Saturday, July 4, 2009

USA! (<===irony)

I was at a wedding today. Yes, I know, it's July 4th. Odd time for a wedding. But there it is. Some holiday observations:

  • It's a terrible burden for me to be somewhere in a crowd of people whom I don't know. I'm not the least concerned about this in crowds at games, concerts, church, movies. It's not the crowd part that's uncomfortable for me. Not at all. It's the socializing part. A wedding reception is a social event. You sit at tables with people, and you have to talk to them. I have little or nothing to say to strangers, especially if . . .
  • . . . the wedding reception has not one discernible drop of alcohol, save the champagne the bride and groom sipped oh so delicately as part of the severely scripted event. Everything was on a schedule. Let me say this about that: I come from south Louisiana, New Orleans and Baton Rouge. You don't have a gathering of more than three people down there without alcohol. And you would risk social ostracism and perhaps a visit from a shrink if you threw a wedding celebration without alcohol. Wedding receptions? Hell, these are over when they're over. It's certainly most unnatural to have a wedding reception on some kind of schedule: this special dance, cake cutting, toasts, another special dance, now we're going to have the bouquet toss . . . give me a break! Wedding receptions are supposed to be spontaneous and noisy. Loud music, loud people. At times today, you could have mistaken the gathering for a funeral.
  • There are 84 houses in the little corner of suburbia I live in. A number of these are flying the flag today, of course. As you know, or might have guessed. I don't fly the flag. I think the flag is flown and waved way too much in this country. It's what defines our patriotism: waving the flag. I don't regard waving the flag, flying the flag, worshiping the flag, treating the flag like it was the Eucharist, as patriotism. Flags are symbols of the globe's national states. The national state is useless as a way of organizing people. By definition, it makes your nation superior to other nations. No one would think of saying that your race makes you superior to another, so why does another accident of birth make you superior? Patriotism has other unfortunate tendencies. It almost always stokes "love of country" to the point where you will kill somebody just because "your country" tells you to. But the point of this bullet is that of all the houses I could be residing next to, I reside next to a dude that's got a frigging flag pole that flies the flag every day. Every day. Today there are a slew of red, white, and blue decorations all over the yard in addition to the obligatory flag. USA! USA! USA!
  • Ended the day watching a DVD of Richard Wagner's Sigfried--that's four hours to end the day. I don't know which is more compelling: the magnificent music or the desire you feel to have the story move along a lot faster than it does. Nothing is slower to happen than something substantial in a Wagnerian opera. And Sigfried is notoriously slow to get off the runway.
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