Jul 24, 2010

The Smaller and Bigger Journeys We Undertake

Life is a journey, with unclear goals, unfolding towards an unknown destination. Everything about it is just so strange, so mesmerizing, so awe.
The way people live their lives, the things they do, the routes they follow, biological and social. Like a production line.
Meme phrases and knowledge frames plague the common mind, stereotypes, predictability, roles and models.
Life is to be lived in such a way that you create, contribute, not harm, advance and enjoy on the way. All comprised of smaller and bigger journeys that we all undertake. Journeys that bring transitions on the way, from within and from without.
The transition from childhood, to teenagehood and adultness is so amazing, so perplexing, confusing, maybe disenchanting at some point, a fun journey it is, full of impressions, experience and tons of new knowledge. Finding your place in this life can really be a hard thing to figure. Your best implication that will utilize the most out of you and bring you maximum fulfillment and satisfaction. Especially when your horizons are expanded wide and their skies filled with rebellious vibe. An unsettled soul that searches for something still not found, maybe it is the search for yourself that bothers and stirs from within. Between chapters in life, standing still in contemplation, in self-reflection and spiritual gestation towards ever progressing maturity and clarity in realization.

These three months in New York were a blast. Traveling in different places and meeting with new cultures is always so enriching with knowledge and experience. The experience grows you from within. Yeah, I grew a lot and learned a lot, gained new knowledge and wisdom in between. The time spent here was enriching indeed, even though a lot of negatives and tough emotions, still these were enriching too. A lot. I appreciate everything, the way it went to be and the way I stirred it. It is all interconnected, potentials pop up, you either take them or you don't, you either create them or you don't.

The last three weeks were a complete nut house. I haven't drank and hanged pointlessly so much since I was in my teens, really. It was pretty cool, very refreshing and unconventional. I saw the city from a pretty unique perspective, from the streets that is. The people on the streets, the signs, the messages, the street art, expressions and life. I got in touch with the vibe of NYC outside, the general vibe of its people in the bus, in the metro, on the streets, lol. At night there are mostly freaks, homeless people, criminals and general hanger-outs outside, along with us, who fit somewhere in between. Ah, crazy. There were a few days, if so, when we didn't drank. Tonight we went to Le Souk again, a pretty cool oriental-themed club with good music too. We visited a few other places as well, but mostly we just hanged outside on the streets, drinking and walking. A lot of walking, lol. Urban hiking is so fun, the coolest thing in new cities. The best way to feel the vibe of a city too. Oh yes, I loved New York. I still think the people are weird, weird they are, such a collective psychological machine, so weird. Anyway, the city, the action, the vibe, the architecture, I love it. I will definitely be back, at a more settled time of my life though.

Me and Samantha walked around some good time. We went to 242 Str. on Broadway, to Far Rockaway, lol, around Brooklyn and mostly a lot around downtown Manhattan. She is a walker alright, we met each other. We will meet again, later on. Same place, different time. My flight is due a few hours later on and I feel like nostalgic really. I always feel like that leaving new and interesting places. I felt like that leaving Dubai and Cairo too. I have to say that from both of these places, here i have the worst living conditions. Horrible, I don't think I can stand that old and grows house anymore, my clothes get saturated with its smell, terrific really. Oh yeah, smells. I got crazy with smells here, so weird. Amazingly weird, so many different, peculiar, funny and perplexing smells I haven't experienced anywhere else. So strange. Crazy. One of the crazy experiences I had here. I will miss Samantha and the city too. Michael.... I don't think so, though I will remember him. He brought these feelings in me, it is something that stays with you.. forever I guess. As much as "forever" can apply to the mere expanse of human life. Anyway, I will never see him again. But I will see Samantha, we made an agreement to meet each other here again after a few years, she will be more mature and me even more so, lol.

I have never spent so much time in McDonalds in my life so far, also. The venues of this fast food chain here are such interesting places to be, filled with all kinds of peoples from all over the world, noisy crowds, free WiFi and they also seem to have a tolerant policy towards hanger-ins, and also homeless people, which are often to be met sitting quietly or sleeping at some corner table at night. Such a unique atmosphere, I guess.

We hanged some good bit of time in and around Times Square too. Such a chaotic place, so hipnotizing with all these flashing banners, the hub place of commercialized culture. Which is not such a bad thing in the end, provided it is not that zombifying and legal-fraud-oriented. Like, the prices here are displayed without tax, so when you see a price, it is not what you will actually pay in the end. This is a strange thing. I mean, so deceptive and insincere. Elements like this are the negative part of the commercial culture here.

