Thursday, May 07, 2020
Seven Years. You?
I was going through some papers and stumbled across my little hound's American Kennel Club registration forms. Turns out he's seven years old, going on eight. I thought he was a good bit younger than that. Time flies.
Then I realized it's been seven, going on eight years, since I was last in the United States. I went to meet an old friend, an Australian woman in Port Townsend, Washington, who breeds beagles. She had a puppy waiting for me. I bundled the pub in a crate, drove to Port Angeles and caught the last ferry to Victoria.
I used to love visiting the States, or at least the coastal states. Many times I rode my motorcycles down the Pacific Coast Highway, down into southern California - a couple of times into southern Mexico. It's such a beautiful ride. Then I sort of went off it, back when Bush/Cheney soured my affection for that country. I did one, perhaps two rides during the Obama era but I found the country had changed. A lot of Americans sure weren't happy to have a black guy in the Oval Office. Things started turning creepy.
Since Trump's inauguration I have had no interest, not so much as a tinge, in going down there. I stay in touch with my friends in Washington and Oregon by phone.
That's my deal. What about you? Do you still "cross the line"? If you still go, where and why?
I know that I may never see America again. I used to feel connected. I had relatives there. My best friend is there. I met him when I did my undergrad in Michigan back when Christ was still a lowly corporal. Even during Viet Nam I understood Americans and I liked them. But now it's like there's an invisible Berlin Wall that divides us.
How has your relationship with America changed, if at all?
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2006 for me. Me and a friend had booked a 10AM tee time at Point Roberts Golf Club. We arrived at the border @ 9:40. The guard asked us the usual questions, including our tee time. He then asked us to park, called us inside, and proceeded to keep us sitting there until 10:15. When he let us go, I remember thinking to myself " Okay. If you don't want our money, then go to hell" We caught up with the guys we were playing with on the 4th tee. I was in a blind rage for most of the round
I actually considered emigrating to the US in the late 90s. I have worked in the US at times but other than a work trip I could not avoid a couple of years ago I have not been to the US since 2010. My reason, an overly agressive and threatening customs search in the San Fran airport. Never regretted not going back.
Throught the mid sixties to 1980 I raced boats mostly New York, New Jersey etc. For the next couple of decades we would drive to Lake Placid for dinner at a Mexican restaurant and into Vermont to look around. I had American friends and contacts.
911 did it. Bush went crazy, Border Security went crazy and much of America went crazy. My wife sais she was never going ' there ' again and we haven't.
I have been RV,ing down the Oregon coast for the last five years.
Not sure it will happen again as I don't trust the US to take even the most basic precautions over Covid19.
I too have fallen victim of the G I Joe's at the border a nasty bunch they are.
There are too many flags and guns characterized by stores with names like Fred's second hand and guns, Jennies crochet supplies and guns!
This against a back drop of more people with mobility issues than I have seen outside a hospital.; must be their best in the world health care.
Much of present day USA started with GW Bush who loaded his government and military with born again Christians who are now well established.
I guess we have heard the last of the Cascadia concept?
The last time we were in the U.S. was 2016. My son arranged for us to enjoy a four-day visit to Southern California, a trip I had longed to make when I was young. It was great.
Then we went to Cleveland (to use up some Air Miles points at a hotel when it seemed Air Miles was going to gobble up our unused points). It was just a few days before they elected Trump. I shall likely never returned to that benighted country, and certainly not as long as that oaf is in office.
I wonder if this fracture will be lasting? When the Berlin Wall came down, many West Germans looked forward to a quick and seamless reunification with their countrymen from the East only to discover that, for many, they had become irreconcilably distinct. West Germans came to view the East Germans as shiftless, parasites, a drain on the West. Then they watched the rise of the far right, mainly from the ranks of the East. It has turned into a lasting problem.
Could something along those lines be in our future?
Yeah TB: The US border people were OK but then they got guns. After that they all became arrogant , aggressive assholes.
TB, interesting that you mention mobility problems. On my post-9/11 travels through the States I too was struck at the number of people limping about in obvious need of a bit of surgical relief. Once you begin to notice them you're shocked to realize they're everywhere. Just another sad and inexcusable health outcome in a nation that spends, per capita, well more than any other.
SoCal is indeed a place of great beauty, Lorne whether you're along the coast or the inland desert. It is sad to watch it in decline.
Right enough, Rumley. After 9/11 they retired all the old guys and replaced them with young bodybuilder types, the 'in your face' kind. Nothing is more welcoming than menace.
The bastards stole my lunch out of my RV fridge.
Never forgive them for that.
I was in NYC in February on business - the first time in years. Soldiers carrying carbines patrolled LaGuardia. It was a far cry from the days when flashing an Ontario driver's licence got you a friendly "welcome to the USA" from the border guards.
Now you join the herds of travellers in a 2-hour wait to clear customs at Pearson - with a passport or Nexus card. People in line panic as they hear their flight's final boarding call. Some try to cut ahead and are brutally sent to the back of the line. I was lucky a buddy tipped me off about the wait, so I arrived in plenty of time.
Before 9/11, I used to go to the States regularly for pleasure - hockey and ball games, concerts, booze ups, family functions, shopping and sight-seeing. Since then, nothing. I'll go if I'm paid, but not on my own dime. For the hassle involved, there's much better and safer places to go.
