A    ' H I C K '    R E S P O N D S

Husker bashing seems to come around once a year as Nebraskans head to another bowl game. This year, of course, the Rose Bowl has drawn extra criticism especially from West Coast writers and particularly from LA Times columnist TJ Simers.

Simers seems intent on getting some kind of publicity anyway he can and riled fans with his comment of the Rose Bowl RV park becoming a Hick Haven and plans putting on his best overalls to greet Cornhusker fans and helping them meet Bob Barker.

Well, UNL Journalism prof Joe Starita mailed TJ the following:

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Dadgummit, TJ. Was fixin to get this to you sooner, good buddy, but the Pony Express just thundered past our soddy, the dern turkey feather quill up and busted on me last night, the little lady got bit by a badger in the root cellar this morning and then ol Merle stopped by no more than a few minutes ago to see if Id help him slop down a fresh load of Yorkshire sowbellies.

So you can see its been a tad bid hectic out here in Hick Heaven, but I figure I otta send out a few things you must notta had enuf room for in your fine column on Nebraska.

Shucks, TJ, yall dont need to roll out no red carpet on our account. We been survivin out here in the middle of nowhere for 150 years now. Raisin one fourth of the nations beef supply. Growin enuf corn and wheat to feed our fellow Americans . . . rearin kids who rank sixth nationally on them fancy standardized tests. Producin the countrys cheapest electricity . . . breathin heaps of fresh air all year round and going about our business amid one of the nations lowest crime rates.

Dang it TJ, Im dyin if Im lyin but I heard all them media reports one night when we was huddled around the family radio.

All that stuff about rolling blackouts, inversion layers, race riots. But I didnt pay it no heed. You know how all those media folks are shallow, superficial, forever trafficking in cheap stereotypes, insufferable in their moral superiority, content to sit in an air-conditioned office 10 floors above reality and smugly pass judgment on people theyve never met and places theyve never been.

You know the type. But thank the Lord youre not one of them, so I reckon Im just kinda preachin to the choir here for sure.

And I'm sure glad you mentioned Crazy Horse in your column. I just kinda read between the lines and more or less instantly grasped your profound sense of the famed chief and how revered he is among the Lakota. How in his last moments he refused an Army cot because he wanted to die on the land of his people -- a people whose culture and history he had given his life to defend because -- as he once told them -- a people without a history is like wind on the buffalo grass. Well, I most surely must apologize now, TJ, for I can only image how shamefully trite this must sound within the context of your own peoples long, storied history and stable, well-grounded culture.

And did I say how indebted I am that you mentioned Johnny Carson? Hes a real nice feller and as you know hails from Norfolk -- a small town in northeast Nebraska.

But Im bettin ya just didnt have room to mention the $2 million he gave for a regional cancer treatment center, the $1 million to the local community college and the $600,000 for the new high school theater. Talk about a big-time hick! Well, heres Johnny, a quaint retro relic who believes in giving back to the people and culture that nourished him. You no doubt have done the same for years so Im as we like to say out here probably beatin a dead horse.

Hey Uncle Burt wants me to ask you something: What were you doin last April 1? No joke, really. Because thats the day Navy Lt. Shane Osborn jerked his huge reconnaissance plane out of an 8,000 foot free fall saving the lives of 24 crewmembers after they collided with a Chinese fighter.

Sorry to interrupt again, but cousin Howie just butted in and said thats probably the same day you were conflicted over ordering tofu with or without bean sprouts and whether to eat it before or after your manicure, seaweed wrap and high colonic. But like I said, Howies ornery, so pay him no mind. I shooed him away by saying it takes a lot of guts, a different kind of bravery and valor to do what you do.

At any rate Lt. Osborn is from Norfolk and they had one heck of a parade, a real cornball, Hick Haven special, when he returned safely home.

Well, TJ, ol Merle just rumbled up with that last load of hogs I was tellin you about . . . Oh wait a minute please. Its Aunt Tillie again.

Gee, I really dont know how to say this, but guldarnit . . . Could you really get four tickets to the Price Is Right?