Thursday, June 29, 2006

Back From Vacation

Just after Christmas The Viscountess looked over at me from behind her laptop and decreed,

“We won’t have enough money for a vacation this year.”

“Bloody Shite,” I muttered. “Maybe we can get away for a weekend?”

“Maybe.”

A couple nights later she said,

“I’m going to win us a vacation. I downloaded some software that keeps track of contests that you have entered. I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks after dinner surfing the ‘net for vacation contests.”

“Okaaaay….”

And for the next week or so, that is exactly what she did. I’d see her tapping away on her laptop, cursing because the auto fill wasn’t working correctly or shaking her head because she stumbled upon a timeshare scam.

A couple weeks later we were inundated with brochures.

“Hawaiian Getaways!”
“Come to the Keys!”
“Kentucky Vacations.”

It must have been sometime in March when she messaged me at work:

TheViscountess: I did it! I won us a vacation!

Al: Really? Where? Italy? Bermuda?

TheViscountess: Er, nothing like that.

Al: Well, where then?

TheViscountess: The Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.

Al: Ok. They want to sell us a timeshare or a condo, right?

TheViscountess: That is what I thought! But no, it is legitimate. I spoke to the lady at the chamber of commerce and everything. 3 nights at our own cottage, meal cards at local restaurants, and passes to the attractions.

***

The cottage was beautiful. It had a full kitchen, 2 full baths, TV with DVD player and a Hot Tub. The first full day we were there, it rained. We went to “Forbidden Caverns” then we saw “The Great China Circus.” Both were excellent things to do on a rainy day in the Smoky Mountain region of Tennessee.


That night, we went to Gatlinburg for dinner and then walked the shops.

That is when it hit me.

Hard.

I am not an American. I mean, not really. I was born and raised in the suburbs of NY City. That is not America.

Gatlinburg is America. Confederate flags. American Flags. Tattoos. Obnoxious t-shirts. Body piercings. Country music. Profanity. Obesity.

And Jesus.

Everywhere.
Jesus. People saying "grace" before meals. Crucifix's. Fish. Bumper-stickers. "God Bless America."
Everywhere you look.

Gatlinburg, TN. is America, and it makes perfect sense that George Bush is their president. Who else would be?
I know when it comes to Christianity and religion, I'm in the minority and I have to learn to live with it, but I can't for the life of me come to some kind of closure regarding the fact that the actual culture of Christianity in America is in direct contradiction to the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus was the ultimate pacifist. He had compassion for the poorest people, and held rich people in contempt. While I do know Christians who actually respect the teachings of Jesus, the actual Culture of Christianity in the American South is pro-war, pro-gun, and it celebrates selfishness and greed. It is a Culture of Hypocrisy. I just have to learn to live with blatant contradiction...
***
Anyway, we had a real nice time, and I'm thankful that we had the opportunity to go. We relaxed - just the two of us and it was a great couple of days.

4 Comments:

Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

My only trip to Tennesse, and it included the Great Smokey Mts, was when I was a kid, in 1967.

I honestly don't remember any kind of culture shock, even coming as I was from the suburbs of Connecticut.

But 2006 is not 1967, and I think our Dear Leaders have fostered the ugly culture you saw - validated it in its entirety, contradictions and all - in the meantime.

And it's far more widespread than it used to be, even into my suburban hometown and out here in "liberal" Massachusetts.

Just get a few miles out from a northeastern city and you see all of the same stuff you mentioned: NASCAR hats, offensive t-shirts, Confederate flags, etc. The growing pile of junk that constitutes American culture.

7:59 AM  
Blogger Soundsurfr said...

Careful, Viscount, don't drink the Kool Aid. The religious right would like you to think that the culture of Gatlinburg, Tennessee IS America, but it's not.

America is a religious and cultural plurality, and while one culture may be represented by a large number of people, all aspects of American culture are equally American. Metropolitan NY City is as American as apple pie. As are the left-wing states of New England, the liberal bastions of Washington State and Oregon, the gayest areas of San Francisco, the Cubano barrios in Miami, and the Japanese subdivisions in Hawaii.

The religious right would love to convince you that they're the Americans and you're the outsider, but don't let them do it. It's an illusion, as dangerous as it is false.

12:11 PM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Sound:

Easy for you to say from the comfort of Queens...

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Decatur Dem said...

I'm with Soundsurfr.
I'm something like 6th generation Georgian (that's Crackro-American to you!), from before the American Revolution, with Confederates in the family tree, and I yield to no redneck flag waving knuckle dragger from Tennessee or anywhere else. But My America includes New Mexico reservations and Boston patrician Mayflower descendants and New Bedford Portuguese and South Carolina Gullah speakers and Chicago Italians and Greeks in Astoria, Queens and Lafayette Cajuns (got one of those in the family tree, too) and San Francisco Chinese lesbian vegan animal rights advocates and ANYONE who's willing to do their part to help this troubled country live up to its high, but often neglected, ideals. Those ideals are laid out in the familiar secular Holy Writ of the U.S.-- the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, as well as other canonical works like the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln's inaugural speeches, the writings of Martin Luther King, and JFK's inaugural address. It's a wonderful plan, it's a work in progress and always will be. The goal will be always just out of reach (or sometimes, like now, seemingly almost unachievable), but it's a goal worth the effort.

I love this country, and I mean to try to help the grand experiment succeed for one more generation. Gatlinburg is no more or less America than Seattle or New Orleans or Sugarland, TX. Anyone who tells you they know where "Real America" is, and where it isn't, is conning you. Don't buy it.

9:19 PM  

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