Today as we Americans sit under the summer sun with our friends and families, drinking beer and wiping barbeque sauce off our lips with red, white and blue napkins, it’s time to let our patriotism shine. So let’s kick it:
-America has given the world the gorgeous voice of Etta James, the elegant prose of Henry James and the outlaw attitude of Jesse James.
-Walt Whitman introduced free verse poetry and freed poets from the shackles of rhyme schemes. Andy Warhol showed us that everyday objects could be art if you freed yourself from entrenched artistic notions. Funkadelic offered up the sage advice, “Free Your Ass And Your Mind Will Follow.”
-Howard Hughes and Hugh Hefner: Aerodynamic bras and airbrushed sexual revolution.
-The New York style steakhouse, Soul food and Cajun cooking: delicious culinary contributions that showcase regional differences (and unique ways to get heartburn.)
-Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Black, Frank Sinatra: Godfathers of architecture, indie music and American style.
-Georgia O’Keeffe, Annie Sprinkle, and Eve Ensler: saluting the American vagina in their own special ways.
-Mike Hammer, Shaft, and Sam Spade: defining hard-boiled American detective characters.
-Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey: taking modern dance to new heights, defying the boundaries of stale rules.
And let’s not forget my favorite American hero, “Professor” Jerry Thomas, the flamboyant New York bartender who invented the cocktail.
This invention came in mighty handy during prohibition, when bathtub gin was so vile it had to be mixed with something. Yes, booze might have been illegal, but that just meant people found new ways to profit from it.
Which brings me to the crux of my argument. More than anything, America has a very unique, bold philosophy. It unites us as a nation; it’s the very foundation of this country. I call it The Big Fuck You:
*Revolutionary War=Fuck the British. Fuck taxes. Fuck royalty.
*Manifest Destiny=Fuck you. We deserve to seize this land.
*Monroe Doctrine=You fuck with us, we’ll fuck with you.
*Go West Young Man=Fuck you. I’m rewriting history with me in the starring role.
Our ability to offer up a Single Digit Salute and change the course of history is part of our heritage. From the Wild West to the wild frontier of the internet. It’s what people mean when they point to our American swagger or sneer at our clueless arrogance. But it’s who we are. We wouldn’t exist as an independent nation without it. When Americans talk about freedom of speech, what we want to protect most of all is our right to tell people to fuck off.
Oddly enough, I think American icon Popeye gave us the best national slogan, one that reflects our respect for individuality and willingness to accept our faults: “I yam what I yam.” (And fuck you if you don’t like it.)