I have to go. Got to pack and wait for the landlord to give my security deposit back. He is kind of a jerk really. We have to pull out the weeds around the house as part of the rent, which is pretty weird. And the bead sheets didn't came clean too. Anyway, the housing here was horrible. I can't wait to sleep in my own bead at home, so sweet and comfy. Yeah, got to go, Bye NYC, see you again later on.

Jul 19, 2010

My American Journey. Summer 2010. A Travel Diary - Reminiscence of Teenagehood, Trashing Around

Looking through the window of McDonalds overlooking the Grand Central station across the street, there is a lot of commotion. There is no internet at home, so now I am seeking out wireless points, mostly at McDonaldses. All these people are so distracting, even if you try to ignore them. I am not very used to doing my daily surfing routine and write, even in the blog, surrounded with so much movement and crowds. A lot of motion on the streets, motor vehicles and pedestrians along with the occasional pigeon and squirrel. Yesterday I finally saw rats, two of them in the train station. It was close to midnight and there were just a few people waiting. You don’t see these notorious creatures during the day or maybe they don’t hide, but you just don’t see them because of the commuter crowds. There are a lot of squirrels in public parks and paranoid pigeons who always seem under strain.
New York, it is a big city, a vibrant one, filled with so many different peoples. A place of crossroads, where paths meet and converge. Where life paths cross for a moment amids the chaos, exchange knowledge, experience and emotion and then part again, each following its own destination.

I feel somewhat nostalgic about leaving New York after about two weeks from now. I messed things too much and don’t really have free time to stay longer. Maybe later on. Yeah, I will definitely be back, but next time it will be very different. So now just enjoy the most out of this first encounter with American culture in the Big apple and enjoy we do. Me, Samantha and Anna. I will miss them too.

Since the beginning of July I lived like I haven’t since my late teen years. Drinking every other day, doing crazy things, hanging around streets and parks and sleeping from the mornings on until early afternoons, lol, after a night out of drinking in and around the streets of Manhattan. We visited a few clubs too, though Samantha is underage and we can’t go to the real dance clubs, apart from a few. We tried Websters hall, but this place was really crowded, hot and messy, don’t think I’ll be back there again.

A lot of night clubs here have dress codes that require women to wear high heels in order to get in. Well, if this isn’t some kind of male fetish discrimination. I mean, how can you dance if you wear high hills?! This is just ridiculous and funny too, those women trying to move it with high heels on. Anyway, I don’t wear heels, even less so high and I am close to broke again, so I’m totally out of the scene, I guess, lol.

The past two weeks were tough, I haven’t drank so much since years ago. The other day, me and Sam went to a supposedly rock concert at Coney Island. The concert was dull and the music very weak, but it was crowded alright. A lot of young people, a lot of beer. We began drinking from three in the afternoon that day and finished off the last bottle of wine sometime after seven in the morning on the next day. And in between we wandered at Coney island, where I stole a bottle of beer from a grocery store, which I later broke in the train, due to a lack of properly controlled movements of the extremities. Incredible, I totally lost it here, my reasonability and mature behavior, lol.

But hey, experience is what counts and gains now, everything else is not that important. How fun. Then we went off to Times square, already quite drunk. There we met two guys “On the streets” as Samantha said on the next day when I asked her where we met those guys from yesterday, before my memory returned to me. The guys from the streets took us to a home party that turned out to be old classmates gathering, so our presence there was kind of awkward initially, but then we merged in the party. Afterwards me and Sam wandered around the streets in an attempt to go to the ferry station by walking, but I gave up on this and took the transport, then fell asleep in the bus and rode it to the last stop and had to go back. Drunken heads stories, but not with too serious excessions, of course.

Samantha still will get assignments at the more early-party clubs, so we can still go to some, though it would have been better if we were a group of friends, not strangers who just met there. Anyway, this way is fun too, all the prerequisite questions of new meetings are asked, everyone is jolly and slightly reserved. We are to explore more of New York in the week to come, trash around some more and then our paths will part, though we may meet again in another time and circumstances.

