Friday, September 16, 2011

Flying to NYC on 09.11.11 Finds a Paranoid, Manipulated and Depressed Nation Upon Arrival

Those little town blues
Flying from Asia to New York is punctuated by an announcement on the PA from the pilot leaving Taiwan that says they are required by US law to tell passengers that they are not allowed to congregate in groups of more than two, anywhere on the aircraft during flight. It is only a small notion of the American paranoia to follow. You don't hear that going to China. On the flight from San Fran to NYC the first sign that America is in deep shit is that there is no free food on the flight as there had been from Saigon to Taipei and Taipei to San Francisco. Nope. You can buy a breakfast cookie for $3 on American Airlines or a limp shrink-wrapped croissant with ham and cheese for $6. It sucks. Welcome to the good ole US of A. Time to pay for everything - including the free-everywhere-else carts that you use to get your luggage out of the airport. In America, those cost $5. In Europe, Asia and Africa, all of which I visited in the past two years, they are free - and supported by advertising on said carts. "Sorry, we're fresh out of money in America because all the war and shit over the past 10 years", reads the idea and fresh out of things like 'freedom' and 'liberty' too according to the press I read.

The New Yorker Magazine does a whole issue on the 10th anniversary of 9-11 and it's not exactly a love story - having a cigarette with a guy who works stocking coolers at one of the restaurants in San Francisco's airports he says, "Do you think they really killed Bin Laden?" He doesn't believe it. The New York Times Sunday Book Review features a story by Thomas L. Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum called, "That Used To Be Us" on America's slumping economy and lack of current innovation. 10 years of war are killing something, obviously. Obama is chided for curating George Bush's legacy by and it's pretty damn tough to find any optimism at all on the way into America. Excellent time to go back methinks:)

You might find the Europeans grousing about Greece and the Asians grousing about, well, not much at all, but it's more than plain to see that at least the American intelligentsia are none too happy about a decade of fascist rule and covert spying on the populace. Dana Priest and William M. Arkin investigate "Top Secret America" for The Washington Post and find a world of secret police on steroids as a response to 9-11 - ten years after the fact. As far as I'm concerned, I have nothing to hide and nowhere to go but up. It will be interesting to see how I can gravitate openly and vertically in a nation that seems to be wallowing in being spied upon, manipulated and downtrodden by the big brothers that be.

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