they’re lumberjacks and they’re okay

by Art Chantry ( )

this tshirt design has created a swirl of controversy in the local tabloids over the last couple of days. it’s to promote the annual ‘logger rodeo’ in the twin cities of hoquiam/aberdeen. up here in the northwest, we have the small town ‘logger rodeos’ where actual ‘athletes’ compete doing logging chores (log rolling, axe throwing, cross cutting, tree-climbing, log splitting, etc. – eventually climaxing in a tractor ‘cat skinner’ race). it’s a corny regional affectation.

because (like most states) when you leave the major population centers of the cities, the “necks get more and more red” as you travel into the countryside. eventually you get into white trash territory and all bets are off. geographically, most of washington state is about as right-wing conservative as any place in the entire nation.

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most folks think of washington state, they think “green, salmon, forests, microsoft, liberals, ecofreaks, hippies, backpacking, bicycles, slackers, grunge rockers, bill gates, boeing, nordstrom, REI, seattle, jimi hendrix,, etc. etc. etc.” all of that is real and true, but it’s on the western half of the state. if you look at a map of washington state, you’ll see where it’s split right down the middle of the state by a mountain range – the cascades (full of volcanoes). all of those twerpy left-wing stereotypes hold true for the western (and only the ‘upper’ western) half of the state (technically the smaller half). and that is the famous part of the state that we all think of when we say “the other washington”.

however, the EASTERN half of washington state is actually high desert country with rattlesnakes and scorpions and sagebrush and farmers and military bases. the area around hanford (where they first developed plutonium for the manhattan project) is actually one of the most heavily radioactive contaminated sites in the world. there are mountains that glow in the dark. radioactive ants, mice, rabbits and (now) moose that have been wandering out of the ‘restricted’ areas. radioactive sagebrush blowing into nearby cities has been a problem. underground plumes of radioactivity leaking into the ground for the last 75 years has spread to the point of entering the columbia river – we’re becoming worried about the possibility of radioactive salmon runs…

the politics of the eastern half of the state is the diametric opposite of the western half. the eastern half is as right wing and conservative as the western half is left wing and liberal. there really isn’t much happening between the two either. in washington state, you’re on one side or the other. “yin-yang”. there is almost no middle ground anywhere to be found.

as an example, back in the 1984 national presidential primaries, the western half of the state – the democrats – actually voted to back JESSE JACKSON with our delegation to the national democratic convention. we were the ONLY state to send jackson delegates there, too. however, in the eastern half of the state, the conservatives voted to send their delegates to the republican national convention as PAT ROBERTSON delegates! these were also the ONLY robertson delegates at the national republican convention, as well. pretty crazy.

so, you can see how this ‘yin-yang’ problem in this state can play out. i like to joke that for every bill gates there is a ted bundy. there is a sort of crazy ‘twin peaks’ sort balancing act in this state up here. washington is no joke, but it ain’t no picnic, either. at the peak of the grunge rock phenom in seattle, the governor did a speech where he talked about the billions of dollars coming into the state economy because of our ‘grunge’ contributions to the national cultural stew. the next day he signed legislation banning the sale of any ‘obscene’ lyrics to minors. for few months kids under 18 couldn’t even BUY nirvana in the records stores. it finally got overturned as unconstitutional. but, it took some doing, too. you have to be careful out there in bi-polar land. passive/aggressive becomes the new normal….

now, aberdeen/hoquiam are two cities down on the pacific ocean coast that are separated by a river. it’s really one city with two municipal governments. since it’s working class and the primary industry is logging (therefore poor), it falls into the ‘eastern’ half of the state politically and culturally. of course, it’s the infamous home town of nirvana and the melvins and metal church – all extremely radical (even nutso) rock bands of desperation and rebellion (of sorts). when you look at this official tshirt of the local logger rodeo, you begin to see the ‘yin-yang’ of washington state bipolar culture emerge.

this tshirt has managed to create a small rift in our state culture wars. there have been protests from the left that this tshirt is “tacky and in poor ta

#8221;. the people who put this out just thinks it’s a good joke. since the rodeo happens around the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the sponsors thought nothing could be more appropriate. the liberal opposition started printing up tshirts saying “my hoquiam is a hate free zone.” nothing could be more polar opposite (and utterly stupid.)

the idea that this tshirt would even get approved in the beginning is a comment about how crazy this political dialog has become. i mean to say, can any sentiment on a logging rodeo tshirt be more idiotic and inappropriate? and of course, the liberal response with ‘hate free zones’ and all that crap is even more pitifully stupid in the extreme. poke and response. did so/ did not! where’s mommy at these moments?

so it goes….


I wanted to be… a lumberjack!

Leaping from tree to tree, as they float down the mighty rivers of British Columbia. The Giant Redwood. The Larch. The Fir! The mighty Scots Pine! The lofty flowering Cherry! The plucky little Apsen! The limping Roo tree of Nigeria. The towering Wattle of Aldershot! The Maidenhead Weeping Water Plant! The naughty Leicestershire Flashing Oak! The flatulent Elm of West Ruislip! The Quercus Maximus Bamber Gascoigni! The Epigillus! The Barter Hughius Greenus!

With my best buddy by my side, we’d sing! Sing! Sing!

I’m a lumberjack, and I’m okay.
I sleep all night and I work all day.

He’s a lumberjack, and he’s okay.
He sleeps all night and he works all day.

I cut down trees. I eat my lunch.
I go to the lavatory.
On Wednesdays I go shoppin’
And have buttered scones for tea.

He cuts down trees. He eats his lunch.
He goes to the lavatory.
On Wednesdays he goes shopping
And has buttered scones for tea.

He’s a lumberjack, and he’s okay.
He sleeps all night and he works all day.

I cut down trees. I skip and jump.
I like to press wild flowers.
I put on women’s clothing
And hang around in bars.

He cuts down trees. He skips and jumps.
He likes to press wild flowers.
He puts on women’s clothing
And hangs around in bars?!

He’s a lumberjack, and he’s okay.
He sleeps all night and he works all day.

I cut down trees. I wear high heels,
Suspendies, and a bra.
I wish I’d been a girlie,
Just like my dear Papa.

He cuts down trees. He wears high heels,
Suspendies, and a bra?!

What’s this? Wants to be a girlie?! Oh, My!
And I thought you were so rugged! Poofter!…

He’s a lumberjack, and he’s okay.
He sleeps all night and he works all day.

He’s a lumberjack, and he’s okaaaaay.
He sleeps all night and he works all day.

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