Saturday, May 03, 2008

Another Old Canard Resurfaces

Blacks and Catholics pitted against each other, again...

“The Ignorant Vote—Honors Are Easy” Harper’s Weekly, 1876
Simian representations of southern blacks and northern Irish Catholics,
by Thomas Nast, the man who gave us Santa Claus.

Yeah, I know holding onto perpetual resentments and a sense of victimology can make for wearisome reading, but too bad... I'm feeling irascible this week... ;-)

There was some dark muttering beforehand, but in the aftermath of Hillary Clinton's victory in the Pennsylvania Primary, there was suddenly a great deal of talk going around about whether or not Obama had a "Catholic Problem", or more accurately, if Catholics had a problem with Obama's race. Now, as similar results in the Ohio primary showed, Obama does indeed seem to have a "Rust-Belt Problem". Is that the same thing as a "Catholic Problem" based upon racial prejudice? White evangelical southerners didn't turn out for him in great numbers. Was that racial prejudice? Well, maybe that's the unspoken assumption... If women and low income voters go for Hillary in a big way, does any of that get put down to race? Actually, as far as I can tell in looking at the Democratic electorate, a lot of the Clinton/Obama split is based upon age. Younger voters, the most tolerant and non-judgmental in American history, clearly tend towards Obama, and the older voters towards Clinton. Are the older voters accused of racial prejudice? Sorry to sound paranoic, but I think that a certain stereotype persists about the northern Catholic ethnic. Most stereotypes contain a kernel of truth in them, but I think this one is running out of legs, particularly since the Catholic vote in this country, coveted for several decades now as the most critical "swing vote", is so fractured.

A lot of this is familiar to me, perhaps because I went to High School in the same years that the forced busing crisis was roiling Boston and gaining national attention. There is a certain image of Massachusetts, for instance, as a bastion of Democratic Party liberalism. There is also the other image. I wrote about it on this blog's inaugural post:

Then there is the other Massachusetts, or rather, the other image of Boston... Ethnic. Bigoted. Parochial. Insular. Clannish. Rude. Racist. Stand-offish. Unfriendly. Bog-Irish. Catholic.

The busing crisis of the 1970’s left an indelible mark on the city that has been hard to shake, especially when it had been built upon a perception already held.

Back in the NBA heyday, it was a common refrain to hear from Los Angelenos what a racist city Boston was. Unfortunately for us, the glory days of the Celtics ended before the L.A. incidents surrounding Rodney King, Darryl Gates and the LAPD, the riots, and the O.J. Simpson trial fiasco, so we were never able to return the favor in full.

This state went for Clinton easily, but does some of that ethnic lunch-bucket image linger instead upon Catholic Pennsylvanians?

It's sad to see this old African-American vs. Irish Catholic thing raise its head again, as it has at various times in this nation's history. There's no need for it now, and there was no need for it back then. The old Divide-and-Conquer trick usually works to the benefit of someone else.

A smattering of thoughts on this topic from the web...

From Fr. Andrew Greeley:

Catholic racism in Pennsylvania? Seventy-two percent of Catholic Democrats in the heavily Catholic state of Pennsylvania voted for Sen. Hillary Clinton, according to the MSNBC exit polls, and more than half of them said they would not vote for Sen. Barack Obama if he won the nomination. The finding gave me a chill. On the other hand, most Obama voters said they would vote for Clinton if she should win the contest. Is Catholic racism rearing its ugly head again?

I have spent almost a half century monitoring Catholic attitudes in this country. Through the years, Catholics have been ahead of Protestant denominations though behind Jews in measures of racial tolerance and on liberal issues -- including the Vietnam war.

What is happening? Chris Matthews, a native of the Keystone State (poor dear man!), pointed out that many of them might be in neighborhoods where they felt threatened. Abortion does not seem to be an issue in this election, and not many Catholics shape their vote on this issue. Obama did very well in his home city and state among Catholics...

The media commentators operate in a world of cliches and stereotypes -- "blue collar Catholics," "ethnic Catholics," "Reagan Republican Catholics." Either these labels are false or, charitably interpreted, misleading. At their worst, they are exercises in bigotry.

