On Sunday it was rainy and cold, as Spring Sundays in Ohio are more likely than not to be. I drove out to Avon Lake, and stopped at a park near the power plant, the one that everyone says is giving them cancer and probably is. It was dismal, I was feeling nettled by the constant drizzles, I wanted to be drunk and unawares but instead I was staring at things through a camera, which has the opposite effect, makes you more aware really of the things going around you. When you are uneasy about things in your life, you are teetering on an edge. To drive away the uneasiness, you can fall to one side or the other. Become more immersed in yourself, or be swallowed by the rest of the world. It's avoidance either way. But I chose to fall into the world instead of out, and that's how I saw the surfers above. Who are definitely falling in not out. Ohio is a beautiful state of mind.
The other night I watched the first part of that History Channel Patriotism Extravaganza, The History of US. The first part is of course the Colonies and the Revolutionary War. Now, being thirty years old and fairly educated more so than the average bear, I have been taught various sundries about this revolution we speak of so reverently. I do not regret the formation of the country I live in. I feel a glow in my heart that roughly translates to "yay for us for owning all this awesome pretty stuff, resources and land and bald eagles and whatnot." I don't subscribe to this belief that nobody can really own the land. It's not true. Whoever can keep the land away from other people owns it. I think we ought to be more mindful, sure. We ought to take better care of the pretty things we got. But it's ours, right? We're not giving it back, however nastily we got it. Every country, every demarcation of property on this planet was obtained with bloody devious devices. This is the way history works. My ancestors, not mine personally of course but US, OURS, got themselves a lion's share, and now I can travel between oceans without a passport which is kind of awesome, considering how annoying that whole getting a passport thing is.
Nonetheless, I also believe in not killing local populations, not discriminating against people, and helping people in need and wussy stuff like that. So it's hard to be patriotic when looking at the formation of America. But the Revolution right!? That brief and shining moment when we cast off the shackles of fucking douche superpower England, who nobody likes anyway, and we are free! Well, at least the white people are free. The white men. But it's the beginning of the march towards freedom for all! Of this particular moment, all Americans can be proud, without guilt or regret.
Except well so I'm watching this show, and I already knew the Revolution was staged by these wealthy guys, but it hurts to have it spelled out so. Cause they didn't like taxes right, since they were rich guys who had come over here solely to make money, so they didn't want anyone else to have it. Then England REVOKED all the taxes, except on tea, and we were still like Fuck You Not good Enough, and then there was the Boston Tea Party which was probably spearheaded by whichever one of those white guys grew tea. The rich white guys used all sorts of propaganda to convince the poor people that this wasn't about their money, it was about YOUR FREEDOM and your FAMILY'S FREEDOM, and the TYRANNY of England. Some young guys got all up in arms, and protested, and some got shot by the police/redcoats. Then everyone starting forming militias, because if England was going to tax your hot beverages, it was obvious they were going to take your farms too, logical that. And the British were not very diplomatic, and tried to take the guns from the people who wanted to shoot them, and we went to "war". Which was less of a war for a while, and more like "terrorists hiding in trees and shooting passing redcoats" or "really angry farmers standing in front of the redcoats shooting at them and being killed really quickly". But what were they really angry about? The money of rich people.
Of course, this was portrayed on the show as being very patriotic, though patriotic to who is questionable, since there was no USA yet and it certainly wasn't very patriotic to England. What made me incredibly uncomfortable was the fact that these revolutionary heroes were in fact acting exactly like the present day teabaggers. The Tea Party is doing an incredible job of staying true to their colonial forefathers' goals, which boil down to "leave me and my money alone". I mean, good for them. They are exactly the sort of people who started the Revolution. And I completely disagree with them. Which means I completely disagree with the reasons for the American Revolution. If I was alive back then, I would be a Loyalist, no doubts. Cause I think it's stupid for rich people to lead poor people into a slaughterhouse over money.
I mean, so we killed all the Indians too, and this is how we got all this land. I enjoy having all this land. But if given the choice again, I would never say "this is an acceptable way to achieve this." Something in history is done and done, and now we reap the awards of it, it turned out well for our particular bloodlines. But it doesn't make it right that we did it in the first place. And it doesn't mean we do it again. We're supposed to be better people, modern men. This isn't some backwoods colony anymore. This is a crazy complicated system of states and funding and utilities. You can't pretend that the same strategy is going to work again. Don't want to give us your money anymore? Then move. You've certainly told my kind that enough times. You are a not a rich Virginia landowner with slaves you can send off to fight people. It is no longer okay to make your own rules because you have guns. We are supposed to evolve, we are supposed to change, which is why we are also supposed to encourage immigrants remember?
This wasn't supposed to turn into that last paragraph, but there it is. The other thing that made me so uncomfortable was that the whole damn series is sponsored by Bank of America, and before commercial breaks they would have this "infomercial like thing", the history of Bank of America as applied to the American government. Like, Bank of America was the first bank ever. And Bank of America helped build the White House. And without Bank of America, there would no America. In between these snippets were other ads, for other companies that had received bailouts. Like GM, whose ad started with "We've paid back the whole bailout in full already, early, so please buy our cars again." History of US is like the thank you card from these companies, I guess. I would have preferred better health care reform personally. Or better public transportation.
So I understand why people in Cleveland would brave the freezing cold April lake, in wetsuits, to surf in the wake of power plants. You need to cleanse your mind of the detritus of history. Your history, our history, their history. It all needs to fall away into something, like waves, or asphalt, or optimism. Slate gray waves equals clean slate.
Or we are all just crazy lake people who shouldn't be surfing near power plants.