The Blessings Of Modernity

World class rant about, among other things, why material progress is a good thing:

But what I fell straight in love with were the particularities of America, the things that AREN'T writ large. I watched Monster House in a Beer Theater with my American Girlfriend and we drove back to our Large Hotel to do Nasty American Things to eachother after we played Boggle and got Drunk. With the possible exception of Monster House, which is gonna hit Guatemala in a week or so, all of those things are what I think of as "American" in a way that means "not just made in America but peculiar to America." The big, multinational corporations might come from America, sure, but they certainly don't have a controlling share in how the life of Americans must go forward. I'm amazed how little McDonalds or Coke really has to do with my life, unless I invite them to the table. There are things that are compulsory and awful in America, but the ones we get blamed for are usually the furthest off the mark.

Only once have I let loose with this theory, because it's generally not my business. In Livingston, in a bar, one of my cobackpackers started up with the whole "I'm so glad to be away from all that shit, all that wholesale corporate shit, all that unthinking consumption, all that overly aggressive American culture, all that Bible thumping and fast food and 9-5" routine, and I was drunk and talky.

I set down my beer, and gestured for the guy to lean over.

"I've got a hunch about America, dude..."

"What's that?"

"...You're doing it wrong."

Divebars. Jukeboxes. Allen Iverson. Beerball. Super Mario Kart. NetFlix. LiveFuckingJournal. The way my girl looks in that skirt.

An aversion to whitehats and fast food might be a reason to leave the country, but it's no reason to bash it. To fail to find a place for yourself in the USA might be a failure of fucking imagination, but it ain't a failure of the culture to provide. I dunno... I've given up on thinking that I can really tell anyone else what should be going on in their head - but when I go from America to Guatemala to America to Guatemala, the virtues of our ways of doing things are pretty self-evident. Guatemala is a sucky place to be born. Without qualifiers. A lot of people come down here and backpack around and go back to the U.S. or Europe talking about what a great place Guatemala is, how nice the people are, whatever. They're wrong. I think they're even objectively wrong.

Read the whole thing.

link via Patri's LJ

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