Friday, August 15, 2008


Anyone who has talked to me for more than 15 minutes should know that I spent the most formative years – and some of the most traumatic – in Porkland, Washington, a small community southeast of Tacoma. I’ve tried to explain what Porkland is like to those unfamiliar with the place, but it’s really difficult to convey the reality. My parents became more disappointed and disillusioned with their community over the years, to the point that my mother and I now have a “Porkland is in the news again” watch in order to exchange news of the latest atrocity.

But before I begin listing said atrocities, let me give you a little census information about Porkland, courtesy of Wikipedia:

As of the census[1] of 2000, there were 24,053 people, 8,869 households, and 5,782 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 3,267.2 people per square mile (1,261.8/km²). There were 9,340 housing units at an average density of 1,268.7/sq mi (490.0/km²). The racial makeup of the CDP was 73.91% White, 8.07% African American, 1.04% Native American, 6.64% Asian, 1.81% Pacific Islander, 2.06% from other races, and 6.47% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 5.33% of the population.

There were 8,869 households out of which 32.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.8% were married couples living together, 14.1% had a female householder with no husband present, and 34.8% were non-families. 26.3% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.55 and the average family size was 3.05.

In the CDP the population was spread out with 25.0% under the age of 18, 16.9% from 18 to 24, 28.3% from 25 to 44, 19.7% from 45 to 64, and 10.1% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females there were 94.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 90.8 males.

The median income for a household in the CDP was $39,653, and the median income for a family was $46,210. Males had a median income of $36,169 versus $27,036 for females. The per capita income for the CDP was $18,649. About 10.6% of families and 15.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 18.7% of those under age 18 and 6.5% of those age 65 or over.

It’s not a large population, and I don’t think it qualifies as densely populated (not like my neighborhood in Seattle). But boy, it sure is a sick population. Let’s check out the news stories for this year:

August 10th: A 55-yr-old cancer patient, neglected for several days by his caretaker and his daughter, became puppy chow for his 27 dogs. This was discovered after the daughter dropped him off at the emergency room. Apparently a neighbor had been forced to help the man on previous occasions because of this neglect, and animal control had been called about the dogs a few months ago when a woman was attacked by one of them. I’m sure readers will be shocked to know that his prescription painkillers were missing.

July 29th
: A 23-yr-old Porkland man phoned for help as the baby he was watching had apparently died in its crib – according to him, after falling several times and being crushed by a bookcase. Oh, he did shake her and squeeze her in an attempt to calm her after her calamities, and yeah, he did accidently whack her head against a wall, but, dude, that was totally an accident. The coroner came up with slightly different results – skull fractures and evidence of a ‘massive blow’ to the 1-yr-old’s abdomen. The police interrogated the bookcase and found no evidence that it had fallen over.

July 28th: A 40-yr-old man was beaten with a stick (or bat – the news stories are conflicting) and then shot inside his home. He was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. There was no reported reason for the assault.

May 31st: A church employee in the process of locking up the church was stabbed in the arm by a nutcase.

May 28th
: Toddler was fatally beaten by mother’s loser boyfriend. He had a previous conviction for assaulting a child. The child’s father had continually complained to CPS about the treatment the child was receiving in his mother’s home, but to no avail.

May 7th: A 31-yr-old man was shot several times in a dispute with another man. The suspect was arrested shortly after the incident.

You know what, I’m going to stop now. I can’t go through another four months of Porkland drama; and I’ve left out the tragic house fires (they also happen several times a year) and drunk drivers and organized crime. If I went back to last July I’d have to include the serial-killer pedophile, and I really don’t want to write about him. Depressing, isn’t it. Admittedly there wasn’t this level of violence occurring when I lived there, but I have not been surprised at the evolution of the place from redneck nightmare to violent redneck nightmare.

So next time you hear of some horrific event in Piercing County, make a little bet with yourself as to whether it happened in Porkland or not.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch some Simpsons to get the taste of pork out of my mouth, if you will.

ETA: Goat Girl made an excellent observation in the comments section, although I disagree with how far her premise actually accounts for such a life as many live in Porkland. And I offer her my sincere condolences on her plum bushes.


Anonymous said...

I am quite amused by your ramblings about Porkland. I used to have to drive through it on my way to the homebrew store from my humble abode in SE Piercing Co.

Jane said...

The fact that you are amused rather than offended tells me that your experiences did nothing to make my tale seem unbelievable. I suspect you're happy not to have to make that commute anymore.

Anonymous said...

Three of four here oh Jedi Master
(wait I am mixing up Star Wars and Star Trek). My neighbors in Porkland would not understand your attack on their humble existence. They are misunderstood. It is complicated, but when one tries to coexist in the shadow of multiple military installations, there are bound to be casualties. All of those invisible radio waves bouncing around from aircraft has to be affecting them (some that may not be of this realm). They have not been warned about invisible, possibly harmful rays. I need to adjust my lead lined baseball cap now and watch the goat herd destroy the last of my Indian Plum bushes. Goat Hostage.

Jane said...

Dear Goat Hostage - I appreciate what you are saying about noxious rays, toxins, and ideas spewing from the two very-close military installations. Indeed, in fact I need to add a "dick cheney's america" tag to the post, just for your comments.

I too grew up on radar installations (talk about your deadly rays), and other military sites - and I've never left anyone to be eaten alive by their own dogs, nor have I killed someone and then blamed it on a bookcase. So while I consider it true that the nearby military presence can warp and poison (I consider myself proof of that very thing), it only explains such deviance as an exceptional fondness for the Simpsons and William Shatner albums, not brutal neglect nor lethal violence.

Time for me to put on my own lead-lined nightcap - and my condolences on the plum bushes - I bet they would have made good preserves, had any survived. Have you considered serving up a goat stew in the near future?