17.10.12

A America*


Red, white, blue's in the skies,
Summer's in the air and baby,
Heaven's in your eyes.

Lana del Rey (Born to die, 2012)


Lana del Rey did it again. She wrote the perfect pop song. As all her work, Ride is about legendary America, the one that resists change, although change is not an option (but legends don't change). In her new song Lana del Rey makes us dream a little bit harder -still-. She haunts us with her dramatic powers and her impossible beauty made in America. Why impossible? Because war is over, kids. Get over it. No more pretty housewives for the childlike and brave soldiers. No more blood, please. Wait, maybe the future is not coming too soon yet. I wonder for how long this forever young thing will prevail. Don't get me wrong. I love America. Young America. Smiley peers, talent everywhere, crazy -healthy!- individualism and freedom. I miss living there. I wanted to live there since I was a kid and my American relatives, who lived and still live in Los Angeles, brought us gifts: perfume, clothes, chewing gum and, once, a mini-rocket decorated with the colors of the national flag. All those presents had a peculiar smell that spoke of a foreign, far away land. I didn't forget that smell and as soon as it was possible I moved to California, first, and to New York, later, where I was finally able to confirm that the USA really smelled different, sweet and spicy. And to discover that the towels were softer, the buildings were huge, and so the cars, and pretty much everything. People were also different from the people I knew. I drank green tea latte and smoothie and ate oatmeal and ginger cookies. My lifestyle had nothing to do with my previous European lifestyle. If I had to use one word to describe that American way of life I'd choose the word easy

This was not always good. For instance, Americans cashiers had the habit to put two plastic bags, a bag over another, for your purchase at the supermarket, no matter how small the purchase. This always struck me. But no one else were surprised. Most people were not at all concerned about the problems on planet Earth, they seemed to live in their own petit monde, white, red and blue, the colors of the American Dream. (They happen to be the colors of the République Française, too. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, anyone?)

This is slowly changing. I relocated to Europe but was able to visit the States months ago. The last time I went to New York and San Francisco, only one bag was offered to me, and that was the norm everywhere I looked. I think that many things have shifted, because the feeling on the air was not the same. What I experienced on my first travels was a dreamlike atmosphere, like being in an eventual happy picture by David Lynch, a very luminous one (as the sun just before setting). You could see that on the long avenues, movie theaters, bus, conversations; while the last time something more sober, still exuberant, was settling. I believe that I have known a world that's now disappearing, and you don't need to have lived in NYC to acknowledge that fact. Futile consumerism can't persist. Much of the actual foundation must fade to leave way to new certainties. It can't be ignored. We need to find hope in ourselves, not in things.

If only the American Dream would turn into a Universal Dream. Then every color would be included. Until then, I will regret the way many Americans say, and think, that they live in the world's best country. I never believed in countries. 

Would I be right? I miss America. I love America. Not the America of the passports (that's the US) but of the plains and downtown trains, in Market Street and Russian Hill, and of the bridges, yes, and of the people I adore that still live or have moved out, like Net, who is back to Indonesia. The spiritual home. Bob Dylan's land. Marilyn's, in a better world.

I relocated to Europe. A part of me is American. A part of me is a wild lost star. I only like Lana del Rey's sad songs. No, dreams don't die, but what about illusions.


Lana del Rey (from Born To Die: The Paradise Edition, 2012)

*America as a country, not a continent, is a poetic license.

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