Strangest thing, and still wondering exactly what happened. I just burst into tears thinking about the faded glory of my country. That’s never happened in my entire life. So many people have been frustrated for such a long time at what’s been going on in America: our malevolent administration, stringent self-focus, shortsightedness, capitalist preoccupation, failing health and education systems, and self-inflicted disrespect from the rest of the world, and, of course, for it. I’ve been talking with friends and acquaintances more often about these failings since our recent catapult into overt righteousness (as opposed to clandestine righteousness since the 1950s), but I’ve never been affected quite like this before. Left-focused books and censored mass media have only cemented my feelings regarding the shitty spot that we’re in, but until now haven’t stirred any emotions in such a way.
In the background, I am embarrassed to report, VH1 was playing an exposé of the 1980s, and I guess I fell for the youthful feeling of invulnerability and irresponsibility that rumination and reflection bestow. That was certainly a more innocent time for me, or at least only because I was pretty much unaware of the venomous ramifications of the Regan years. I just wanted to play and read and be a kid. So John Mellencamp’s “Little Pink Houses” was being played on the show, and it got me thinking about his work and his focus. This is a musician who writes, produces, and plays almost everything he does, and he is, and always has been, a strong and true believer in the beauty and IMPORTANCE of this country. Any listen to his early work will affirm the notion that Mellencamp has always been sympathetic to and reverent of the working class American, the backbone of our industry and agriculture, and he’s saluted that institution from the beginning. “Hey, this country is something to be proud of!” And his idyllic visions of Americana may reek of kitsch and quaintness, but there’s something that he sees…something about hard work and fortitude and carving out a place and name for yourself through honesty and integrity; something truly unique to America, and not an affectation of this “melting-pot” amalgamation of a counter-culture that we so proudly wave and proclaim is ours and always has been. And I miss it, and it made me weep. And I wonder if Johnny feels dicked by the system after all the years of love and passion that he’s put into this place, to see it now degrading and being wrenched from his hands, being told that his pride and freedom are a thing of the past, like a fleeting hit single that is supplanted by candied pop manufactured by sundered execs with dirty faces.
Some New York asshole in my store told me the other day that I was too American. I have never before considered that an insult. And whether it’s true or not that I am a stereotypical Yank, I realize now, and fully accept, that I am very ashamed of what we have turned into.
4 Responses to “Good Mourning”
June 29th, 2003 at 1:34 pm
interesting. looking at the work of the WPA makes me feel that way about america.
btw, you were missed on friday. this would have been completely appropriate conversation that night.
anyway, you came up in the conversation, i mentioned the upcoming party to everyone. i'd like to bring allegra (<lj user="redshrike">). she remembers you from previous get togethers and would like to see you before you go off on your adventure.
as for hanging out…. artlyn and i would like to know how next weekend is looking for you?
June 29th, 2003 at 4:13 pm
I'm SO sorry that I couldn't come and see you lovelies. Of course Allegra can come. In fact, pretty much anybody can come!
Next weekend is tight, but I'm free Sunday afternoon and evening if you guys are; I also would VERY much like to spend some quality time with you very soon…
July 1st, 2003 at 2:41 am
I also would VERY much like to spend some quality time with you very soon.
yes, I'd like that very much!
turns out i have the lil bird all of next weekend so i'm not available at all. and the following week is the start of the new school quarter for artlyn and i. She and i were lamenting the fact that our vacation just flew by.
anyway, i'll email you later today.
October 19th, 2004 at 4:49 am
I don't think that you're a stereotypical Yank.
You're far more interesting than most Yanks.