Top Leaderboard, Site wide
August 20, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Help us grow by sharing
and liking Truthdig:
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Newsletter

sign up to get updates






American Catch


Truthdig Bazaar
Street Without Joy

Street Without Joy

By Bernard Fall
$16.47

Why School?

Why School?

By Mike Rose

more items

 
Report

Anywhere Becomes Everywhere

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Jul 10, 2008

By David Sirota

I spent the July 4th weekend in my own Americana cliché: I relaxed in the humid heartland, drank one too many alcoholic beverages (screwdrivers), ate at a chain restaurant (Noodles & Company), played with my dog (a golden retriever mix) and attended Hollywood’s latest paean to mediocrity (Will Smith’s “Hancock”). I was in the bucolic suburbs of Lafayette, Ind., but really, I could have been anywhere or everywhere in America—which is both satisfying and troubling.

In the lead-up to my Independence Day respite, I went through the montage of diners, rental car counters and air mattresses commonly known as a book tour. The nationwide journey has been a blur—and not because I’ve been under-rested and over-caffeinated, but because America’s newly homogenized culture has made everything seem the same.

As I discovered, the contemporary road trip tells the tale of hegemony better than even shared holiday experiences. Turn on your car radio and your listening experience is standardized. No matter where you are, you find yourself unable to find much other than either Rush Limbaugh rants or Bad Company songs on a dial now owned by a tiny group of conglomerates. The offramp pit stop—once the spicy outpost of local flavor—today seems mass-produced from a Chinese factory, a bustling harbor of franchise commerce astride Jack Kerouac’s endless road. Towering signs for Applebee’s, Wendy’s and Bob Evans are the boat masts on a sea of corporate food below.

Sure, when you drive north to south,  Arby’s morphs into Shoney’s, and when you drive east to west, the Wawas become Circle K’s. And yeah, you’ll find differing street sign fonts, varied twangs and the occasional idiosyncratic landmark. But with the chain store-ification of culture, that’s about it—and today, even our politics is a victim.

At bookstore events in every corner of the country, the discussion is almost completely national focused. Who will be the vice presidential nominees? What will the latest scandal mean for the presidential candidates? How can Democrats or Republicans win the congressional election?

Advertisement

Square, Site wide
The queries, of course, reflect homogenized news from a consolidated media industry that increasingly provides cheap-to-produce, cheaper-to-replicate federal-level horse-race speculation instead of detailed local coverage. The result is that Americans obsess over distant political soap operas and palace dramas while neglecting pressing issues in their backyards.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m no troglodyte pining for a heterogeneous golden age that never was, nor am I a New Ager opposing all mass culture on a hyper-localist fantasy that never will be. There’s a good side to this. It’s great that we can, for example, widely distribute medicine (believe me, without stomach analgesics at every convenience store my trip would have been unbearable). It’s also terrific that we can have truly national conversations about presidential campaigns and difficult issues like race.

Then again, it’s not great that our best-known commodities in this culture are fast-foods, gas-guzzling SUVs and subpar Will Smith movies. It’s also bad that we more often end up having national conversations about celebrity breakups—and that when we do talk politics, Washington, D.C., is considered more important than what happens in our own state capitols and city councils. Indeed, in making anywhere into everywhere, homogenization has swallowed up not only our downtowns, restaurants and radio stations, but even our understanding of American democracy.

This is the most significant—and scariest—downside.

As we have faced health, energy and environmental emergencies that demand customized answers, homogenization has taken us from “think global, act local” to “obsess federal, ignore local”—right when imminent crises mean we need to act more locally than ever. Because of this, America may yet become a casualty of its own cultural conquest.

David Sirota is a best-selling author whose newest book, “The Uprising,” was released last month. He is a fellow at the Campaign for America’s Future and a board member of the Progressive States Network, both nonpartisan organizations. His blog is at www.credoaction.com/sirota.

© 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

By Bukko in Australia, July 24, 2008 at 1:14 pm Link to this comment

Actually, “terrorism” doesn’t imply killing. It just implies making people terrified.

