It’s been awhile since I last spoke on the ridiculousness of my hometown, but don’t assume this means the topic is no longer among my favorites. In fact, it seems that Stock-town’s odd inner workings grow in their importance to me as the days go by. Like increasing concern about a festering boil, the state of my city demands more and more of my attention the longer I am exposed to it. What a weird, fucked up, and undeniably twisted place this is! The blatantly corrupt politics, the trigger-happy & inept police force, the myriad of seemingly unstoppable violent street gangs, our disgustingly polluted air & water, our local news media that can only be described as ‘fucking retarded’ (maybe ‘asleep at the wheel’, if I want to be nice about it), embarrassingly low literacy & high school graduation rates, shockingly high foreclosure figures and unemployment levels, fiercely segregated neighborhoods & an economically divided populace… Yes, there is something to bitch about for everyone, no matter what your interests may be! I don’t give a shit what the public relations team at City Hall says about our pessimistic attitudes being the source of Stockton’s woes. As I see it, our collective cynicism is the only sign that the whole damned city isn’t fucking crazy. At least we know shit is bad.
For all those Readers out there in Internet Land that have not had the misfortune of living ‘round here, let me give you a brief run down on my hometown. For those of you already aware of the hell hole I speak of, can I get an “Amen”? We’ll call my civic training manual…
STOCKTON: A SURVIVAL GUIDE
CHAPTER ONE: WHO THE FUCK ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE? (or Diversity for Dipshits)
What a waste of a melting pot. Stockton has always been home to various flavors of folk with different ethnicities, religions, cultures, and backgrounds but, for whatever reason, it has never accepted this fact. Everyone here acts like invading hordes of outsiders are constantly threatening our Way of Life forgetting, of course, that our Way has always been more of a multi-lane highway than a one way street. Those folks that feel the need to defend Stockton by constantly pointing out it’s positive attributes always cite our diversity as our biggest asset, but dollars-to-donuts these folks socialize in groups of like minded people with similar skin tones and they car pool with their neighbors to church on Sunday. Sure we have the Japanese Obon Bazaar, the Greek Food Festival, a Chinese New Year parade, the Jewish Food Fair, and a slew of other ethnic or religious celebrations open to the public throughout the year, but all that proves is Stocktonians like to eat all kinds of food. We do not judge a chef by the color of his skin, only by the content of his cuisine.
As far as us residents are concerned, there are two kinds of people in Stockton; those from Here and those from Somewhere Else. It’s not like us Lifelong Residents dislike the newcomers or anything; it’s just easy to identify who is who. Newbies don’t understand the very real crime threat; they’re either too scared or oblivious to the fact that they should be scared. My advice? Find yourself a buddy that knows the lay of the land before you go traipsing about town, smiling & waving at folks. That kind of friendly behavior freaks us natives out. Or it can get you jacked. No joke. Stocktonians aren’t friendly folk. We further divide ourselves along economic lines: The Haves vs. The Never Had Shit. The homeowners vs. the terminal renters. Thanks to the real estate crash, we lower class individuals without property now make up an overwhelming majority but Spanos & Co. still wear the pants in these parts, since the President, the Governor, Congressmen, & other people with power have yet to swing by mi casa for lunch & lively political debate. Until then, I doubt any type of populist revolution will spring from our community’s financial dire straits. It’s still Us vs. Them (p.s. we’re losing, dudes).
Stockton was the first California city with a moniker that isn’t of Spanish or Native American origin, having been named after Commodore Robert F. Stockton, a guy noted for participating in the “capture” of California during the Mexican-American War. “Capture” can also be read as “underhanded jack-move”, depending on where you get your history. I think this inappropriate christening of the city after an Anglo uninvolved with it’s founding or settling, proves how at odds this place has always been with the reality of its racial make up. As if there were ever a white majority in Stockton! The first settlers were gold miners from all corners of the globe, so ever since Day One (Uno?) this place has been home to all kinds of humans; from Mexicans to Russians, Chinese to Filipinos, black, white, Christian to Sikh, and almost any other motherfuckers you can think of. Never the less, black people tend to live on the North & South ends of town, gangs out West are primarily white & Mexican, and nobody really bothers to interact with the Southeast Asian communities among us (unless you are getting your nails done, that is).
To summarize: We are a diverse community, but nobody here gives a fuck… unless you’ve got food.
(TO BE CONTINUED…)