Jul 14, 2010

My American Journey. Summer 2010. A Travel Diary - Hanging Out in NYC Like a Hippie

At this point, all my initial plans and predictions about this summer, what I’ll do, how things may supposedly go and so on are totally bust. And I am doing some crazy things I never even thought about I would engage myself in while here. For instance, smoking weed, lol, let me get there.

The storyline is multifaceted and in several layers, as usual, and all are more or less intermingled in one aspect or another. But, let me tell you how the main aspect of the storyline of my stay here continued to develop in the past week.

I was browsing and pondering on the mysteries of economics and their hidden workings in the social machine of our civilization. That book I just read on the reasons behind the most recent economic recession was very enlightening indeed, in new and untackled aspects. The world apparently is a very messed up place in every aspect and Capitalism in America is not much different than the feudal ways of the previous centuries. Still, hierarchy is intrinsic to human societies and is nothing new, just the tools and the means have changed. Not the humans.

Last week two new roommates arrived, one from Ukraine, who had forgotten her passport and documents somewhere at the security check points in the airport, and a girl from Brazil, who came in NYC to take a photography class. Our first interactions at the common area in the house were very formal and in the form of basic dialogues, while each of the involved was indulged in their own inner worlds and the things on one own’s mind. The girl from Ukraine seemed like the average girl with very bad English, so that our communication wasn’t easy nor very engaging. The Brazilian girl, however, turned out to be deep waters and we fitted each other very neatly. She’s a crazy, adventurous head, just like me, though about seven years younger.

While I still had no definite idea on what I will be going to do in the very near future ahead, decided that there isn’t much point in working 9 to 5 for just a few months, I wasn’t going to do any money, apart from what I need to pay a very basic accommodation and have pocket money for the month. I don’t want to postpone my education after all and I have to take my exams this fall, so overstaying or extending the visa period was out. Yes, I would have gained some interesting experience and know-how in the e-commerce work with the Jewish people, sure, but couldn’t have enjoyed much of the city this way. Working full-time and commuting to work take a lot of your day you know. I was just wasting my time, I concluded, here and on the whole. So, I decided to embark on adventure and gambled on it. I was to enjoy New York city and my summer vacation here the most I could and go back home to resume the path of my life I was following.

Though everything still uncertain, I just knew it will all fall to place and settle, so I was feeling really spaced-out and idle in stand by for a while, just gaining life experience and insight while high on inspiration from the buzz of it all. Just as my stunt began to prolong into boredom, me and the two new girls found likeness in one another, mostly in our lack of orientation and overall confusion and we started hanging out together. The girl from Ukraine had lost her prearranged job, because of her being too late to show up, had very little money and was looking for a cheap place to stay for another week, while deciding on whether to stay in NYC or go to another state. The Brazilian had came as a tourist, but with the intention to stay along longer, enroll into a photography course here and find a job. And I, who came for no clear reason, to gain experience and just wander around for a change. I really needed this change of setting and routine, this travel to excite me and fill me up with impressions, and by now I feel psychologically rejuvenated from this trip, even reborn from within in certain ways. A great adventure, filled with improvisation and suspense! And a lot of new knowledge, yeah.

We spent a few days around Manhattan, in parks with public WiFi and in libraries providing it. Browsing for jobs and affordable accommodation. We couldn’t find anything for three of us and I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to live in one room with two other people, even though buddies. Then Anna went into a hostel and me and the Brazilian decided to move out together. We saw a few places for 300-350 per person, share rooms, but they were all dreadful. We weren’t going to find anything better for cheap. In the end, we talked to our current host and bargained with him to move in his other house and pay for a share room, me and Samantha. The other house is actually worse than the first and the rooms are priced higher. Speaking about adequate pricing. It is very old and worn, made with brick foundation a meter from the ground and the rest of plank wood and plastic. At least it feels cooler, maybe because we are on the first floor. The second is in process of renovation, a halted process at the moment. There is one average-sized bedroom with a small hallway from it to a small bathroom. The bedroom is connected via a double-winged door to the living room, which leads to the kitchen. We are to sleep together in the bedroom and the living room is available for rent from one or two other persons. Incredible, a floor designed for one or two, being rented to four. So crampy, maybe if we were all good friends and staying up to a week, but in every other case, this is horrible.

For now we are alone, so she sleeps in one room and I in the other. Though we aren’t staying at home much, the house on the whole is definitely not predisposing for this. Anyway, we have a place to stay until the end of the month and only for 275$ per person. Well, that wasn’t a bad deal, considering the overall prices and circumstances.

