Happy Independence Day!
posted by Kristen, Chad, Jon, Eric and Mickey on 7/03/03
There are few things this small-town Florida gal dreads more than being forced to spend an entire day in July outside in the summer heat and killer mosquitoes in the name of Freedom. Not that I'm opposed to Freedom (I use the capitals because I'm afraid that if I don't, Big Brother will think I'm not patriotic enough); on the contrary, I'm very proud to be an American. I was proud to be one before September 11th, and I'm still proud to be one, even after everything that's gone down since then. I can be proud of my country even if I completely disagree with the things our "leaders" do in our name.
The Bushes are absent from this picture, but the spirit of absolute control remains intact.
And it really doesn't matter to me if some people in Europe choose not to like me because of where I was born. Although, to those particular fuckheads, hello, people…I have absolutely no say in anything the government does. Seriously. None. I'm as impotent as Truth commercials would lead you to believe stoners are. Of course, they then go on to say that smoking pot will make a girl pregnant. Make up your mind, you Truth bastards!! In other words, it's not my fucking fault. I just pay my taxes and try to vote for the best person possible. In return for that, I get protected (somewhat) by the Constitution, and have the right to party every year on the Fourth of July.
Independence Day, however, has long been the bane of my existence. Not only does it signal that summer is half over, no good has ever come of a lot of rednecks barbequing meat and setting off fireworks. The part of Florida I hail from, unlike Miami or the retirement villages of Boca Raton, can actually be considered part of the rural south. As such, my first memories of the Fourth are being forced to dress in something red, white and blue, and being shoved into the family van to head on down to the gun range.
The pride and joy of the town that gave birth to me.
Ah, the gun range. The meat and potatoes of the NRA. The place where boys become men and women become bored. This was the site of many years of torture for me, the young bookworm who'd rather celebrate American independence by curling up with Thomas Payne's "Common Sense" than by lying on her stomach on cold, dirty concrete with a rifle in her hands, trying to hit the bullseye. Still, in the interest of practicing my right to bear arms and pleasing my father at the same time, I went along with it for years. I became a good shot, I ate more red meat that most Japanese people will consume in their entire lives, and learned that the reason women were kept out of the army for so long is not that we're the fairer sex. It's that breasts get in the way when you're crawling on all fours with a .22.
But the one thing I adamantly refused to do, and refuse to do to this day, is come anywhere near the fucking fireworks. This is because, laugh if you will, I am a clinical pyrophobic. Yes, just like some people can't keep from setting things on fire, I can't get far enough away from it. I don't light matches, I've never smoked a cigarette, and I hate, I hate, I hate sparklers. But apparently, being deathly afraid of such "innocuous" sticks of fizzing fire is as un-American as selling military secrets to Iran. I was continuously told to buck up, shut up and just hold it for one damn picture. Even as I headed towards a panic attack, I was reminded that "they're just sparklers…your five year-old cousin is holding one," and encouraged with such loving words as, "are you going to be a baby about them again this year?" Everyone wants to believe they can cure everyone else's phobias. People who are afraid of water get signed up for YMCA swimming lessons. People who are afraid of public speaking are forced by state law to take one Speech credit in college. And people who are afraid of fire get pictures of themselves in absolute misery holding a sparkler with the very tips of their fingers. Every. Single. Year.
Tobacco companies want children to die. So parents, please talk to your children before forcing them to light up. truth.
What started out as a bunch of aristocratic, slave-owning white men not wanting to pay their taxes (thank you, "Dazed and Confused") and subsequently writing up a document declaring their intention to break away from Mother England, something no colony in history up until that point had ever even attempted, has now turned into a day of sunbathing, slacking off, and torturing future generations. I have to believe that somewhere along the way, the holiday has lost its meaning. And really, aren't there enough opportunities to torture your children during the year? Shipping them off to school every fall, making them write valentines to every kid in their class, even the snot-nosed teacher's pet/mama's boy in the front row, setting them up for life's biggest disappointment with the Santa Claus lies…sheesh, moms and dads, take a day off with the rest of the country, and let your children rest on the Fourth of July. Don't make them wear patriotic sailor hats, don't ask them to repeat the first line of the Declaration in front of your friends when they're six, and for god's sake, leave them alone if they don't like the fireworks. Wouldn't you rather miss out on one stupid photo opportunity than push little Jimmy or Jane into torching their school ten years down the road because the voices in their heads have gradually become convinced that fire is the final solution?
