I tend to boil recent American history, or at least the last fifty years or so, to something I call Olga vs the American Dream. I watched a review, and projection of the world in the year 2030, and I saw something strange. Now understand that when I grew up in the 50’s the USA was “Da Bomb” (excuse the pun) and the entire rest of the world was “the pits.” Even as a child I realized that America was the hands down leader of the entire world. I mean we’d kicked Hitler’s butt, slapped Korea around, and even at ten years old I KNEW we made the best cigarettes. I mean it was even in the movies. If you’re my age how many times can you recall someone with a foreign accent asking, “You have American cigarette?” I mean even our girls were prettier. We had Tuesday Weld…they had some chick called Olga, and she looked like a wrestling champion! We knew that everything made in Japan was cheap, would break very soon, and was poorly painted. That’s why people my age have a very hard time getting their mind around a Lexus.
But things began to change. As we ate ourselves into cholesterol-ville the rest of the world watched, waited, and worked. They cringed a bit because the so called superpowers were always on the edge of blowing each other up and taking the rest of the world with them. There were great scenarios picturing the world after WWIII where we would all be living in squalor, fighting, eating whatever we could catch and it terrified Americans, but what we didn’t realize was that what we liked to refer to as the third world was already there! They were there watching, and waiting.
Then, about the time JFK missed his luncheon in Dallas the world made an almost imperceptible turn. The year after that day saw the Beatles pop onto the world stage. A year before, Elvis was the king and all Englishmen sounded like ducks quacking when they sang. All of the sudden “She Loves You” and five other songs were all over the Billboard charts, and the Beatles weren’t the only band in England, they had MORE! Still, we were determined to reform the world so we jumped on the tiny nation of Vietnam to save Southeast Asia from the communists, never mind what THEY thought! By God, we had American cigarettes you little Gooks didn’t know what you were talking about! Well, we LOST that war. And I know the guys that went there will argue the point, but when you haul your butt to an aircraft carrier, and start pushing your helicopters into the ocean to gain speed that means the other guys won.
This was a big heads up to the third world. While Washington wasn’t invaded, America, for once, had to stand down. We, of course, put the spin on it. We were like Putin recently said. We were like playing chess with a pigeon. We knocked over all the pieces, pooped on the board, and then stomped around like we won. Still, we had the dream. Or rather, Martin Luther King had a dream. Our dream had caught the last train for the coast.
Reagan came on the scene, and he exemplified the epitome of America right or wrong, capitalism, and American cigarettes! Hell, he’d even been on a cigarette commercial once! Reagan was a good idea. He really was the last gasp of what was once a great republic. But we fixed that. When Reagan left office we elected King George the First, thinking the Reagan legacy would live on. It took two Bushes and a Clinton and a half to completely dismantle what Reagan had so meticulously put into place. And during this time the Japanese learned to build better stuff, China grew more rice, and the USSR folded in on itself. Oh, and that little country that we spent ten years, billions of dollars, and 50,000 American lives to save? Well, they learned to grow catfish in rice paddies. (Ever eat catfish at Ryan’s cafeteria?)
When the USSR devoured itself we all expected that they would turn into something like Mexico. Well, they didn’t, and Olga began to look a little bit more feminine. Putin did not bang his shoe on the table at the UN, and God be praised, they struck oil! China was keeping their head down, growing more rice, and inching toward a form of capitalism, or reasonable facsimile thereof. By this time we were slowly realizing that the Germans DID make better cars than we did, the Brits DID make better records than we did and damn it, the Koreans even made one hell of a cigarette! But we weren’t going to have any of that. We had to show them Arabs that we could still dominate the world, we needed more oil and what the hell was in their little brown minds trying to tell us to butt out? Here, Habib, have a Big Mac! Never mind the fact that we had oil reserves right here. We wanted THEIR oil. Our only issue was THEY owned it. We couldn’t beat a bunch of skinny kids in pajamas, but maybe we could beat a bunch of religious nuts on camels.
