Sunday, July 4, 2010

Independence Day

A year ago I was in Mexico playing music at a cafe. Today I'm sweating through the sheets in New England. What does it all mean? I'm convinced Americans are gasoline junkies. Gasoline and food. It's an addictive society and we're all supposed to walk the fine line of responsible abuse. Most of the younger crowd in Mexico did speed in one form or another. I did not but the heat and small food budget made me lose weight so everyone thought I was a wasted crank fiend. (Ranting about Hannah Montana being the anti-Christ didn't help.) And when I defended myself (sounding like a true junkie) they wondered why I wasn't doing speed. I couldn't win either way. And everyone drank beer after beer. I'm a contrary person because if the mob is doing it then I'm suspicious (since the media controls the mob and Rupert Murdoch controls the media...)
I arrive at decisions slower than anyone I've met except the deranged schizophrenics I met on the street in Santa Cruz. I'm slow because if you habitually examine a choice from all angles then it multiplies all the angles until you've got more angles than time. But it's important, I think, to study the options. Lately, I'm thinking about finding a farm in South America and becoming a pack animal. Portsmouth is becoming this overrun concrete jungle before my eyes. It's not changing by consensus, but by an invisible public opinion or deference to progress. No one really knows how we have two gigantic convention halls back to back where there used to be a supermarket. I can't remember what was at the Marriot location. I really can't even though there was a day when the Market Street Extension didn't exist. We used to drive to Newington on Maplewood Ave. There was no other way.

Consequences. People who do remarkable things (good or bad) proceed bravely and radically, without fear of consequence. If you want to control the fate of man, make news, then you have to put all the sails up, throw all the dead weight overboard and go. The process of refining silicon into solar panels is the result of recklessness. In this case, the recklessness paid off. In other situations like the Hudson River, the Meadowlands of New Jersey, the Gulf of Mexico, it didn't pay off. Recklessness sort of requires you ignore any environmental consequences. The end (solar power) is justified by the means (processing silicon with unpredictable results)

That's what America means to me today. Recklessness in the face of an unforgiving environment. I know that I was born under a lucky star when I have no worries about an animal carrying me off in the night. When was the last time a bobcat walked around Boston?

Yes, the native Americans had come to terms with their habitat but did they have wireless internet? No. And that invention was the latest in a series of reckless achievements for America. It's safe to say that nothing is going to change that because there will always be an excuse to experiment and go forth recklessly into the unknown. Maybe we will cause the next ice age by melting the ice caps and thus lowering the temperature of the earth. And that will be a good excuse to investigate arctic lifestyles. Can I grow tomatoes in the snow? How can we live better considering the circumstances. That's the driving question Americans have asked for 240 years. For the first time in history the government/church not only didn't hinder the inventor, but they encouraged his efforts. How comfortably can we live? It turns out we can live very comfortably and it also turns out that living comfortably is totally isolated from living well. Maybe you are comfortable and maybe you are living well but the two aren't related. Yes, Sony and IBM will tell you they are permanently connected but that's just their marketing team talking. I suspect that comparatively there are still the same number of reasons to be happy or unhappy as there were in 800 B.C.
This is our time and so we think we've got it so much better than the 800 B.C. folks. But I promise you they were thinking the same thing about people who lived in 3000 B.C.
"Man, can you believe people lived without fire?"
"No, I can't. It must've sucked."

Did it suck? No way. It was their time and they were probably proud of the leather bags they made. The ruins in Egypt are proof those folks were proud to be alive. A dog has almost no memory. You take a dog into the woods and the animal thinks it's never going to return to the house. Is it suddenly miserable?

So, this is our time, our time in America. Wires cross the sky to carry information and that's just the beginning. Yes, we are a reckless people and will leap before we do a safety check. I think that's how things are accomplished. Looked at from high above the earth we probably look like we're ungoverned, unruly and dangerously independent, which is exactly what we wanted back in 1776. We were the rogue nation at one time and it worked out pretty good. Maybe we should take a lesson from ourselves and let other countries alone.
Happy independence day.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.