Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Substitute Subtitle

So who's to thank for this? The new paperback version of Crunchy Cons is already being advertised on Amazon and is sporting a new, shorter subtitle, "The New Conservative Counterculture and Its Return to Roots". That's about a 75% reduction in words from the original, tedious "Hip Gun-slinging Mamas" or whatnot.

I suppose there's not as much real estate on a paperback, but let indulge in some conspiracies. Do you think the Birkenstock company sued? Probably not --maybe there was just a little something on there to offend more people in the paperback-buying market demographic. I haven't seen too many Birks at the pistol range.

Or maybe Rod was asked (or bribed) by the evil Republicans to remove the reference to saving their party? This is actually the most interesting aspect of the subtitle to me -- I had been pointing to that little parenthesized remark as kind of an obstacle to the claim that CCism isn't really about politics but the, you know, transcendental free-range sensibilities of the greater good or whatever.

So I'll be the first one to praise this change as a recognition and application on Rod's part of a "regular conservative" sensibility called unity. With a lot of the pundits buzzing with the uncertainties of continued Republican majorities, and therefore conservative influence in general, I imagine the market for the quaint and eccentric topics in Crunchy Cons may be soon questioned by conservative book-buyers and the publishing industry. A liberal takeover might be devastating for an author like Rod whose success in large part depends on conservatives not having anything better to do.

And devastating for the rest of America.


Blogger kathleen said...

isn't that Nixon's arm sticking out the window of the VW bus?

6:40 PM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

That's what I thought too about Nixon's arm. I also found it interesting that he shortened the title. Perhaps he is taking advice and getting out of politics. I have to go since I am being tortured by my corporation this past week and all future weeks for the near future.

6:07 AM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

One more thing, I wear my my camo socks with my Birks at the pistol range. That brass burns if you don't. I can toil in peace now that I got this off my chest.

6:36 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

At first I thought I was over-reacting. But now I think the reverse of word order from "countercultural conservatives" to "Conservative Counterculture" is immense in the initial perception, and I think it's a vast improvement. Most conservatives I know feel like they are part of a counterculture with the media being so one-sided; this is true whether or not they make their own granola.

But the original phrase where there is a modifier on the noun conservatives alludes much more to a sub-group within a larger group. This sub-grouping has been pointed out by Jonah Goldberg and others to be problematic because it's used to "inflict" conservatism with your personal preferences, e.g., the types of churches and chickens that you like.

Mystic, I don't think he's "getting out of politics", that's too hard. But maybe he's taking a step back; maybe he's "growing in office" as they say.

6:38 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Mystic admitted:
> One more thing, I wear my
> camo socks with my Birks
> at the pistol range. That
> brass burns if you don't.

Mystic, you rock! But I had you figured as a man who preferred a revolver. Bet those are hand-knitted socks.

6:41 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

I have the impression the original, over-cute subtitle was intended to make people say, "My, what an unusual and original book. I must read it!"

In the event, though, a lot of people took it to mean that wearing Birkenstocks would save America.

More interesting to me is the absence of the word "How." The old subtitle emphasized the didactic aspect of the book, Rod's "manifesto" (has anyone else actually signed onto it?), what ought to be done. The new one emphasizes the book's descriptive aspect, what is being done. Perhaps Three Rivers Press realizes Rod is a professional journalist, not a professional philosopher.

How much the contents of the book will change (beyond the brief chapter addressing Jonah's criticisms) remains to be seen (although not, I should say, by me).

7:47 AM  
Blogger SiliconValleySteve said...

We need to spice things up here.

How about starting a fund to buy a Gameboy for Rod's son?

2:25 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Been giving the new subtitle some thought (in passing), a few things crossed my mind:

1) Am I the only one to think that such a drastic change in the descriptive subtitle of a non-fiction book betrays the likelihood that even Dreher doesn't know what the book is about?

I mean, its subject matter is obvious, but *not* its thesis.