Not that I've ever heard the voices say that.
Yay, American Freedom! Go Independence! Right on Liberty and Justice For All! But keep the fuck away from me with that goddamn sparkler.
The birthday of a nation is usually marked with plenty of events for the citizens to partake in. In Canada, whose birthday falls on the 1st of July, this usually consists of face painting, cake, a bet on where the cow is going to take its next shit, sparklers, fireworks, and beer. With the States’ birthday on the 4th and a couple of buddy’s birthdates also in that date span, I’m usually in desperate need of a day off from myself by the time all the celebrating is done.
The first Canada Day where I was of legal age to buy my own booze started at the ass crack of dawn, grinding cow into hamburger at the inflated holiday wage in the Superstore Meat Dept. Working the early shift gave me and my buddy H the rest of the day to waste away, and we had plans to do just that with a friend Carol and her recently arrived boyfriend Lauren. Carol was a student from back east and we became somewhat decent friends due to the overlap of our classes, but when her boyfriend came out West and back into Carol’s daily existence, our good times started to dwindle.He's been straight in life, while I was untrue
(Hey la, hey la, my boyfriend's back)
So look out now, cause he's comin' after you
(Hey la, hey la, my boyfriend's back)
(Hey, he knows that you've been tryin')
(And he knows that you've been lyin')
The first time I met Lauren, I helped him and Carol move into their new place, and then passed out drunk on their couch. The next time, I just drank and passed out on their couch. My welcome with Lauren had worn thin before he even met me, and my slurred speech and spending the night routine wasn’t helping any. Canada Day really was my last at bat in hopes of making a decent impression. The twenty-four cans of Molson Canadian in my cooler put heavy odds on me obtaining the pass out hat trick and bringing a delicate situation to a head.
“Storin' dead niggers ain't my fuckin' business!”
Enter the solution to this problem, my then girlfriend Alicia. Even at that time, she was my girlfriend I wished to put in the past tense, the girl who I didn’t have the balls to dump nor the patience to stand. A couple weeks earlier, she had her parent’s place to herself. We planned a party there, and then just before I was set to arrive at it, I bailed and went camping with a friend. I was just back in the good books by Canada Day, and I knocked myself right back out of them when I con
nedvinced her into driving the three of us so two of us could get gooned. Not that that was the only reason I had invited her… I figured Lauren would spare my teeth if he had visual proof that I had my own girlfriend and wasn’t out to take his.
By noon, we had all got together and made it to a park covered in geese shit and worse, yappy little kids. The warm weather and cold beers helped the next six hours pass smoothly, but I wasn’t enjoying my drinks as casually as my company. We all have those days where we set our course on complete oblivion, and it was a goal I was doing my damn best to slam back and achieve. By the time we left the beach, all the beers were gone and only my drunken stupidity was left.
Somehow we winded up at a Red Robins restaurant for some food. We were given a patio table, which spared most but not all of the patrons from my performance. It was nothing short of the standard drunken asshole show that each and every one of us is capable of as long as we keep drinking and reaching for those blurry stars. It was a multi-course battery that wore my welcome with everybody. I started the meal by ordering a pitcher of margaritas while being obnoxious to serving staff, spilt my pitcher of fruity booze on my companions, talked obnoxiously loud throughout every conversation, accidentally broke somebody else’s pair of sunglasses by knocking them off the balcony to the street below, and offered my only apology by picking up the tab for the meal I ruined.