The day before we moved in, I and Sam went out in Manhattan and after an afternoon of wandering around and browsing the web we unanimously decided to have a drink. So, we went to a grocery store at Broadway and bought a bottle of wine. We decided on Australian, so that it be interesting and far away taste for both of us. We asked the seller if we can leave it in the cooler isles to chill and he didn’t mind. Then he opened it for us as well. Prior to that we had supplied ourselves with convenient vessels for the ancient beverage, closed, opaque cups from McDonalds, that is, large size. The reason for all the discreetness is that alcohol consumption outside establishments is not allowed in New York. I was a bit concerned on being caught, yeah, because with Samantha being under the legal age for drinking would have gotten me in some trouble. And so, we drank, and hiked the streets all night long. We sat in a nice block garden with square tables and chairs made of stone with red tint, surrounded by the skyscrapers and ate hummus with flat bread. So cool, so unexpected, I ate hummus and drank wine at a public garden in downtown Manhattan. When we were finishing off our third bottle, the sun was already rising above the city and daylife was slowly reactivating. Broadway was surprisingly barren and dark at night, not what one would expect really. There was some activity in the SoHo area and around night clubs along, there were people at Times square too, some youths hanging around and passing-by drunken dudes. On the whole, however, New York is very much asleep at night, not much differently than other big cities in the world, even more so than some of them, as I have heard. I guess, “The city that never sleeps” meme is again born out of propaganda, for the larger part. The legend is dismissed now, New York does sleep at night.

And we did this again and again, just hanging around and drinking coffee or milk shake, lol. I find some reminiscent feel in my experience here with some parts of the same from Dubai, like a déjà vu in a different setting. And that is, apart from the look and atmo of some parts of Broadway, the way we hide and feel like law-brakers drinking outside, disguising like casual tourists on the hike. As we found out that on Sunday mornings alcohol selling is not allowed in NYC, thus we had to persuade the sellers in the store until they agreed to sell us two cans of beer, but we had to hide them and watch out not to be seen, they warned us, we agreed. I saw a Jumeirah hotel the other day somewhere around downtown Mnhttn as well.

Our new neighborhood is a pretty interesting place too. Different than the previous, even though not much far from it, still in SI. And not that different even so, maybe there are more latino people around. We are on a bad street, it seems. Yesterday, I saw two boys at the next door house smoking weed in the backyard and asked them if they had some, so one of them turned out to be a dealer. Now we have his mobile and can call him if we need Green, yo. On the way out the same day, just on the street outside two black guys and a girl asked us if we “Knew Marihuana”, wanting to sell us, I presume. We pretended that we don’t understand, because we already had found a local dealer just next door. Wow, I never thought I’ll be smoking weed in NYC. Now, that’s a surprise, among everything else. Meanwhile, Samantha found a job as a night club photographer and she can also bring along friends for free, which is pretty cool. I guess now we have the chance to do some clubbing in NYC as well, in the weeks ahead. Nice, we’ll see to it. The story twists on and on, and even though the downturns, I do enjoy it thoroughly, yeah, it is all just so hippie.

Jul 5, 2010

My American Journey. Summer 2010. A Travel Diary - Is the American Dream Dead? Pros and Cons

United States of America, a land of prosper and opportunity where individuals are entitled to undeniable freedoms. American culture has propagated itself via Hollywood and popular media far outside its geographic boundaries and has established itself as a brand of quality and appeal quite well. On the whole, it has a glamorous exterior, but underneath all the glitter there are many faults, accumulation of negatives and ugly trends, that work on the background, aside from the spot light, unspoken aloud and suppressed.

The biggest downturn of this great country is its economic system (apart from its militaristic political views), that is made to serve the interests of large corporations. Corporations that fund the health care system, mortgage plans, political activities and et cetera. It is not without a reason that the US government has such warm relations with corporations, even when they turn against the people whom it is supposed to serve. Corporations fund a lot of the political life in USA and they get lobbyism in return. The government turns a blind eye to the fishy workings and policies of corporations and gets financial support in return.
American people are taught from an early age to believe that they are free, so much freer than all other peoples in this world that they are obliged to feel proud being Americans, so proud that they even feel themselves somewhat above all other nations. They have their Liberty and undeniable rights, along with a vast military force that can stand behind America's opinion should disagreement arise. Propaganda is so strong and the economic system so elusive, that even being in debt to the rest of their lives, Americans still think they are free. Of course, people in the rest of the world also take loans from banks and have debts, but the problem here is that being in debt is somewhat a part of the culture. People spend more than they actually make via credit cards and this is an integral part of American lifestyle and one of its core problems, that creates financial recessions and things like that.

