America Is No Longer a Light unto the World

The vile pig now soiling the Oval Office, the treacherous Donald Trump, has transformed July Fourth into a dirge.

Akin to Thanksgiving, another uniquely American holiday, Independence Day does not commemorate some religious occasion or an instance of martial splendor. Both ask Americans to muse upon our aspirations and character. Thanksgiving allows us to rejoice bounty, from which we can derive possibilities and achievements.

Independence Day initiates our founding idea. Successive generations of Americans generally attempt to improve it.

Not sorry all you simple-minded thinkers who mentally knee-jerk “freedom” when asked what this country, our flag, July Fourth means. While “freedom” is a component upon which the Founders established this Republic, it is up to every individual to discover and mine his or her tricky measure. “Freedom” for one can liberate as well as also infringe upon another’s.

Therefore, “freedom” is nebulous. It depends on perspectives. And it better damned well be accommodating.

However, “freedom” does allow wide-ranging discussions which further develop our American temperament.

Until foreign intervention oozed the short-fingered vulgarian into the White House, you, dear reader, were possibly like me in regards to July Fourth. Hopefully you saw it as more than a day off. Likely you never mounted a soapbox, declaimed nor orated in thanks of divine Providence.

If you’re not wearing a waistcoat, if your voice can’t singe listeners’ ears with inspired rhetoric, a k a “rouse rabble,” skip declaiming or orating. Sage you ain’t. You’ll come off pompous.

Whenever Der Trump tries summoning his inner William Jennings Bryan he just further proves himself the huge blowhard New Yorkers have always known.

Before the Republican Party, fringe right-wingers, and evangelicals co-opted patriotism into their own narrow nefarious ends, July Fourth was our one national invention. It permitted the whole spectrum of Americans to appreciate living in a country unlike any other.

There’s plenty magnificent to be said for having family and friends over for – or attend – a barbecue. If the municipality small enough, at least as was my boyhood home of Quarropas, New York, local suburban spectators never tired of annually gathering with friends and neighbors upon some grassy clearing to watch Fourth of July fireworks brighten night skies as they awed smaller children and frightened pets.

If festivities went off in a cosmopolitan setting, the spectacle may’ve seemed imposing – Grucci pyrotechnics, howitzers, a bold-faced name singing paeans to the ol’ US of A – the essential meaning of our Republic nevertheless filtered through.

Perhaps in all these pursuits, in genteel or hectic surroundings, we’d reflect on how life wasn’t perfect, our own imperfections, but all things considered it was pretty damned good here in the United States. And since we were Americans, didn’t we somehow suspect we’d improve our circumstances someway?

Until recent times, the Stars & Stripes was not a ubiquitous display. Yes. The banner flew before federal, state, and municipal facilities but rare was the home or business it constantly adorned. In an aside, what commonly decorated homes – particularly on residences in the Original 13 States – were eagle ornaments. Usually above front doors. Or serving as doorknockers.

See the ornament as a sign of fortitude and fidelity. An amulet for true, long-time Continentals, let’s say.

Past certain points in this country it’s rare spotting these symbols. When I spy one in Nevada, often on mailboxes, I somehow suss out the homeowners’ origins. Invariably the family has resettled in the Mojave from the Eastern Seaboard.

I want to mark my own address with an eagle. But they’re difficult to find and buy here.

Until the attacks, American flags were saved to be unfurled primarily on Decoration Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day. Now, where and when doesn’t the banner wave? On what attire hasn’t it been applied? Off of the rusted gate of what pickup bed doesn’t it flutter?

With his childish insistence on a military aspect which will overwhelm the holiday’s spirit, Der Trump has once again turned gold into shit. Much as the traitor has transformed good portions of American life into grubby pursuits, the grimy real estate fraud intends inside-outing the single day which defines Americans.

American Independence Day has no association with might or bombast or conquest. American Independence Day hails an idea. From which flow ideals. Many of which many of us still hold true and do our utmost to propagate.

Left to Der Trump Americans would forfeit every last ounce our dignity for more money. Also the traitor would have us live in the most degraded environment possible if it again earned another dollar. For money he would have us consign our self-respect to the dust bin of history. July Fourth does not mirror any of Der Trump’s selfish imperatives.

With his arrival into the presidency and the criminality he and his administration have perpetrated, Der Trump has squandered our national prestige. He has tarnished America’s sterling image. Where America once may’ve been considered indispensable in many corners of the globe, our porcine leader is convincing adherents that maybe we aren’t necessary after all.

On the domestic level, the swine has encouraged the worst from the least of us.

Somehow evangelicals idolize this false man. The self-proclaimed righteous worship a phony they’ve mistaken a redeemer. He is a bumptious man whose entire life exemplifies everything they have abhorred in the past. That said those godscreamers demonstrate why the Founders insisted on no national religion, for separation of church and state.

The breeches and buckles set knew how one congregation’s version of the Almighty, their interpretations of His Scriptures, could sway its parishioners into believing others following different paths of the same deity and pronouncements could be denigrated as apostates, deceivers, and associates of evil.

Men of faith as most Founders were, they best understood how such strictures imposed upon different believers could convulse nations. All they had to do was look towards the Old World, at the Irish suppressed under British rule, the Huguenots slaughtered in France. These were the extremes from which they’d unyoked themselves.