Red Robin was walking distance from Carol and Lauren’s, but it wasn’t short enough for me to stay out of trouble. Somehow I dropped my wallet along the walk. When I realized what I had done, I screamed it out and ran back in full drunken whatoozle mode, leaving my company behind but close on my tail. I crossed a group of three guys talking, and yes, they had found my wallet. All was good and we started back across the parking lot until I looked in my wallet a half minute later to find all my cash was gone. “Fuck!!”, and back I go across the parking lot at top speed, the drunken wobble and bobble, with my friends, again, chasing after me.
The three criminals had disappeared, but a security truck was slowly making its way through the parking lot. I hollered with all my drunken volume, but I couldn’t garner their attention. But by the way of my alcohol fuelled train of thought, I figured the best thing to do was to jump up and down on an open Jeep nearby. Obvious to me, when the alarm went off, that would get their attention, and their help.
My friends caught up with me about the same time the security truck did. I tried to explain my story, but my friends, who in the name of charity and good will, shepherded the weak through the valley of darkness, for they are truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And you will know my name is the drunken fouff when I finally shut up long enough to hear… that all my “stolen” cash was spent, by me, when I paid for our dinners. The owners of the jeep were utterly confused.
“Oh man, I will never forgive yo’ ass for this. This is some fucked-up, repugnant shit!”
As I was completely wasted and everybody else had written the day off as a waste, Alicia drove me home. I never talked to Carol or Lauren again. I crossed Carol’s path once by chance, but she acted as if she didn’t recognize me. Alicia took the break up news surprisingly well when I broke things off a week later. And H… well, he and I have only changed one thing…
Happy Canada Day!
Throughout the course of human history, only one land has been inhabited by more idiots per capita than the state of Georgia. This exception must only be made due to a freak accident in August 1810, when a particularly dimwitted drunk fell off Henry Hudson's exploration vessel near the mouth of what is now known as Hudson Bay. Left for dead by his crewmates, he swam to a 200-square-foot shelf of ice and managed to survive for several days. A group of explorers who came upon his remains also found a crude fishing pole with a flask of liquor tied to it as bait, along with a diary detailing his final days; apparently, his plan was not to find food, but to fish for mermaids because he was "more desiring of Intimacy than the Cpt. Hudson while locked in the Captain-Quarters with the cabin-boy".
But with the exception of this four-day anomaly, Georgia takes the cake. Though long ago conquered and reclaimed by the great United States of America, Georgians still wave the Stars and Bars with pride. They do celebrate Independence Day, but only because it's a reason to drink a six-pack of Pabst Blue Ribbon and drive recklessly on the roadways, and because it serves as a big "fuck you" to unfamiliar lands. Many years ago, state officials wisely prohibited the use or sale of most fireworks in the state. For my friends and I, that meant getting an older brother/irresponsible father to drive us up to the Tennessee border and fill the trunk with kiddie munitions. Along the border were gigantic animated neon billboards advertising Big Daddy's Fireworks, and Georgians flocked to them by the thousands, not because they recognized it as a source of fireworks, but because their mosquito-caliber intellects made them predisposed to swarm to the bright lights.
I was a church kid, and being a church kid in Georgia is very odd; I can best describe it as a hybrid of redneck sensibilities, fire-and-brimstone ideology, and a Promise Keepers-esque yuppie facade. For example, while most normal church youth groups would hold outreach events such as bowling or a baseball game, we had "burn stuff night", in which we went behind the youth pastor's house, cut down a bunch of trees, and made a towering fire of them. Not as an illustration to any particular message or lesson -- just because burning stuff was neat.
At one such event I was lucky enough to have won a CD from the popular Christian trio DC Talk. Now, something must be understood about Christian music. Much of it is shamelessly manufactured, which makes a certain degree of sense when taking into consideration the very idea of Christian music. Its agenda is to spread a message, not to be high-quality or innovative. As a result, many Christian bands will change their music dramatically in order to grab onto the coattails of the latest musical fad. The sojourn of DC Talk saw them change sounds from early 90s rap, to gospel, to Nirvana, to U2. Unfortunately, the CD that I won, tellingly titled "Nu Thang", was produced in their early 90s rap era. And it sucked more shit than a shit vacuum.God is doin' a nu thang
In our lives so...