Having a debit card here is rather awkward. And the interests and fees of credits are just undefinable, always subject to change and alteration. And in the end, good fortune forbid, should a person finds him/herself unable to follow up with their credits and loans, then they realize how abstract their rights and freedoms are and that corporations do not owe to serve people's interests, but they simply want to suck on people's money and nothing more nor less than that. If you fail to fall in the "eligibility" category you simply get denied a health care coverage, no matter how bad one may need it. Yes, I am saying this with Michael Moore's "Sicko" in mind. Of course there are some free social and health-care services in USA after all, like clinics and shelters, it is not all that grim. And if you can't pay your debts you are free to officially go bankrupt. There are a lot of lawyer firms here who offer their services to help people get debt relief by guiding them through the legal procedures of declaring a personal bankruptcy, not for free of course. So, personal bankruptcy is a kind allowance for people to get bailed out of their debts, however the side effects are very bad credit history, which is like becoming a social system outcast here in USA, that is, can't get credits and loans, which are pretty much essential to the average American. Though, there are yet other complaisant establishments that provide small credit amounts of one to two thousand dollar even to those unfortunate enough to have a bad credit history. The secret catch, I presume, are extreme interest rates for these generous services.
Unlike the corporate-level bailing out, where the bankrupt corporation gets relieved from its debts and gets saved, the personal bankruptcy is more like getting killed for the next seven years. Sometimes one may think that corporations have more freedoms and rights than individuals. The legal part of the banking system is not less amusing. Being in debt is not really a crime it turns out and residing illegally (thus not paying state and federal taxes, anatema) is far more serious criminal offense than merely having an unpaid debt to a bank. Of course, you don't want to have an unpaid debt to a bank, because then other mechanisms of the System switch on and a person gets reported to a centralized agency, who begins to monitor your financial activity and can bar you from having any contact with the banking system of USA at all for the next five years of your existence. And banks, being such pleasant and relaxing locations to spend your time at are not really something one would want not to have access to. I mean, you can always read a book or drink your coffee there, almost like a library with the main difference that you can't withdraw funds from your local library, restricted to knowledge only. So, there are no debtor prisons in USA and this is a good thing, otherwise the government would have had to spend a lot of money on keeping people there, it is much cheaper this way, not to mention the waste of workforce spending time in debtor prisons. Better leave prisons for the real criminals, the psychos, drug dealers and the like, the more intellectually deprived part of society that is.

So, anyway, money is such a strange thing. Very strange. Just some numbers on a paper that go through the System in binary form from procedure to procedure, processing and at the end pop out of the bank in, well, a more sophisticated paper form. So cool, so weird. Thank God for banks, so handy social institutions, helping people in need when they need it. Hermes bless all bankers, lol. Economy is such a strange thing, so fine, so complex, so precarious, I have never thought so much about it. And this is also strange, so materialistic, what is up with me?! Growing up is so ugly, such a banal thing.

America, overall, is a good place to be a banker, a merchant or working in the entertainment industry. Also a lawyer and psychologist, and, of course, a preacher. Preachers here make a good profit out of the American consumerism used to consuming without inputting much sense.

They have developed and established this commercial, consumer-oriented culture very neatly and have thus created a very favorable environment for businesses and trading ventures. Even though consumers get treated like mindless zombies at times. USA seems like a fertile ground for businesses, but not good to be the average worker. This is never good enough, coming to think about it. Maybe I think too much, passively. But that again, I can't say that money are my goal, nor what I really want. I do need it, but is not my goal, is not what I want to strive for, it should be just a consequence.
Money is a consequence when you work, for instance, showing up clearly in your paycheck, lol, but was it really money that you worked for or was it the work itself that gave you satisfaction in the end?! Ponder that for a while. Do artists create for money, or for fame, or for art itself?! Do politicians embark on their careers for money or because of their desire to bring change, to contribute to a betterment of society and, if possible, to the world!? Do preachers preach for money or for the joy of assuming authority over people, having official license to bring forth the word of the Divine itself to the ignorant masses?! Ahh, the old days of traveling hermit preachers are long over as well, as is free traveling around the world.

