|Fifty Ways to Love America||MJ|
Jun 11, 2002 12:55 AM
Fifty ways to love America
Tuesday June 11, 2002
It has been drawn to my attention that, because these columns have occasionally offered some small trenchant observations about my host nation, this might imply that I am a critic of the United States.
In particular, some readers appear to have inferred that because I might consider American gun laws insane, their executions primeval, their fruit tasteless, their work ethic relentless, their intelligence agencies incompetent, their attorney general sinister and their president a nudnik, that this makes me in some way anti-American.
Hey, it's in the nature of journalism to do more blaming than praising. But, in the interests of balance and to avoid future difficulties with the immigration service, here are some reasons why the US is wonderful.
1. Race. It's been a 140-year journey and the US has not arrived yet. But Europe is way behind in its commitment to racial diversity and equality. A black cabinet minister in Britain? So what? Two of the five most important leaders here are black (Powell and Rice), and no one comments. Also, the tradition of immigration makes it far easier for any outsider to be accepted.
2. The legislators actually think and matter. Senators and congressmen are not lobby-fodder. Lobbyist- fodder, maybe, but they play a crucial role in the national debate.
3. Invincible green suburbs. My observation (on incomplete evidence) is that the average patch of American suburbia is less crime-ridden and certainly less fearful than its British equivalent.
4. The ever-open shops.
5. The weather: amazing, decisive, thrilling. At every season there are crystalline days of cloudless perfection.
6. The autumn is especially stunning. Britain has three months of murk and mud.
7. Neighbourliness, ranging from small kindnesses to block parties.
8. Openness at every level. It is flagging in the Bush White House, but generally there is still an un-British desire to explain what's going on.
9. A thoroughly creditable reluctance to have spy cameras everywhere.
11. The (diminishing) wilderness.
12. Cities that don't have the life sucked out of them by an over-dominant capital. Chicago is exhilaratingly beautiful. Birmingham and Manchester ain't.
13. The petrol pumps take credit cards and give receipts, so you can avoid what is usually one of the day's least satisfying pieces of human interaction.
14. The petrol is dirt cheap. I may disagree philosophically but...
15. Electrical goods are cheap too.
16. America has a sense of occasion. Oh, sure, we can do a good jubilee. This place makes every rite of passage into an event: commencement, homecoming, the high school prom, whatever.
17. Walk-in closets.
18. Hot water, lashings of it.
19. Ice - the Americans' birthright.
20. American lemonade: not fizzy, often homemade, delicious.
21. Oregon pinot noir (forget California - the north-west is the place for wine).
22. Great art galleries.
23. Paper towels in the public toilets, not just those useless hot-air things.
24. In Washington, the zoo is free.
25. The matzo ball soup at Wagshal's Deli, the pizza at Ledo's, and (as my brother would wish me to mention) the chocolate pretzels from Trader Joe's.
26. The Washington fish market.
27. Much-derided Amtrak, whose trains allow for the possibility that passengers have legs.
28. The poetry of the placenames. Just murmur the rivers of Pennsylvania: "the Monongahela and the Allegheny; the Susquehanna and the Juniata; the Schuylkill and the Delaware" (thanks to reader Roger Horne).
29. Or go and glimpse the Mississippi. More exciting than the Thames, yes?
30. Or try the Badlands of South Dakota.
31. The weekly magazines.
32. Films mo
|A list w/o meaning. And #20 is wrong; our birthright is ketchup||128|
Jun 11, 2002 7:16 AM
|and the unhibited, proud yet judicious use thereof, and ketchup's elevation to it's rightful place among the great sauces. I love sauces. And even in the best of restaurant's, by Heaven, if I want it: I will ask.|
|...except ketchup isn't American...||Me Dot Org|
Jun 12, 2002 1:27 PM
|...although Americans thinking it is certainly is. What is American is taking a good idea and making it better.
Jun 11, 2002 3:24 PM
Jun 11, 2002 7:39 PM