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Every year, Law helps set up the Burning Man happening in the Nevada desert. This last year he was also a part of White Trash Camp, one of the event's myriad theme camps. Located in the center of the makeshift tent city, White Trash Camp featured an old car, a battered sofa, a baby crib that filled with empty beer cans as the weekend progressed, and a mechanical fire-shooting militiaman, Survival Dude, built by the People Haters, a group of hard-core Cacophony fellow travelers.
"It's like us making fun of ourselves," Law says of the white trash trend, "like blacks in the ghetto calling each other nigger."
The term "white trash" may be racist and classist, but that doesn't mean that the ethos as practiced in San Francisco isn't open to some forms of diversity.
Witness the Stud, the low-slung gay bar at Ninth Street and Harrison, which hosts "White Trash -- A Queer Rock 'n' Roll Bar" every Thursday night. With its vague honky-tonk feel, the Stud seems a well-suited venue for a little white trashness. Wooden horses rear above the long bar, and the low wood-paneled walls give the place a feel reminiscent of those country & western bars that sprang up across the country in the '80s. But the disco ball twirling above the dance floor and the bowl of condoms on the varnished bar do undermine the C&W illusion.
The bartender, Dane, tells me "White Trash Night" is only a couple of months old, but it's building a steady clientele.
"It draws a diverse crowd," he says, mostly because of the music. "You just don't get a chance to dance to Ted Nugent, especially in a gay bar."
Dane, a skinny guy with a skid-mark goatee and tattoos, seems to really enjoy the Thursday night trashfest, which he estimates draws about 150 people on average.
"We're gonna keep it," he says. "It's gonna work."
Maybe the snacks will help. Ho Hos, Twinkies, weenies, and Tater Tot kebabs. "Someone said something about filling condoms with Miracle Whip tonight," Dane says with a hopeful smile.
On the dance floor a knot of guys shimmy and shake, rubbing butts and jumping into each other's arms. From the hypersonic sound system, the opening strains of Foreigner's "Cold as Ice" reverberate, and for an instant the lowered dance floor seems magically transformed into a roller-skating rink.
"You see what I mean?" Dane says, breaking the spell. "It's like a big flashback for Generation X."
When DJ Cruikshank slips Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" into the mix, I realize that white trash is much more than fast food and fast cars, hillbilly yodeling and garish makeup. The true white trasher is a cultural warrior in perpetual battle with bourgeois values.
"If you wanted to be a rebel," Supersuckers bassist and frontman Eddie Spaghetti says of growing up trashy, "metal was your ticket."
We're sitting in the band's new tour bus, a gargantuan ride complete with a garish airbrushed painting on the side of a giant Les Paul guitar bursting from a desert-colored map of Texas.
"It used to belong to one of the guys in ZZ Top," Eddie explains.
The Supersuckers are in town to close out the Noise Pop Festival at the Trocadero with a blast of their neo-metal, shit-kicking punk music. They've been touring for a couple of months, playing the occasional show with Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson (with whom they recently recorded). Yesterday they were in San Diego, tomorrow they split for a couple of weeks in Australia.
Eddie piles a loose mound of pot on a homemade pipe fashioned from a Pepsi can. "It doesn't get anymore white trash than this," he says, holding the can to his lips. "The lengths one will go to in order to get drugs into their system." I tell him I've heard you can get Alzheimer's from smoking through a can. "Yeah, I've heard that, too, because of the aluminum," Eddie says. "I will put flame to aluminum in the name of being just a stupid dumbfuck from the east side of Tucson."
The Supersuckers were spawned, individually and collectively, under the blank stare of the Arizona sun. I ask Eddie to describe white trash in east Tucson.
"Heavy metal dudes and Camaros and trailer homes," he says. "Also a lot of cowboy-type people out there. Your basic suburb-mall-Southern-culture-type thing. There are bastions of civilization, but it's definitely Roseanne."
There's something familiar about Eddie Spaghetti, like you went to high school with him. Perhaps it's the affable manner in which he throws out common cultural references -- Motorhead, shopping malls, soda pop pipes -- or maybe it's the way the bill of his baseball cap is curled, like he's just been to a Future Farmers of America meeting.
"I see a little bit of a trend," Eddie continues his white trash theorizing as the pot smoke drifts in the still air of the bus. "It's kind of a retro-esque sort of thing. Bands like us and Southern Culture on the Skids and other bands who celebrate their backwoods roots."
"It's funny," drummer Dancing Eagle says from the surprisingly plush couch. "A kitschy twist on it. It's hilarious. The fashion is awful ... it's a riot."