January 8, 2005

I Live In a BoBo Town


Lead Belly
Originally uploaded by octopod.

David Brooks, who now writes a colum for the New York Times, is the author of Bobos In Paradise. In this interview, he describes a bobo:

A bobo is a bourgeois bohemian. These are the people who are thriving in the information age. They're the people, you go into their homes and they've got these renovated kitchens that are the size of aircraft hangars, with plumbing. You know, you see the big sub- zero refrigerators and you open the door and you think, they could stick an in-law suite in the side. So these are the people who are really making a lot of money, and I spent the last few years going across upscale America looking at the people who are really thriving in the information age. And one of the things, the chief characteristic I noticed, was that they've smashed the old categories.

It used to be easy to tell a bourgeois from a bohemian. And the bourgeois were the straight-laced suburban types, went to church, worked in corporations. And the bohemians were the arty free spirits, the rebels. But if you look at upscale culture, at the upper middle classes, the people in Silicon Valley, you find they've smashed all the categories together. Some people seem half yuppie-bourgeois and half hippie- bohemian. And so if you take bourgeois and bohemian and you smash them together, you get the ugly phrase 'bobo.'"

It occurs to me that not only am I a bit of a bobo myself, but Laguna Beach is the quintessential bobo town. It may not be cool to admit it, but it is.

I used just to say "It's a bourgeois town," a tribute to Lead Belly's song of the same name, about Jim Crow housing in Washington DC.

Here are the lyrics to that song:

BOURGEOIS BLUES

(Huddie Ledbetter / Alan Lomax)
recorded by : Billy Childish; Ry Cooder; Tav Falco; Arlo Guthrie; Leadbelly; Taj Mahal;
Odetta; Pete Seeger.

Me and my wife went all over town
And everywhere we went people turned us down
Lord, in a bourgeois town
It's a bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Home of the brave, land of the free
I don't wanna be mistreated by no bourgeoisie
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, me and my wife we were standing upstairs
We heard the white man say "I don't want no niggers up there"
Lord, in a bourgeois town
Uhm, bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

Well, them white folks in Washington they know how
To call a colored man a nigger just to see him bow
Lord, it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around

I tell all the colored folks to listen to me
Don't try to find you no home in Washington, DC
`Cause it's a bourgeois town
Uhm, the bourgeois town
I got the bourgeois blues
Gonna spread the news all around .

The Laguna Beach parody of this song has yet to be written. Any offerings? Maybe such a parody could get into Lagunatics.

(Reprinted from my suspended Laguna Beach blog, 11/14/04.

1 comment:

Porter Weill Chick said...

You amazing social commentator you! I'll file "bobo" away for future use when someone fitting the category needs smiting.

Also, Weill and Bartok????? You, sir, may just well be my hero!