The Elvis Factor

    Now and again (and again) I run off at the mouth about how much I hate this country.   Over the years, I have heard two main counter-responses to these tirades:   The first is the "well, I just heard about how in this or that country they're arresting and shooting people for just doing  this and that."  The second is "well, if you go abroad for a little while, you'll find that there's a lot of things you'll miss about this country." 

    These arguments fail to counter my position because quite frankly, I do not disagree with them.  My disdain for this country has to do more with cultural, not political, realities.  Having been raised American, of course I would miss the convenience of 24 hour supermarkets and all the other crap that I currently take for granted.  I am an American, I cannot change that.

    No, when I say 'everything I see around me freaks me out,' I mean it literally.  I mean that the culture of convenience and entertainment has a King Midas touch with a twist — everything it touches turns to shit (or, at least asphalt).  I have dubbed this phenomenon "The Elvis Factor."

    Imagine if you will, a 50 foot 'fat Elvis' marching across the few remaining 'fruited plains' of America. As he lopes along he hold's two six shooters in his hands, each of which holds an ammunition of Blockbuster video stores, gas stations, Home Depot's,  fake buildings which offer fake food, etc.   And because he's Elvis and the whole spectacle is on television anyway, his six shooters never run out of bullets — ever.   Nobody can stop him. What's worse, most people don't try — wouldn't think to try.  It does not bother them.

    When I say the people of this country disgust me I'm talkin' their whole way of life — not their stance on medicare or 'the environment' (though the trends therein are reason enough to move to Spain or the Netherlands if you can).  No, it's not the unjust political system, or the fact that transnational corporations own it (and me), or the possibility that I may one day have a bar code across my forehead. It is simply this.

   I believe that there are places left on this planet where people still covet craftsmanship, tradition, honor, and simple, old school humanity in their daily lives — people who are worthy of more respect than us (even if their government shoots them down in the streets) simply because their brains are not connected by an umbilical cord to Melrose Place [or, in a 2001 world, Survivor].  There are  people (though fewer every day) who don't understand the concept of  a drinking an artificially flavored, colored beverage that comes in a paper cup that has pictures of basketball players and Warner Brothers characters on it.  I would prefer to be surrounded by these people than the culturally barren animals found in the Wilds of America. (In fact, this is why I live in New York — it's as close to a foreign country as I can get without leaving the country).

    And no, by this I do not allude to the hip, neo-'noble savage' icons we see exploited in Frutopia ads, like the Masai, or the Hopi.  I harbor no delusions that I can shed my Western skin and find  solace in a 'primitive' culture.   As evil as it may be, I do plan on consuming some more fossil fuels before my day is done.  No, believe it or not, there are even First World, Western countries whose people, despite the powers of  television and transnational corporations, hold on to more than token remnants of Old [school] World values.  It's 'real life' versus 'fake life' plain and simple.