We're doin' a nu thang
Through Jesus Christ
God is doin' a nu thang
Through our music
We're doin' a nu thang
So He can use it
Wild-and-wacky early 90s marketing techniques, such as alternating text orientation from horizontal to vertical, have thwarted my attempt to make a joke by stretching "Nu Thang" into "Nut Hang". Damn you to hell, Nike.
The funny thing about a CD is that the hole in the center is almost big enough to shove an M-90 through; with a little cutting, one can wedge it inside. We thought that nothing bad could result from such a coincidence that fate set before us, but this sort of line of thinking is sort of like sticking yourself into Christina Aguilera's pussy because it just happens to fit. Not a good idea. Needless to say, the CD shattered, sending plastic fragments everywhere. My friends and I received some nasty cuts, some guy's Camaro that was parked on the street got scraped to all hell, and by the time the neighbors' bedroom lights began to turn off, we were running as fast as our legs would take us through backyards and side streets. The obvious lesson to be learned here is that Christian music is to be avoided at all costs, even if it's got spiffy cover art, and especially if the recommendation chart at your local Christian bookstore says "Sounds like: Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch".
Perhaps you foreign readers would have expected something more from me than a "blowing shit up" story. Hate to break it to you, but until you hit about 20, that's really just about all Independence Day stands for. We get our jollies from destroying things, as some of our readers in Afghanistan and Iraq can attest to. At any rate, I can't think of a better way to celebrate our nation's independence by giving dangerous explosives to children and Georgians so they can re-enact deadly artillery battles.
What a country!
Once upon a time way back in 1995, there was an 18-year old hippie-chick who was a senior in a Pennsylvania high school in the suburbs of Pittsburgh. She had very large breasts and a very skinny waist, extremely fair and soft skin, curly black hair framing her beautiful face, an Irish mother and an Iranian father, and, unfortunately for me, severe mental disorder.
At the time, I was a freshman. Usually, in typical high school form, senior guys pick up freshman girls to deflower so they can have bragging rights over their buddies and the memory of as many tight vaginas as possible. In this story, though, the roles were reversed. I, at 15-years old, was being pursued by an older woman who, I had no doubt, wanted my virginity. I mean, who could blame her? I was on the swim team, after all, and I filled out my speedo quite nicely. I had the sense of humor that the ladies loved, the shoulder that was always there to cry on, and the facial features of TV’s Fred Savage... and I was out to make sure that any girl I encountered would surely remember her Wonder Years, courtesy of Eric F’N Fields.
We met in February, but started officially dating in March and became very close over the months that followed. She taught me about the influence that The Beatles had on society and opened my eyes and ears to their music and brilliance, and I taught her why tuna casserole was good eatin’ and opened her vagina with my fingers. Aside from teaching each other things and bettering ourselves through each other, the conversations we had were always great. She told me that because her parents married interracially, and since she was the product of their love, that relationships between any and all races was a beautiful thing. I told her that one of the many reasons that I hated Mariah Carey was because she what half-black, half-white. It wasn’t so much the interracial thing with Mariah Carey that made me hate her so much as her lack of talent, annoying music videos, and not being as attractive to me at the time as Alanis Morrissette was, but it was the only thing concerning interracial relationships that I could think of at the time. It allowed me to bring something to the conversation, and that’s better than those long pauses where you just nod your head and smile like a fucking idiot. Anyway, though we had our disagreements from time to time, it was, for the most part, a great relationship. So great, in fact, that I decided it was time for me to give up what I was told in Sunday School to hold sacred until my wedding night to this girl who wanted my cock more than she wanted a college education.