Irish Catholics crossed the line of national college attendance in the first decade of the last century, Polish and Italian Catholics after World War II. Catholics now are above the national average in white-collar and professional class occupations. Some of us are showing up on elite university faculties. Some even on television news programs. There are, of course, many Catholics still in blue-collar jobs, perhaps especially in uncivilized places like Philadelphia and Boston.
(Hey!!) Yet on average Catholics are disproportionately in the middle, upper middle, and even upper levels of American society. It is not Civil War time, and Catholics are not struggling for jobs with blacks as they did in the New York riots.

Research by two first-rate sociologists, Clem Brooks and Jeff Manza, has demonstrated that Catholics remained disproportionately Democrats in the Reagan years, not shifting more than anyone else. It is time to stop using "blue-collar" as a routine descriptor for Catholics. Yet many Democratic leaders are embarrassed to admit that they need Catholic votes to win an election. They are somehow unclean.

It turns out that the three-fifths of Jewish and Protestant Democrats in Pennsylvania also voted against Obama. Is it white racial prejudice in Pennsylvania?

When the Clintons go around telling people that Obama cannot win, they mean a black candidate cannot be elected. The country isn't ready for an African-American president. That's playing the race card as a trump.

From Deal Hudson:

On the heels of his relatively poor showing among Catholic voters, came the remark of well-known Catholic jurist Douglas Kmiec that Obama is a "Catholic natural." Evidently, Catholic voters are slow to recognize him as such. It's hard to blame them when Obama has voted against a law that would have protected a child once it was born and outside the womb -- the Illinois Born Alive Infant Protection Act.

One Catholic blogger labeled Obama the most "Anti-Catholic Presidential Candidate." It's hard to disagree when Obama has a 100 percent pro-abortion rating from NARAL, supports partial-birth abortion, supports spending tax dollars for abortion, voted against notifying parents of minors seeking out-of-state abortions, and supports homosexual marriage.

Thus, it comes as no surprise that Obama was endorsed by one of the nation's leading abortion advocates, Frances Kissling, former president of Catholics for a Free Choice. Calling Hillary Clinton "not radical enough on abortion," Kissling praised Obama as the man who could complete "the social transformation that Roe began but did not solidify."

From a blogger calling himself Mister Furious:

It's race. As someone who grew up Catholic in Connecticut with my father's family being Irish Catholic from Boston, and my mother's family Polish Catholic from New York, plus my ten years living in and around NYC among the Italian Catholic community, there is no shortage of, nor subtlety to, the racism among Catholics.Deal Hudson is full of shit (big surprise, right?) and is pretending his church doesn't have a problem with race by blaming regionalism and issues like abortion.Not even counting the supposed reluctance of Latinos (overwhelmingly Catholic) to support black candidates, there is more than enough old-school racism in these tradional Catholic cities, communities and neighborhoods. Abortion need not enter the discussion...

From a blogger named Ron Saunders:

Mr. Barack Obama does not have a Catholic problem. White Catholic voters have a problem with Mr. Obama because he is a Black man. Indeed White Catholics have a malignant racial problem which is much deeper than the candidacy of Barack Obama.

From Cathleen Kaveny on dotcommonweal:

1. The Catholic vote is not monolithic. As EJ Dionne has noted - “Despite a certain convergence of views among Catholics‹a concern for social justice, a collective dedication to the value of the family. Catholics haven’t voted as a bloc since the early 1960s, when they solidly backed America’s one and only Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, and his successor, Lyndon B. Johnson. Catholics’ loyalties are unpredictable and in flux.”

2. Getting to know Senator Obama. Senator Clinton is already well-known to voters. But as voters have come to know Senator Obama, he has been slowly but steadily gaining ground among Catholics, as they come to see who he is and what he stands for. Many Catholics are responding to his vision of the common good and his values on issues such as ending the unjust war in Iraq, providing decent jobs, ensuring affordable healthcare for all, and working for comprehensive immigration reform. Many have also been inspired by his life choices, especially his decision early on to work as a community organizer with parishes in the South Side of Chicago.

