Monday, February 4, 2008

A Love Letter to America

America Dearest, My Beloved,

Today is your big day. No, not Mardi Gras, though I believe you will need to eat many pancakes for sustenance, to help you be guided in your choices. No, I meant Super Tuesday.

America, my Dear, my Beloved, I know, it hadn't always been so easy. It's a bit, how shall I say? Special and lonely to be the most famous, the biggest one, and, like Britney, to have each and every one of your most embarrassing blunders thrown into the spotlight 24/7.
A few times, like Britney, you went beserk, and no one watching you from afar could find any reasonable explanation as to the whys and hows and wheres and whens and whats. Maybe you had suffered some temporary insanity, and it's understandable after what happened to you on that fateful September morning, a few years back. Maybe, like Britney, you were ill-advised, if advised at all. When in pain it's hard to keep a cool head. Hey, if it's hard for Britney, it certainly can be hard for you too.

Like Britney, after you reached that level of fame and power, there were few safeguards for you, and you didn't want to listen or defer to any type higher authority anyway. You're the biggest! The most famous! Why should you waste your time with the tiny kids on the playground?
Sometimes you even managed, through cunning staffing, to transform those international figures of authority into your very own private Entourage, all the while telling your kind and generous people that no, it ain't so.
The result is if someone dared try to respectfully warn you about potential pitfalls, you pouted and sulked and pretended it didn't happen.
But you know what, America my Beloved?
It has been horrible, that bully attitude of yours, for too many people around the world, and for too many people within your borders. It cannot continue like this. You need to stop being that crazy cousin who comes gunning down everything in sight for fear of losing domination. Yes, we understand, being for so long the ugly but giant teenager who felt unloved was hard, and maybe our attitude toward you was a bit condescending or patronizing when you were growing up. But, come on! You are an adult now, the awkward years are over. Let's get together and make peace all over again.
Now the time has come for you, America my Beloved, to remember how it was to be desired and admired, and to reclaim not so much your economic leadership, though this one will be tough, but what makes it so cool to be you.

You see, there are pretty darn great things about you, when you come to think of it. No, not your cupcakes, brownies, Caesar salads, burgers and BBQs, your cool kitsch attractions (Demolition Derbies! Disneyland! Trekkies Conventions! LolCats!), your sometime disputable fashions (shirt collar and lapels OVER the jacket ???), not your fascinating cultural industry (please be nice to the writers when the strike ends, OK? you've seen how bad it was without them). Not your fabulous contemporary art, that was undoubtedly the coolest ever for the second part of the XXth Century (alas, you've been a bit lazy recently). Ditto your cinema, which you should do a better job of remembering, archiving and making available for everyone. Not your TV, which is the greatest in the whole known universe, save a few Brit gems, but please stop with the reality TV, OK? Not your literature, which is fabulous if you subtract Stephen King, John Grisham, Michael Crichton and the whole chick lit stuff. Not your music, most of which I am alas a bit not interested in, with the exception of Elliott Smith, the Ramones, The Residents and Devo, and a few 1980s punk things and when drunk I can even admit to the Black Eyed Peas (but you need to ply me with several gin gimlets before).

All these things about you are pretty cool, and make no mistake! (as your current president would say) they all contribute to your universal appeal outside of your borders. No, America, my beloved, I'm going to tell you what's really, really soooooo great about you.
Your values. If you think about it, we share a bit of the same, you know, liberty-equality-fraternity. But you have a few even greater ones embedded in your Constitution, such as, totally randomly, let's say... your 1st Amendment! We don't have that one in France, and French presidents and their bethroted spouses make a free use of our libel laws to make sure we shut up when they need us to.

Now America my beloved, in choosing the best candidates on the side of the political spectrum you situate yourself in, don't forget about your cool values, and think about a few additional issues that would be well worth fighting for, such as the right to universal privacy (including online), or the right to a universal healthcare system supported by both our taxes and our employers (gee, if other countries can do it, it makes you look frankly retarded, I'm no afraid to tell you, my Beloved America).
If your said taxes (and mine, remember? non-citizens also pay those) could be better employed toward, I don't know, education, heathcare, and helping the poor, the sick and the disabled, maybe your next President would do a great job. Remember, America my beloved, we're going to have to survive that recession, and if a budget deficit there shall be, then maybe the borrowed money would be better employed within the country than without, fighting un-winnable and devastating wars. Just sayin'.

So today, America my Beloved, I hope that whichever side you're on, you will chose a decent, dignified, humble, humane, caring, smart, compassionate, down-to-earth, realistic candiate and maybe future President, someone who won't look stupid when November approaches and the real day comes.
America my Beloved, the whole world is looking at you and hoping this time you won't screw up. Remember, you cannot do worse than what we currently have. (Or can you?)
And no matter who wins the election, America my Beloved, there is no way you you can do more ridiculous, undignified, scary and utterly vulgar than Sarkozy.

America, I love you. Be wise, be smart, be bold, be cool!

Flag. 1954–55
Encaustic, oil, and collage on fabric mounted on plywood (three panels)
42 1/4 x 60 5/8" (107.3 x 154 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Gift of Philip Johnson in honor of Alfred H. Barr, Jr.
© 1996 Jasper Johns/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

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