American culture is a peculiar thing. The pharmacies incorporate a grocery or super market elements only that they don't sell breads, for instance. I was perplexed to see that they sell cigarettes in the pharmacies as well, which seemed strange to me. In my country you go to the local grocery or coffee shop to buy cigarettes, not in the pharmacy, lol. You go to the pharmacy when you want to, say, stop smoking. Here they have fused these both, whether you want to smoke or stop smoking you go to the same place, it is less confusing this way, I guess. Also, I have heard about this, but now I confirmed it first hand, cigarettes here lit off when you don't smoke them, rather than burn up. Weird, I guess this is another convenience for the people.

Specialized fitness, herbal and smart food store chains are very popular here too, which is something I really enjoy. Even in the small grocery shops you can buy Muscle milk, protein bars and energy goodies like that. Some super markets and pharmacies have incorporated self-checking via automated procedure with specialized hardware and software, which renders the staff obsolete. I can imagine how uncertain they must feel scanning customers' items next to the self-checking points and seeing more and more people lining at the machines, rather than to the cashiers. This is not a bad thing, though I am wondering what all these people in the world will do when automation takes over peoples' work more and more, since the growth of the world population is a steady and progressive trend. At this pace, after 50 years humanity will be about 15-18 billion. Crazy. So many people breathing, talking about global warming, lol.

The future is an uncertain thing, it exists only in potential until manifested in the Present, so the trends today may as well turn out very differently. Depends on the amount of conscious planning humans input in their activities, something that we haven't done a lot in our past up until today. Life is a strange thing, I am constantly amazed by it in all of its various aspects. My life, well, it has been quite an interesting trip so far, with all of its positives and negatives, the learning, the knowledge, the realizations. So very interesting, but still so uncertain and somewhat undefined for the future ahead. Seems like an impenetrable fog of potential that can take just about any shape or none at all. Feeling like a free electron in search of the right nuclei to stick to and form an atom. Then we can find other atoms to form molecules together and in the end we may make ourselves a whole cosmic body with a lot of mass, LoL. There is so much symbolism in nature and the world around us, that sometimes makes you wonder how come everything resonates so well with our minds. So well, too well even. Maybe our entire perception of reality is based solely on the limitations of our senses, so that we can perceive it only in this narrow band evolution allowed us. Who knows what else is out there, intangible and completely undetectable for us, as good as non-existent.

The quick personal update is that I am acting irresponsibly right now, it is fun and playful and I really hope I don't get into trouble. Yes, I know that hope is mostly deprived of reason, but I don't really know what to do now. These two months here were completely twisted, that's one thing I can say for sure. I have a new roommate, by the way, a pretty cool and matured for her age girl from Brazil, we may move out together. Unless, of course, things develop completely otherwise. Not sure. Don't know. Will update on that soon. I am still fond of Michael, or more like the image of him I have created in my imagination. Just can't get him out of my mind. At times, when I think about him I get so hot, I feel burning love within, so strong. I am not sure if this is a good thing either, though amazing, so intoxicating. The last time I felt like this was a few days ago, just like that, he gets in my mind kind of suddenly, I begin *thinking* about him and these emotions just kick in, love and passion. Imagination is a powerful thing. I don't know if I will be able to sleep tonight as well, it is so hot for the past few days, especially yesterday. I was unable to fall asleep from this heat at all, this room, this house is just not right, when it's hot it gets extremely hot inside, when it was cold, it was really cold. I wonder what kind of materials have been used for its making, apart from cardboard. And I guess it has a pretty ridiculous price at the real estate market too. That is why houses should be made from brick, it keeps cool when hot and warm when cold. Ok, that was quick, now see a few interesting inscriptions around New York below and then write a poem, after that you can do something of your choosing! ;)

Jul 3, 2010

My American Journey. Summer 2010. A Travel Diary - American Culture, Processed and Pasteurized

American culture is so weird. I don't know if many of its people step out of it to contemplate on its peculiarities, but I know that for *some reason* it is easier to analyze other cultures, than the one you belong to. And that is another reason why peoples should cooperate with each other, so that we point out each others' faults and just work together to fix'em and thus build an environment of positive criticism for creative mutual advancement. Instead of simply fighting over who's right and who's wrong and kill each other off like a pack of wild beasts.

