It's getting colder out, I still have the window cracked and true to my Yankee upbringing I refuse to turn on the heat. New England Winter sets in slowly, every day is just a little bit colder than the day before. As long as the stove isn't burning it's still Fall, but Fall turns into Late Fall and then into Late Late Fall and we tell ourselves that the inch of snow we woke up to see will surely melt by tomorrow. Surrender comes with the strike of a match. Once the stove is burning there's no going back but the feeling of defeat and the long Winter ahead is buffered by the warmth radiating off the stove. It is this time of year that in hardware stores and coffee shops across New England, old timers say to one another "have you started your stove yet?".
It is also this time of year that zombie Santa Clause rises from his grave. With the eyes of a crackmonster who hasn't seen sleep since Thanksgiving, he wanders the lonely Televisions and Department stores desperately imploring someone to buy something. Buy something, you owe it to your family, give them the gifts of greed and want, it will wash away the year's sins. Put it on your Master Card, next year will be better.
The past few weeks have left me feeling nostalgic for an America that maybe never was and will certainly never be again. Before the obsessive masturbation of the fear instinct, before the police turned into an occupying force, back when the junkie on the corner was a gainfully employed used car salesman.
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Loud music, good whiskey and fast automobiles.
The debunking of this mythical place I called home would not have troubled me so were it not the debunking of everything it stood for. Toward the end, Conspiracy Theory provided a last glimmer of hope for the Ideals on which The Republic stood. The vain hope that some overlooked detail about The Grassy Knoll or the Plane At The Pentagon would negate the cold reality that given the right to vote, the average person will elect and re-elect Nixons and Bushes until a nation is plundered, discredited and defunct. Every Jimmy Carter, every Barack Obama, everyone who has ever tried to change things merely swam against the tide. A tide of ghoulish monsters who will keep on electing their ghoulish monster presidents until the whole freak show comes grinding to a halt.
64 years ago, times were better. After World War 2, Europe was rebuilding and in the eyes of Western Europeans, the US had saved the world. Gold flowed into Fort Knox and investment into Wall Street, for the first time in American history, there was a middle class and they bought houses and cars and Televisions. For the first time they could proudly watch the cowboys win the west every Sunday night. This would be the blessing of the 20th century. The curse, that every year would be a little bit leaner and a little bit more wretched than the last.
Thinking back of the terrible atrocities committed in the later half of the 20th century, one can't help but imagine a group of old men sitting around a table facing The Devil in a balance sheet. The American Way of Life was never particularly sustainable, when Europe got back on it's feet and took back it's gold and investments, I imagine the nervous meetings. The looming economic catastrophe from an overextended financial system and a population who'd tasted the good life and wanted more. Faced with a hole darker and deeper than the Great Depression, fearful men made a cheap decision. With a few financial hat tricks backed up by things too horrifying to mention, the system would not implode, instead it would rot away bit by bit.
I do not wish to think of the United States as it is today. I prefer to remember it through film, to experience the open road and the enormous Red Convertible sailing down the interstate at 100 miles an hour with the radio blaring. It may not be real but it is the America I wish to remember.
There is also another America, inside of your pocket and on my desk, a series of tubes as it were. A place which could never have existed without wild and unruly spending that only an Empire can muster. As the Pyramids are to Egypt, and The Wall is to China, The Internet can only be the Great Wonder of America. And it could be no more fitting that America's great wonder would be, an open road, a road spanning every continent and crossing every ocean. A road complete with the swindlers and the highwaymen but a road none the less. And somewhere down the road, somewhere, anything is possible. Just Press Search.
Caleb James DeLisle - October 25, 2014 CC-BY-SA
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