10 Things I Like About America

Dearies, it is America’s 238th Birthday…

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The United States of America has come a long way since that day in 1776 when The Declaration of Independence, authored by Thomas Jefferson and the Party of Five, was approved by Congress.

Canadians like to look down their noses at the their southern cousins, and I for one find that extremely disingenuous. After all Dearies, we seem to forget that Canada came into being, in part through the energy of a group of Americans who refused to fight in the American Revolution. These Loyalists made their way up to eastern Canada.

In honour of the 4th, here is  My List of 10 Things I Like About America (in no particular order). I for one, could easily have made this My List of 100 Things… but let’s just start with 10

4th of July

1. Yankee Doodle – Dearies, what a great song. It just about sums it all up. Love the sheer exuberance of it, the sheer joy of a young boy sharing his experience at the birth of his Nation. True, there are way too many references to guns in this song, for my liking, but that was then…

Yankee Doodle went to town
A-riding on a pony,
Stuck a feather in his cap
And called it macaroni’.Chorus:
Yankee Doodle keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy,
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy.Fath’r and I went down to camp,
Along with Captain Gooding,
And there we saw the men and boys
As thick as hasty pudding.ChorusAnd there we saw a thousand men
As rich as Squire David,
And what they wasted every day,
I wish it could be saved.ChorusThe ‘lasses they eat it every day,
Would keep a house a winter;
They have so much, that I’ll be bound,
They eat it when they’ve mind ter.

ChorusAnd there I see a swamping gun
Large as a log of maple,
Upon a deuced little cart,
A load for father’s cattle.

ChorusAnd every time they shoot it off,
It takes a horn of powder,
and makes a noise like father’s gun,
Only a nation louder.

ChorusI went as nigh to one myself
As ‘Siah’s inderpinning;
And father went as nigh again,
I thought the deuce was in him.

ChorusCousin Simon grew so bold,
I thought he would have cocked it;
It scared me so I shrinked it off
And hung by father’s pocket.

ChorusAnd Cap’n Davis had a gun,
He kind of clapt his hand on’t
And stuck a crooked stabbing iron
Upon the little end on’t

ChorusAnd there I see a pumpkin shell
As big as mother’s bason,
And every time they touched it off
They scampered like the nation.

ChorusI see a little barrel too,
The heads were made of leather;
They knocked on it with little clubs
And called the folks together.

ChorusAnd there was Cap’n Washington,
And gentle folks about him;
They say he’s grown so ‘tarnal proud
He will not ride without em’.

ChorusHe got him on his meeting clothes,
Upon a slapping stallion;
He sat the world along in rows,
In hundreds and in millions.

ChorusThe flaming ribbons in his hat,
They looked so tearing fine, ah,
I wanted dreadfully to get
To give to my Jemima.

ChorusI see another snarl of men
A digging graves they told me,
So ‘tarnal long, so ‘tarnal deep,
They ‘tended they should hold me.

ChorusIt scared me so, I hooked it off,
Nor stopped, as I remember,
Nor turned about till I got home,
Locked up in mother’s chamber.”

Studs Terkel

2Studs Terkel – The late writer, humanitarian, broadcaster and historian loved America as much as Yankee Doodle, perhaps more. His compassion and wisdom informed every broadcast, book and article. They taught me more about America than five years of American history in school.

maya-angelou

3. Maya Angelou – I remember reading ” I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” as a youngster, and being unable to put the book down. It made me sad, it made me happy – all at once. It forever changed the way I looked at and thought about America. The activist, poet, writer, actress, dancer, singer was a voice bigger than a nation.

yogi berra

4Yogi Berra – There are times when I think that William Shakespeare would have loved the witticisms and observations of this great man. Baseball and life, he represents them both well. The incomparable Red Smith once wrote, “The Yankees have had many great ones, but no other quite like this one..”

whatamaroon

5. Bugs Bunny – There are also times when I think that Mr. Bunny not only channels Mr. Berra, but also Mr. Shakespeare. Yet he remains a wonderful, adorable, curmudgeonly American original. Hope he won’t mind my appropriating his immortal “What a maroon! What an ignoranamous!” for my own writing.

Shelby Foote

6Shelby Foote – The great Civil War historian re-educated the world about that tragic chapter in American history. The eloquence and compassion in his writings transformed Ken Burns’ definitive TV documentary series into a breathtaking action drama, minus any special effects, save the extraordinary narrative and photographs.

JoanBaezBobDylan

7. Joan Baez – Her hauntingly beautiful voice empowered a generation. It comforted and revealed the plight of America’s downtrodden. Ms. Baez brought to us through song, the themes of Steinbeck, Twain and Terkel.

Secretariat

8. Secretariat – This gorgeous thoroughbred did what no other horse had done since the great Citation in 1948, he won the coveted Triple Crown. He won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes with ease. But in the final leg, the Belmont Stakes, he annihilated the field by over 31 lengths. Secretariat won in 1973, and champions Seattle Slew and Affirmed followed him into the history books that same decade. No horse has won the Crown since then…until American Pharoah.

Rachel Carson

9. Rachel Carson – Reading Ms.Carson’s  earth-shatteringly prescient “Silent Spring” at age 15, forever changed the way I looked at how humans affect the environment. Ms. Carson’s heroic work is as important now as it was then, perhaps even more so. Miss Carson’s untimely death from breast cancer, shortly after “Silent Spring” was published in 1964 underscored the urgency of her work.

Apple Pan

10. The Burgers and Pies at the Apple Pan Restaurant in Los Angeles – Dearies, this is as close to a religious experience as I can come. The wonderful simplicity of the limited menu and its well-executed delivery, not to mention the reasonable prices ,have me salivating as this is being written.

Dearies, Democracy is a wonderfully, frustratingly beautiful thing. People fight and die for it. They always have, and as we sadly see these days, they always will.

On this July 4, 2014 that is My List of 10 Things I Like About America…Let me know what’s on yours

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