So, anyway. It is very interesting that USA consists of so many different ethnic groups and peoples with a great variety of cultural backgrounds and yet all these different peoples bear this American resemblance with one another. The American life style, stereotype, mindset and those "artificially" created cultural elements that are meant to serve as unifiers and homogeneous agents. For instance, patriotism. American patriotism is well-known in the world for its idealism and almost religious-like zeal.
Children in schools cite in chorus the Declaration of Independence, the American flag is seen waving in front of every other house, put in graffiti or painting on the walls and rooftops of garages, gas stations and shops. I've seen a lot of lawns here in Staten Island, where people literally overdecorated them with flags-on-a-stick, arranging them along the fence, around tree trunks, sticking them inside flower pots, hanging them on their windows, on their cars, everywhere. American patriotism is evident all over the place, at places in just overexposed amounts. Such a zealous dedication indeed, it's almost as if they use the flags as some sort of modern form of Totem, for protection and to show that they are a loyal part of this tribe. There is nothing wrong with that, unifying elements in the form of rituals and common denotations are an integral part of every society since the dawn of human social life.

However, there are certain elements of the American patriotic doctrine that are born out of pure propaganda. Such as militarism. People here are really paranoid to terrorists (and spies), can't blame them. Though, the way their government presents these to the public is so very subjective and one-sided and this is the propaganda element. Of course, propaganda is found in the paradigm of every government around the world, but it is especially strong in USA. I've been wondering if there are a lot of Americans who actually take the time to think up the root cause for terrorist' treat in their country.
I mean, their government is waging wars in the Middle East since the end of WWII. These wars can hardly be justified, apart from the American lust for influence and oil, which are conveniently disguised behind humanistic ideals such as the fight for "freedom" and, of course, democracy. But hypocrisy is the real face of these justificators and a lot of money involved, in the gazzillions. Yeah, weapons and military technology is a huge industry in the *modern world*. And what use of it if there are no wars?! I mean, don't be ridiculous, wars are an essential part of global economy!! And America, being one of the biggest manufacturers just must and needs to be involved in military justice, otherwise it will go bankrupt. What a profound irony. Fighting for peace with guns. Such a brilliant ideal only human mind can produce.

So, my point here is, apart from the obvious, that there would have been no terrorist treats here if USA didn't waged all these wars in the Middle East. How logic is that?! For example, my country does not wage wars in the ME and we have no problems with terrorists either.
I'm sure the average American don't view things this way, though.
Sometimes the root of a complex issue is so stunningly simple, that you can't help it, but just stand rapt in awe and amazement (in front of human stupidity, which is infinite, unlike the Universe, as Einstein deducted a few decades ago).

Anyway, considering that 60% of Americans today are immigrants or children of immigrants that came with the last great wave of immigrants from the beginning of the 20th Century escaping wars, poverty, persecution and industrial slavery in Europe and other parts of the world, no wonder they hold strong to their American Dream. But, what bothers me is, is this dream still alive? It certainly was alive a century ago. People came here and they really found freedom. They found free land to settle in, freedom from the suffocative grip of the Catholic church (even though there are a lot of Catholics here today, some of them descendants of those same people who escaped it), freedom to start a fresh in a fertile land with vast resources that were open and most importantly, accessible to all who were willing to work hard for it and make a fortune. And many of those settlers did worked hard and did made fortunes. Fortunes that they couldn't have made back in Europe, where stiff class segregation and monarhic rule from the previous centuries still prevailed. And that truly was the American Dream and it was real and alive.

While I worked on Liberty Island there was an isle with books in the gift shop with memories and testimonials from those early 20th Century immigrants, that I used to open and read in a dash, pretending I was dusting them with the laser beams from my eyes. I read a lot of interesting short stories there on how immigrants traveled cramped on ships, the horrible conditions they traveled into, the uncertainty, how they left everything behind packing just the essentials or whatever little they had, their hopes, dreams and expectations about this rich land, where the streets were paved with gold and even candy fell from the sky right into your mouth whenever one wished for it. Almost like El Dorado, a land of gold, riches and endless opportunities open for all, almost mythological-like. And for the most part, all of this was true. Freedom was to be found here.

