I spent this morning at the Democrat Crossing with my piscatorial son. While he angled for catfish in the muddy Navasota, I looked for signs of the times on this two hundred and forty-third birthday of our republic. The Democrat Road is unpaved, unfrequented, and bounded hereabouts by meres, mires and morasses. It crosses the Navasota River on three bridges, the main span new, substantial and graffiti-laden. Of this graffiti, more anon.
I do not know for certain how this road came to be called the Democrat Road, but the name is not unique and there is some reason to believe that “democrat road” was in the old South a generic name for a bad road.* Democrats were at one time the party of small government, low taxes, and minimal investment in public works, and Democrats ran this county for more than a hundred years. Add to this the fact that this particular road was mostly used by farmers who came over the river from Grimes County, and that these farmers neither paid taxes nor voted in Brazos County, and it is reasonable to suppose those Grimes County farmers had cause to cursed this as a “democrat road.”
It appears that the new bridge was built by the largess of the State of Texas, but the secondary spans recall those far-off day when “Democrat” was a byword for government parsimony. While the State bridge is equipped with guardrails, and appears far less likely to collapse or be swept away by a flood, it is charmless structure scabbed over by an eczema of crude graffiti.
Many bridges bear witness to the rustic love that has been consummated beneath their abutments and arches, but the new Democrat Crossing bridge seems to have a special attraction to the devotees of Priapus.
Beside these icons of rustic love, the Democrat Crossing bridge bears even bolder signs of rustic rage. Here you see a swastika, with the double sig lightening bolts of the old Nazi Schutzstaffel on one side, and the cryptogram 23 16 on the other. This cryptogram is prison code for White Power or White Pride, W being the twenty-third letter in the alphabet, and P the sixteenth.
White nationalists also tagged the bridge with the slogan “White Pride Worldwide,” but as you can see their graffito has been wittily defaced. The wits changed the P to a B and added an s, transforming the message into a motto of miscegenation. “White Brides Worldwide!” That will certainly calm those Nazis down!
The green words “Suck Dick” were painted earlier, so I take them as a general suggestion unrelated to the superscript of racial antipathy. I cannot tell if “Black Lives Matter” was painted before or after “White Pride Worldwide,” but it does not appear to have come from the hand that changed the P to a B or appended the word “Sucks.”
I did not know if this graffito was meant as a boast or an accusation, but have since discovered that it is most likely a parody of a parody of a song by a Nigerian-born and Houston-based rapper named Chamillionaire, and that it is therefore ironic, multicultural and deeply postmodern.
This graffito is also obscure, but begins to makes sense if we interpolate a comma or the word “or”. To “get the drop” on someone is to catch him off his guard, and to “get dropped” might therefore mean to be caught off guard. Thus this graffito might be more clearly rendered as “Don’t Stop[,] Get Dropped” or “Don’t Stop [or] Get Dropped.” If so, it could be paraphrased as “keep your pecker up and your eyes open.” Which is good advice.
Along with icons of Priapus, slogans of racial antipathy, and gnomic utterances, the bridge at Democrat Crossing bears witness to the fact that Americans remain a religious people. Not very good spellers, and slapdash in their use of apostrophes, but trusting as ever in God.
And who can fault the family values of the tag “I [heart] my kids God and my Bitch”?
I also found a sign that the spirit of patriotism is not dead. In addition to purchasing a welder’s face shield and some hose couplings, the man who dumped this trash on the road bought a new American flag for Independence Day. And he sprang for the deluxe model with the embroidered stars, which sets him apart from us cheap pikers who settled for flags with printed stars.
I hope he read the fine print and noticed that the pictured flagpole was not included.
In case you are wondering, my piscatorial son caught no catfish at the Democrat Crossing, but his old man thinks he discerned one or two signs of the times. I cannot say exactly what they add up to, but they leave me feeling somewhat like the man who decorated the Democrat Crossing Bridge with these oracular words.
Happy Independence Day, y’all!
*) Speaking of an old man in Tennessee, one writer tells us: “He used these party names as good and bad qualifiers. Anything just, pure, and of good repute was ‘Whig;’ anything unjust, unlovely, and of bad repute was ‘Democrat.’ An open smooth highway was a real ‘Whig of a road;’ while a close, narrow, hilly way, full of gullies and other obstructions was pronounced ‘a Democrat road’.” Sue F. Dromgoole, My Moving Tent (Nashville: Publishing House Methodist Episcopal Church, 1903), p. 60.