In the early 1900s folk artist and rabble-rouser Joe Hill took a look at San Diego and called it a jerkwater town, a figurative pejorative intended to persuade labor activists in Spokane, Washington, from diverting their attention to San Diego. By the time I arrived in San Diego in the early ’seventies, current day critics were maligning the city for its layback malaise.
For decades, hired wordsmiths have built rewarding careers crafting words mouthed by politicians and Chamber leaders that belie these criticisms. Whether honestly felt or slyly generated, this finely ground pabulum never stuck with me. I was drawn like a Hoover to the soot, dirt, and fur balls civic leaders swept under the carpet. It’s there at the underbelly, where I like to reconnoiter, where I found the seeds for Falling Down, the first book, and now Jerkwater Town.
If you share my curiosity for discovering what’s been buried in this San Diego’s dank cellar, I suggest you pick up a copy of Under the Perfect Sun, The San Diego Tourists Never See, Mike Davis’ 2003 primer on the gritty San Diego city fathers, mothers, and founders want to keep hidden. The 2005 paperback edition can be found at http://www.amazon. com/Under-The-Perfect-Sun-Tourists/dp/1565849809.