The Bush Crime Family is a group of terrorists because they’re making so many people in the U.S. terrified that Islamic terrorists are gonna get ‘em if the U.S. doesn’t go around killing millions of Muslims first. Joe McCarthy in the 1950s was a terrorist with the “Red under every bed” witch-hunts. To the extent that ELF tactics have terrorised developers and capitalists, that makes the ideology one of terror.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Some rapacious bastards need to be frightened. In the best circumstances, it will make them reconsider if what they’re doing is evil. Unfortunately, in the fascist nation the U.S. has become, actions like the sporadic attacks carried out under the ELF banner have been the excuse for a counter-crackdown.

If someone pulls off some terrifying acts that don’t harm humans, more power to ‘em. As the U.S. economy breaks down and more people get pushed to the wall, I’m sure we’ll see more of it. One of the reasons I moved out of the country was because I probably would have taken to torching Mall-Warts if there was widespread rioting after a declaration of martial law or a nuclear attack on Iran. But I don’t want to get that bad karma, so since I had a legal way to leave, I took it.

And FWIW, ELF, non-violent environmental action was able to stop a billion-dollar pulp mill in Tasmania this year, even though it had the backing of the Tassie state government and Gunn’s, a major timber company. But that’s because people (and banks) in Oz still listen to common sense. I don’t think that’s the case in the U.S. any more. Greed rules, and damn the planet.

Report this

By Sepharad, July 21, 2008 at 5:48 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

E.L.F. & Bukko,

“Terrorist” definitely implies loss of life, so apart from spiking trees—which HAS killed and maimed hard-working loggers with families—ELF and other destroyers of property don’t qualify. (They might go to jail, though, and therefore not be available to draft EIRs or filibuster at county council meetings.

Burning down construction projects, or pouring on that stinky stuff that makes them uninhabitable but not quite forever, has never stopped anything in its tracks permanently. It just makes the developers spend more money, and they do.

That’s why I suggested that the war, such as it is, is probably lost.

Report this

By E.L.F., July 20, 2008 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

an eco-terrorist outfit that’s claimed responsibility for torching SUVs on car dealer lots and homes under construction in an environmentally sensitive area of Colorado. It’s not a “group” per se, having no central organisation; more like an ideology, that says the only way to fight back against the rape of the planet is through direct action, including destruction.


How can we be “terrorist” if we have killed no one? 

“Mate” you seem to have bought the corporate facists “spin” on this.

When the Supreme Court goes on record as confirming corporat6e ability to steal working folks homes, it’s time for “stronger” measures.

“Enviro” includes people too!

Report this

By samosamo, July 17, 2008 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

By Bukko in Australia, July 17 at 4:34 am #

I think you are right about this. There is a valid reponse to ‘well, I can’t change the system so if I can’t have it, neither can they’ attitude which gives the idea that ‘whoever can destroy something, controls it’ and it is probably a cue to the beginning of the break down of a society. Then orwell’s world is just about perfected in reality.
Unfortunately, the overpopulation of people on this planet trying to cope with the political, religious and economic systems in force now just will not lead to anything but more misery and probably anarchy.

Report this

By Bukko in Australia, July 17, 2008 at 5:34 am Link to this comment

ELF—To my statement that “once construction has begun, there’s not much you can do.”, you responded, “Yes, there is.”

Sepharad—the commenter “ELF” is being cryptic and trying to seem like an eco-terrorist. You gotta know the code, mate. Call me on it if I’ve misinterpreted you, “ELF.”

ELF is the abbreviation for Earth Liberation Front, an eco-terrorist outfit that’s claimed responsibility for torching SUVs on car dealer lots and homes under construction in an environmentally sensitive area of Colorado. It’s not a “group” per se, having no central organisation; more like an ideology, that says the only way to fight back against the rape of the planet is through direct action, including destruction.

The sad thing about a corpo-fascist government that doesn’t listen to common sense and the will of the people is that people will fight back destructively when they feel there is no other legitimate means to change society. I fear that’s what wil come to the U.S. as economic conditions deteriorate and pissed-off people get to the point that they have nothing left to lose.

Report this

By E.L.F., July 17, 2008 at 4:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Liberation_Front

Report this

By Sepharad, July 16, 2008 at 2:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ELF—To my statement that “once construction has begun, there’s not much you can do.”, you responded, “Yes, there is.”

  Apart from contesting the developments at town meetings includig county council pesonnel and generating Environmental Impact Reports (which to date haven’t worked well; snail darters and vernal pools are nothing pople here worry about too much)what can we do?

Give me an idea; if you have something specific in mind, please tell me.

