Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Hey Baby, It's The 4th of July

According to a good many people - some of them paid quite well to say so - I hate America.
I am, after all, a member in good standing of the latte-sipping costal elite. An avowed big city-dwelling cosmopolitan. I went to college. I have a subscription to the New Yorker. With some luck, talent, and hard work, I have have clawed my way to a comfortable status among the creative classes. And to those who don’t accept the very wide gap between mindless jingoist and ‘Merca hating commie, I am the enemy.
And the thing is - I love America, and I love being an American. It’s an essential part of my identity. I have been around the world and have made great friends in far-flung places and fallen in love with many a foreign land, but in the end - I can’t wait to come home. But I also think there’s nothing more un-American than the notion that you can’t criticize the place. Being able to criticize the place is the whole point. That’s how it improves.
In these days of uncivil discourse, the easy thing would be to retreat to my bastion of the like-minded, but it’s not that easy for me. After 25-plus years of touring the country - from the biggest cities to the very smallest towns, I have met pretty much every kind of American. Sure, racists and sexists and conspiracy-theorists and xenophobes and homophobes and faux christians and belligerent assholes are everywhere (including right here in L.A.), but they are not most people. They are often just the loudest. I have blocked far more of them than I have met. Most people are kind. So kind that sometimes you want to cry with gratitude. 
The internet allows us to dehumanize those who do not see the world as we do, and I admit I’ve indulged in this behavior myself. But in my travels around the country and around the world, I realized long ago that there are people who don’t see the world as I do because they don’t live in the world I live in. To be able to go where they are and meet them face to face changes everything. This is the best part of my job. It gives me hope.
So on this 4th of July, I wish a Happy Independence Day to my friends in the red states and the blue ones. Grill up some meat, get drunk and be someone, put on your flippy-flops, and go blow some shit up!