The Obama Catholic Advisory list includes:

National Co-Chairs:

Senator Bob Casey

Representative Patrick Murphy (PA-08)

Former Congressman Tim Roemer, President of the Center for National Policy

Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas

Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia

Tom Chabolla, Assistant to the President, Service Employees International Union

Victoria Reggie Kennedy, President, Common Sense About Kids and Guns

Sr. Jamie Phelps, O.P., Director and Professor of Theology, Institute for Black Catholic Studies, Xavier University

Sr. Catherine Pinkerton, Congregation of St. Joseph

National Steering Committee:

Mary Jo Bane, Professor, Harvard Kennedy School

Nicholas P. Cafardi, Catholic Author and Scholar, Pittsburgh, PA

Lisa Cahill, Professor of Theology, Boston College

M. Shawn Copeland, Associate Professor of Theology, Boston College

Ron Cruz, Leadership Development Consultant, Burke, VA

Sharon Daly, Social Justice Advocate, Knoxville, MD

Richard Gaillardetz, Murray/Bacik Professor of Catholic Studies, University of Toledo

Grant Gallicho, Associate Editor, Commonweal Magazine

Margaret Gannon, IHM, A Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Scranton, PA

Don Guter, Judge Advocate General of the Navy (2000-2002); Rear Admiral, Judge Advocate General's Corps, U.S. Navy (Ret.), Pittsburgh, PA

Cathleen Kaveny, Professor of Law and Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame

Jim Kesteloot, President and Executive Director, Chicago Lighthouse

Vincent Miller, Associate Professor of Theology, Georgetown University

David O'Brien, Loyola Professor of Catholic Studies at the College of the Holy Cross

Peter Quaranto, Senior Researcher and Conflict Analyst, Resolve Uganda (Notre Dame Class of 2006)

Dave Robinson, International Peace Advocate, Erie, Pennsylvania

Vincent Rougeau, Associate Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame


crystal said...

Good post - nice quotatipns and links.

I had a post on this too - one of those disppeared oes :) with links to posts from dotcommonweal and America magazine's blog, and Tom Reese SJ.

I haven't been a Catholic for ling and I'm not up on the history of Catholic racism in the US. I personally don't think Obama's problem with Cathoics is because of racism. Interestingly, I saw one post at a Georgetown U blog (by Jacques Berlinerblau, associate professor of Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University) that said the problem was that Catholics don't like how he's sooooo Protestant.

Jeff said...

Oh, I don't know. There has only been one Catholic president in American history, so getting behind one Protestant candidate or another hasn't really been an issue. He's not running on an explicitly Protestant agenda like Mike Huckabee did.

When I listen to the words of Pastor Jeremiah Wright, I hear Black Liberation Theology, which is alright with me. I can understand that. After all, Catholic theologians invented Liberation Theology (although they were influenced by Protestant theologians like Jurgen Moltmann), so it sounds familiar to me.

There are those, however, who might generally be categorized as blue collar Catholics in places like Pennsylvania who are intensely patriotic (if I may be allowed to generalize in that direction), so I can imagine how the words of Wright might have nettled them.

cowboyangel said...

Good post, Jeff.

When all is said and done, I'm not sure how meaningful it is to interpret the Clinton-Obama battle along religious lines. Though I've been a bit puzzled by "Obama's Catholic problem," my feeling at this point is that it doesn't have much to do with Catholicism. I think age, income levels, and education are probably bigger factors. And racism, but I don't think the Catholics are any worse than others in that regard. IMHO, these are the factors that also account for Obama's "rust-belt problem."

George Packer has a column this week at the New Yorker that discusses the primary in Kentucky. Here's one Hillary supporter's take on things:

“I’ve talked to people—a woman who was chair of county elections last year, she said she wouldn’t vote for a black man.” Patrick said he wouldn’t vote for Obama either.

Why not?

“Race. I really don’t want an African-American as President. Race.”

What about race?

“I thought about it. I think he would put too many minorities in positions over the white race. That’s my opinion. After 1964, you saw what the South did.” He meant that it went Republican. “Now what caused that? Race. There’s a lot of white people that just wouldn’t vote for a colored person. Especially older people. They know what happened in the sixties. Under thirty—they don’t remember. I do. I was here.”

In a time of war and a worsening economy, when people are scared and unsettled, leave it to the Democrats to offer up a woman half the country hates and a black man named Barack Hussein Obama. I think the ongoing battle between the two may be showing us that they're not great candidates for this time. They both have some serious problems for voters. I was worried about this a year and a half ago, thought for a while it might not be an issue, and now realize it's very much a problem.

