Thursday, June 01, 2006

Europe, Cali can I feel yu?

So many things have happened over the last week. Firstly, I tore down my loft bed using a hammer, saw, and a screwdriver on the same day. Then I had a few beers. Then I began this blog.

Beyond that I went to a wedding in wine country, Sonoma, California. It seemed that the overriding goal of each winery was to create a drink that was distinct from that of their neighbor winery. Not an unreasonable strategy given the hundreds of wineries in this region, all on top of each other, all trying to scoop up excess LA, SF, and Silicon Valley dollars from the same groups of sun-buzzed and wine drunk yuppies on winery crawl (or rather drive of terror). To this end, I had a citrus(ie) wine that tasted like grapefruit juice and a sweet wine that tasted like a Hershey bar. All totally different, all totally gross. In this way, Californians reminded me of New Yorkers in their tendency towards overstatement and generally overdoing things. As a product of a rounded New England upbringing (schooling: private, public, parochial, painful in all ways), I know that a civilized childhood revolves around pummeling all egotism, self-esteem, confidence, and stability. If childhood doesn’t leave you with tendencies toward masochism and quivering try shoveling snow in April surrounded by people so insular they believe anyone who pronounces “r”s sounds English or “sump-tin.” (But the English don’t use hard “r”s you plead to deaf ears.) Try living near Gloucester MA, a town ruled by a man named Pugga and anyone who can grab a flag after traversing a pole covered in grease. Try talking to people who start all conversations “how’s you motha’,” only to somehow segue to reminiscing over their little league days while swilling 20 or so pitchers. (Note: picture and pitcher = same word). You want class warfare? In my town in Maine, a man once flung his own shit in a paper plate from his fishing boat to a yacht hitting the yachter squarely in his white polo shirt. The poop flinger is now a hero and his poop in a plate marksmanship: the stuff of legend. Enough said.

Several years in New York at Columbia and the Rockefeller University have sensitized me to europhilia so when I saw it without any sense of self-awareness in CA I went into a good old fashion quiver. At the winery people actually marched out to play botchy ball. I’ve never understood europhilia, which in fairness could be attributed to the upbringing mentioned above. But I like many Europeans. They are often very nice, reasonable people. I understand hating America. America pisses me off as much as it pisses off the next guy. But why would Americas get so into Europe? What deep seeded inferiority complex would drive suntanned, 6 foot 7 inch men to bowl without pins in a sandbox? Why not get into some other continent? The first meal I ever had in India was at the cultural equivalent of an Outback Steakhouse and it was the greatest thing I had ever tasted to that point. It beat anything I had in Paris like the Republican Party decimates my hopes. Honestly, I believe Hindu priests outlawed eating beef to prevent their followers from consuming until they exploded. If they had steaks in India, I would have never left that first restaurant much less the country. What else do people want? Historic towns? Go to the Middle East. Ancient culture? Go to China, India, or a local synagogue. You want good music? America. There I said it. American music is the best and America is good at something--music. Don’t tell my old boss I wrote that.

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