Then, in the following decades of the early 20th Century a cultural spur flourished in New York, beginning with the underground Jazz societies in the 30s and leading to the Hippies in the 60s, which were to influence the common culture of the entire western world and change it forever. Before the hippies, societies still adhered to the strict, religious morals and behavioral codes, freedom of individuality, fashion and so on were unthinkable. An amazing cultural change and evolution even, that few people appreciate today, especially the young, taking it for granted. But in the meanwhile, amids the cultural revolution, other, more subtle trends evolved that had their roots in these same exploitatory methods of the industrial revolution that the immigrants ran away from. Thus, sometime in the 70s or so, the Corporations officially took over. Thinking about all this, Corporative rule and Communism are not that different really. Both exploit the masses via imposing delusive ideals of elusive freedoms.

Communism tells people they are all equal in opportunity, that all wealth is equally shared and possessed by all individuals in equal parts and that every individual must work for this common wealth, so that it never gets depleted and there is always enough for all. But, in reality, the wealth those common people worked for was by no means shared equally and the workers got 10% of it, while the remaining was distributed among the political *elite*, who, more or less, operated on monarhic principles. The same principles the Bolshevik claimed to overthrow after their revolution in Russia in the 1917. All the inspirational slogans about freedom and equality were just that, slogans, empty words deprived of practical manifestation. Propaganda was the most powerful tool of communism, and it has always been the most powerful tool of every self-righteous ideology.
Corporations, on the other hand, are a creation of democracy, or to this part of it designated as Capitalism. It was thought to be the total opposite of the strictly government-owned and controlled economy of communism or so thought the public outside the corporations. The corporations tell people they are free to choose (from whatever choices they are given), free to take (loans), free to speak (as long as it is not against the doctrine) and free to pay their bills. Corporations are probably the greatest manipulators and exploitators of American society today. And the truth is that the freedoms and opportunities immigrants had a 100 years ago are no longer available to their descendants. Things have changed. A lot.

Still, USA remains a land of great economic wealth and opportunity, but for the majority of people these freedoms and opportunities are reduced to very narrow step-by-step, system guided procedures starting with College/University and a student loan for it. Then, having a lot of money hanging on your neck, the fresh grad is eager to find a job and pour his/hers resources into the economy in return to financial tender to their loan. Then, another loan follows, this time for a house. A place to call home, to create a family of their own. By this time, the individual is desperate to keep his/her job, or the system will turn really evil should you miss a payment or two. And from then on, until the rest of their lives, it is basically paying mortgage and paying your bills. And enjoying your freedom in between.
And even though this doesn't sound that bad, after all, what else is the meaning of human life anyway?! There are a lot of very corrupt elements in this system. For instance, the wild ups and downs of real estate prices and interest rates. These fluctuations are not only abnormal and unjustified, they are unhealthy. Also unwealthy for the majority of Americans apart form this top 10% that have shares in the corporations.

The American system is a very sophisticated and complex one indeed and I have yet to delve in it and understand its inner workings, but its faults are apparent even to the ignorant observer, like myself. I believe that the time has come for a new economy to be synthesized, one that will include all the good from the old ones from the 20th Century and will preferably exclude their faults. Also, I think that we should update our criteria for ideals, for example, militaristic concepts proclaiming that serving in the army is a most high quality of humane acquisitions to be admired and respected. I mean, come on, such primitive concepts, born out of plain propaganda still being held current by modern, supposedly more aware and sensible humans? It is just not right.
And this is the biggest fault in Star Wars universe as well. That advanced civilizations will still produce weapons and wage wars. No. War and aggression are traits of the primitive mind and they will be absent in advanced civilizations. However, how can we humans know that, when we observe the Universe from our mere subjective point of view and think that whatever aspirations our hardwired instincts have are surely all universally present in all levels of civilizations throughout the cosmos. Oh, well, we are yet to evolve and realize a lot of truths ahead.

Ah, American society, such a peculiar phenomenon indeed. Despite all the opportunities here, I do think that its freedoms are corrupt and the American Dream is just not the same as it has been a century ago, or even 60 years ago. I will refrain from proclaiming it dead, unlike Nietzsche who felt no second thoughts on proclaiming the God dead a century and a half ago. And this is mostly because the economic system is by far more entangled and complex than the *stand-alone* Divine. That is, at times, the secrets of God seem far more accessible to the mind than the inner workings of economy. And this is mostly because the keys to the former are in your Self, while the nostrum to the latter is somewhere out there. If you know what I mean.