BY MATT RAMSDEN
I believe in the idea of America. I believe in the lonely strip of road illuminated by the McDonald's signs. I believe in cheap whiskey on prom nights. I believe in daddy's little girl. I believe in the hometown hero. I believe in the destruction of that hero, destroyed by the draft. I believe in the dream of JFK and Marilyn and James Dean. All Viking Kings. America is built on the Viking king. It is a wedding dress. Loved so passionately for one day than tossed. A fleeting dream.
America is a Chevy full of stories. It is a terrible cheeseburger with someone you love. It may not be pretty and it may be on its last legs but it is loved so ardently for the shining moment that it is experienced that it is golden. America is Lolita. America is Jackson Pollock. America is Louis Armstrong and Glenn Miller and Bob Dylan. America is a country that is rich as long as it has people who are passionately chasing that American dream that is so elusive and imaginary. Gatsby taught us that the dream we were promised is a lie. Rockefeller taught us that lies cannot be trusted. Who do you believe? What do you cherish? Who is important? There is inequality for some but I believe in America. I am a man who is discriminated against but I believe in the idea of America, that romantic notion that this is an idea, not a place. I believe in one night cheap motels and cheap beer. I believe in all these romantic idea of what America as a country was. I believe in the country America used to be.
I want to find that long lost idea of what we were. So many people in this generation long to find something that was. When we bronzed the leather jacket and poodle skirt, we made it so the American flag was made of newspaper. A Johns piece. A screen print. We exported it. Its become a commodity, something fake and kitsch. Selling family photos for 5 cents a piece. A replication of something legitimate. It is complex as we assign value to everything, if it is fake or not.