From the Right



Bear Grease's Imprint on Our Culture Is Still Highly Relevant Thanks to Clay Newcomb

Salena Zito on

ARKANSAS -- Clay Newcomb is on a personal mission to explore things forgotten in a digital world that moves past people and experiences at the speed of light. He revels in places, communities, traditions and lives that still remain deeply relevant to a lot of people and cultures across our country but risk being lost.

It was a mission he began long before he began producing his popular "Bear Grease" podcast , part of the iconic MeatEater podcast family. Newcomb, whose Instagram photos often show him sitting on a mule unironically, admits he never saw any of this coming.

"It has really been an interesting process to me as I've come into MeatEater, a process which has given me this massive platform that I've never thought I'd have," he said. "I feel like I'm just doing all the stuff I've been doing my whole life. Only now, I have an audience."

Newcomb is the embodiment of the American frontier -- part Renaissance man, part mule wrangler, 100% storyteller. You cannot help but want to connect all at once with the land you occupy, the history that surrounds you that you never took the time to learn. What possibilities await, spending just one afternoon or one podcast with him and his cast of characters.

"I'm a seventh-generation Arkansan," he said. "My kids are eighth-generation. My family came here in the late 1820s and homesteaded in a community called Bumblebee in Montgomery County, Arkansas."

It was not something his family had ever made much of. "I was the first person in our family that kind of declared that we were kind of explorers. Like, holy cow, we've been here since the late 1820s," he said.


His grandfather was a Baptist pastor and bird-dog trainer in Montgomery County, Arkansas, and the first person ever to attend college in his family. "He was also a schoolteacher," Newcomb said. "He was also a World War II veteran, and all those guys wanted their kids to go to college."

And so they did; Newcomb said his father became a banker. "He was like a white-collar guy in our town. But he was also a hunter; as country as any of them."

When his father came home from work, he didn't tell stories about the insurance agents and the car dealers and the doctors that he worked with; he told them stories about the rural people.

"I spent my childhood hearing stories about the family that would come in and take out a $400 loan so that they could go catfishing for three weeks, the guys that were gathering moss for a living and selling moss," he said. "He treated these people like they were kings."


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Copyright 2021 Creators Syndicate, Inc.



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