Tourist With a Typewriter

Oh, Uncle Adrian, I’m in the reservation of my mind.

Tag: America

The Receding Passion of the NASCAR Fan

Published in C-VILLE Weekly 4/14/09

NASCAR14“Some fans are completely uninhibited, they’ll do whatever the hell they want to have a good time,” Rusty Speidel says over the phone. “They get geared up, they tailgate their brains out, they take the extra time out to travel.” Speidel should know. He’s one of the guys behind, a NASCAR fan site based in Charlottesville. “They’re really loyal to their driver, to the point where I saw a guy and his wife the other day, they had both shaved their heads except for the [number] 88 in the back.”

Eighty-eight is Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s number, and Earnhardt, Jr. is a driver in the National Association for Stock Car Racing. That’s NASCAR, baby, our other national pastime. This is car country, gas and metal and engine-hum country, a nation carved from pavement by men and machines. We’re drunk on fuel and in love with chrome. We drive cars to watch cars drive. Read the rest of this entry »


This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it – that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anyone else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable. – Hunter S. Thompson, written on the eve of the 1972 election

France was a land, England was a people, but America, having about it still that quality of the idea, was harder to utter — it was the graves at Shiloh and the tired, drawn, nervous faces of its great men, and the country boys dying in the Argonne for a phrase that was empty before their bodies withered. It was a willingness of the heart. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Young Americans

A description of the 2009 naturalization ceremony at Monticello published in C-VILLE but not available online. Held every year on July 4th, the ceremony is quite beautiful and moving. Every year the guest speaker is a celebrity who is also a naturalized citizen. In 2009, the guest was the artist Cristo and his partner Jeanne-Claude, famous for wrapping large objects in pink plastic.

It is hard to see the stage and assembled dignitaries wrapped up as they are in ceremonial bunting and tiny flags, against the burping of the brass band. It is hot and sweaty as I sit on the lawn at Monticello for the forty-fourth consecutive naturalization ceremony on July 4th, 230 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Every year people become citizens on the 4th at Monticello, and anyone can come and watch for free. This is why I am here. And traditionally every year a prominent citizen who was once a prominent non-citizen speaks to the assembled throng. This year’s guest speakers are the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, famous for The Gates in Central Park and for wrapping cloth around an entire bridge in Paris. And this is another reason why it is hot and sweaty and hard to see the stage, because I, myself, getting into the spirit of things, am completely wrapped in red, white, and blue fabric, peering through small cut out eyeholes. Read the rest of this entry »

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