that parents be held accountable for bullying just as much as their kids. I'm sure if Topix had been around when I was in school, there would have been a "That thar weird Desdinova kid" thread about me.

Trust me, small town's have a bad side and we shouldn't try to ignore it. Great pop culture hasn't. Of course, an opinion, like this one, is why I'm considered the Super Villain of the Ozarks!!! Mwu-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

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