I just don't think the country's ready for a black president, nor for this particular woman to be president. Hell, it's clear by now that Democrats aren't even ready.

Fascinating to see how bigoted a lot of Democrats are turning out to be. It doesn't matter if they're Catholic or not.

Also how sexist the so-called Liberal media can be. Though it's difficult to gauge how much anti-Hillary sentiment is sexist and how much is due to her being a Clinton. I'd very curious, for example, to see how women like Kathleen Sebelius and Jennifer Granholm would be treated as candidates.

As you say, the younger voters seem less concerned about color. Maybe in another election or two - 2016? - someone like Obama won't have as much of a "Catholic problem" or "rust-belt problem."

crystal said...

The guy who mentioned Protestantism in his blog said that while both Clinton and Obama are Protestants, Obama has made Chritianity more a part of his campaign - he called him the Huckabee of the Democratic candidates. I haven't been paying a lot of attention, so I don't know if this is so.

There have bee (at least) three states with Catholics who voted for Clinton - California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania - and they are all different groups. Maybe the Catholic vote can't be easily catagorized.

Liam said...

I don't have a lot to add. I think a great deal of the problem Obama has had in places like Pennsylvania and Ohio does owe itself to racism -- but, like William, I think it has more to do with income and education than religion.

The question of "patriotism" is also tied up with race. White fundamentalist preachers often criticize our country. People may think they're crazy or offensive, but it never occurs to anyone to call them unpatriotic. Can you imaging a journalist asking MacCain at a debate if Hagee loves America as much as he does?

The African-American and Irish-Catholic demographic gets along really well in my house.

Liam said...

I will add one thing -- I'm concerned about this election, but my money is still on Obama winning both the nomination and the general election, barring something really unexpected (i.e., photos of him killing puppies and drinking their blood in a Satanic rite). This is not because the US on the whole is ready for a black president (was the US ready for a Catholic president in 1960?), but for a couple of reasons. McCain is in a difficult position -- the country is very sick of the GOP, his policies are too close to Bush's, he has problems with his own party, he knows nothing about the economy, his "straight-talking maverick" image can't hold water, the rumors about his temper will float around, and he is significantly shorter and older than Obama (superficial or not, these things count).

I also think that although Obama has taken some blows in this primary season and now seems a little tired and worn out, he still has a remarkable ability to inspire people from all sides of the political spectrum. If he can lock up the nomination without much more blood loss, he should be in good shape.

cowboyangel said...

i.e., photos of him killing puppies and drinking their blood in a Satanic rite

Are you saying you have photos of Barack Obama killing puppies and drinking their blood in a Satanic rite? For the sake of the country, you should not sit on those. I think Fox News would be interested.

Is he listening to Zep while he performs the Satanic rite? Or the Bee Gees?

and he is significantly shorter and older than Obama (superficial or not, these things count).

Wait - Are you saying you would beat me in an election for President? You can't even beat me at Scrabble!

Liam said...

William -- you're not significantly older than me.

Besides, I'm winning our present game.

He was not listening to Zep. The McCain satanists listen to Zep.

Mike McG... said...

Good exchange, guys, and helpful compendium of thoughts on this topic, Jeff. Have to admit my heart sank with the Frances Kissling endorsement of Barack. Obama's Catholic Organizing Committee will find that real helpful...not! Perhaps Marc Rich or Monica Lewinsky will endorse Hillary to neutralize Kissling!

Question: What does it mean to be a 'Catholic' voter in this context? I fear we make some reflexive judgments about the values and attitudes of a faith community when I suspect we're talking about a manufactured ethnicity...a loose amalgum of ethnics. I suspect that polling identifies as "Catholic" a goodly number of not-young-enough/not-trendy-enough to be "ex" Catholic descendents of Irish, Italian, Polish, and Bavarian immigrants. These "Catholic" voters may...or well may not...have any contemporary religious link to Catholicism and many of their Obama leaning children may no longer self-identify as "Catholic."

I'm convinced that among the three alternatives, Obama comes closest to my values...not close now, but closest...and the values of many progressive Catholics. But I admit that making this case is going to be a real challenge.

Jeff said...

Sorry to take so long, guys, in getting back to you. Been very busy.