Thanks—Sepharad

Report this
mackTN's avatar

By mackTN, July 15, 2008 at 8:40 pm Link to this comment

The country of my youth was made up of regions that told a story of their history.  Every summer we traveled from the north to the south—big difference.  I had to remember to say yes sir and ma’am, then forget it once I returned to Chicago.  Sears and Montgomery Wards were the only big chains—outside of Woolworths (where I wasn’t allowed anyway). 

Let’s thank the corporations and their defenders.  They are like cancers that have taken over everything, snuffed out democracy—they’re like kudzu and it’s too late to exterminate it; too late for chemo—it’s metasized into our vital organs.

Nader and John Edwards were the only ones ringing the alarm and willing to do battle.  Corporations have transformed cities into canteens of workers that they can swoop up and disgorge at will.  If we protest too much, our elected officials will just bring more illegal immigrants to be their slaves.

This won’t get any better.  I used to love travelling this country, driving through small towns and marvelling at the differences.  But now we are just one big mall.  What a shame.

Report this

By ELF, July 15, 2008 at 4:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

By Sepharad, July 14 at 10:49 pm

“there’s not much you can do once construction begins.”

Yes there is…

Report this

By Sepharad, July 14, 2008 at 11:49 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

David, I don’t like it when everywhere becomes anywhere either, for purely aesthetic reasons both tangible and intangible, but it puzzles me as to why people feel forced to make these institutions their destinations. Nobody is coming up to your door, dragging you kicking and screaming to MacDonald’s or Macy’s or anywhere else. You don’t HAVE to go watch “Hancock” at the multiplex if you don’t want to. Money talks, and the quickest way to perpetuate this aspect of culture is to consume it. If you don’t spend your money there, you’re not supporting it. If it survives, it’s because so many people DO spend their money, signalling the corporations that run these places that they are profitable because the people want them to be. 

What I find more painful and more difficult to slow down is encountering suburban and rural developments called “Quail Run”, “Deer Creek”, and other names representing what was actually there before some jumped-up developer decided it was a lovely landscape to exploit. Other than not buying a house or renting in such places, there’s not much you can do once construction begins. In our area—farming, orchards, vineyards, small-town suburbs roughly 60 miles north of San Francisco—the battles against sprawl go on, though we realize the war is already lost.

I’m not a troglodyte or New Ager either. But I’ve finally decided that apart from having some major impact on politics and multinationals, all most of us can do is to just live our lives in the cracks between all the junk, and teach our children and grandchildren to discriminate between what’s out there and what they truly need to sustain body, soul, and a questing intellect. It’s there; it’s just not easy to find.

Politics, unfortunately, we’re pretty much stuck with biz as usual until people get so sick of the elite driving down everyone else’s living standards that they will actually do something about it. At some point, we’re going to have the chutzpah to say “Enough already; we’re tired of being forced to choose between the bad or the worse Presidential candidate, both of whom represent two parties, the whole panoply of multinationals, huge special interests, and those who find a way to rationalize voting against their best interests, let alone our survival as a species.

If we don’t like the new releases, we seek out older, classic, avant garde etc. DVDs. If we’re bored with the local eateries, I get a new cookbook or ask one of my Iranian or Israeli or Spanish friends to teach me a few recipes and cooking techniques of their native cuisine. If the roadside is screwed up by strip malls and developments, we take our horses into what’s left of the open country, along rivers, in floodplains and wetlands—wherever possible, rarely the same place twice, and my husband has elevated postindustrial horsemanship into an art form. We have lived in a remodeled apple packing shed, 900 square feet, for 20 years, that came attached to a three-acre dying orchard, which my husband reforested with more than 1,000 seedlings that are now tall redwoods, pines, oaks. Whatever it takes, claw your way out of the big boxes.

Shalom, Sepharad

Report this

By Feral Cat, July 14, 2008 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment

for a comedy group I was in.  It was called “Anytown, U.S.A.”  Sad that he had already identified the problem back then and it just got worse.  Only some kind of real revolution or terrible crisis will change this mentality

Report this

By WriterOnTheStorm, July 13, 2008 at 11:00 am Link to this comment

Sadly, Totalitarian Capitalism is growing tentacles across the globe. For some years now, we find McDonalds or Starbucks infestations in Europe’s most celebrated historical sites. Brand names are the new loyalties, logos are the new flags. It’s too late to stop the tide. It’s already old fashioned even to complain about it.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, July 13, 2008 at 7:14 am Link to this comment

Outraged,

Thanks for the links, they helped kick start me Sunday.

