So GQ sent me down to Monroe, La. (GUMBO GUMBO GUMBO), to hang out with the Duck Dynasty family. You can read the story right here, and whenever I go deep into the heart of 'MERICA—be it for this assignment or the Kid Rock cruise or the Values Voters Summit—I'm always careful not to be the sneering LIBRUL who ventures into red-state territory just to rip on all the people there. That would be unfair, predictable, and dickish. I try my best to keep that shit balanced, and I know that sounds hypocritical given all the stones I throw here at Deadspin like the NERDY KEYBOARD COWBOY NERD that I am. Whenever you meet face-to-face with people you don't necessarily see eye-to-eye with and talk to them and drink lots of beer with them, you're almost always more likely to understand them and like them. That's how it works.
So it is with patriarch Phil Robertson and his family. I met Phil and his brother "Uncle Si" and three of his sons, and they were all cool. (If you're unfamiliar, the Robertsons are your basic American success story—they got rich by making duck-hunting products and got famous by appearing in a reality show.) They welcomed me into Phil's house and let me fire guns and offered me free iced tea and beef jerky and that'll win me over no matter who you are. But Phil Robertson is a deeply religious fellow who takes his Bible straight, no chaser—the whole family does—and has decidedly retrograde, ripped-from-Corinthians views on topics like abortion and homosexuality. You'll find many of those views in the piece I wrote at GQ. A taste: "It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man's anus."
I don't agree with Phil's politics, and I have a lot of gay relatives and colleagues who would bristle at Phil's "hate the sin, love the sinner" view of homosexuality. They've had to hear that shit for years. But I still like Phil and found him to be an otherwise decent fellow. I think it's all right to think that, and I think it's all right to hope that whatever fuss arises out of his comments—it's happening already—will soften him a bit toward what he believes to be wicked behavior. Consider this my own version of "hate the sin, love the sinner."
As always, I had extra shit from my trip that didn't make it into the article. You can read those extras at GQ later this week, but here's a quick preview:
- When I got to the hotel, I noticed the tap water was piss-colored. There was even a note from the hotel that said, "You may notice the water has a golden color." WHY YES I DID. The hotel pointed me to an official state notice that declared the tap water in Monroe safe to drink despite its color. With all due respect to the fine people working the Louisiana state government, I DO NOT BELIEVE YOU.
- I bought a duck call at the Duck Commander store and those things aren't cheap. There was a counter featuring custom duck calls decorated with the American flag and what not and those calls ran well over $100. It looked like a head shop. I paid $24 bucks for the cheapest one (take one of those recorders they play in elementary school and cut if in half—that's what one looks like) and gave it to my kid, who managed to get it confiscated in record time. These are very carefully constructed duck calls, with a delicate reed insert that can break if you blow too hard. Well my kid wailed on that shit like Clarence Clemons. It sounded like a fucking FRANKENDUCK was stomping around the house. Do not buy your child a duck call unless you plan on having them kill ducks.
- I did not get to ask Phil where he stands on the "Is Santa white?" issue, but I could venture a guess.
- The Robertson family wasn't always insanely wealthy. For a good long time, while Phil was drinking, the family lived in squalor. Here's a story from Phil about the time mice infested their place: "I spread d-CON from one end to the other. So listen: about a couple days went by; we didn't see any mice. What I didn't know is that mice, whatever's in the poison, the d-CON: whatever's in it, they get thirsty. There was a leak in the wall of the trailer where the hot water tank was. We started smelling something, and I finally went out there and looked: the paneling was pulsating. It was like, moving, but some of them are not quite dead. But they had packed into that thing thicker than insulation. I took the panel off, and there was just a horde of dead and dying mice, and they were like, this thick. So what I'm telling you is if you ever run into a situation where you have a lot of mice, don't put down that much d-CON."
- Here's Phil on beatniks: "The current movement in the United States on our own soil started with the Beatniks, morphed into the hippies. They run the government. They run the universities. They're in our judicial system. You say, no Jesus. If we had spiritual men making political decisions, we'd be like, good to go."
- And on abortion rights advocates: "Take a child out of your own womb? Have a heart, woman. I mean, goodnight. They are senseless."
- Si Robertson talks about the Viet Cong in his book, and while I toured the hunting grounds with his brother, I had a stoner thought. When Si Robertson hunts ducks, he hides in the bushes with his weapon, for hours at a time, ready to ambush the fuckers. He knows the terrain well and can use it to his killing advantage. So to the ducks, SI IS THE VIET CONG. Think about it. I asked Si if he would ever return to Vietnam as a tourist. His reply: "Probably not."
Photo: Jeff Reidel/GQ.