2) It's still a clunky subtitle. Shouldn't it be "The New Conservative Counterculture and Its Return to Its Roots"? Or Our Roots? Or America's Roots?

Instead of getting back to "my roots," has anyone ever said, "I need to get back to roots"?

Or is Dreher just a big fan of Alex Haley?

2:33 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

How about starting a fund to buy a Gameboy for Rod's son?

C'mon, what six year old wouldn't want to visit a winery, a cheesemaker, and the dessicated remains of a saint?

Anyway, it's not like some comic-book movie's coming out this weekend. :)

2:35 PM  
Blogger SiliconValleySteve said...

C'mon, what six year old wouldn't want to visit a winery, a cheesemaker, and the dessicated remains of a saint?

That's good. I can't stop laughing.

2:45 PM  
Blogger SiliconValleySteve said...

Instead of getting back to "my roots," has anyone ever said, "I need to get back to roots"?

I just think he's going retro and trading the berkies in for the old negative heel shoes from Canada.

2:54 PM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

If he would have utilized the diminished title without the political references, I would have a read the Godspy article the first time I saw it and probably would have bought the book immediately. I would not have blown it off. I disregarded it solely because of the extended title. Not that interested in politics anymore.

Also, the VW Bug still being there does not appeal either. I don't think hippieism is the spirit of the book. He describes a lifestyle that I try (emphasis on "try") to live. There is so much hope in the book.

My guess is he started with politics, and that the flow of the book pulled him in another direction. I thought the last two chptrs were quite good, and very spiritual. My wife cried as she read them, but why is for another time.

I would have went another direction with the housing chapter. I could see how that might sound elitist. I would have argued that regardless of where you live, your home should feel Christian. That seemed to bother Pauli a lot. It did for me too, but I understand his premise. All of the gentrified "cool" neighborhoods I know are childless dual income couples. They tend to be liberal neighborhoods. I hate to make a judgment. But you know they are liberal by the Tibetan prayer flags fluttering in the wind from poles that just two decades earlier flew Old Glory. (Don’t tell anyone, but I think that the prayers are in hope that they can afford the Nordic package with their next Volvo purchase. You could fund quite a few micro-loans in Sao Paulo for what you pay for that Nordic package, not to mention the Volvo. Let’s keep that just between us.) The well manicured lawns. (Let’s keep this quiet too, the lawn workers are paid exploitation wages. Please don’t tell anyone that the libs practice wage slavery, as well as killing the unborn.) There is the overpriced HoleFoods providing tasteless semi-rotten “organic” food flown in from all over the globe. We should not forget all the boutique restaurants that charge $20 a plate for Dandelion Greens and macaroni. The ancestors used to eat that because they were poor, now it is trendy.

Anyway, I digressed into a mild criticism of the liberal aesthetic, long story short I like the new title. Still don't see the political angle. One thing I hope they do is remove the abbreviated manifesto from the back cover.

When I read that in the book store, I Immediately understood why you all were critical of the book. In the end I think Rod is right. I have to run now, one of my Orc masters will come beat me with a three foot length of high pressure hose for not working. Can’t tangle with you all now while under corporate persecution. Had a spare fifteen to get out this dispatch. I will send more dispatches from cubeland as I have time. Pauli please consider a Holy Spirit Novena

as we approach Pentecost.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Mystic, one reason the "political angle" is there to provide a "marketing angle" for the book. You are the exception, I think, in that to you the politics is a distraction from the rest of Rod's message.

One incredible thing to me is how many VW bus owners I knew told me the story of "the day my ride caught on fire." Usually the owner was "in a state" as they say when the pyrotechnics began due to the faulty wiring which often plagues these cheese boxes, but they always seemed to escape to a safe distance to witness the demise of their investment of $300 plus duct tape and coat hangers.