Report this

By eggroll, July 13, 2008 at 2:56 am Link to this comment

I believe it was Soviet writer and Nobel Laureate Ivan Bunin who described America as “one-story America” upon his visit to the country late in his life (early 1950s) I believe. The tract house, and the prodigious energy-intensity, the sameness of one town to the next was astonishing to his European sensibilities. US expat, Henry Miller, returning to the US, also wrote the “Air-Conditioned Nightmare” (1945) about the evolving sameness of US towns in his roadtrip book. Thank you, David Sirota, for bringing this issue to our attention six decades later!

Report this
Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, July 13, 2008 at 12:45 am Link to this comment

If what we’re fighting for hasn’t become apparent, try this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7xj8xikyD8&feature=related

Report this
Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, July 13, 2008 at 12:31 am Link to this comment

If you understood Severn Suzuki’s plea hopefully you will take note here also.  Lest we forget.  Carl Sagan….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p86BPM1GV8M

Report this
Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, July 13, 2008 at 12:12 am Link to this comment

It is true that too often anywhere is everywhere in America, however sometimes everywhere is here.  Severn Suzuki speaking at the UN summit in Rio De Janiero courtesy of bluegal @ “Crooks and Liars”, check it out.

http://www.crooksandliars.com/2008/07/12/open-thread-866/

Report this

By samosamo, July 12, 2008 at 7:47 pm Link to this comment

kellina, July 12 at 3:27 pm

I can understand that just by coming here, about repub vs dem, the no alternative quantary, you are either or. I know some people look at me as a democrat because of my opposition to the repub’s agendas but they are dead wrong.

Thanks for the curse, at least it is chinese whom I admire for all their history and tea.

And the piece in hedge’s post was originally done in Snapshots of Life and Death report.

And from the ‘Orwell’ dvd, ‘people won’t know what they have until the internet is gone; taken over and regulated by the corporations’.

As for climate change which global warming is but a part of, humans do have an effect though smaller than or larger than anyone knows. Interesting reading in a book by Richard Alley; ‘The 2 Mile Time Machine’.

And before I end this, and you may have disconnected from the ‘Kids Are Fat People, Too’ post but I replied to your suggestion about weston price as I looked that up on amazon and thubes(sp) and the reviews of the books are very encouraging which I copied to my reply.

Well, I hope to keep running into you as it is rare to find someone that doesn’t fight and bicker endlessly but tries to point one to other pieces of helpful information. Would like to be able to chat one on one somehow.

Report this

By samosamo, July 12, 2008 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment

kellina, July 12 at 10:14 am

Yep, that is all too true and too long of a list of what is wrong and needs to be corrected in these UnUnited States. Even the people are beginning to fight with each other over ideology now. Just too many people for the current political, religious and economic systems to handle. And no sane way to use the technology in a good way except to maybe further enrich the few from the many.

Report this

By kellina, July 12, 2008 at 4:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

samosamo says: “Yeah, that is an all too true and way too big of a list and fits this country to a tee, this country is where the list came from or was created because of US.”

I have no bloody idea.

“And end of the empire you say? It couldn’t come fast enough for most people. But then no matter what one thinks with the number of people on this planet and the more volatile and unpredictable the climate will change, life on this planet will be interesting.”

“May you live in interesting times.”—old Chinese curse

My jury is still out on human-caused global climate change. I just don’t buy it yet.

“You wouldn’t happen to have your own web page or chat room would you?”

No time, my friend. I used to hang out here, but then quit because they still believe in repubs-vs-dems, the 9/11 official story, and that sort of thing. I came back after my favorite website/blog site got banned. Felt lonely, I guess. Am thinking of writing a book that no one will publish, and no one would read if it were published. Perfect for a blog.

I did like what you said—raw anger on the page—under the Hedges’s 4th of July piece (which was sublime).

Maybe if TD and few other sites went down, we’d all go and protest somewhere instead of writing endlessly to no avail, sound and fury, signifying nothing. But it was so nice talking to just one human (you) over the last 24 hours.

