This is my first posting to this blog, and it is as if I’m a brand new being embarking on a new life since I’m, like, so repressed, and am not used to speaking my mind, because I’ve always feared retribution, whether from God, society, family, or whatever.
I feel like Lester Burnham in “American Beauty” who decided to be his own man for the first time in his life. He told his boss to go take a hike, got fired because of this, bought the car he always wanted, and just generally let go.
Being suddenly free in an unfree society, it was inevitable that Lester would not live long, and he didn’t, courtesy of a bullet fired from the gun of a red-blooded fightin’ Marine of a neighbour. And Lester didn’t seem surprised when he was dying, saying that everything had been perfect.
Do you remember the film “Easy Rider”? If so, you may recall the scene when the three riders, Wyatt (Peter Fonda), Billy (Dennis Hopper) and George Hanson (Jack Nicholson) are on the road in the Deep South, and stop in at a café in a small town. Because they look like hippies - and so are everything real Americans shouldn’t be – the waiter ignores them, and they are the objects of hostile remarks coming from a group of locals sitting at a near-by table.
The three riders get the message and, with stomachs still empty, depart the town quickly. When they are preparing to sleep at the roadside later that evening, they talk about what happened in the café, and wonder why they should have evoked so much hostility. George says that because most people are unfree, they will automatically hate anyone who represents freedom to them.
Which raises the question: Are today’s Americans a free people, the ones who live in the suburbs, who fight the good fight and run the straight race in their daily lives of quiet despair, who click their heels each time their Dear Leader, George Bush, decides he wants to invade somewhere else, who spit out their inchoate rage at all that is un-American?
Are they the true descendents of the Americans of the nineteenth century, the ones who couldn’t settle down, and so headed west and opened up the frontier? Perhaps the true descendents of the pioneers are the ones now living on the edge of society, the vagrants who just can’t fit in to modern bourgeois America. Unfortunately for them, there is no more frontier, so they must drink away their lives in gin-joints, and die alone amid the garbage in the back-alleys in all the towns in Nowhere USA.
In the spirit of the pioneers, I’m raising the flag of freedom, but I will have to become a non-person to do so. So you won’t know who I am, but I’ll be all around wherever you look. I may be the guy playing the guitar on the sidewalk. I may be the bum asking you for spare change. I may be the dog scavenging among garbage cans in an alley on a Saturday night. I may be the breeze you hear sighing in the trees. I may be in the restless thoughts which keep you awake at night. I may be anyone anything anywhere.
Wherever you will be, I will be also.