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American Independence

Fourth of July has always been one of those marginal holidays to me. Maybe a notch or two above Arbor Day or Administrative Professionals Day, but kind of in the same lackluster category as New Year’s Eve. I was just happy to have four days off, even if it meant doing absolutely nothing. But by Sunday I started feeling antsy so James and I decided impromptu to do an overnight Atlantic City mini-trip. Never mind that all the planners (which normally includes myself. It pains me not to have an itinerary mapped out. I’m currently working on my Wales/Barcelona list for next month) had already snatched up all prime and/or reasonably priced rooms. (You don’t even want to know how many hundreds of dollars we had to cough up to stay at the mediocre boardwalk Holiday Inn.)

Pushcart As it turns out Atlantic City was a good bet (oh, I’m funny) as the casinos apparently shut down today. I’m not a gambler by any means, but there are other benefits to an AC trip like really good submarine sandwiches (which I’ll detail in a later post) and the enormous self-confidence boost that comes with an excursion outside of NYC. I don’t mean to be completely cruel, but once you break the hour’s drive circumference in any direction people start looking different, and not necessarily for the better. If you ever feel like shit and/or become consumed with self-loathing, simply take a day trip and suddenly you will begin feeling stylish, attractive, svelte and fit.  The amount of burnt sienna tanned cellulite bulging out of denim shorts (and not just on overweight women), fanny packs, pajama bottoms as pants, canes, walkers and motorized scooters were quite the eye opener and put me off of buffets for life (ok, a month).

They even have these seemingly pointless rickshaw contraptions on the boardwalk where two people can sit in a small boxy carriage and are pushed by another human who is merely walking. This arrangement confused me greatly, but that could be my NYC need for quickness and efficiency clouding my vision. I guess this manpowered vehicle isn’t intended for fast transport, but for sightseeing while resting your feet. And to be fair, a great number of them were inhabited by Asian couples, but there’s something grotesquely American about not just using your god-given limbs to walk.

By Monday, we were really starting to feel vitriol towards these people because they represent a highly irritating conundrum. All of these sluggish folks move about a millimeter per minute and form a massive human obstacle course. I’ve never seen such confused tortoise-like movements. But once these same fleshy zombies get into their SUVs they drive like freaking Mad Max maniacs. I can’t even count how many times we were tailgated, honked at or had headlights flashed at as while we were driving 80 miles an hour. Just to be a pain and give the comatose-while-on-land a taste of their own medicine, James started driving exactly the speed limit and not letting angry drivers pass. It would’ve been amusing if I wasn’t so afraid of ending up as a road rage victim. I think the same courtesy should be extended to fat ass pedestrians. If they don’t pick up the pace or get the hell out of your way, then they should be harassed mercilessly. Do unto others, correct?

I’m trying to figure out if middle Americans (for lack of a better term—perhaps mid-Atlantic Americans is more apt in this instance) are oblivious or empowered. Like would all of these mushy midriff-barers be embarrassed if they saw themselves on What Not to Wear hidden video footage or would they be like, “fuck off, I can wear whatever I want to.” I can kind of respect the unconventional/ballsy attitude because at least it shows self-awareness.

Turtle In this same vein, I’ve recently softened on Rosie O’Donnell (who’s always been right up there with Bill Cosby and Robin Williams in my annoyance pantheon) because at least she seems to be semi-conscious of her image and can laugh at herself (though it’s hard to understand why she thought playing a retard was a brilliant career move). Um, if her poetry is any indication: “i have no sense of style – at all i wear basic lizzie chic i dress like turtle from entourage.” I mean, she knows she dresses like a chunky guido and that’s funny.

So, we lost a little money, didn’t see either Pat Benetar or Eddie Money, who were both playing Sunday night, ate massive subs and Vietnamese food, avoided the beach altogether, went to an outlet mall and Wal-Mart, saw Bobby Flay (I can’t see him and not think of this horrible Food TV commercial from a few years ago where some dude type guy squawked, “Everybody likes Bobby Flay.”) inside his new restaurant that was still closed to the public at the fancy Borgata casino, and ultimately ended up feeling fairly good about our lot in life. I think I got a new perspective on American independence, for better or worse.

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  1. emigre #

    Glad you enjoyed yourselves despite the shut-down.
    Have you see this site? It has food podcasts. I wonder if you’d think it’s pretentious or cool.

    July 6, 2006
  2. dave #

    Is that a cigarette ad on that thing? do let people smoke while riding on it?

    July 6, 2006
  3. Emigre: I’ve heard of RemarkablePalate but have never paid a visit because I’m out of touch and never listen to podcasts. I’ll give it a look.

    Slocker: I can totally see you and Gille in one of those things. I think they actually make me nervous because I’d be worried the whole time about whether or not I was supposed to be making small talk with the operator. At least in Asia, no one expects you to be able to chit chat, though I’d never ride one there either since the guys are like 100 years old and 75 pounds and I’d end up killing them from exertion.

    Dave: That does look like a cigarette ad. When I was there, they didn’t have those plastic covers on. It was more like you were sitting in an open-air basket. And I wouldn’t doubt for a second that people smoke in them. A weekend in AC will practically give you lung cancer whether you’re a smoker or not.

    July 6, 2006

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