Michael Stipe was way ahead of the curve back in 1987: the world was a relatively stable affair back then in the dark ages of popular music. I know Def Leppard, Aerosmith and Motley Crue might have made us all think that the apocalypse was upon us, but though the music sucked, the hair sucked, and the clothes sucked, we were all relatively safe in our suckiness and lack of style.
Not so much now, and nor are we feeling fine. I know that the rest of the world likes to look upon the US of A and gloat. “Look at the great failing democracy,” they hoot! Look at the clown they elected for President, his three ring circus and “tournament of lies” (thanks Michael, perfect turn of phrase there) they yell from across ponds and continents. Can’t disagree with them there, but that is over and done with now…. “Look at those stupid yanks, and their birds coming home to roost,” they preen! “Look at the failing democracy and the guns and the violence”, on and on it goes! The rest of the world is trying to convince themselves they don’t wish they were American, perhaps, or else jealous at previous glories, they are quick to write off American success and excellence. We are dismissed as an homogenous whole, when in fact from the outside looking in, all they see is one giant Texas, where we are all wearing cowboy hats and doing the do-si-do, pardner. Their joyous hopeful hatred and desire to see us learn a lesson, though triggered by years of dick swinging military action and huge prosperity, is somewhat hard to take.
I don’t think they are going to get the satisfaction they are foreseeing happening. This is not the fall of ancient Rome, not the end of the leader of the free world as we know it, not going to end in civil war or mass bloodshed or orgies of hatred. Sure, we have our problems, and yes, the racist tide of murderous violence and police brutality is going to need some major restructuring. The country needs healing and unity, and no, I am not about to say that Biden is the answer. No one person it, it is going to take all of us to pull up and out of the downward spin, and I for one, an adopted citizen, a lover of this country, a dedicated San Franciscan transplant, I know we are going to do it. We are going to do it because I felt the love today in a particularly gritty, grimy shelter meeting, that ended with some hard conversations and assertations of solidarity and love and support. We are going to do it because of dedicated people who are protesting, who are building, who are reaching out and making connections between people. We are going to do this because there is excellence all around here, ingenuity, ambition, hard working people who raised this country from mud and rocks to become the great America of the 20th century. Sure, we lost our way, and I am not going to downplay the work that needs to be done to heal the great racial rifts (I’ll say it now, reparations need to be made to the black community on whose backs this country was built), but we will find it again. If the wagon trains could make their way across unknown country, we can work our way towards a better, safer, fairer society.
So, not so fast on all this talk of the USA being over and finished. Wishful thinking perhaps, or else a lack of understanding – the USA is not one homogenous whole. The voices of hatred and unreasonable conspiracy theory peddling craziness, who want the world as we know it to end, and usher in a new dark age of white supremacist militia bullshit are noisy, but not the majority. Sorry to disappoint everyone out there who wants to see America fail and us all shoot each other in some Hollywood blockbuster finale, out of sheer boredom and lockdown blues. sure these voices are loud and their clownish exploits are dangerous and offensive but this beautiful country is full of beautiful souls who want to rebuild and move forward, and forge unity, not dissent, and some cut price hokey and infinitely offensive attack on our beloved Capitol by freaks who believe that democrats eat babies is never going to win over the sensible reality of our young but bright country.
I love America. I don’t always like the way things go, sometimes my heart gets broken by the struggle and the pain. Of course, I’d rather guns were outlawed, but the reality of it is I don’t see it happening. It is a part of our laws, our culture and our day to day life. There are parts of the country that due to the wildlife alone I would at least want a sensible person armed with more than bearspray to be with me. I’ve slept in truck-stops, my American legal gun owning partner’s hand on his sidearm, and felt safer because of it. I am a realist.
This whole virus disaster was made worse by a President who didn’t know his ass from his elbow and didn’t care to as long as he was getting the twisted love from his insane posse, has changed the world as we know it, but it has not ended. We are not headed for disaster, just rough seas, and I know we can all make it. San Francisco must be getting to me, the San Francisco of days gone by, where the hippies and the progressives and the freaks all pulled together to make this city a shining beacon to tolerance and love. I considered with ending with some hippy shit courtesy of the mamas and papas, or the Grateful Dead, singing about love and peace, but it didn’t quite seem to fit. That is not what was playing on the streets as news came out that Trump was gone. No, from car windows, to skateboards, to the dude on the segway with the old skool boombox on his shoulder, to the boys on the corner kickin’ it like it was 1995, the voice of the state, the voice of strength and power and excellence and leadership, the song San Francisco was playing was California Love. So here is The MAN, Tupac reminding of our strength, our identity, our heroes and our fallen poets, the fact that it is a hustle, but we are going to fight through, because we are Californian, we are American. Sometimes we need to remember ….all tomorrow’s parties.