Funny thing about people owning their own country. They tend to get irritated when a bunch of foreigners, i.e. US, comes in and starts stomping around telling them what to do, putting down their values, and stealing their resources. The whole world watched, ate their rice, and developed as we manipulated our way through the oil fields of the Middle East, and was not surprised when on 9/11 we finally got dog bit! Alex Jones goes on about how 9/11 was an inside job. NO IT WASN’T! Those people that we didn’t consider to be quite human knocked down our two great phallic symbols of capitalism and world economic domination, and they got MAD if anyone else tried to take credit for it. Osama would turn over in his watery grave if he heard Alex Jones trying to give credit for that attack to George Bush.
The world watched, and worked, and waited. King George II managed our finances so well that by the end of his reign we were buying more than we were selling. Slowly we began to covet Japanese cars, Chinese food, and imported cigars. We enriched Mexico with our insatiable appetite for cocaine. Hey folks, the MEXICANS aren’t doing all that crack, they just SELL it.
Little known logistical fact! We legalized genocide with Roe vs Wade, and started letting men marry men, women marry women, and dogs marry cats. This nation went from the USA to WTF! We began to trample our constitution because it got in the way of our bloated, insolvent, Hedonistic lifestyle, and we ridiculed people who wanted to preserve at least one amendment so they could at least protect themselves from a nation gone mad.
The Internet is a wonderful thing. Information began to flow. More than ten years ago I had a friend. I called her Ping Ping. A girl. Cute, literate, a college student who talked with me on a regular basis. We talked about life, politics, sex, and what she liked to eat. She wrote me from her class room…in China! And this was happening all over the world. No matter what the governments were putting out, people were talking.
Now, it didn’t happen all at once. The legacies of people like Stalin, Bush, and Mao die hard, and they left a framework in place that rusts slowly, but new cars, food, TV, and information go a long way to wake people up. Where in 1959 I knew that China was a pagan nation that we could whip at any time I went from that to watching a Chinese TV show last night and was quite entertained. They have this show where a very cute Chinese girl asks people about to be executed about their thoughts on their crimes, and what they would say to the Chinese people about them. It’s an object lesson in control of your emotions. She made the statement to one young man who had killed his girlfriend’s grandparents because she broke up with him, “We all experience these things in life. You lost control during a normal life event.” The next scene showed her preparing dinner for her husband and four children.
Then I watched a show about Russian prisons. I thought, “Oh, this is gonna be bad!” Remember that guy that looked like Rasputin, and his book? Prior to this I saw one about how the gangs were out of control in OUR prisons. Well, the Ruskies don’t got dat problem. They got a prison called Black Dolphin, and if you want to be in a gang there, fine! It’ll be a gang on one! They make all prisoners walk stooped over with a blindfold on when going from building to building, five or six guards armed with AK47s with them and a DOG! And all these convicted murderers, cannibals, and pedophiles say is, “Yes SIR!” The most amazing thing was that the Russians flung open their prison doors and let an international film crew in. I waited patiently to see how they handled prison riots, but you simply can’t riot with your damn self. And there ain’t no basketball courts cause they don’t HAVE a prison yard! They don’t worry about rehabilitation. The prison is spotless, the convicts are in the cell, on camera ALL the time, and their cell gets searched every time they are removed and taken anywhere. No pin ups, no TV, no privacy!! They’re in the JOINT!
Are they brutal? Yes. Are they ignorant? NO! They saw what happened to us. I would love to take all the prisoners in the prison in Oakland California and ship them to Russia. As Larry the Cable Guy says, “That would be funny right there, i don’t care who you are!”
All these people are talking. All these people are watching. They have taken the best of our ideas, and rejected the bad ones. Their populace has demanded a better life and are willing to work for it. The Chinese girl has millions of viewers each week who hang on her every word. What does that tell you? Chinese people have LOTS of televisions! They are not running down the street anymore waving some silly red book, they are making dinner and watching their favorite TV show! Maybe that is our legacy. In the 1950’s we had as close to Utopia as we would ever get and we did give that dream to the world. The world watched, and learned, and perhaps carried that dream forward. Olga is looking a whole lot better!The Butcher Shop