That piece in the New Yorker was chilling. It's not only frightening that people still think that way, but that they would be so open and up-front about saying it too. I guess this country has much further to go in this regard than I thought just a few months ago. It looks like you were thinking much the same thing. What a Democratic train wreck, but...


You may very well be right. Even with all of these problems on the Democratic side, with the worldwide economy, worldwide economy that is, looking like it's crumbling in what increasingly looks like a frightening and worrisome paradigm shift, I don't think McCain, who seems almost strangely proud of the fact that he doesn't understand much about economics, is going to be the guy this country picks.

The African-American and Irish-Catholic demographic gets along really well in my house.

In New York, no less. Thomas Nast must be rolling over in his grave. :-)


I think that diversity is a key factor in the difficulty of pinning us down. Just look at the blogging community and see a microcosm of that!

Hi Mike,

How've you been? You ask... "What does it mean to be a "Catholic voter in this context?" Yeah, that's always a difficulty with us, isn't it? I think secular Jews are probably the only group that can match us in terms of people feeling comfortable identifying themselves with a religious label for what is essentially a cultural way of being or thinking. I do think, however, that in terms of looking at the world, it's not entirely invalid. I think certain ways of thinking and certain values get imbued in cultural Catholics anyway, even if they aren't practicing.

I tend to agree with you on Obama. I've despaired about ever finding a candidate that I can be entirely comfortable with, but in this particualr season, he comes the closest for me.

Garpu the Fork said...

You really think racism is more an issue back east? I've lived most of my adult life on the west coast (since 1995), and before then I lived in the midwest. I spend a lot of time on the east coast. It's been my experience that once you get out of the big cities race becomes more of an issue.

When I was living in LA, it was after the Rodney King verdict and during the Rampart division scandal. CalArts would warn students of color to be careful driving, since "driving while black" seemed to be the most common cause for police officers to pull students over. Granted, I lived up in the Santa Clarita Valley/Newhall area, so that skews things quite a bit.

My experiences of the midwest are also a bit clouded, since both sides of my family is incredibly racist. My grandparents (my mom's side, the Catholics) still refer to people of Japanese descent as "Japs" and other colorful epithets from WWII. Come ot think of it, I can't think of another race they actually like, and some days I'm not sure about fellow Caucasians. My dad's family hasn't gotten the memo about proper address of minorities and other ethnic groups, either.

I haven't noticed such issues on the east coast. One of the Frood's friends is kind of an ass about such things, but the other friends call him out for it. I've never heard race being mentioned among the Frood's family (mostly Protestant). Then again, the Frood's family all live in dense population centers. I think people on the east coast, at least those I've encountered, tend to have more of a "live and let live, so long as you aren't an asshole" attitude back east.

Garpu the Fork said...

Oops. "both sides are racist," rather. Yes, I do, in fact, speak English.

crystal said...

I've never lived in the East but on the West Coast all my life. When I lived in Oregon, the people there were mostly worried about Native Americans and that's where the racism seemed to lie. But in CA, there was more racism against Mexicans.

When I would go out with my husband, who was Japanese, sometimes we would get remarks, mostly from white men. But at the same time, there were members of his family who thought he was ruining Japanese purity by marrying a "haku-jin" and one of his Chinese friends used to call me a "ghost".

One thing I've noticed from time spent with people other than white is that white people don't have the corner on racism.

cowboyangel said...

"What does it mean to be a "Catholic voter in this context?" Yeah, that's always a difficulty with us, isn't it? I think secular Jews are probably the only group that can match us in terms of people feeling comfortable identifying themselves with a religious label for what is essentially a cultural way of being or thinking.

I'd be curious to know how the "Catholic" vote breaks down along other lines - age, income, education, etc.

From looking at a few exit polls, it seems Catholics are almost evenly split between those who attend Mass weekly and those who don't. The same ratio, more or less, as self-identifying Protestants.

One interesting thing I just noticed. The exit polls show Protestant, Catholic and "Other Christian." What, exactly, does Other mean in this case? And it gets consistently high numbers. In Indiana, for example, the numbers were Protestant 32%, Other Christian 29% and Catholic 19%. Any ideas on who they're talking about? Non-Denominational Christians? But even they spring from Protestantism.


