Across coastal America, increasing numbers of families are discovering that their children have been lured into "Cracker" culture--a new, freewheeling underground youth movement that celebrates the hedonistic thrills of frog-gigging and outlaw modified sprint cars. No one knows their exact number, but sociologists say that the movement is exploding among young people in America's most fashionable zip codes.
"We first detected it a few years ago, with the emergence of the trucker hat phenomenon," says Gerard Levin, professor of abnormal sociology at the University of California. "At first we thought it was some sort of benign, ironic strain. By the time we realized the early wearers really were interested in seed corn hybrids and Peterbilts, it had already escaped containment."
Levin points to 'Patient Zero,' who in 1997 was a 23-year old graduate student in Gender Studies at San Francisco State University.
"During a cross-country trip to New York, he stopped at the Iowa 80 Truck Stop in Walcott, Iowa, and bought a John Deere gimme cap as a gag souvenir," says Levin. "Within a year, he had dropped out of graduate school, abandoned his SoMa apartment, and and was working at a drive-thru liquor store. Today he is a wealthy televangelist in Bossier City, Louisiana."
The contagion of 'Patient Zero' would prove devastating. Soon trucker hats were appearing throughout trendy coastal neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Park Slope and Portrero Hill, often accessorized with chain wallets and 'wife beater' t-shirts. A new alternative youth movement had emerged, rejecting the staid norms of establishment NPR society and embracing the 'tune-in, turn-on, chug-up' ethos of the Pabst Blue Ribbon underground. Before long, it would broadcast its siren call to an even younger generation--one whose parents were woefully unequipped to recognize it. . . .
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