These stories always gave me the image of a dude squatting there after a Grateful Dead concert, maybe wearing birks even, with a 15-year-old waif barefootin' along in a tie-dye night-gown T-shirt he picked up. They just sit there completely detached watching the pretty fire because, hey, who cares, they're at one with the world, man. Plus he managed to get the stash and his bootleg collection out of the doomed vehicle before it ignited.

Bubba, maybe the "roots" mentioned refer to square roots like in math. Maybe there's a secret number code hidden within the book and if you find it you will reach enlightenment.

9:08 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Mystic has a good idea. Obviously real estate is at a premium on the back cover of the paperback as well - I think we should have an abbreviated manifesto contest and we can send all the ideas in a big email to Rod. Here are some ideas:

OLD 2: Modern conservatism has become too focused on money, power, and the accumulation of stuff, and insufficiently concerned with the content of our individual and social character.

NEW 2: Burn down Disneyland!!

OLD 6: Small, Local, Old, and Particular are almost always better than Big, Global, New, and Abstract.


OLD 8: The relentlessness of media-driven pop culture deadens our senses to authentic truth, beauty, and wisdom.

NEW 8: Only the first 2 Star Wars movies are any good.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

Beyond marketing hype and Rod D. what's up with the world. Give the peeps of everyone's background this could easily turn into a geek blog. Nevertheless I am crunchy (I don't like this tag) because of things proposed in the bottom article.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

back to work.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

"C'mon, what six year old wouldn't want to visit a winery, a cheesemaker, and the dessicated remains of a saint?"


I can't stop laughing either.

I can just imagine what my kids--not to mention my husband--would say if I proposed a vacation like that.

10:26 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

"C'mon, what six year old wouldn't want to visit a winery, a cheesemaker, and the dessicated remains of a saint?"

I can't stop laughing either.

I can just imagine what my kids--not to mention my husband--would say if I ever proposed a vacation like that. :)

Diane, new here and appreciating this blog immensely

10:28 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

Oops, sorry about duplicate comment.

10:29 AM  
Blogger SiliconValleySteve said...

So Rod just visited my home region and it gave me great insite into him. He visits some very rich French guy who lives on top of a mountain and then pontificates about what life in the SF Bay Area is all about. He sounds like a moron.

Aside...Is it really environmentally sensitive to be climbing that mountain to get home everyday? Of course I'm sure he eats enough organic brown rice to make up for the pollution but still..

His view is incredibly superficial. My guess is that everything he writes about is at the same shallow level.

He meets some young guys just like him who are starting up a winery and draws some ridiculous conclusions. Hey Rod, land in Sonoma county for growing grapes is very expensive. These "young guys" are not just regular people like you and me they have gobs of cash available to them. I've known some of the dotcom wealthy who have started wineries. You know what the saying is. It's easy to make a small fortune running a winery. You just have to start with a large one.

There is a common theme here however. Whether it's the old Mercedes, the servant, the fancy fruit and veg, etc, Rod is a wannabe rich yuppie. He really looks up to these people and sees only what he wants to see.

Meanwhile, he can't bear the company of regular working class Catholics and has to find some perfect place to worship.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

SiliconValleySteve, you rock.

The superficiality thing has struck me, too. Why on earth do some Catholic bloggers I respect idolize this guy? His views are silly and shallow; even when they're true, they're blindingly obvious, yet he states them as if they were bombshells. (Traveling with children is a pain---yeah, no parent in the history of parentdom has ever noticed *that* before. :p)

OK, I'm being uncharitable; I must cease and desist. But to tell the truth, I wasn't that familiar with Rod's writings until very recently. Now, the more I read, the more I find that there's no *there* there.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

OK, I'm having an attack of remorse here.

Re Rod's adulation of the Rich & Crunchy: Chalk it up to his relative youth. He's not yet 40--a mere child.

It's an impressionable age. :)

Now, do I still hafta go to Confession? :D


2:36 PM  
Blogger SiliconValleySteve said...


No need for remorse. Rod machine gun attacks everyone he disagrees with on a regular basis. His shallow sanctimony invites attack and the hope is that he will actually learn from it. So far he hasn't but as he grows up and has real life experiences, who knows what he will take from our comments.