Having grown up in Texas, lived for almost 10 years in the West and almost 10 in the East, my experience is that racism IS a bigger issue in the East. I've seen and heard much more racism in New York City and Long Island than I ever did in the rest of the country. I find it to be out in the open a lot more here. Not much subtlety. When I was in the city, I chalked it up to there being so many more people of different ethnic backgrounds packed together in small spaces. But then I moved out to Long Island, where it's heavily white and not urban, and it's just as bad. One of the reasons I get pretty sick of NY Liberals acting morally superior to Texas.

Garpu the Fork said...

Yeah I should've qualified it by saying that my experiences are formed by being in/around Boston. I'm not sure what's worse--the hidden kind of racism you find on the west coast, or the overt racism you find elsewhere.

Jeff said...

Hi again guys...

Well, those different perspectives and experiences just go to show how all human beings are essentially wired the same. There is no monopoly on nobility, nor is there one on boorishness. All humans are wired to fear strangers, the "other" who seems to threaten what they hold most dear to them.

I admit, that here in the East, giving someone an ethnic shot was always part of the cynical, sardonic sense of humor we enjoyed. We came from all groups, nobody was exempt. Nobody got a break, including your own ethnic group, so we didn't feel too bad about it, but maybe we should have been more sensitive. Having our senses of humor shaped in our adolescent and college years by publications like the National Lampoon probably didn't help much either.


I'm not sure what 'Other Christians' would refer to either... Maybe it's Eastern Orthodox, or possibly Mormons?

Maybe racism isn't so bad down in Texas... How's the attitude towards Northerners these days? My parents had a rough time in Texas right after the Korean War, when my father went to visit some army buddies. "Damnyankee" was one word, used copiously and very liberally.

cowboyangel said...

I didn't mean to imply that racism isn't bad in Texas. Just that it's not any worse than it is in New York City (or Long Island). And in my experience, it's not as in your face. Twice in Park Slope, Brooklyn - super-liberal in many ways - I broke up physical attacks that were racial in nature: a bunch of Italian-Americans shoving around three Asians, including two women; and a group of African-Americans beating up a white guy after stealing his tip jar from a coffeehouse. (I got clobbered to the sidewalk in the 2nd case.) I listened to Mets fans booing Daivd Dinkins on opening day and yelling racist obscenities at him. Was totally stunned to sit in an Italian barbershop one day and listen to the barbers and customers freely cursing all the "niggers." Growing up in Austin, I never encountered this kind of racism. It's both violent and full of real hatred. I heard people in Austin tell racist jokes, and while that's no good either, in many cases I didn't sense the kind of hatred I've felt in New York. Stupidity and ignorance, yes. And, obviously, I didn't grow up in some KKK East Texas town where they still drag blacks behind pickup trucks. But I've been really surprised by the viciousness of the racism in New York. As Jen said, it's different. In eight years in Colorado, I can't remember any examples of racism, though I know they go on.

As far as anti-northern sentiment in Texas, yes, that still goes on sometimes. But Texas has been so inundated by people from the north over the last 20 years, that it's not as common as it used to be. The interesting thing to me is that much of that kind of anti-Yankee sentiment comes from conservatives. In New York, most of the anti-Texas sentiment comes from Liberals. They'd crap in their pants if you said something derogatory about homosexuals or someone from other ethnic groups. But they have no problem saying the most bigoted things about Texas. I got into a pretty heated shouting match over Christmas with my in-laws because of amazingly bigoted comments they were making.

Jeff said...


You know, after having gotten to know you a bit, it doesn't surprise me in the least that you would get involved in an altercation, even against harrowing odds, if you saw an injustice being committed. You don't seem like a violent person in the least, but I'm thinking that bullying doesn't go down too well with you.

It's funny, with my employer (you know who they are), we often come into contact with Texans. The dynamic in the interplay is interesting. I find that quite often, among women as well as men, they can be quite assertive to the point of being bombastic, and are used to being obeyed when they give orders. Up here, we think we know everything too of course, so that style doesn't go over too well with us. Over time, though, once we get used to each other, it works out pretty well.

Garpu the Fork said...

The Hoopy Frood lived in San Antonio for awhile. (City reminds me of Seattle with more humidity.) The other thing about Texas is that it's about as bilingual as anything in the US. I think other parts of the country (*cough* LA *cough*) could take a clue or two.