They stole your lunch, TB? As the kids on SouthPark say whenever someone kills Kenny - "bastards"
It sounds like a bad case of 'Constipated Traveller', Cap. My parents had a lovely house on the Canadian side of Lake St. Clair. I'd often run over to Grosse Point to collect my buddy for a day of fishing. No one bothered with formalities like customs. Today the Yanquis patrol those waters in high-powered hard-bottom inflatables armed with a "Ma Deuce" on the pintel. Imagine a guy swinging John Moses Browning's pride and joy at you.
Thug Life, Cap.
2000 for me. At the time I was running a web site I'd designed for a Nashville composer and singer, Kate Campbell. Nope, not country music, a history prof with a helluva voice I'd met in my folk music rambles into the States with different friends. What a character, she could do various Southern accents by region! Her father had headed the Southern Baptist Conference and ahe was married to a pastor, but drank beer like a trooper. I went to see her performance in Blue Hill Maine the last time I ever went to the USA. Then Bush happened, and the US folkies themselves were warning about him. Went nearly every year through the North east states during the 1990s, and it became clear who got the good arable land and it wasn't the Maritimes! Lovely country west and north of the big cities.
From the late 1970s till 1990, went nearly every year to indulge in my hobby of 1/8 scale radio controlled car racing at the Nationals. Different and a lot more advanced than the junk you see these days. I ran Italian equipment. We mounted three or four vehicle Canadian expeditions meeting at the race venue, vacationing otherwise. Great times, although nobody ever minded getting back at the end of a trip - Americans are foreigners all right and remarkably uninformed. Got lost in a Detroit ghetto once, but the locals who looked and acted threateningly at our palefaces were in fact charmed by our story of being from somewhere they'd never heard of, licence plate Nova Scotia. gave us directions and waved as we left. Never got farther West than Boise Idaho in the US itself.
Too bad. Even in my travel days, obesity was everywhere, and Chicago was an iffy place outside the Mag Mile. Never did get to California and now never will. It has become a very odd place in my mind's eye, unfairly or not. Have friends in Astoria Oregon. They come here to visit, part of the the old university crowd of Viet Nam resisters from NYC in the '60s.
Had a few longer interviews at the US borders over the years, when I said I was Canadian, but my accent gave away being born in England upon further questioning. Teletypes would clack away, and they'd read them and let me go. Pretty relaxed, really. One time, an older Customs agent allowed as to how he'd been born just outside Oxford in England himself and wanted a chat. No real hassles. Today, the regime, if I may call it that, seems to actively discourage tourists. Not friendly. Fine, I'll stay here, it's not a penalty box.
.. my needs and interests are simple.. also.. nobody hires me to shoot big mountain winter sport anymore, with a 150 large $ Digital Betacam.. they fake it via iPhones. Regrets re my bye bye to the USA ? Mebbe Yellowstone & the Florida Keys.. which I will never see.. Hawaii. I am always drawn to Canada.. Thinking this year to revisit Banff National Park & Tofino, Quebec City - Lower Town. Give me and the Boss another year or two and mebbe we will do a John Steinback - Travels With Charlie trip.. a 1 ton pickup with camper we can live out of.. or a new fangle Mercedes van.. do the same.. she can't sit still though.. and I excel at it. Her two savage little dawgs are a prob. I get a pretty free ride at the border.. so does she. Something in my MOT transcript says I'm golden, and she has her own golden pass as does anyone in her road crews.
The USA reminds me of Alberta.. I have ZERO prob with Americans or Albertans.. its how their country or Province behaves that really, truly P's me off. But then I feel the same way about Ontario.. its all about the politics.. and I never had a problem with local riff raff - A - I don't attract them - and - B - they're easily disposed of. I think it just slipped in one day that to me, the USA was a no-go. The Boss will fly on short notice to catch a Pirates or Steelers game.. or her beloved St Louis Blues.. hell, she was bored the other night and watched a replay of their Stanley Cup Parade.. I've seen the CUP hoisted by George Armstrong - The Chief.. and handed to Johnny Bower.. so I aint deprived.. & we named her youngest mutt King Clancy.. if she buys another, she can officially name it Mazeroski.. after one of her heroes
Realistically, she has to deal with the USA daily.. I do not.. So far, so good.. we fly over John Prine's lamented Muhlenberg County, Kentucky.. and gape at its missing mountain tops.. but when we arrive at the Turks & Caicos we forget about Trump / Hannity Inc & their dirty little lives.. If they really need to be such snivelling assholes.. why worry.. close the border to Trump & family, to Mitch McConnell etc.. no explanation.. just deny them access to Canada
There's a sense of estrangement, Sal, that is weakening the "cousins" thing. It's hard for me to imagine a reconciliation anytime soon.
I sometimes wonder if what's underway in the US is part and parcel of what once dominant economies/empires undergo as they stall out and begin to decline.
The most recent case, of course, is the UK. It took the Brits nearly a century and two world wars to come off their perch and they went through no end of weirdness, especially in the early years of their decline. When you're Top Dog you can come to believe that's almost gawd-given, a natural order prescribed by the heavens. To imagine anything else is blasphemous. That sounds like Victorian England.
I have a book around here somewhere that chronicles the history of the roller coaster of empires and how that's experienced by the peoples of those countries. I'll try to find it.
The last time I was in the US was 2014. I spent time with a friend in near Austen. I was turned of by all the very poor people I saw. They were making 7.25 an hour and teachers were making a lot less than Canadians. I have not seen so many people with bad teeth since. Anyong
I find it interesting, Anyong, how many of us have stopped seeing the US as a brooding, intimidating place.
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