Just another aside, he talks about his children like he is some kind of expert in child rearing. HE HAS A 2 YEAR OLD AND A SIX YEAR OLD. His wife doesn't work outside the home and she has weekly help with the housework. It is no great triumph to be happy in such easy circumstances. Rod, those are the really easy times. They were easy for us and my wife taught part-time for about half of it and we didn't have any servants.

Forgive me but I have trouble believing that a guy who fusses over eating the right hamburger is going to cope with real tragedy very well.

3:14 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Steve, you've hit on something that has crossed my mind, too. Rod insists that, if he leaves the Catholic Church, it will be because he can't safely raise his children there. He must find the perfect Church in which to shield his children's souls.

Well, many folks have pointed out to him that the *family,* not the parish, is the pirmary educator of children and nurturer of kids' faith.

This is quite true, of course.

But there's another problem with Rod's view, too. He seems to assume that his kids are automata--that if he "trains them up in the way they should go," with the support of the Perfect Tareless Church, then they'll infallibly retain their Christian faith.

Only someone who does not yet have teenage kids could possibly assume anything so naive.

News flash for Rod: Kids have free will. They are not clones of their parents; they are separate people. And, even if you train 'em right till your eyes bubble, there is still the very real possibility that they will exercise their free will and reject everything you stand for.

Sheesh--wait till his kids hit their preteen years. Is he ever in for some messy rude awakening. :)

God bless,


P.S. Thanks for the encouragement. And your final sentence was priceless.

3:25 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

Diane, you're officially addicted to this blog. Sorry.

Steve, if you read the book you might remember his mention near the end of some guy he met in some cool, wine bar who "bought and sold businesses" as he put it. I thought to myself, there is a word for that: entrepreneur. [Sounds of women shrieking and children screaming.]

But the reason he included this obviously capitalist guy was he said something Rod agreed with, it was something profound like "People are really messed up nowadays -- ever noticed that?" (Sorry for the paraphrase -- I don't have my red-letter reference copy of Crunchy Conservatism on me at present.)

8:28 PM  
Blogger Pauli said...

> Just another aside, he talks
> about his children like he is
> some kind of expert in child
> rearing.

The other thing that irritates me about his parenting style is that he parades his kids like they're Gerber babies; their pictures are on the internet in that style section article and in some other online article I saw. It's an open invitation to trouble and he's worried about Catholic priests? But that's his "living-out-loud" style that must impress some people.

8:37 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

I get the feeling Rod doesn't spend a great deal of time with kids, much less his kids. he's not home a lot -- and not just during work hours. he does an awful lot of reading and blogging and lunching and wine-bar hopping when he is "home".

but even if there's not enough evidence for that previous statement (though there IS some evidence), it seems to me that nothing really BAD has ever happened to Rod. of course i don't wish it on him. but his worldview is so adolescent i can't avoid the conclusion.

the most offensive thing about his ideas, however, is the rank INGRATITUDE. he endlessly complains about the insidiousness of his easy lifestyle instead of being grateful for it and doing something productive with it. thoroughly appalling.

9:01 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

BY THE WAY! I heard the CEO -- Originator? -- of Whole Foods on CNBC radio and he was talking about "slow food" and "conviviality" around the dinner table, how americans are seeking to change their lifestyle, etc. he used those *exact words*, obviously he was following the crunchy con discussion at some point. Ahhhh [insert scream here]! My CRUNCHY CONspiracy marketing theory is true! it's truuuuuue!

9:09 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

Diane, i think every contributor to this blog is under 40, including me. I don't think Rod's age is an excuse.

9:10 PM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...

Couple things, I don't think these things are shallow. For example, we do things in the garden with our little ones specifically so they will associate that activity with certain seasons. It gives us the ability to catechize with an activity. The preparation of food together as a family gives us shared experience. We grow close when we do these things.

