You ask me why I love America…
Well, actually, you don’t, but I feel as if I’m always saying bad things about the poor old dear and it’s time I redressed that. So here goes, the reasons why Chancery Stone loves AMERICA!
1. Burger King. Understand, I don’t like beefburgers, never eat them at home, and don’t much like chips (that’s fries to you across the pond) but, and it’s a BIG but, there is nobody in Aberdeen who offers food as cheap with a reasonable amount of protein. Also, Burger King doesn’t give a fuck if you share, eat the Kid’s Meals, or any other damn thing. They cook food that feeds you, try to accommodate your weird demands – like no ketchup and cups of hot water without tea-bags – and don’t charge you the price of small electrical goods for a meal (yes, you can buy a toaster or a kettle for what it costs for an average restaurant lunch consisting chiefly of white flour and more white flour.) God bless America.
2. Movies. Yes, Hollywood makes utter crap. Yes, they are driven by the mighty dollar. But who isn’t? As someone who spends her whole life trying to make art sell, I sympathise entirely. No bums on seats = no movies. Compared to British movies, Hollywood wins hands down. Of course, it has to be said that Hollywood is really built on the back of immigrant middle European Jews but hey, they created a product that is now peculiarly American, not European, and I, for one, love them for it. Go Hollywood!
3. TV. American TV versus British TV? No competiton. I own about two British TV series (four actually, I reckon), but I own a hell of a lot more American. Yes, a lot of them are HBO, but I also have a lot of Fox, and a couple of strays I can’t remember. Whatever kind of TV it is, the Americans do it better. More money, more drama, more outrageous behaviour, even, paradoxically, more reality. With the exception of period dramas, which the British still do better, I would not swap my one packet of frothy American soap for fifty buckets of British suds.
4. Accents. Oh, don’t you just love them? There isn’t an American accent I don’t like. Except the extreme ends of Texan, particularly religious Texan, which seems to get so oily you feel you could squeeze insincerity right out that there sleazebag’s tortured vowels. And severe Southern Belle can be both annoying and ridiculous but, on the whole, love ’em. There is something perversely elegant and colourful about that huge range of accents. It’s like having the entire continent of Europe gabbling together but with a commonality of understanding. Exotic but comprehensible. Ayuh!
5. Made-up words. God, I know I shouldn’t but I just love the way Americans make up words. I do. I know their verbification of nouns can be intensely irritating (incentivize anyone?), but, truthfully, I can’t get enough of it. I pick up words like a hoover. I annoy the hell out of Max by adopting words off the web, out of books, off TV programmes. I just love those great weird and wonderful words. I think the Americans’ disrespect for English (which many of them genuinely believe they invented, in spite of that word ‘English’) is bracingly healthy, and for every mangled verb there are three new-fangled nonsenses that tickle me pink. It was one of the first things I loved about Stephen King, his characters’ speech patterns. Stephen, who is an immensely gifted writer, can convey language patterns like no other writer, except perhaps Dickens. Ayuh again!
6. Junk food. I don’t actually like any of it, with the exception of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but their junk is just so colourful and outrageous. I had been reading about Oreo cookies for years (via Stephen again) before they were finally imported into the UK. When I first had one I was bitterly disappointed – nasty dry Bourbons with biscuit that tasted like gravy browning and ‘cream’ that was just sugar, but hell, they were Oreos. American junk food typifies America, all Disneyesque icing and sprinkles, selling a fantasy that is pure Wizard of Oz: nothing but a plain little confection amplified by a lot of smoke and mirrors. But it’s like Xmas, shiny and somehow comforting, the triumph of imagination over reality, and there’s something admirable in that.
7. Fat. You’ve got to love the way Americans have just embraced fat. Only today there was a news feature on the British government’s fear about rising obesity in Britain. They’re doing (yet another) campaign to try and convince people to eat less and do more. But not America. Hell, no. If anyone so much as whispered that their government should interfere in any way with “free enterprise” i.e. the right to sell bigger and bigger portions, more fat, sugar and additives, then there would be questions in the senate about the infiltration of communists. Americans make the rest of the world feel good about those few pounds of fat they’ve been carrying since last Xmas. Americans are carrying, on average, the weight of a small boy, rising to that of a full-grown man, as they waddle down the street in shorts and halter tops – or no tops, in the case of the men – eating ice cream cones with four scoops each, defending it staunchly as their right. Being fat has become part of The American Way. Well, roll me in butter-drenched popcorn and feed me to the couch potatoes.
8. Tack. Yes, we have tack here: Blackpool hen parties, edible g-strings, Ann Summers underwear, Poundland party feather boas and sparkly cowboy hats, but we just don’t have it as a lifestyle the way the Americans do. Sure there are old ladies in Bournemouth with flamingos and flashing gnomes in their gardens, but hell, Miami? Florida? Texas? Trailer parks and Las Vegas? Elvis chapels and religious ladies with foot long eyelashes? No, America’s got us licked. And there is nothing so glorious as tack. Tack ridicules art. It takes it and wrings every last ounce of fun out of it – then it puts a red nose on it then lights it up and makes it play the Star Spangled Banner. Tack is an opportunity to wear every sparkly thing in your wardrobe and still be outdone by a septuagenarian with pink hair and a stuffed dog. A real one. That sleeps on its hand-knitted lurex Elvis rug in front of a wagon wheel and buffalo hide fireplace. Tack, I love it. May it never go away.
9. Madmen. From serial killers to holy rollers to presidents who, straight-faced, can say a blow job isn’t sex, there is no country on earth that can rival America for madmen – except maybe the Middle East. What’s more, just like their arch-enemies the ‘towel-heads’, the Americans just love to give their madmen power. In Britain we like our eccentrics. We have one in every other street, building strange things in their allotments and wearing slippers to go swimming. In America they elect them to office – any office – into their churches, to gun groups, little communes in the desert. Yes, the Americans are nothing if not egalitarian. Paradoxically, they think other countries like Britain are eccentric, admiring such ‘quirks’ as drinking tea and eating scones which, apparently, is much stranger than having flags pinned to everything that isn’t breathing – and even to some things that are. America is just one giant Bedlam with the rest of us spectating from the gallery. Reality TV goes continental.
10. Gypsies. America is probably the only country in the world where a certain admiration is retained for rootlessness. Perhaps it’s a leftover from their pioneering days, but where most countries loathe itinerants there’s a little warm niche kept for them in the US – as long as they’re not some filthy tramp with a shopping cart. Americans actively laud taking to the road in a camper van. Yes, it’s perceived as a redneck/middle-aged/laughable thing to do, but they do it. In Britain the idea of roughing it is unthinkable. With the exception of some moorland and most of Northern Scotland, there are no wilds to escape to. And, trust me, escaping to Scotland’s wilds would not necessarily be an enjoyable experience. Even (Irish) road building crews are looked down on here, well-appointed as their caravans may be. They are seen purely as “dirty gypos” and that’s that. In America there are hippies and mystics, old ladies and leisure painters, travel junkies and ‘alternative’ lifestyle gurus all sharing the same routes, parks and lifestyle. And in big motherfucking vehicles at that. The Americans resemble nothing more than original carnival folk – a dying breed here – who carry some very posh shit around on their backs and who are, truthfully, Kings of the road. I have long had gypsy leanings, (and, allegedly, a smidgen of Romany blood) and it’s always appealed to me as the way to see America. Yes, fuck with me and you fuck with the whole trailer park.
And that is why I love America.
COMING SOON – Why I Hate America. (Oh, come on, it’s only fair…)