It was coming up on the 4th of July, and we had made plans for the night to go see the premier of Independence Day at the drive-in and watch the fireworks together. I figured that there couldn’t be any better time or place to pop my cherry and give this girl her a reason to not only celebrate her country’s independence, but to celebrate my nuts smacking off of her ass cheeks as well. I would free her from a life without my dick in that pussy, which would surely be reason enough to be thankful we live in such a great country. It would be romantic as hell... second-rate fireworks on an overcast summer night, Will Smith on the big screen killing aliens, and a whole lot of sweaty lovemaking while grunting the words “yeah,” “baby,” and “fuck” while I bent her over the passenger seat of her old-school Volkswagen Bug and reenact what I saw on late-night HBO and in my parents’ porn videos.
Welcome to Earf... let‘s get jiggy wid’it.
I didn’t tell her of my plans though, oh no. I wanted it to be a romantic surprise that she’d remember for the rest of her life... and that it was. We had been touching and feeling and making out, then the White House was blown up. It was the perfect time to make my big move... so I exposed myself and started to take her pants completely off, finally revealing what I had in mind while I was nibbling on her neck, when I saw the damnedest fireworks I‘d ever seen. This crazy bitch straight up punched me in the fucking face and proceeded to curse me out in Arabic. My initial reaction was “So I take it that you’re not in the mood for some sex to celebrate our country‘s independence?” Then, she punched me again. Hard. And it hurt. Bad. She worked out regularly doing yoga and jujitsu or some shit, and the blood dribbling down my face coming from my lip was proof that her lessons had paid off.
I asked her what the hell she was doing, and she started talking some shit about how the whole world was against her and I was plotting with her friends to screw her out of a No Doubt concert ticket that we were planning on going to later that month. Then she blamed me for her parents fighting all the time when she was younger, her not being able to find a good cup of coffee, and that John Lennon was shot in the back, among many other ass-backward out-of-the-blue things that I mostly had no idea about. I said the only thing that I could think of at the time... “Yeah, I don’t think this is working out... um, I’ve gotta go take a piss right now, but I think we should probably see other people.” She continued to berate me in Arabic as well as English as I got out of the car and went to the concession stand. I ordered a hot dog and a Coke, called one of my friends to pick me up, and never went back to the car... and never saw or spoke to her again.
I saw an engagement announcement nearly a year later in the local newspaper with her name and picture with some poor son of a bitch who probably had no clue what he had gotten himself into. Months later, I’d seen another article that mentioned her name charging her with domestic abuse. Apparently she beat that guy she ended up marrying to the point of hospitalization, at which point the state put her in an asylum and forced extensive psycho-therapy on her. Turns out she was as crazy as some of that Japanese poop-on-me-while-I-fuck-your-goat’s-bum porn, and I dodged a major bullet. I should have known something was up when she was begging me to drop out of high school at the end of my freshman year so I could marry her and we could move to the middle-east and open a Chinese restaurant that played nothing but Beatles music and had a free game of mini-golf with your purchase of the lunch buffet... but I thought she just really wanted me to cast a dirty spell on her with my love wand.
Now, every year when the Fourth of July comes around, instead of paying my respects to our founding fathers and thinking of what a great country we live in, I can’t help but think that maybe if Independence Day was just a little more erotic, maybe I would have gotten laid at the drive-in by that deranged bitch. In retrospect, though, I guess it’s good that we didn‘t do the wild monkey dance that night... imagine if I would have gotten that psycho pregnant. Yikes. So I do the only thing I can and add that to my list of things that are great about our country. That and the huge sales at Old Navy every Fourth. Where else in the world can you get such stylish clothes for the whole family at such reasonable prices? Only in the good ol’ USA, baby. God bless America, indeed.
Happy birthday America!
I am an Australian, and my excuse for insinuating myself into this celebration of the American national day is that I wanted to compare the most famous statue in the USA with the most famous statue in Australia. Of course, America’s most famous monument is the Statue of Liberty. As everyone would know, the 4th of July 1776 is famous because that is the date that the Declaration of Independence was placed before the Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia. The tablet in Ms Liberty’s hand inscribed JULY IV, MDCCLXXVI makes it clear that she stands for the values the revolutionary generation handed down to future Americans.