It gets deeper. Some day our children will suffer. During those times I hope that they have a strong faith on which to rely. I believe that these activities, gardening, food preparations, working with their hands will help build their faith. We teach when we do these things. Some day fifty years from now the scent of rosemary or a ripe tomato will, bring back happy memories of their childhood in addition to strengthening their faith. More importantly it might give them hope in dark times.

Parents have trouble these days. I suspect that Rod and his wife are trying to protect them the best they can. All who have kids realize within about 48 hours that kids have really strong wills. All kids are unique, and you don’t know how difficult each unique child is. We have friends who have four wonderfully well behaved children, that seem to take little work. They make parenting look easy almost turn-key. We have friends who have two kids, and those kids make parenting look like the worst possible choice a couple can make.

I would argue that our activities are not shallow. Most of our alternative lifestyle is an attempt to lessen the culture of death. One way that we saw to fight the culture of death is to participate as little as possible. To give our kids healthy learning experiences rather than have them become passive consumers. For example, we MIGHT  start walking to Mass. Why? More family time together, exercise, stop for breakfast on the way back, witness of our faith, more time to spiritually prepare. Notice I say nothing about saving fuel or the environment? These are almost tertiary concerns.

I hope that a couple who are about to consider abortion as an option will stumble on this simple dialog and reconsider. Perhaps they will see the great joy of simple things. A loving family is a great reward. The material things are not the important thing. They are simply a means to an end. It’s the act of being together as a family with an intention directed toward Christ. That is why we do the garden and the cooking. These activities help draw our focus to God and closer as a family. Perhaps all Rod is saying is the simpler life is as rich and rewarding as the high stress consumer life. Just some thoughts to consider.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...


I am 326 years old. Ho Foods is a scam. It is publicly traded. Where does their produce come from in January in New York? It is materialism veiled in spiritually edifying terms. They promote things like electric lawn mowers while they burn more fuel in a day bringing their rotting Peruvian produce to market than a suburb's worth of lawn mowers burn in a month of mowing. Just say No to Ho.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

Cubeland Mystic, you are a mensch. :) Thanks for the compassionate, perceptive posts. You're right--I have no right to assume anything about Rod's parenting assumptions.

I do think it's surpassingly silly to maintain that one must yank one's children out of the Catholic Church in order to keep them Christian. It smacks of Jack Chick. But you're right...I'm wrong to assume that Rod doesn't realize his kids have strong free wills and separate personalities.

BTW, Cubeland, I can relate to your workplace woes. I work for a very big corporation, the name of which I cannot reveal on pain of death, except to mention that everybody doesn't like something, but nobody doesn't like bump-de-bump. Let's just say that there are days when *Dilbert* doesn't seem like fiction. :)

Kathleen--ack, now I feel ancient. (I'm a baby boomer. I shall say no more. :))

Pauli--LOL. Yes, guilty as charged; I *am* addicted. And I haven't even read the bloomin' book yet. (Do I have to, BTW? From all accounts, it sounds so silly that I'm not sure I could make it all the way through without gagging.)

4:45 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

No, you don't have to read the book. Reading his blog and the synopses here of the once-upon-a-time NRO posts will give you the scoop. The bonus of his blog is you get to read his rails against the Catholic church and the late, great Pope John Paul II.

But if you do read it make sure to offer up each page for a soul in purgatory.

5:35 AM  
Blogger Cubeland Mystic said...


Most of my mindset comes from JPII, I pegged Rod for a JPII man. Why is he critical of the Holy Father.

Diane, you are welcome for the posts. I am not sure I understand the reason why someone would pull out of the church. Way back when I first started blogging on beliefnet and before I read the book, I saw a within the proponents' posts. There is a strong attraction to the mystical. I have the same desires. When I read the book and poked around I saw that mysticism is what they are into. I found Rod's book on This is what we do.

I have to go to work. Perhaps later I will finish.

7:22 AM  
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10:34 AM  

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