Joe has a site that contains I assume, all his published work but this site appears to be down http://www.joebageant.com/ so I constructed a freebie at WordPress to house the 65 essays I’ve published here.
I’ve been doing some housework on the site and I’ve noticed that Joe Bageant’s Website seems not to be available which is a real shame. I had the pleasure of hanging out with Joe when he came to London promoting his first book, ‘Dear hunting with Jesus…” and we had a jolly time and polished off a bottle of Jack and talked of many things. I still miss him. In any case, I have tried to consolidate all the essays I’ve published by Joe over the years and it currently totals 65. There maybe a couple more lurking around somewhere that I’ve missed. You can access them all here:
Lonzy Barker is missing. Has been for several months now. Nobody noticed it until that smelly old hermit didn’t show up here at Dalton Bayles’ post office store for his sardines and rock candy. “He could be layin’ over there in his pigpen dead or something,” says Dalton. Did I tell you, dear reader, that Lonzy Barker lives in a pigpen? Always has. Anyway, after three months of Lonzy’s government checks piling up in the pigeonhole, Dalton has decided Lonzy “just might be — I ain’t saying he is and I ain’t saying he ain’t — missing.”
As I drove through the decaying neighborhood in Winchester, Virginia the pain of growing up there came back — the stabbing kind that only lasts a second but makes you flinch as you remember some small but stupid and brutal moment of adolescence. I have never known if everyone has them, but I’ve always suspected they do. Now that old neighborhood slid by my rental car window looking like it was painted by Edward Hopper, then bleakly populated with gangstas, old men with forty-ounce malt liquor bottles, hard-working single moms and kids on cheap busted plastic tricycles.
My family’s ancestral home on Shanghai Road, a great sagging clapboard thing perched on a hill with its many filigreed balconies and porches like heisted antebellum petticoats, sat perched on a hill at the base of Sleepy Creek Mountain. Gnawed by the elements on the outside and woodsmoked by a thousand griddlecake mornings on the inside, where children ran the stairways and mice ran the cellars, my grandparent’s house was stuffed and running over with life itself.
For those who prefer a real book rather than reading on a computer screen, a book with 25 of Joe Bageant‘s best essays is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball: The Best of Joe Bageantwill be available for distribution in the USA April 1. This book was first published last November in Australia by Scribe.
Before he died one year ago, Joe and I had talked about such a book, even though he initially had doubts that people would pay for something that’s available for free on the web. But, many emails from his readers convinced Joe that enough people wanted the essays in book form to make the project worthwhile. After Joe died, Henry Rosenbloom, Joe’s friend and Australian publisher, asked me to select and edit essays for the book.
Kingdom of Survival, a documentary film in which Joe Bageant is a focal point, will premier at the World Film Festival (Festival des Films du Monde) in Montreal, August 18 through August 28. The segments of the film with Joe were made more than a year ago. Before he died last March, Joe had seen an unfinished version of the documentary and told director M. A. Littler that he was pleased to be a part of the film. In addition to Joe, the documentary has interviews with Noam Chomsky and Mark Mirabello — plus a reclusive cabin builder, an anarchist book publisher, and a folk musician.
Here is a trailer for Kingdom of Survival. For those who don’t know Joe Bageant, he is the second speaker in this clip. Continue reading this...
Here is an outtake from The Kingdom of Survival, a documentary now in production that includes interviews with Joe Bageant, Noam Chomsky, a radical book publisher, a cabin builder, a musician, and a radio host. This segment was shot one year ago when Joe was visiting his home in Winchester, Virginia.
Given how much we had in common, it’s perhaps a bit odd that Joe Bageant (1946-2011) and I never met (although I think we did correspond at one point). He even wound up living in Mexico a good part of the time. But the real connection between us is the congruence of perception regarding the United States. Joe came from unlikely roots to have formulated the political viewpoint that he did: working-class, right-wing, anti-intellectual, flag-waving, small-town Virginia. A “leftneck,” someone dubbed him; it’s not a bad description.
Joe Bageant was an extraordinarily gifted writer and thinker. Author ofDeer Hunting with Jesus and countless essays and editorials on politics and society, Joe was a champion of human rights and a fearless critic of our government’s mistreatment of its working class. His writing is imbued with compassion but also a caustic wit that laid bare the working class’s tendency to do what is in their own worst interests. Watching Joe tear into the Teabaggers was like watching an extremely large feral cat play with its food. His death comes at a time when his voice is needed more than ever. I’m not sure there’s anyone out there that can fill the void.
This is not an obituary. I’m not trying to give the reader an overview of Joe’s life in a few paragraphs. I am sharing a few of my memories of Joe as a friend and writer.
Let me be up front about things: I want you to buy Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir. I want you to buy it not because I have any financial interest in it. I don’t. I want you to buy this book because it is a magnificent memorial both by and to one of the best American writers of the waning of the 20th and dawning of the 21st centuries. I want you to buy this book because, as the line from ‘Death of a Salesman’ notes, ‘Attention must be paid’.
I met Joe Bageant online in 2007. After reading Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War and many of his essays online, I sought Joe out for an on-air interview, which he gave me with what I came to know as his characteristic great good humor. From that conversation (the only one in which I have given over an entire show to a guest) forward, I knew I had a friend and comrade. Our conversations thereafter only cemented that understanding.
Now that he’s gone, the fact that I never got to meet him personally is somewhat assuaged by his having allowed me to meet his family and his world in Rainbow Pie. Being as I am a hillbilly and a redneck, those are my people, too, with their uncouth joy, unbearable sorrows and unending labors. Very likely, they’re yours, as well. It is a world I recognize easily, and recognize also that it was not something about which it is easy to write.’
Joe Bageant Saturday. He was my father’s very close friend over the past several years, and was an encouraging presence for me as well. This clip from the 2010 documentary, The Kingdom of Survival, shows him, I think, at his defiant best:
Jocotepec, Mexico — Joe lived awhile down the lake. We would visit him of an afternoon, Vi and I, and find him, a bear of a man, bearded mountain Buddha, writing on the porch of his one-room place in Ajijic. Always he wore his old fishing vest, in which I suspect he was born, and sometimes he carried a small laptop in one of its pockets. Usually we adjourned to the living room, which was also the bedroom, dining room, and salon. He would fetch bottles of local red, or make the jalapeño martinis he invented — there was a bit of mad chemist in him — and we would talk for hours of art, music, the news, politics, and people. Especially people. Sometimes he grabbed one of the guitars from the wall and sang blues, at which he was good. I guess growing up dirt poor in West Virginia puts that kind of music in you.
Joe could fool you. He talked slow and Southern, lacked pretensions, and you could talk to him for weeks without realizing how very damned smart he was.
One day we dropped in and he said he had just found that he had cancer. It went fast. He died Saturday.