Trash Talk

By Malcolm Beith ~ Newsweek Magazine ( International Edition )

Americans just love the open road, especially the denizens of those clunky homes-on-wheels that trundle along behind pickups and rest in trailer parks. Culture snobs dub such folk "trailer trash", but not everyone sees them this way. Neil Nesslage, a 28-year-old factory worker from Missouri, set up a Web site, missouritrailertrash.com, to explain that trailer dwellers aren't just po' folk who don't know nuttin'. His life and views, as told to PERI:

Why a life on wheels?

I was tired of renting an apartment. The only houses we could afford were old and run-down, so we thought... A trailer. Everything was new.

Any dangers on the road?

Tornadoes. I hate that feeling I get when the sky turns green and the clouds get thick. A basement would be nice!

Why the Web site?

Entertainment's the main reason, but I have a point to make. Just because you live in a trailer doesn't make you trailer trash. I'm not making fun of poor people. I'm making fun of trash. It's the stereotype that all trailer dwellers must live with, whether we like it or not. So I may as well have fun with it.

What's the fun part?

People get creative, like using a dump-truck hood for an awning. One put a single-wide trailer on such a steep hill that the front was actually resting on the ground and the rear was about 30 feet in the air. And I'm talking about just using your regular concrete blocks. How safe is that? That guy has to worry about tornadoes and earthquakes!

Are trailers a form of art?

Yes, because no two are alike. Kinda like when you see abstract art made entirely of junk in a museum. You don't know what to make of it, and it means something different to everyone.

Where do trailer folk fit in America's so-called classless society?

I think they're in a class of their own.


2001, Newsweek Magazine.