AMERICAN CULTURE: Difficult To Define

Posted: Friday, July 17, 2009 | Posted by Chico Brisbane | Labels: , , ,

American Culture: Difficult To Define

Perhaps it is time to define American Culture once and for all. If the French can be French and the Koreans Korean, or the Germans German and so on, Americans need to stop putting a national oragin of choice before the word American. The term Latin-American has slowly shifted to apply to Americans that just happen to have Latin ancestory and the same applies to Asian-Americans. Yet "Caucasian or White" Americans don't seem to be subjected to this labeling.
Ironically, they tend to do it themselves, but only when it suits a perticular purpose. We've all heard the expression "as American as apple pie" when in fact apple pie has origins that no one nation can claim absolutely. In the grand scheme of things, our 250 plus years as a nation is but a blink of the eye compared to nations that pre-date the fall of the Roman Empire.

I find it ironic, particularly among those seeking political office, claim to be the personification of American patriotism on their way to Washington, yet they're first to disect them selves into illogical percentages of their ansestors. One day they're red blooded, flag waving, apple pie eating, 4th of July celebrating Americans, but when the campaign season is over, they're suddenly half German, half Dutch or some other combination even if their ancestors immigrated to America several generations ago.

I, Chico Brisbane was born in Northern California in the late 1960's to a pair of teenage college students who came to America from Spain and Scotland. On my 13th birthday, becoming an official teenager took a back seat to my parents becoming American citizens with all of the rights and priviliges that their own son has had from the second that he took in his first breath of air on this earth and on this American soil. I've never seen my parents so humbled as they were the day that the held a small American flag in thier left hand while they raised their right hand to take an oath to pledge their allegance to this great nation.

Inspite of the birthplace of my parents, it has never been nor will it ever be that I am somehow 50% Spanish and 50% Scotish. When you are turely 100% American as I consider myself to be, it is mathmatically impossible to be anything else. To try to convince me otherwise, would be like trying to teach a cat to chase a dog up a tree.

If we can all embrace the fact for cultural purposes, that the Native Americans are the cornerstone for what has become The United States of America, it should be fairly simple to assemble an American culture. I once asked my friend Bobby Killsplenty, a Native American, if they celebrated Thanksgiving on the reservation and his response made me sorry that I asked.

"Well........just the first time I suppose, but things got really fucked up after that, you know?" He said through clinched teeth.

Bobby and I were only 11 when I asked that question and I should have known better because I was not oblivious to the difference in his living conditions on the reservation to mine in the San Diego suburbs just a few miles away. His family made a living crafting jewelry and leathergoods and selling it to "white men" at the roadside where the edge of the asphault and the dirt shoulder creates the dividing line between the Soverign Nation and The United States. Fast forward 35 years and it's amazing to contemplate the reversal of fortune between Bobby and myself.

I couldn't be more pleased and happy for my friend. Where tee-pee's once stood in Bobby's grandparents era, and roadside displays of handcrafted jewelry stood in Bobby's parents era, now stand multi-million dollar casinos, hotels, and luxery resorts where the "white men" hand over their money to Bobby and his band of American Indians hand over fist, 24 hours a day, and sometimes result in single gun shot wounds to the head in parks cars when some out of control "paleface" has lost his very last dollar to the "red man". - Payback is a bitch, I suppose.

It wasn't suprising to me when the movie star became California's Governor and went right after the Native Americans for a piece of their casino action. Being an immigrant - turned American citizen like my parents, Arnold seemed to posess a lack of American History that my parents studied hard, not just to understand, but to embrace. Nor did he seem to have a grasp of the terms and conditions that was forced upon the Indians when they were confined to thier reservations.
When they were trading goods over the century while America industrialized itself, Indians where out of sight and out of mind. However, in the 1980s and through the 1990's when quansit hut casinos trurned into glamerous locals that rivel those in Las Vegas, the white man returned once again to rape and pillage the land of the Indians. Sad, but true.

I don't care if the Indians assemble a fortune greater then America's GNP - They sould not have any tax liability whatsoever and that includes Americans who work on the reservation, but live elswhere. They'll pay taxes in plenty of other ways when they go to the grocery store, pay their cell phone bill, register their vehicles, not to mention California's outrageous property tax. But income tax both state and federal should be hands off since this money was earned in the Soverign Nation and not the United States regardless of the fact that the dividing line between to two is still nothing more then where the edge of the asphault meets the dirt at the side of the road.

I told Bobby recently that I am happy that his people wised up enough to see the true potential of thier land, but that I also hope that they never wise up enough to want the rest of it back. He smiled and said that I didn't need to worry about that.

"Consider it a gift paleface." He said as he drove away.

When the back driver side tire of his silver Mercedes kicked up a puff of dust when it crossed over from the dirt shoulder onto the asphault road, it brought back the significance of that dividing line that has been with me since we were kids. We had spent hour as boys jumping back and forth from the dirt to the asphault, when there was much less traffic of course. But we used to play this silly game that started off as "GET OFF MY LAND!" but then would always turn into something more peaceful along the lines of "Welcome to America" and "Welcome to The Soverign Nation." that resulted in ceremonial handshakes and the exchange of marbles, Cracker Jack toys and other trinkets. It is silly the games that boys will play, isn't it?

Chico Brisbane