When Thomas Jefferson was riding around the Philadelphia public transport system in mid-1776, scribbling out drafts of The Declaration of Independence on the back of old envelopes, much in the manner of Eminem coming up with his lyrics in “8 Mile”, he didn’t say, like George Mason said when he composed Virginia’s “Declaration of Rights” in 1774 that it was self evident all men enjoyed the right of “pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety.” He just said that all men (a word that in this context includes women) were endowed with an inalienable right to pursue happiness.
It is kind-of implicit in the way he put it, that a lot of Americans were going to slide out of control and hit the wall while they made pursuit. He didn’t say that anyone was going to obtain it, and safety didn’t come into the equation at all.
But the American Dream is that the prize of happiness is on offer somewhere out there, and anyone who tries to make it, whether he or she chooses to do it as a cowboy or a rapper or a construction worker or a waitress or a baseballer or a blackmailer or a beauty pageant contestant or a gangster or whatever, is in there with a chance. And the Statue of Liberty has been standing in the harbor, holding her torch aloft, all dolled up in her toga, representing exactly that, ever since the late 1880s.
What would you do if you had one shot? One opportunity?
And apart from being a symbol to all Americans about the inalienable right they have to pursue happiness in a free society, and just as importantly, the Statue of Liberty has been sending exactly the same message to the rest of the world, so that, ultimately, if she stands for one particular thing, it is as the pre-eminent symbol for one of the most endlessly fascinating episodes in history, the story of how millions of immigrants came to America through the 19th century and 20th centuries. The words of Emma Lazarus’s poem on the base of the Statue of Liberty, have become, in their own way, one of the framing documents of America’s conception of itself.
Miss Liberty is not exactly hot. In fact she is kind of severe looking. One might have expected Bartholdi, the sculptor, to go for more of a “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue covergirl type to model for him, but he probably couldn’t find a “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue covergirl type in Paris in the 1880s who was also green and 46 meters tall and had seven spikes in her hair.
No, honestly, New York, and all of America, is lucky to have such a beautiful icon.
Compared with the massive Statue of Liberty, Australia’s most famous statue, the Dog on the Tuckerbox near Gundagai is slightly underwhelming in terms of physical presence. It is only about two foot high. And, sure, it isn't exactly the greatest statue that any sculptor has ever come up with. And it is plunked in the middle of nowhere.
But in terms of nobility of conception, what could be a more worthwhile excursion than to travel a couple of hundred miles out of one's way to check out a poorly sculptured two foot high statue of a dog on a tuckerbox? .
Hundreds of thousands of tourists have made the pilgrimage to se the Dog on the Tuckerbox near Gundagai and I think most of them must have had the same thought I did when my eyes first lighted on The Dog back in about 1985 when the person who was driving me to Melbourne made an insane detour that added about 5 hours onto the trip we were making for the sole purpose of beholding The Dog: i.e. "That's it? I have traveled all this way to see that? I can't believe it!" Not many structures can create that since of awe and mystery, and bewilderment in the face of something extraordinary.
It is amazing just how many people travel vast distances to see The Dog, despite the fact that not one in a five hundred people who visit the site would know why they are actually going to see it. It has just somehow entered the soft-wiring of the Australian brain that the thing is an Australian Icon, and that is reason enough to want to eyeball it.
The historical origin of the dog in question is that he or she is a character in a poem called “Bullocky Bill” from the 1880s, about an anonymous teamster who ran into problems with his bullock team. As a paid-up passport-holding fair-dinkum beer-drinking Australian citizen, I happen to have a copy of Douglas Stewart and Nancy Keesing's "Pacific Book of Bush Ballads" (1967) to hand and, sure enough, this anthology has "Bullocky Bill" by Anonymous in it.BULLOCKY BILL
As I came down Talbingo Hill
I heard a maiden cry,
"There goes old Bill the Bullocky-
He's bound for Gundagai."
A better poor old beggar
Never cracked an honest crust,
A tougher poor old beggar
Never drug a whip through dust.
