Let us be lovers we'll marry our fortunes together"
"I've got some real estate here in my bag"
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner pies
And we walked off to look for America
I have lived in a number of places: Farmingdale (NY), North Miami Beach (FL), Orlando (FL), Long Beach (Ca), San Diego (Ca), Manassas (Va), Jacksonville (FL), West Palm Beach (FL), and now Sebring (FL). I have made the observation that people in each of these places (and the many more that I have just visited for a fair amount of time) think they represent the country. That is, many (if not most) in each of these places think they are America.
In a sense, of course, they are. But not entirely, they are simply a part of the mosaic that is the USA. But they think that everyone in every other place in the country thinks and believes as they do; or at least the majority of those people agree with them.
T'ain't so. But you knew that, didn't you?
We are a diverse lot; conservative, liberal, all shades between the two, rural-minded, city-folk, work-aholics, lazy people, entrepreneurs, laborers, rich, poor, and on some sliding scale in between.
But we tend to cluster; herd-minded, we find ourselves associating with the like-minded. This makes it easier to believe you are in the majority. After all, everyone around you seems to feel the same way as you, don't they?
Don't you wonder who these people are who voted for [insert disliked politician's name here] since you don't know anyone who did? It's because you have greatly limited your social circle. Oh, sure, if you are conservative, you have a liberal friend or two. And if you are liberal then you have a conservative friend. It's because we enjoy the company of like-minded people. Nothing wrong with that, who wants to argue or walk on eggshells all the time?
But it also means you have narrowed your world a bit and, in doing that, narrowed your America. It becomes easier to view this country as "them and us."
My friends are mostly conservative. It's to be expected; a small town, rural and southern, will attract and welcome that ideology. But they are working class types and many are fiercely pro-union and often vote Democratic. It's an interesting dichotomy to observe. They probably were Reagan Democrats. Some of it depends on where they retired, where they lived most of their lives.
What I really enjoy is the way each of them assumes they know what the America people want and need. I even agree with some points of most of them.
When I was a young lad living in North Miami Beach (a place that was not on the beach and was really northwest of Miami Beach), I watched it change from a tourist area to a large, sprawling metropolitan region. Dade County is now Miami-Dade County. There are still a batch of small towns and cities in that area but they are pretty much swallowed up into greater Miami. One of the changes that happened early on was the New York-ization of the area. As more and more New Yorkers moved into the area, the accent changed from southern cracker to a kind of mishmash of Bronx and Brooklyn-ese. I also saw high rise condo complexes sprout up like mushrooms all over the area. Followed by huge shopping malls. They left New York and the metropolitan crowdedness and then wanted it all around them again.
In the early 60's the influx of Cuban emigres fleeing Castro's "socialist paradise" changed the complexion quite a bit. Instead of a southern or New York accent, the prevailing tongue sounded Hispanic. A lot of resistance to that change, let me tell you. I wished there had been as much against the onslaught of Northerners. Which is ironic since that was where I came from. But I had adopted and adapted and I had lived in a small town, far from the Big City. I don't think most do that when they move, they miss what they left.
We should change the places we go to... just by the fact that we're there. But that change should be subtle, not overwhelming. Miami became Little Havana, more of a Latin American city than a North American one. We've always had such things. People want to live where they neighbors speak and think like they do themselves. So we have had Italian sections, Irish sections, Greek enclaves,China towns, Mexican barrios, and so on.
The result is that we don't really assimilate when we do that. We retain our cultures and keep ourselves separate. Should we? Should we not try to melt into the larger picture?
A Night Unremembered
2 years ago