Sunday, January 25, 2009

Roads? Where we're going we don't need....roads.

I realize I haven't updated this thing in a while. With our new president firmly in the buttery leather seat of the Oval Office, I guess I've just been too damn upbeat to rant lately. Either that, or I've been sick and whiny. Whichever one makes me sound more butch.

Anyway, this one is going to be a two-topic post, both of which relate to the title, as always. Topic number one: History is the best damn soap opera you'll ever come across.

I've always been fascinated by where we've been as a species. Seriously, how did we get from monkeys: hyper-active, angry, furry, hilarious critters flinging crap at each other from tree to tree, to 21st century humans: lethargic, angry, slightly less furry, hilarious (in that sad sort of way) critters flinging crap at each other in...I don't know...boardrooms and...well, internet blogs? Though that last sentence may seem a little on the glass-is-half-empty side of things, I am honestly pro-humanity. In a localized sense, individual humans are crazy, weird, awesome, despicable, beautiful, hideous, wacky fuckers that can simultaneously uplift and destroy my faith in the universe. We are ALWAYS entertaining.

Lately, I've been kind of poking around in the seedier parts of American history. If history in general is, say, Montel Williams, American history is TOTALLY Jerry Springer. Europeans have their share of dirty secrets and then some, so let's not give them a complete pass, but they've had thousands of years ; to continue my talk show analogy, Europe is the "Who's My Baby's Daddy?" episode of Maury Povich (a lot of screwed up stuff happening in the span of a half hour) while America is the "My Uncle is My Baby's Daddy!" episode of Springer (a lot of REALLY screwed up stuff happening, say, during the opening credits).

There are a lot of great books on the more colorful bits of American history, but I'll recommend three that I've been reading recently just for flavor:

Lies My Teacher Told Me examines the many and varied inconsistencies, simplifications and downright falsehoods perpetrated by American history textbooks from Columbus on down. It's fascinating, funny, and enlightening; and its no-holds-barred portrayal of the history of America is as bloody and porn-filled as anything on Cinemax at 2 A.M.

Lies Across America; similar to the above tome, and by the same author, this one looks at our beloved historical landmarks and how we cartoonize the history of our American heroes to fit on the little plaques attached to museum exhibits. Here's a bit of trivia: Abraham Lincoln's birthplace, the famous log-cabin, was built after he'd been dead a good while. Lies are fun!

Our Bastard Tongue, a history of the English language that focuses on its uniqueness. English, though a Germanic language, has more in common grammatically with the Celtic languages of Gaelic and Welsh. The author examines this peculiarity and in turn paints a picture of the early English-speaking world that is both intelectually fulfilling, and somehow kind of sexy.

Anyway, just a little something for when you're bored on a rainy day. You'll learn more than you did in high school History class, and pick up some awesome nuggets of filth to amaze your friends at parties. Knowing where we've been gives one a new fascination for where the hell it is we're going.

Like an episode of Springer, we're at times funny, sad, disturbing and/or incomprehensible, and we can sure as hell take a chair to the head and keep on swinging. Hell, we're so drunk, we didn't even feel it! Jerry, Jerry Jerry! I mean, U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

Topic number two: Michael J. Fox is my hero. That's it. That dude is a fucking hoss, and I wouldn't be surprised if he PERSONALLY cured Parkinson's and then kicked it in the balls, Alex P. Keaton style. You rock, McFly.

No comments:

Post a Comment