The United States of America. The original melting pot. One of the largest countries in the world, both by population and by shear size. Today is the fourth of July, their independence day, the day that the United States stopped being a colony of the British Empire and became their own nation. That declaration happened 240 years ago today.
It’s a strange place, any time I’ve been it’s felt like some sort of bizarro Canada, with more liquor stores, ammo depots and gambling. I’ve only had the pleasure of going a couple of times. Two trips to Seattle, which due in part to its music culture might be one of my favorite cities of all time. I’ve been to Hawaii, when I was sixteen and probably didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have. Our family also did the Disneyland trip to California, and soaked up the Hollywood magic as well as too much sun. Beyond that, my foray into the States has been limited to day trips to Montana, Washington and Idaho. Little hops over the border, plus a short camping trip my family went on when I was maybe all of eight.
The United States is a massive country, and it’s a shame that I’ve only really experienced a fraction of it. Even though it’s still a relatively young nation, it’s a cultural power house. Their contributions to music have been stellar, with the creation of Jazz, the Blues, Hip-Hop, Rock and Roll. All of these forms of music were birthed in the United States. Rock and Country both owe their roots to the Blues, famed for it’s Devils Note. The Blues originated in the Delta of the Mississippi, created by former slaves on the plantations.
The film industry has been largely centered around Hollywood since the creation of film. Roughly a hundred high budget movies come from the major studios, and countless other films are produced and created from independent film makers. It’s hard to think of the United States without thinking about Hollywood.
There food and drink is unreal. Even though the country is a goddamn runt when we’re talking about how long it’s been around, some of the original cuisine that hails from the States is something else. From the humble hamburger to the mighty slow roasted barbecue, the United States is home to some of the best food, period. Even though much of the food hails from other cultures, they’ve turned a lot of it into their own unique cuisine. And the beer and wine! Right now, I think some of the best beer and wine in the world is coming from the US right now. There is a ton of craft beers coming out of the States, and I’m not sure if anyone else is doing what they’re doing. Screw the Reinheitsgebot, they’re throwing in a crazy variety of stuff in their beers. Their wine is nothing to sneeze at either. Californian wines are constantly winning awards, and the entire west coast, from California to Washington is dotted with vineyards and wineries.
On the flip side, ever since the attacks on 9/11, going to the United States make me uneasy. Before the attacks, our borders were pretty open. You only needed a drivers license to get across. Now, even almost fifteen years since the attack, tensions still seem high. Border guards on both sides seem to be less friendly, more on edge. The questioning seems to take longer, more of an interrogation. Not to mention the US leads the world in mass shootings.
It’s a place that seems like home, but not really. It’s brighter, faster, louder than Canada. And for some reason, I still find myself drawn to it. I still want to go to New York and take a bite out of the Big Apple, get a slice of famous New York Za. I want to head to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, and stuff my face with Creole food. I want southern barbecue, I want lobster from Maine, I want to hit up jazz bars and the weird little museums that dot the landscape. I want a frank at a baseball stadium, hitting up a game of Americas favorite pastime.
Even though it makes be nervous, the United States is still a place I want to experience, the pros far outweighing the cons. And who doesn’t want a baseball frank?
The Illustrious Mr. Charlton
p.s. It’s just that whole section in the middle of the US I have no interest in. It just seems really damn boring.