While dishing out what seemed to be millions of scoops of ice cream to the never-ending throng of celebratory Americans lined up today to obtain their 4th of July creamy treat, a comical image appeared in my mind of Thomas Jefferson snacking on a bowl of red white and blue cupcake sprinkles in between quill strokes while writing the declaration. The cafe was adorned with patriotic balloons, and not surprisingly the only sprinkles requested on this holy day were the "American ones!" I even slipped a few into my take home dish of lemon and grapefruit sorbet. They actually are surprisingly flavorful. Every small town in America experiences the downtown parade and festival to celebrate this countries independence; a glorious time of parking lot migraines in the clever dance to avoid the parking ticket. Success in the State workers lot, no work for the many on a Federal holiday. There is no shame in the mundane commercial celebration of America, every country celebrates their own and the United States has as much right. America came of its own so that Americans would not have to answer to anyone but themselves, to just live as they are. The boys would be pleased to know that their vision has statically carried this country through 231 fourths. Sort of.
It's too easy to catch an American in naivety, ask any number of street goers a simple poll question, such as "why did the US declare Independence from the Crown?" and you will indubitably receive, "Oppression, taxation without representation, exploitation, and most likely TEA." That is, if you are lucky enough to get an answer other than "Freedom", or more likely "is this for an MTV or FOX show?" Chances are one most likely would not hear an explanation tiered economically, politically, and culturally, resting on re-emergent principles born of enlightenment thinkers such as Locke, Condorcet, and Montisquieu, nor would one ever accredit the break to a collection of verbose tax evaders. Say what? After all, why wouldn't a colony pay taxes to their government? I am not anti-American, just pro-real American. The John Hancock "stick it" is no secret to be that of an angry businessman. Patriotic notions of freedom, and independence of a separate people undoubtedly melanged into the revolution, but at the crudest level, America was and has maintained the identity of unified tax evaders! I do not view this as a cynical angle, just a different one. (Insert break here: the hosts of family 4th of July fireworks program on NBC Seattle version just stated "I am all for teaching kids US history through home decor, like cupcakes and pinwheels!" Priceless, and yet something deep inside me just died. I think I need more crust-less all American apple pie.)
America has not strayed far from the principles TJ (ehem, Thomas Jefferson) embraced while outlining the declaration, the country "America" began as organic with the promise of continual change and evolution. As such I cannot decide whether Thomas Jefferson would be more confused over the massive amount of red white and blue sprinkles consumed atop cupcakes and ice cream cones annually, or the fact that a brewing company boasts the name of Samuel Adams, who in his own time was publicly known to have left the family ale industry from lack of skill in the trade. Ah, I prefer to imagine the three of us sitting around a backyard fire pit caught in a deep laugh about it all, while sipping Sam's summer ale in an effort to settle the undigested barbecue before digging into the bubbling apple pie. The occasional jump at the fire pops emerging from the nearby Indian reservation whose profitable fireworks sales have created a well deserved cause for celebration is the only thing distracting us from our jovial fireside bash. The notion of the Native American population fervently celebrating the nation's independence, however, might be a trifle puzzling to the founding generation, but with a few more Sam Adams, and a delightfully colorful light show in the sky, and all thought on the matter can be forgiven. To be American, I beleive is to roll with it all, to not maintain one identity, and to keep alive that one strain of thought that they too believed in: you can send your fashion trends, your shoe buckles and tea, your preachers and morals, but mess with the money, and we are through.
Crunching my sprinkles and coleslaw I return to my earlier thoughts; Jefferson may be dismayed by the state of Union at our present time, and the lack of care for knowledge of this country's past, but I am confident in the thought that TJ would like the sprinkles, and I am also confident that he would take them on a cupcake rather than on a cone. Commercialism is how America celebrates holidays, no shame, it is identity, and that is what the revolutionary generation fought for--a distinct identity regardless of exactly what it embodies. So instead of bitchin' about it, accept it and enjoy the sparklers and a crisp cool Sam Adams lager. Good night America, and f0r God's sake I wish you good luck.