The Original Think Magazine (Published since 1996)

Notes from Prague Six, #06

Every year around this time I get nostalgic for the States...

 

Spring training is starting up and I long for the fresh clean cut grass of Fenway Park. This summer will also witness an effort to put Ralph Nader's Green candidacy on the ballot in fifty states, so there is a double temeptation to go home for a few months.

But alas, life is here, and I can only follow the American League East on ESPN.com. Politically, I must content myself with long distance artillery shots into the op-ed pages of American newspapers.

In any case, there are plenty of Americans here in the summer to make me feel at home, as well as to remind me why I left. Like the happy, plump, USA Today reading family that I sat next to at Bohemia Bagel last week.

Their butterball of a son did not like his bagel, and so he threw it on the floor, where it remained as his father proceeded to hold court on the "problems" of this "Third World country. " If this were an isolated instance, I could let it go.

But America seems to breed these people in such numbers so as to lead me to believe that the problem is of a systemic nature. This is no place for a meditation on the historical/cultural roots of The Ugly American but it is a place for the following statement: "Hey, you! Yeah you, you stupid fat f*ck, where do you get off coming over here to further pollute the air with your ignorant word farts? Do you have any idea how stupid you are, and sound?

Here's an idea, why don't you get on the next plane home, then turn on the engine of your Sport Utility Vehicle while it's still in the garage and breathe real, real deep for a few hours. Let all your thoughts about those irritating poor Europeans just drift along, nice and easy like, and when you wake up the whole world will be just as you want it to be, everyone will be super-duper friendly and belong to the NRA and own lawnmowers and live for the principles of efficiency and customer service.

When you awake, you stupid f*ck, everything will be designed just to make you feel comfortable and at home, just like in Orange County or wherever it is you propogate your kind of the species. That's it, nice and deep..."

But enough hate. "I refuse to be a victim! " says the wife in American Beauty, which was supposed to be a smart film, according to the press. "Hollywood at its best"; "Indiewood," even. Is this really the closest America can get to self-criticism?

A black comedy update of the The Big Chill, with the addition of youth characters that could have just walked off the set of Party of Five? Far from a meaningful comment on wealth, narcicism and an empowerment/success culture, it ends up a stylized update of 80s cliches with pouty middle-class teens, coated in an "onto-it" 90s irony that already reeks of passe.

Oooooohhh: Kevin Spacey hates his job, he isn't gonna take it anymore, he's gonna smoke pot and listen to rock and roll and tell his boss to shove it. His wife isn't gonna take it either, she's gonna... kill him! Why! ? Because she deserves better than this, whatever this is, the film seems rather confused on this point, actually.

American Beauty: pathetic angry white male angst imploding in the stratesphere of its own vapidness. Freddy Kreuger comes back to the suburbs of the New Economy to haunt Everyman, played by Spacy, the Tom Hanks of "Indiewood."

Speaking of stylized Hollywood undershooting, Fight Club managed to take what was a pretty serious novel and turn it into completley undevastating, defanged mush. Whatever statement about consumerism and corporate facelessness the film aspired to make, died early under the weight of sub plots and Dobra Voda dialogue.

I also have it on good word that The Beach did the same, but I won't be seeing it because there is an international boycott in effect to protest the natural habitat that was destroyed in the shooting of the film.

Pass it on.