11 October 2010

Hicks in Philly and Other Wisps of the Vapours

On this Monday holiday, a certain Italian navigator in service of the Spanish monarchy comes to mind. He was convinced that he had reached his intended destination, and that he did show just in time before his crew mutinied. Sadly, he was wrong by approximately 8000 miles.

Happy Columbus Day.

Hicks in Philly

{Editor's note: There is a brouhaha in the mountains where the National Republican Senatorial Committee put out a casting call for a TV ad to be shot in Philadelphia. The casting call specified that they were seeking for a "hicky" kind of look, with seedy clothing and beat up John Deere and trucker ball caps. The following letter from a West Virginia emigre to his aunt back on in Alexander's Ferry has been obtained and is published as a public service. Beloved Bro. Dave Born did note this morning that at least in the Fairmont newspaper, it was printed on page 3 while the guy with the prize organic cabbages was featured on page 1.}

Dear Aunt Madge:

Thank you very much for your letter and the $100 check. I’m sorry it took me so long to write this. I know I was taught better manners, but I’ve been really busy.

I have to tell you about a casting call I went to for a commercial about West Virginia! When I moved away from Alexander’s Ferry, I told Mom and Dad and the whole family that I wasn’t going to get stuck working down in a coal mine or driving a truck. That’s why I came up to Philadelphia, to get a good clean job acting, so I would make lots of money the easy way. Well, I’m not living the good life yet, but I’m getting closer.

I went to a casting call a couple of weeks ago for really important political commercial. It was for some Senate campaign thing, and they wanted to trash the Governor. I know what he’s done for us but I’m behind on the rent, so I went anyway. When they cast actors for a commercial, they tell you the kind of person they’re looking for, the kind of clothes to bring to the audition and how to act. Well, get this: They were looking for guys to portray ordinary West Virginians! Can you beat that? I figured, lucky me, here I am and I have the inside track.

Pretty quickly, it got weird. They didn’t exactly describe the people I’m used to back home. The casting call said: “We are going for a ‘hicky’ blue collar look. These characters are from West Virginia, so think coal miner/truck driver looks.” Well, since those sorts of jobs put food on the table and clothes on my back when Dad was doing them, I figured I could bluff my way through it.

The whole costume thing was also really odd. They wanted all the actors bring hats, but they were looking for only certain kind of hats. You’re not going to believe this, but the main thing they wanted was to see hats that were old and dirty. Can you picture what Grandma would have said if somebody had walked in her house wearing an old dirty hat? Boy, I would not want to have been there for that. This director also wanted hats that said particular things. They specifically mentioned John Deere hats, old and dirty, like I said. That one stumped me. A John Deere hat is just what George Clooney wore in that movie we saw at the Marquee Cinema, “A Perfect Storm,” and even out on a fishing boat in the middle the Atlantic Ocean, his hat was new and clean.

Oh, they also said a trucker hat would be okay, but only an old one. The problem is, all my ball caps are like Uncle Matt’s and Dad’s and nearly everybody else’s back home - they have American flags, NRA seals or things like that on them. (Oh, I took my NRA Life Member hat and the director just had kittens - it turns out the NRA has endorsed Joe Manchin and not the other guy.)

They also wanted people wearing jeans and work boots and so forth and it was plain to me that the fellows that showed up were as comfortable wearing that stuff as a pimp would be wearing a choir robe. These guys were all out-of-work “Off-Broadway” actors from New York City. This one fellow had his name on his big wardrobe bag – “Louis Vuitton” – he must be French. He was awfully stuck on himself and when he started talking “like a West Virginian” I could hardly figure out what he was saying.

One of the fellows said he had to go way out of town to Tractor Supply to get a pair of working man’s pants and he was all hot and bothered by that. I don’t understand that, either. I’m thinking the food in the diner where the commercial was filmed probably came off the farm, and the farm workers probably came in needing to wash up every night. So what’s the big deal? Moreover, everything in that diner down the bricks and the plumbing was hauled there to Philadelphia on a truck. I didn’t understand that one, either. I remember driving a moving van part time to pay for school at WVU. I guess I just never learn to be ashamed of work like I should have. But, Aunt Madge, some of the best people I’ve ever known have been coal miners and truck drivers. This really bothers me.

Oh, I didn’t get the job. The director said “The rubes won’t believe you.” I remember Grandpa talking about “rubes,” but I haven’t heard it since I was a kid. Maybe this director is from somewhere really backward, I don’t know. Anyway, he said I just wasn’t “hicky” enough to be a real West Virginian.

I’m really glad to hear the cousin Ralph got a job at the Toyota engine plant. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a computer lathe, let alone how to work one. And is Katie really studying biometrics at Marshall? I hear that’s a hot field and graduates make good money. Tell Jim I’m proud he was promoted fire boss at the mine. To be the one in charge of safety for a full shift of miners is a heavy responsibility.

Don’t be offended, but I am returning the check you sent me. I’m thinking I will be “hicky” enough for the next commercial and if I get that job, I’ll be able to pay my rent for the month. I really wish I could afford own a house like most everybody does back home.

Your loving nephew,

The Silent Auction That "They" Will Regret

On Saturday the 16th, Central Christian Church is hosting the "Furnace Dinner," to benefit the building maintenance fund. Part of the festivities will be a silent auction. One item being auctioned is a sermon title - Pick your scripture, pick your title, and Pastor Josh will preach a sermon on it.

I will be bidding aggressively. The sermon topic I select will include hot dogs, Trotsky, mathematics and the word "Timbuctu." More later.

Pippa passes.


1 comment:

MelissaTheRagamuffin said...

Roger, when I was driving to Ohio this past weekend I saw a sign that said Fairmont. I mentally waved to you.