HopeTracker| It’s the 4th of July here in Carversville … day of the Macy’s firework’s display in New York. My neighbor’s dog Cody just sauntered down the hill towards my patio. I call him Cody the moocher, because he only comes for food, which I don’t give him … doctor’s orders.
By now you know that I adore fireflies and white lights … childhood sparklers scripting my name in the nighttime sky… abracadabra … my young incantation and prayer that we all might enjoy a magical life, present realities omitted for the moment. Me, the eternally optimist, Midwestern prarie girl knowing that I would seek big-city sparklers … skyscrapers, big bridges, and the thrill of some really grand light shows around the world.
If I only waved my sparklers faster, wider, further in the world … abracadabra.
Make no mistake. Robert Kagan is not a liberal. His book Dangerous Nation: America’s Place in the World from its Earliest Days to the Dawn of the 20th Century argues that America was no shining “city up on a hill” but an engine of commercial and territorial expansion that drove Native Americans, as well as French, Spanish, Russian, and ultimately even British power, from the North American continent. Even before the birth of the nation, Americans believed they were destined for global leadership. Underlying their ambitions, Kagan argues, was a set of ideas and ideals about the world and human nature. He focuses on the Declaration of Independence as the document that firmly established the American conviction that the inalienable rights of all mankind transcended territorial borders and blood ties.
According to Kagan, sparkler-waving is in our American blood… mine, too. Remember, I told you last year … I used to cry when I heard “America the Beautiful”.
OK, you got me … it’s true … I get misty-eyed easily, but not as quickly as when I was 5 or 15 or 35.
Before giving you a grand-slam, big-kiss fireworks finale, I wandered around cyberspace, checking out what our American pundits are talking about on Independence Day.
After all, we’re in a big-nut world predicament these days. The talk is serious … the problems huge. Creative as I am, solutions are the bottom-line for me. I don’t like chit chat, which is why I’m terrible at water cooler politics. When Anne arrives, the question is: “OK, what are we doing here?”
Enjoy a soy latte taste of Fourth of July wisdom from top hotdog American “think tanks”:
GOP Anger: Bush Being Reduced to Child’s Play. Note the brief story concerns the PR/event-staging White House machine, not the Dems, American media, or foreign influences.
Paul Slansky: A Modest Proposal for the 4th: Take Back Old Glory: Of all the stupid things done by the anti-war crowd, the most gratuitously moronic was allowing the sanctimonious hypocrites of the right to co-opt the nation’s most basic icon, its flag. The emblem of the country’s highest aspirations was mindlessly ceded to the holier-than-thou zealots who used it as a bludgeon against the less fanatical. Everyone who’s voting for Obama — and especially those who are public figures — must immediately procure a flag pin and not be seen without it before November 5th. If you can’t do it with pride, do it as an act of subversion.
I so love intelligent, thoughtful discourse.
Beach Please! In its 25-year modern history, Vanity Fair has photographed some of the world’s most recognizable bodies (Lindsay, Scarlett, Gisele, Borat) on beaches from Malibu to Amagansett. Unfold the umbrella, slap on some sunscreen, and enjoy the view.
HILARY SWANK Photographed in Malibu, California, by Norman Jean Roy for the March 2005 issue. Bonus: Outtakes from Swank’s August 2006 beachy cover shoot.
Bright Young Hollywood:
Since V.F. first focused on Hollywood’s teen titans, in 2003, the YouTube-Gawker machine has upped the ante. For every Shia LaBeouf success, there’s a Lindsay Lohan flameout. For our August issue, Mark Seliger photographs today’s crop of hot young things, while Krista Smith collects the Tiger Beat data sheets (biggest crush? BlackBerry or iPhone?).
Next to Gonzo are the most-read headlines. “What the Pregnant Man didn’t deliver” is leading “What John McCain didn’t learn in Vietnam.”
New York Times Editorials
Finally, last but least … we’re rolling. Last, but not least, in fourth place… the meaning of the 4th of July
The Meaning of a Day: The early vegetables in the garden are over, and now is about the time when the lettuce thinks about bolting. The weeds along the lake edge are coming on thick and strong, and the ponds are nearly all covered with a solid mat of green. High summer is the time of black shade in the woods and black underbellies on the thunderheads that seem to billow up out of the muggy afternoons. The city streets and the asphalt rooftops cling to your feet as you walk across them, and the puddles from a sudden downpour rise up in steam. Pedestrians find themselves hoping for a wisp of breeze, and hoping that that wisp will be the leading edge of a cold front that will scour the city clean, a breeze blowing in straight from the Dakotas.
What the dodo!!! This is the New York Times editorial on the 4th of July: Iraq, Afghanistan. A presidential election. American power waning … good thing or bad. Oil? Energy? Global warming? The end of civilization? And the guys die on.
Hello? Is anybody out there?
Alright, my dears. I promised no rants in July. I will finish Burning Rubber, Part 2 in the next couple of days. My quick tour of 4th of July reflections tells me we’re not the only ones in July escaptist mode. Not to worry, world, we’ll have our act together after Labor Day.
So let’s strike up the band, with two great fireworks shows … one from London on New Year’s Day … given that they are not celebrating their independence from us.
For a flag-waving goodbye, let’s enjoy Macy’s fireworks and the great song about my fantabulous New York, NY. Frank crooned that tune back in the days when I was sparklering New York City in the darkness of Minnesota skies. Indeed, I’m living the dream: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I don’t go down without a fight. The Carversville skies are grey, threatening rain any minute. I left my rose-colored sunglasses in Manhattan, but surely I have a pair stashed here somewhere. Donning them and tuning in to this spectacular show of bright lights, glittering promises and moonbeams … I’m good to go.
Hopefully, so are you … where to … none of us knows anymore.
Anne here. I find it totally fascinating that Time Magazine’s article The State of Patriotism is the lead and cover article for Europeans and Asians, but not Americans. The U.S. and South Pacific get Mark Twain, a comprehensive biography. I scanned the article, and it’s a biography, beginning to end.
Instead of explaining “us” to the rest of the world, perhaps we should dump a few celebrity entertainment features, and reflect on what we consider required reading for the rest of the world.