September 17, 2002
The “G.C.C.E.” is the opposite of Mickey Kaus’s G.S.W.B. (Guilty Southern White Boy). Whereas the G.S.W.B. overcompensates for being from the South by being excessively liberal on race, the G.C.C.E. overcompensates for not being a Southern country boy by being excessively solicitous of Bubba culture, even though there’s no earthly reason why Bubba culture is more virtuous or authentic than coastal urban culture. For instance, even though he’s a Brit, Andrew Sullivan is a born G.C.C.E., yammering on in his blog about the decadent coatal elites and extolling the virtues of the heartland while summering in Provincetown and displaying not the slightest urge to actually live in, say, Laramie, Wyoming. Tapped believes G.C.C.E. are actually far more condescending to the Bubbas than any Upper West Sider, since the latter are at least honest about their preference for Zabar’s and the U.S. Open.This is on the money, particularly the observation that there’s nothing more particularly “virtuous or authentic” about life in Cedar Rapids or Knoxville than on Central Park West. In fact, this particular Midwesterner (b. Lansing, MI, 1959) has been increasingly creeped out by the spread of the term “heartland” to mean a vague-defined stretch of the continental interior, explicitly exclusive of the coasts and sometimes exclusive of the Rocky Mountain West as well. Wilkes-Barre (PA), Colorado Springs (CO), and Tulsa (OK) are “heartland”; Nogales (AZ), Mountain View (CA), and Canal Street (NYC) are, somehow, not. Remember, it’s people who would figure in John Mellencamp videos who have “heart.”
More to the point, as census data shows more and more clearly, America is urban. This cult of “heartlandism” is an emotional response to the fact that most Americans live in big metropolises. It’s the modern American equivalent of the German sentimental attachment to lederhosen and dirndls.
That said, Zabar’s is overrated, and I couldn’t be less interested in the U.S. Open. I’m not arguing for the superiority of “coastal elite” culture, just observing that there’s nothing less “authentic” about it than there is about anyone else’s complicated, compromised, and probably fast-changing life here in 2002. And if you look beyond the stereotypes of yuppies and Bubbas, most of us turn out to live in urban conglomerations of one sort or another. [09:06 AM]