His team got bogged on the Five-mile Creek,
Bill lashed and swore and cried,
"If Nobbie don't get me out of this
I'll tattoo his bloody hide."
But Nobbie strained and broke the yoke
And poked out the leader's eye,
Then the dog sat on the tucker-box
Five miles from Gundagai.
Now, if you have just read through this poem and have thought to yourself, “That is probably just about the rottenest poem I have ever read,” not only would I not blame you for feeling that way, but you would currently be experiencing a mild version of the deflation that falls upon the weary tourist who has just travelled for hours to check out the statue of the canine in question. What you need to know, however, is that the version printed is bowdlerized. The last two lines of the poem should read:Then the dog shat on the tucker-box
Five mile from Gundagai.
I have to thank my sister, Cairo, for wising me up in relation to this. When you read the poem this way not only does it make sense, but, depending on how mordant your sense of humour is, it is actually pretty funny. So the true background to the monument is that it is a statue of a dog who is famous for taking a crap over someone's food, even though the misdemeanour is not depicted in bronze.
A couple of tourists look suitably impressed as they admire the clenched jaw and faraway look in the eyes of The Dog
My sister Cairo’s exemplary research also revealed that the reason the statue of The Dog is a bit wonky is because Frank Rusconi (1874-1964), the sculptor who banged it up, back in 1932, only had one eye. The Rusk obviously didn't think this ought to be any disadvantage in sculpturing, despite the conventional wisdom that sculpture is essentially the creation of artistic work in three dimensions, and no doubt his effort was a very good one in the circumstances, like a symphony by a tone deaf composer.
My sister also pointed out that there is a certain irony in the fact that The Rusk’s most famous work was inspired by a poem about a bullock getting his eyeball poked out. If Alanis Morrisette ever decides to bash out a new version of her song “Ironic,” she might like to consider incorporating the story of how The Dog on the Tuckerbox got turned into a bronze effigy into one of her well-turned quatrains.
Now that I have written the preceding paragraphs, I have to admit that it has become the fondest wish of my heart (well, one of them) to hit that dusty old road that winds toward Gundagai and go check out The Dog again, after nearly two decades of brooding on the mediocrity of the original experience. With my newfound knowledge of the origins of The Dog, I will be able to set myself up as a connoisseur of the statue, pointing out to the other confused and underwhelmed pilgrims, “I think the hound’s sphincter is particularly finely done.”
Now, this brings me to the point of my comparison. As an Australian, I am constantly bemused (although, on the whole, pleased) to see just how much most Americans believe in the whole concept of America. Australians may be cynical because it is almost a full time job in Australia just waving one’s hands around enough to keep the flies from settling on one’s face, but I don’t know any Australians (apart from ones who are certifiably insane) who are as proud of their country as an ordinary standard American.
Americans institutions are not necessarily better than those that exist elsewhere. However, Americans (again, taken as a whole) seem to approach the self-evident truths on which the American Revolution was based as if they really were a collection of self-evident truths, and not just the way a bunch of guys from the 18th century saw things.
So to me it seems appropriate that America’s greatest monument is a visual representation of a lot of great and worthy thoughts. It is fantastic the symbol of all these great things should be a woman. Somehow if the statue had been The Dude of Liberty, or The Bloke With the Torch, it just would not have been the same. It is appropriate that the Statue should have been a gift from France, the other country that fought a revolution for a particular vision of the rights of men at the close of the 18th century. It is appropriate that the statue should be classical in inspiration, since the founding fathers of America drew so much inspiration from the democratic ideals of Greece and the conception of Republican virtue that once made Rome great. It is appropriate that the Statue of Liberty should be massive because she represents lofty ideas: the American Revolution, democracy, republicanism, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, the melting pot, hope for the future and freedom from the tyrannies of the past.
But I am not altogether displeased that the most famous statue in my country, Australia, should be about two feet high, and dedicated to illustrating the worldview that just when it looks like everything that could go wrong has gone wrong, a dog will come along and add insult to injury by emptying its bowels all over the food.