Friday, July 04, 2008
Kerouac and I, and America the Beautiful
Today is the day our neighbours in the United States celebrate their Independence Day. And this year it's not the happiest of holidays.
According to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll, close to 70 percent say that if the signers of the Declaration of Independence could see America today they would be disappointed, while just under 30 percent say the founding fathers would be happy with the country 232 years later.
And who can blame them? It sickens me to see what eight years of Bush and Cheney have done to that great country, the noble ideals of its founders, and its reputation all over the world. So I can only imagine how they feel.
Like so many others I hate their government with a passion. But I could never hate the country or its people.
As I explained to a reader who e-mailed me recently, my grandfather taught me to love Americans. He trained in the U.S. to become a carrier pilot during the Second World War. His views about that country remained anchored in the optimism of the post war years. And he never lost faith that it could once again be an awesome force for good. Even though in his last years he came to hate George Bush almost as much as I did.
And on our travels together we never did find that elusive drugstore where you could get malt sodas. What happened to them anyway?
As for the beauty and excitement of the country I think I learned to love it...... without even seeing it..... through the beat writings of the brilliant French Canadian American Jack Kerouac.
When I read On the Road I always feel I'm in that car with Jack and his beloved Dean Moriarty, Neal Cassady. Screaming down the highway with America in all its wonderful jazzy optimistic craziness whizzing by in a blur. Go Go Go !!!
So I thought it might be neat on Independence Day to run this video. Where Jack meets Woody Allen's Manhattan...
I would have changed some of the pictures in that video. And included one of a convertible racing down a lonely desert road in the night, leaving a trail of pot smoke behind it. With Jack and I in the back seat.... me playing the guitar and Jack beating a bongo drum.
I know. You can't have EVERYTHING. But you know what I mean? A journey is a journey with its mountains and its valleys. And until it's over you can always cling to the hope that tomorrow will be better.
The good news is I really think that's about to happen. A powerful wind of change is sweeping across the United States. Out of crisis and depression can come a new beginning.
So step on the gas Neal !!! Beat the drum harder Jack !!! Go Go Go !!!! The rising sun is painting the mountains pink. San Francisco can't be far away. A new day is screaming to be born. Love beckons. And hope is just around the corner.
To all my family, friends, and readers in America the soon to be beautiful again.
Happy Fourth of July !!!
P.S. Hey neighbours ...yet another practically DIVINE OMEN that things are about to get better. The rotten racist and foul homophobe Jesse Helms croaked today.
God really is Pooh Bear....