Tuesday, July 10, 2007

HOW I SPENT MY 4TH OF JULY (aka Syd's Birthday, Livingston, MT and False Patriotism)

This past July 4th, while on vacation, I went to a rodeo in Livingston, MT., a charming town of roughly 7,000 people about an hour north of Yellowstone.

Our plan was to have a birthday celebration for Sydney and then attend the rodeo, with fireworks to follow.

Not knowing what to expect I was pleasantly surprised to find two upscale restaurants. From the setting and the food I saw pass by, Livingstonians know how to dine first rate. The first restaurant (I don't recall the name) had a wait of two hours so I asked the hostess if there was another place in town and she sent us on to the Chop House, a mile down the street.

They too had a two hour wait but if we wanted to sit at a high-top in the bar area we could be seated immediately - which we did.

The food was excellent. Our only mishap was that Sydney ordered Chicken Fried Steak and wasn't happy when it arrived. She wanted a steak for her birthday meal and thought that is what she had ordered. She ended up eating the majority of my baseball cut sirloin.

Once finished with the meal we headed over to the fairgrounds to attend the rodeo - 1 1/2 hours late. As we were walking looking for the ticket stand, a good looking, tall cowboy was walking by us and I asked if we were walking in the right direction.

He told us no, it was behind us, and that they were sold out and not allowing any additional people in, but..... he had been told of a way to get in and would help get us in if we were interested.

Not wanting to disappoint Sydney on her birthday, we followed our "coyote" down the road, over a big metal gate, between some worn down barbed wire, and past the contestants and their animals. Sydney and Sara kept pace and we were in the rodeo.

After shaking hands with our handsome savior he was off to get his friends to do it again. Little did we know this was his trial run.

We saw him a few times throughout the evening and he would slap me on the back as he passed and give me that knowing look.

Syd keeps saying her was drunk... and I think there is a little truth to that.

The rodeo was Sydney's first and it was easy to see she was enjoying it. Miss Sara stood out in the all-white crowd but no one paid any attention and everyone was pleasant.

After the roping and riding they dimmed the lights and the fireworks started, as did the faux patriotic anthem by Lee Greenwood, God Bless The USA.

This song irks me to no end. When I hear it I am instantly reminded of how it has been co-opted every time a Bush decides to invade Iraq..... Desert Storm.... Operation Iraqi Freedom.

And the public buys into it.... People who otherwise do not pay attention to anything in the world but NASCAR and professional wrestling, become proud Americans and they love to display their pride. They hang the flag, not from their front porch as is customary, but from their cars and motorcycles. The proudly don the flag on their attire, the flag on the front, maybe a bald eagle on their back.

They put magnetic yellow ribbons on their vehicles because they support the troops and call anyone who does not support our president unpatriotic, liberals, communists, faggots and worse.

What most of them don't do is VOTE.

They know good Ole boy George Bush is our president but not because they put him there. They might know who the vice president is, but they could not name the Speaker of the House or the Senate Majority Leader. They certainly don't know the three branches of government and think the Supreme Court is a place in New York City that basketball is played.

Voter turn out is somewhere between 50 and 60% depending on the election and who you believe. That means that only one in two people vote - and from the looks of the people I see with flags and ribbons on their cars, they aren't the ones voting.

The people of Livingtston, MT seemed nice enough to me, but they, just like most of America believe that by singing a bad Lee Greenwood ballad while watching fireworks, and wearing flag-covered attire they are patriotic Americans.

I have news for you folks - THAT'S BULLSHIT. The way to be patriotic is to vote, question, protest, get involved.

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