By contributing writer Kevin Chang
Smell that in the air? It’s that sweet yet salty aroma, flavorful yet bitter and with just a hint of formaldehyde. It’s the smell of ejaculate and regret (not unlike my bed sheets) with a side of cheese fries. It’s the scent of burning crosses and the fiery passion passed down by our forefathers and their black mistresses.
That’s the smell of America, baby. And we’ve just finished celebrating the best damn day to be an American of them all: the Fourth of July. It’s a holiday so important we need four days just to recover from it—a time known as “July 4th Weekend.”
Some of you may be familiar with July 4th, probably because it’s the day that Jesus came down and proclaimed us winners, past and present, of a worldwide game no one knew they were playing. But we knew. He handed out guns and right-wing conservatism as our prizes and quickly fled, because as impressive as he sounds in the Good Book, our Messianic friend just looks like a dirty hippie in real life. And since we spend 365 days a year kicking ass and taking names, sometimes we just need some time for ourselves. We need a day off to celebrate our origins and the men who made this beautiful and morbidly obese country possible. We need July 4th.
I’ve been told the perfection of our kingdom began since dinosaurs have walked the earth. For some reason, those beasts that lived on the hallowed ground that would soon become ours grew bigger and stronger than the others. They were kind of loud, roared in a pointedly ignorant way, and for a brief period of time decreed that the votes of those dinosaurs of a darker hue were only worth 2/3rds of the votes of the other dinosaurs. Also, they made fun of herbivores mercilessly. Since I believe in creationism this story rings false, but it’s good to know that even the heathens who haven’t yet found the way to God still understand that our country was destined for greatness.
Every year Chicago holds a weeklong “Taste of Chicago,” an event which is just what it sounds like—a literary celebration of the long-standing traditions of local librarians. And by “literary” I mean “drunken” and by “local librarians” I mean “sweaty drunkenness.” Thousands upon thousands of rednecks, minorities, and incredibly misled tourists pour into a park that violates every law of physics by becoming smaller as the week wears on. By the night of July 3rd you’re so closely pressed against your fellow man that unwanted pregnancy is inevitable, and half of the city can describe the texture of your taint in vivid detail. It’s an abortionist’s dream holiday.
The more I think about it, this shitshow event perfectly reflects the values of the Juggernaut (my little pet name for our empire). The Taste offers a variety of heart-stopping treats from across the world, foods that we’ve blatantly stolen from other countries and more than that, blown up to absurd proportions and offered at half the price. In other words, progress. The Taste offers everything from beef to ribs, hamburgers to meat hash, corn-flavored pork to pork-flavored corn. In other words, variety.
It also brings together people from all walks of life—everybody from college students with nothing to do, unfathomably large Hispanic families with nothing to do, poor people with nothing to do, and the entirety of the African-American population of Chicago and its outlying suburbs with nothing to do. I don’t know what it is about explosions of light in the air, but minorities love their fireworks. Also, the Taste once invaded another festival in Indiana under the false pretense that the festival was harboring fireworks of their own. Our bad.
Throw in cheap alcohol, cheap women, and infrequent infighting and you’ve got the perfect metaphor for the United States. Better yet, throw in the people who will laugh at this article and then you might have the best metaphor of them all. Because sure, America’s got its problems (like simply being too fucking awesome), but our ability to laugh at ourselves and everything else too gives us an edge that most people don’t understand. We’re like the bipolar cousin in your family that makes you giggle hysterically and then cry just as quickly. Our capacity for switching between lightheartedness and dead seriousness in an instant is unrivaled, and that makes us unpredictable and oh-so-fucking attractive. Do you think people in Germany joke about the Holocaust? Do you think the Chinese have a word for “poot”? And yet jokes about slavery are commonplace, and if a day goes by without me making a joke about rape or molestation, bury me because I’m probably dead.
We’re the best of the worst, the worst of the best, and we’ve got so much potential and just as much laziness to match it. We’re the land of untold wealth and broken dreams. We’re every bad stereotype you’ve ever heard, and more progressive than you’ll ever imagine.
We’re America. Deal with it.