Bye for now,
K

Report this

By samosamo, July 12, 2008 at 4:14 pm Link to this comment

kellina, July 12 at 10:14 am

Yeah, that is an all too true and way too big of a list and fits this country to a tee, this country is where the list came from or was created because of US.
And end of the empire you say? It couldn’t come fast enough for most people. But then no matter what one thinks with the number of people on this planet and the more volatile and unpredictable the climate will change, life on this planet will be interesting.
You wouldn’t happen to have your own web page or chat room would you?

Report this

By kellina, July 12, 2008 at 11:14 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thanks for the info on the video (found on google) and books. Speaking of “end of the empire,” here’s a good read:

http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/gameover.php

Kellina

Report this

By samosamo, July 12, 2008 at 10:59 am Link to this comment

kellinak, July 12 at 4:16 am

Yeah, that is pretty dark but it is as good a time to reflect on the meaning of it all. And I guess the major reason to come to these type of sites to get other people’s views and ideas and information as I consider the mainstream media to be not just about worthless but almost totally dangerous. How can people ever know anything and make sound decisions with no information or disinformation?
So, I read, go to web sites and ‘blog/comment’ my take on things in my search for reality. So far my most informative sources have been a dvd created by Robert Kane Pappas titled ‘Orwell Rolls in His Grave’. A web site with the same name is the best place to get a copy if you’re interested. It describes the current state of the media’s control by the corporate interests and owned and controlled by the corporations.
My other other basic source of real information is Chalmers Johnson’s 3 books ‘Blowback’, ‘Sorrows of the Empire’ and ‘Nemesis’ , in case you have not read or heard of them. It is grim reading and not too encouraging. And this Johnson was in positions that allowed him access to information that is quite revealing as to the actions of our govenrment from…. well he was in the navy in WWII and went into the study of East Asain history, politics and encomonics. And I guess so well known then for the CIA to ask him to help with the NIE reports in the late 60s to early 70s. What he knows and reveals is not what the current administraion would want you to know.
View the dvd and reading Johnson’s books will definitely knock the dust from your eyes but also prevent you from having dust thrown into you eyes less often.

Report this
Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, July 12, 2008 at 7:29 am Link to this comment

Last time I visited Vancouver BC, Canada, the small businesses were predominate and the chains were hardly seen, but it may only be a matter of time. Globalization means standardization?  Poor stay poor and the rich get richer.
Survival of the opportunists.

Report this

By kellinak, July 12, 2008 at 5:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The last time I felt patriotic was probably 1976—I was a child, and happy to be living in this country. I had no idea about why the war in Vietnam happened, didn’t know anything about our CIA installing US-corporation-friendly dictators around the world, about the drug-running, terrorist-funding, assassinations of foreign (and domestic) leaders, false-flag operations, and believed that the US were the good guys—even back in WWII. Why our leaders were the preferred captors for german soldiers, right? Nothing known about the Eisenhower camps. Sure we bombed the Japanese and detained them in camps here, but that was a wrinkle that barely registered on my child’s mind. I thought like a child—America is my country, therefore I love it. Patriotism meant loving your country, not questioning those in power, but trusting them, like parents, to take care of all of us. Fast forward to the second Bush “presidency”: two stolen elections, geneva conventions ignored, civil rights gutted, economy in a shambles, pre-emptive wars for no reason, no reason except I guess to help that country described as ‘the only democracy in the middle east,” the one that is taking our tax dollars and torturing/raping/maiming/killing/detaining/suffocating/sewaging/starving/depriving of medical care, clean water, and freedom to travel, own land, vote, and breathe those who have lived on that piece of real estate for thousands of years—the Palestinians. They are in concentration camps and we’re helping to fund them. (I guess ‘never again’ doesn’t apply to them,  huh?) Their only weapons are rocks and cameras. I sat around on the 4th of July wondering just what fraction of my taxes are going to hurt Palestinian folks…did my taxes help to kill an infant at the border, or did my taxes help to fund that bulldozer that was used to kill Rachel Corrie? And can I get out the country in time to save my kids from the burden of growing up “American”—which will or is becoming synonymous with being a “Nazi” (where is Daniel Goldhagen now?).

That’s how dark it really was, my friend, Samosamo. I’ll go hunt down your post and see what you said.
K

Report this

By Bukko in Australia, July 12, 2008 at 2:04 am Link to this comment

One of the things I like about Australia, compared to the U.S., is how unstandardised the shopping streets are here. Oz has McDonalds, Hungry Jack’s (what Burger King is called here) plus Target, K-Mart and other U.S. chains. (No Mal-Wart, thank goodness.) But Australian commercial life does not revolve around them.