Worse, on the civil level, Der Trump, a traitor, has instigated disunity. No longer are we all regarded as “Americans.” Under him, there are hyphenates, complexions, and ethnicities to be valued, while others should suffer sanctioned inferiority.

Just the sort of divisiveness that weakens the United States. One might expect this tactic from our nation’s adversaries, not its purported leader.

In the end, while Der Trump comprehends his office awards its occupant power, prestige, and exploit both for his own self-serving ends, the presidency does not deign its holder with royal, bestowed from above privileges. What president hasn’t understood what Donald Trump implicitly ignores? The most exalted title an American can hold is citizen.

That designation has been emphasized and repeated on every July Fourth since 1776.

The title above this post would grieve Cotton Mather. He would’ve agreed, though sadly.

Keeping True

On Father’s Day 2019, I performed an act my own late father might’ve considered sacrilegious. I attended a Dodgers game in Chavez Ravine.

To mitigate my baseball transgression I cheered for the visitors not the home nine.

Father was a Brooklyn Dodgers man through and through. The Los Angeles Dodgers could never have engaged his rooting interest. Continue reading Keeping True

Antipodes: Aftermath and End

Party people milled throughout Axman’s house. Then, he and an assemblage of housemates rented a structure only a cheery paint job saved from being judged Gothic.

This event occurred on a December 2009 night, in Quarropas. Our host had convened what we’d come to call “a gathering.” He scheduled “gatherings” once or twice a month.

From about the late 90s into the farthest aughts, how many party Friday and Saturday nights slid into late next morning inside his house? Looking back from June 2019? Too few and not damned near enough! Continue reading Antipodes: Aftermath and End

Antipodes: The Amethyst Twins

Annegreth and Lieslotte weren’t twins. An instant or two dedicated to closer inspection revealed this.

Yet thanks to same shaggy blonde manes, blue eyes, clear, sun-blessed complexions, and manners of smiling that made each tall though not lanky woman appear uncannily similar, clearer observations rescinded the quick judgment. Neither Uruguayan was truly indistinguishable from another. Yet that’s how most undiscerning strangers like MacDiarmid saw them. Continue reading Antipodes: The Amethyst Twins

Antipodes: The Shamrock

Looking back on the months of March in 2004, 2005, and 2009, didn’t I spend an almost inordinate amount of time in Buenos Aires inside the Shamrock? Why, yes I did.

Spent properly, those hours could’ve been devoted to visiting vineyards west towards the Andes or even venturing south into Patagonia. There, I might’ve investigated cities along the South Atlantic coast and waited to witness whales breaching the ocean’s surface.

But urban creature as I most surely am, and one who traveled alone then, louche comforts lured and guided me.

Perhaps “louche” a harsh judgment for the Shamrock. Let’s direct that upon its clientele. Continue reading Antipodes: The Shamrock

Antipodes: Dark Places

Dissolute excursions inside the Shamrock or the Shannon did not fill my every waking evening hour in Argentina and Uruguay. The principal cities offered plenty of cosmopolitan attractions, particularly Buenos Aires.

Maybe having grown up in Metropolitan New York made it easy or easier. But setting out to investigate rumored addresses never unnerved me. Most of those places were merry and bright; a precious few turned out being among the darkest recesses imaginable. Continue reading Antipodes: Dark Places

Antipodes

In March 2009, I stood in the terraces of La Bombonera, a k a “The Chocolate Box,” in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It is the home field of the Boca Juniors, one of the country’s most idolized teams. In the nearly vacant stadium, on my 50th birthday I hoisted a retired Copa Libertadores trophy.

The Copa is one of the most prestigious soccer tournaments encompassing Latin America.

Looking at the span which that particular piece of hardware had been bestowed, it had been raised by Pele and Diego Maradona, each a deity in short pants for his respective nation, Brazil and Argentina. Immodest of me as it was, I lifted that thing and preened as if I’d somehow contributed on the pitch towards its acquisition.

I wasn’t the only one there that sunny afternoon fantasizing. Plenty of aficionados, dyed-in-the-wool soccer fans, were in attendance summoning the echoes of past contests be they championship caliber or regularly scheduled Boca tilts.

The indulgent Porteña accompanying me looked on with pity and benevolence. She could’ve mocked me or rolled her eyes at my undeserved and unearned basking. But she understood the importance of futbol. Despite being a norteamericano, I at least displayed an appreciable measure of reverence for pursuits purists often believe holds no less meaning than life and death.

That demonstration hopefully also compensated for much of my lousy Spanish. Continue reading Antipodes

Music as Menace

This February cool cats should’ve observed what would’ve been the 90th birthday of Bo Diddley. Burly, commanding, Diddley could not have been mistaken for one of the Golden Era of Rock’s cutesy teen idols.

As Bo Biddley himself would’ve proclaimed, “Bo Diddley was a man!”

A seminal rock ‘n’ roller, Diddley resides on a lower tier than, say, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, but Diddley contributed greatly to the genre nonetheless.

Way more than Elvis Presley. Continue reading Music as Menace

Living Art

Higher evolved as humans claim themselves, maybe the lower primates, four-legged creatures, and fowl have the whole relationship matrix grasped better. For the most part they answer to instinct. A time of year triggers them to couple, copulate in order to assure continuance of the species, then diverge.

Easier than what Adair endured. Continue reading Living Art

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