Dean Clough

October 18, 2021

Portico Darwin: Arrival Santa Fe and I'm Not Elite

Yesterday, we arrived for our 3 week stay in stunning Santa Fe, New Mexico.  In case you're worried, our condo for the 3 weeks is Killer.  I'll be mentioning highlights here, and sharing a photo or 7, but most of my reporting on Santa Fe will be via a Travel Guide when it's all over.  In other words, don't worry: my intense yet pithy commentary will go on unabated.

I want to thank frequent contributor Arthur for his latest.  I am leading with it here because it's very important and it also connects to what I wanted to write about.  No joke.

Are you a centrist Republican disgusted or mostly so by Trump and the negative parts of his movement?  Is so, I urge you to learn about and contribute to (as Arthur and I both have, and we're no Republicans):

The Renew America Movement

A part of RAM is to reconnect America, and one way we've been very successfully divided is by painting large swaths of America as "elite".  I love the word because of its positive and aspirational connotations, and loathe it when it is prefaced by "coastal" or "urban".  I also loathe it because it's used to keep us divided. 

There's a big part of America that despise people like me (many of you, too) living in places like I do.  Because we are the "elites", coastal or otherwise (I see you in your big boy house in Chicago, Steven Simon).

So today, I make the case for what is and what is not elite.  I will start with my favorite subject.

I can assure, there was and is nothing elite about my hometown, Albany, New York.  This was a vertically-integrated (live cattle/pigs in, hot dogs and bacon out) meat packing plant, right near our house, and even closer to Jay Howling's.  We all remember the unique smells that would waft over our neighborhood.  Not elite!


My father worked for the phone company and my mother was a housewife.  Our house cost $20,000 in 1964, and sold for $100,000 30 years later, and it had one bathroom.  Most/all of my childhood friends had similar or even less glamorous backgrounds.  So I was not raised in any kind of elite manner.

Next, San Francisco and The Bay Area.  OK, yes, it is a diverse, progressive city.  Yes, there are truly "elite" universities and museums right here.  And my God yes, there is a shit-ton of money and it's stupid-expensive.

But anyone that knows the real San Francisco knows its roots are blue collar, unions, and hard-scrabble Irish, Asian, and Italian immigrants.  Even now - in late 2021, when SF is seen by some as not even an American town - the real SF experience is a shot and a beer at a neighborhood dive bar.  Yes, there are posh places, and I enjoy them, as you may well know.  But SF is not by definition "elite", at least not its entirety.

And that brings me to another of my beloved lists.  This time, it's a list of other things that, in and of themselves, are not elite.  I hope you'll give it some thought the next time you're stereotyped because of a zip code.  I bet there may even be one or two enlightened folks in Omaha and Oklahoma City - it works both ways.

Intelligence <> Elitism
I remember when educated people were admired.   My parents never went to college, and they sure were happy I had the opportunity.  Is that bad?

Professional Journalism <> Elitism
I've railed on this plenty.  Folks, there is real, professional journalism, where facts matter.  The Associated Press and The Economist are two examples, and there are others.  But it's not what you read on Facebook.  Being informed does not make one a snob.   

Questioning Trump <> Elitism
Frankly, the equation is Questioning Trump = Saving America.  Gosh, I simply do not understand Republican fealty to this man.  Donald J. Trump, rich kid and inheritor of all he has and builder of nothing?  I thought being born with a silver spoon in one's mouth was the epitome of elite?  Yet, he's their guy?

Atheism <> Elitism
You do you, boo.  You are free to worship who you wish, as often as you wish.  Why can't I do the same, except not worship anything at all?

Diversity <> Elitism
I've said it before, no doubt I'll say it again:  America is about an idea, not a tribe.  America is singular and yes, exceptional because we are a nation made up of all nations.  It is our strength and why we grew to be the superpower we are.  Further, have you ever worked with a real, live immigrant?  Maybe even one that is undocumented?  I have and from what I witnessed over 15+ years doing so, immigrants do very difficult and hard jobs, and there's nothing - zero - elite about it.

Urbanism <> Elitism
Many people like to be in close proximity to neighbors, while others do not.  For the former, there are cities, and for the latter, there is the country.  Is there a problem?

Renewable Energy <> Elitism
Do I need to say anything here?  Don't we all see and feel the looming disaster?  Yet advocating electric cars and a national charging infrastructure is somehow viewed as wonkish and fancy?

Safety Net <> Elitism
America has a decidedly threadbare safety net.  Childcare?  You're on your own.  Paying for education?  Same.  Healthcare?  LOL.  Wanting us to study what other countries do and then implement a version here is not elite.

Human Rights <> Elitism
Lastly, The Four Freedoms (Freedom from Fear, from Want, of Worship, and of Expression) I believe in are not snobby.  Rather, you and everyone living in America and the world deserve them.  Even Trump voters (who are also not elite).

The whole debate over what is a "National Park" has raged on for a while.  Is it <only> "pure" National Parks, like Yellowstone and Yosemite and Acadia, or does it also include National Seashores, National Historical Parks, National Recreational Areas, National Monuments, etc.?  And does it include <international> National Parks, as some misguided souls who've spent a few too many minutes in the hot tub continue to insist?

The matter was decided Saturday - once and for all - by reader and close pal Byron Browne IV.  After I published my list of "pure" Eastern and Midwestern US National Parks, By wrote:

"Here’s an East Coast National Park I visited when I lived in the DC area you might add to your list.  I don’t recall many of the details other than I really enjoyed it. 

Assateague Island"

Alas!  Byron had suggested a National Seashore!  So even a man of brilliance like Browne IV sees these as being under the umbrella of "National Parks".  He even referred to it as such.  So, these are officially eligible:

Thanks, Byron, for settling this crucial matter.  All flavors of National Park Service entities qualify.  International National Parks?  No.

("So National Forests, too?"  They're administered by the Department of Agriculture, not the National Park Service.)

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.

You know what also is not elite?  Some of the finest jazz ever recorded, Diamond Certified to say the least.  Here is Miles Davis and "Kind of Blue", in sterling high resolution (OK, the high res part is elite!). 


About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.