USA –WANDERING - 2000 Irena Vlková teacher
Long Live Globalization I can not even imagine travelling across countries with different time zones without regularly looking into timetable on Greyhound websites. (It is the cheapest way of transport in USA, apart from hitch-hiking). Besides the forsaken McDonald’s can often be used as a shelter where you are sure to find a clean toilette, a telephone including phone cards sale and a cash machine. For example the Rock`n-Roll McDonald’s in Chicago is the one I would swear by.
Cows in N.Y.C. New York City was full of cows in the summer. There were five hundred of them, in life-size, made of glass fibre and painted all over by local artists. It was the beginning of an event called Cowparade (first in N.Y.C. and Chicago) where important artists from big cities all over the world could represent their fantasy on life-size skeletons of cows made of glass fibre. These cows were used as new meeting points for tourists in New York City. They were sold in charitable auction in the autumn.
City Scooters Mini city scooters have become extremely popular in America. School kids and retired people run around on them.
American Kitsch I come across American sense of kitsch practicality everywhere. When I am too tired after wandering across New York Avenues I can sit down on a tree stump coated with colorful leather and studs on the top of it. I admire blooming flowerbed in Virginia until I come close enough to realize that all the flowers are fake, made of plastic. In a cowboy town Rushville (Nebraska) the streets are decorated with giant cabbage in flower boxes instead of flowers…
Racism American racism isn’t black and white but red and white. I could see local Indians in reservation Pine Ride (South Dakota), spoiled by generous state support, demonstrating against local white people. The relationships got worse after a white boozer had shot another red one on the previous day before I came there. The Indian desire to fight could be the heritage after their ancestors from near famous battlefield Wounded Knee.
Music Tip for bluesmen: Blues Night Club in Chicago (Illinois). Tip for rockers: recently opened building EMP - "Experience Music Project" in Seattle (Washington) - Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain’s birthplace where Frank Gehry, one of the authors of dancing building” in Prague, had gathered over eighty thousands exhibits of rock’n’roll history. Of course with huge Bill Gates’ support (he gave 250 million dollars for the project).
Graveyards Sometimes you can find colorful windmills instead of wreaths and little bells ringing in tree branches in American graveyards (Lake Charles, Louisiana). The famous American playfulness probably lingers with Americans after their death as well.
Amish People Amish people (Pennsylvania) truly ride horses instead of driving cars (very unusual in America), they refuse to use electricity and take upholstered furniture for being afraid of civilization spoiling. They can’t stand wearing colorful clothes except for black or dark blue ones. They dislike zippers so they are buttoned. They are very suspicious. They eat only food they grow themselves and girls and boys are not allowed to stay in the same classrooms. In short they have their own reasons why to complicate modern life in our contemporary world with their simplicity.
Beer In addition to American Budweiser local pubs serve plenty of other bad kinds of beer (Coors, Blitz, Olympia, Milwaukee, Lest, Hamns...). But there is still one which would be liked even by a Czech tourist (spoilt by original Budvar and Plzeň beer) and that is Samuel Adams in a blue bottle.
No Thieves There are lots of bikes and roller-skates just left in front of the university (Houghton, New York). Private stuff is much more respected overseas than in Europe.
Quarters "The 50 State Quarters Program“ started a year ago. Every year five American states get their own quarter. On the first side of the quarter there is the emblem of the eagle and on the other one there is the symbol of the state. So in 2008 there will be fifty different sorts of this famous 25-cent coin in the world. The last one will be made for Hawaii. I’ve managed to get almost all the samples of quarters which have already been made. Even the first one, for the state Delaware, which is a real rarity. It had to be withdrawn from circulation because the portrayed horseman’s name written on the coin is not Caesar Rodney but Paul Revere, a patriotic silversmith.
President’s Nose Climbers were climbing up the American president’s nose. It was the president Washington, one of the four statesmen carved into rock (Mount Rushmore, South Dakota).
Credit Card If you want to be equipped with a working credit cards before leaving for USA (you need it very often, e.g. for renting a car…), you should choose some of the most common all over the USA: American Express, Master Card and Visa. Don’t rely on an advice in our Czech banks
Huge Puppy A huge, a few meter tall puppy has settled temporarily in Rockefeller Center (N.Y.C.). It’s made of living flowers. Its author is Jeff Koons and his puppy travels all over the world. It’s watered from the inside and the entrance is under its tail.
Baseball The only distraction during the boring three-hour baseball match (Buffalo, New York) was provided by “buster” (living mascot). The buster made American audience applauding by precisely aimed kicks to the Buffalo Bisons players.
Fence Shoes You can get rid of your hopeless lethargy caused by Nebraska - the state of endless corn tracts full of irrigating monsters and the state of deserted landscape with coyote dens - by looking at well-worn riding boots on fences. It’s the local cowboys’ custom.
St. Helens The burned landscape around the volcano Mount St. Helens (state Washington) starts turning green after twenty years again. You can even see our daisies there.
Czech Meals Do you miss “knedlo vepřo zelo”? There are enough Czech pubs in America. Just in N.Y.C. I know a few ones. In one of them, Golden Prague, “knedlo vepřo zelo” would cost you around 400 Czech crowns (insignificant amount for Americans).
Cones The cones in northern California can turn into dangerous weapons with a bit bad luck. That can happen when they fall down from trees because they are as big as a head.