July 4, 2006

Happy Birthday America

It’s Fourth of July morning, and I am not on a long weekend holiday or at a huge barbeque. I am, in fact, in Kuala Lumpur; my wife is asleep, and today is the due date of our first child, however the doctor thinks she will be late. Although, I moved away from the States because I cannot handle living in the land of the free right now, there are things I love about “home.” In the spirit of positivity and good will, I have decided rather than write up a scathing post about the evils of America, I would instead make a list of the things that make me love her. So many people have accused me of hating America, because I am constantly pointing out the brutal actions of its government that I often need to demonstrate why I love the place.
Here’s why I love ya’. (This list is no particular order)

The freedom:
to read anything,
say anything,
be anyone,
dress in any way.
San Francisco
Henry Miller
Jack Kerouac
Malcom X
Tie Dye
John Steinbeck
Sunday mornings during football season
Live music
Bob Dylan
Miles Davis
mid-week day baseball games
NYC soft pretzels
Abbie Hoffman
Eugene Debbs
Americans tend to be very frank and unpretentious
Fredrick Douglas
Hunter S. Thompson
National parks and wide-open spaces
Every time I meet an American overseas, it feels like we share a secret. We are both proud and guilty at the same time. Whatever the emotion, I feel connected. That feels nice.
Charles Bukowski
The Beat Generation
Martin Luther King
Stanley Kubrick
Jimi Hendrix
When I walk the streets I feel like I own the place, where as when in foreign countries I have to worry not to offend
Tupac Shakur
Rock N’ Roll
New York City
Star Wars
Most people know how to drive and are courteous (Try driving in Asia!)
There are toys in the cereal
I can say that George W. Bush is a total idiot and not be executed (not yet at least)
Redwood Trees
Big Sur
The Blues
Stand-Up Comedy
NYC subway
Les Paul guitars

Writing this list proved to be much more difficult than I thought. I tried to find things about authentic American culture that I can relate to, but it seems to be getting more and more difficult. Seeing that I am a vegetarian, pacifist, things like BBQ’s and Nascar seem superficial and insubstantial. So many facets of our culture seem commercial and/or militaristic. But I wanted this to be a positive post so I digress.

I have driven across the nation on two occasions, and I have seen a lot of the culture has to offer, both good and bad. But as I sit here in Malaysia, after two years of being away from her shores, I can honestly say that I miss the feeling of walking the streets of New York or San Francisco. At the end of the day those places show us that there is a hope for us as a nation. They show us what America could be. I do not take pride in our nations ignorance, arrogance, or our bigger means better mentality, but America is more than that. The very progressive ideals of places like San Francisco and New York City are what make America whole.

What my list proves is that the thing I love most about America is the fact that I am free to defy America. The freedom of dissent is what truly makes America a beautiful place. The fact that there is not only one culture, but that there are many, and we are trying to make this nation work together is a beautiful thing. This is our America too. So while the red states wave their flags, cheer the president, and stuff their faces with beef, on this our nation’s birthday, I applaud the fact that we, the thorn in their sides, have a stake in this land too. It is our nation too, and we will fight for her. We will speak out when we see injustice because we believe in the idea that all men are created equal. We believe in liberty and justice for all. We will walk the streets: tattooed and pierced, gay and straight, black and white, burning the flag, chanting THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRAY LOOKS LIKE. Because we are Americans too and we can. Our freedom cannot be defended with a machine gun, but with our voices and our refusal to silence them. Until those rights are taken from us, I will not give up on America.

Happy Birthday America! I will not be home any time soon, because the world is too big a place to explore, but your dream is safe in my heart. One day I hope we can make it come true.


  1. First babies are often late. But they are an incredible joy. I wish you and your wife a healthy, happy child (who will be the most gorgeous thing you've ever laid eyes on.)

  2. Fantastic post, BZ. Look for my 4th of July post later on. Much of the same subject.

    -Comrade Dave

  3. you said everything that i feel. i am lucky to live in a very strange place- binghamton, new york. it is a small city in upstate new york that has cultural influences from the city(4 hours away only) and the feel of a rural backwater. it is urban enough for me- and we are a mecca for immigrants because of location. we have an opera, a minor league baseball team, a national recognized state university, a minor league hocky team and an events arena. not bad. we are also a blue city and blue county in a sea of red at this point- although it was not always so. what i am saying is- i agree with you about the reasons to love america and i feel that we will be able to take her back. we are fighting for our lives here in the middle of nascar and a post manufacturing mentality. fingers crossed for your wife and baby. congrats.

  4. The only legit socialist movement in US history was centered in the Midwest and Plains States; Eugene Debs--who made your Top Thirty--was born and raised in Indiana, and all of the counties he carried in his presidential run were Midwestern.

  5. Point very well made. Thanks Neil!

  6. First off, "NYC soft pretzels"?? Excuse me, Philly soft pretzels.

    What I love about America: the diversity. While yes, in many areas it's quite homogenous, the overall experience is fascinating. My mom and I went on a road trip from Albuquerque up to Idaho, through WY and SD, Iowa, and Illinois. It was amazing just to observe the difference areas, from the SW to the Midwest. Other countries just aren't quite big enough to encompass so much diversity.