Each suburb has its “high street” section with stand-alone shops run by Greeks or Italians or Viets or Lebanese, etc. There’s a quirky mix of standardised products plus oddities from the old country that are aimed at whatever ethnic group has settled in that neighbourhood. Even in bush towns, the smattering of stores will be individually owned, with their own character.

It takes you out of your comfort zone if you’re a mindless consumer who wants the familiar blandness of having a Big Mac that tastes like every other Big Mac you’ve ever eaten. But chances are if your comfort zone is that atrophied, you won’t be venturing too far off the couch anyway.

Report this

By samosamo, July 11, 2008 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment

kellina, July 11 at 1:29 pm

Hey, I just happened to come by here and saw where you posted. I had the same 4th of July, disgust and since I used some pretty harsh language if you want to read it you will have to go the the post, ‘Surviving the 4th of July’ or something of the other.
It is tough when one is brought up listening and believing what a benevolent country we are supposed to be and one day you realize that all those people that have attacked us because they ‘hate our freedoms’ and decadent life styles, all of sudden it is explained to you that it is just not a hate of freedoms and lifestyles but a retaliation from a previous time that everyone in our country knows absolutely nothing about or of the US’s involement in said event; even has a name: blowback, defined as retaliation for an attack on another country done by our country in secret from our citizens so when we are attacked, we don’t know why.
And with all the crap we have passed around lately, there is sure to be a lot of blowback somewhere down the road and even so long from now that again the people living then will not understand the reasons.
Our corporate government is not our best friend and they don’t care.

Report this

By Mike, July 11, 2008 at 9:25 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

...I can’t help but wonder how many different Barnes and Noble and Borders bookstores you went through, as opposed to independents and lesser known chains.

Report this

By purplewolf, July 11, 2008 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment

Kiss, Soylent Green will be marketable in the near future when the poor will no longer be able to afford to bury their dead and more food crops are diverted into bio-fuels.

Report this

By kellina, July 11, 2008 at 2:29 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s a luxury to be bored…as the last poster alluded to. I’ve read that we indeed have the biggest prison population in the world, due to unnecessarily harsh laws since the 90’s. Together with privatized prisons, this means that we have de facto slavery. Corporations running these prisons get laborers for pennies an hour.  I guess there is really still a manufacturing base in this country.

I myself could not celebrate my country’s birthday. I am ashamed to be an American. Nearby fireworks reminded me of the bombs falling in the middle east, pre-emptive wars based on lies, wars without end. Iran is next, then Syria, how about Pakistan? Egypt? Jordan anyone?

K

Report this
G.Anderson's avatar

By G.Anderson, July 11, 2008 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

This may be true of Suburbia, but out in the great expanse of emptiness that is neither suburbia, nor city, life is far from plastic.

There is an another America, in which life revolves around Wal-Mart, Mc Donalds, and the Gas Station. A place where poverty, illiteracy, and meth labs come together to create a safe haven for Army Recruiters, and drug dealers, and where only the recuiters represent a way out as cannon fodder. If your young enough, and clean enough.

There are also Millions of American’s in prison, mostly for drug arrests. They are also looking for a way out. 

It’s easy to forget them, from the safety of the burbs. This is also what America has become.

Report this
racetoinfinity's avatar

By racetoinfinity, July 11, 2008 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

I don’t consider E.F. Schumacher’s ideas to be
“New Age” “pie-in-the-sky”, and I think his landmark book “Small is Beautiful” is still very germane today to the concerns you point out.

Report this
Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, July 11, 2008 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

Mass culture has always been pretty dumb; smart people need smart culture, dumb people need dumb culture, and there are a lot of dumb people.  What has changed is that it became possible to produce and distribute culture industrially at a profit; so now, instead of having hundreds of dumb local cultures in the US, there are only a few, maybe really only one.  But this had been already true for the elites, who were going on about the universality of high art hundreds of years ago.  As above, so below: everyone loves Beethoven, everyone loves Britney.

Report this

By Conservative Yankee, July 11, 2008 at 7:56 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Stop at the “Public House” in Sturbridge Massachusetts, or the Bretton Woods hotel in New Hampshire… Drop up my way for a homemade pie at Helen’s in Machias, or get off the interstate and drive route 1, 9, or what’s left of 66. There are some GREAT independent steak-houses in West Texas, and I’ll just bet Yellow Pine Idaho still has a family-owned restaurant.

There are still 1801 independently owned and operated diners in the USA. (use diner-finder)

There are movie-houses with large screens not located in “megaplexes”

New York CDity is host to a plethora of independent businesses including hotels, restaurants, theaters. taverns, and bookstores. ..and when you are in New York, (particularly in the out-lying boroughs) a hard time mistaking it for “somewhere else.”

So go fat-out at Denny’s, eat your Clinton-burger at Mc Donalds, and complain that “America has no flavor”

As Phil said… A Nation orf whiners!

Report this

By Jim Wilson, July 11, 2008 at 7:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Right on…  I was educated in public school in a Czech/Jewish neighborhood in Bridgeport in the early 1930’s, was introduced to more of the world at the NY World’s Fair in 1939, had a Mexican girl friend in a Los Angeles high school, majored in geography at Oregon then became a teacher during the dumbing down era of our society.
I miss the joy of the mixed culture in Bridgeport and excitement of Los Angeles years ago. 
More recently I have seen McDonalds and Baskin Robbins in Moscow, Heidelberg and in Seoul.
(Correction, the Koreans don’t seem to like sweet things so much.  I have two Korean grandkids.) 
Homogenization has developed deeply.
I believe in the beef and vegetable stew simile of what America should be, rather than the mashed pea soup one that one of my Bridgeport teachers taught about.
Have we become the pea soup?

Report this

By SERE GUY, July 11, 2008 at 7:27 am Link to this comment

David, it’s not so troubling that you enjoyed the 4th like millions of Americans.  I for one surround myself with family and friends, and celebrate with the traditions that we have had, sense I was a boy.  I can’t change the world, but I can continue to live my own American dream.  Try not to let it get you down,  it not so bad we have fast food chains, drive suv’s and talk politics over a cup of coffee.  Don’t lump everyone together, were much too diverse for that.  But thanks for the article, it makes one think

Report this

By badlawdog, July 11, 2008 at 6:54 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The poster “kiss” must be one of those dumbed down Johnny types..did you check his spelling? As far as the second poster (samo), why is complex linear thought considered the only form of intelligence?...truth is we are being both linear and intuitively (right and left brain) dumbed down…more to life than just math and science and crunching numbers…

Report this

By Bubba, July 11, 2008 at 6:24 am Link to this comment

Most insightful.  Thanks.

Report this

By KISS, July 11, 2008 at 6:10 am Link to this comment

We can’t blame Bush for this he only put the polish on the apple. This really started with dim,mos way back when. Little Johnnie or Suzie could never fail a class because it might just do them mental damage. Than teachers, ever so willing, decided that if the school work was simplified there would be less Johnnie’s and Suzie’s. This idea became the fast food industries mantle…simplefy and make gigantic profits. Politician’s loved this idea and saw how Amerikans were so easily led, and they too simplified the process. Corporations caught on and simplified the method of lobbying..just bags of money sent to the right takers. As you found out the FCC helped to simplify the entertainment industry, all too willing to simplify and make huge profits.
For myself, I celebrated our day of independence by putting a DVD of ” Soylent Green” on the TV and watched and wondered if this product someday would be the offering of one of Amerika’s agri-businesses.
How simple and profitable that will be.

Report this

By samosamo, July 10, 2008 at 10:51 pm Link to this comment

Wow, david, sort a long definition of the msm’s dumbing down mind control that has its grip on a major part of this country. That is why the ‘newness’ of something is in a hour or so actually boring and most likely of no use. Corporate dictates, all of it.
It could be something akin to what I heard Julian Bream say, the classical guitarist of high repute, when he described Andreas Segovia’s concert programs, and by no means degradating the great master, as the sweet treats of the music offered for the classic guitar where Julian more or less made an audience listen to whole concertos or opus of several movements to test a person’s attention and thoughts.
This sort of sums up this country and the world maybe since a lot of the rest of the world really likes our life of everything. And that is what you get, people who have or know something about every thing but aren’t adapted to living out the whole piece of music to see where that will take them.

Report this
 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.

Like Truthdig on Facebook