Spent my days with a woman unkind, Smoked my stuff and drank all my wine.
Made up my mind to make a new start, Going To California with an aching in my heart.
Someone told me there’s a girl out there with love in her eyes and flowers in her hair.
Took my chances on a big jet plane, never let them tell you that they’re all the same.
The sea was red and the sky was grey, wondered how tomorrow could ever follow today.
The mountains and the canyons started to tremble and shake
as the children of the sun began to awake.

Yeah, been there & you know what? You can have it. I’m not a huge fan of California, or Californians. There is something about the people there that really irritates me & what it ultimately comes down to is geography. Unfortunately there are a lot of Californians & they are the ones that are giving us Travelin’ Jacks a bad name the world over. As a people they have somehow forgotten that there is a world west of the Pacific & east of the Rocky Mountains…But somehow remember where Mexico is & yet have managed to forget that it is a whole ‘nother country & not just a tourist destination.

If you travel to California & shatter their unique view of civilization, they tend to treat you with disdain. Like you are some barbarian. Or that could just be reserved for people like me. People from Chicago. I’ve been to that state several times, only once by choice. I’ve been to the North & South & Central of that state & the attitude doesn’t really change. California is odd that way, I know a shit ton of people that have moved to California & forgotten everything they learned about geography here in Chicago. They forgot their geography & sort of developed the same prejudice for the people they know back home.

Now I’m sure that I’ll go back to California. My life will certainly take me back there, but like so many other times, it won’t be by choice. People in Chicago, push comes to shove, can at least name a few neighborhoods in Boston, New York, & LA. People in LA that are originally from Chicago seem to forget where Uptown & Little Village are.

A lot of American’s, they hate the French. The British, as a whole, they also hate the French. But then the British, they also hate the Irish, & the Australians, & the Americans, & the Germans, & the Welsh, & the Scots. And they also tend to be racist, they don’t care much for the Blacks, Indians (dots not feathers), the Poles, &, well, anyone that isn’t British. This isn’t true to a person, but it might as well be. The British are not people I really care for. Not because my mommy is an Ulster Catholic, but because, well, I have come to know a fair few people that they hate.

Now I don’t know how many of my readers have actually gone to England, but the Brits, they tend to be fashion addicts. They can honestly tell you what the cut of their suits are & who made the shirts on their backs. I can’t, but I shop at thrift stores. Partially because it fits in with the generation that defined me & partly because I like to avoid sweatshops & figure that thrift stores aren’t giving money directly to them. But then, money as a whole is a fair enough reason for me to continue thrift shopping.

Thrift shopping, we’re thrift shopping, we’re what’s happening. We’re an ice machine. We see people, brand new people, they’re something to see when we’re thrift shopping, bright-white shopping, Oh isn’t it wild?

Not that I don’t know fashion addicts here in the US. Kristina is a fashion addict. Marco is a fashion addict. But then, Kristina is a chick & Marco is Gay. Milan is also a fashion addict, but then, well, he has been living in London for the past five years so I figure its only proper to give him a pass. Either way, one of the principle causes for the negatives you tend to get as an American in England is because of the way that you are dressed.

I think that goes with British music. We all listen to it, but most of the shit gets filtered down to only the really great bands when it crosses over the Atlantic. The British are submerged in a tsunami of cheap British pop. By the time it gets to America we are left with the Stones & Led Zeppelin. Eric fucking Clapton. Maybe Pulp. While the British claim the Beta Band as their own, in an effort to cleanse their pallet of the crap pop that they have to suffer through just for being British.

The Spice Girls are just one example of that bull shit. Not that we American’s have much room to talk on the pop front. We have created our own sins there. Some sins that are unforgivable. Ireland, on the other hand, they have Bewitched & not much else to be ashamed of in the past five decades of music. I know, I know, U2, but you know what? U2 is an example of how to use fame to benefit the world. Bono is grace incarnate in that regard, & then, beyond being a force for all that is good in this world, it comes down to forgiveness. Are you really going to blame U2 for falling apart after Pop? Sure, their new stuff sucks, but they have gotten pretty old & their older stuff is still really good. I am not going to cast the first stone when it comes to U2, I still love their old music & I will never in my life be able to play like the Edge.

But then, U2 is an Irish band & I can’t fault the Irish. The Irish are good people, in the same way that the people that come to your house to fix things are good people. There is really no pretension in the Irish. You’ll find the same assholes in Ireland that you’ll find everywhere else, but you will be extremely hard pressed to find a pretentious Irishman. I don’t think pretension exists in Ireland. You can also see how Bono came to be, I mean, the man is Irish & even though you still stumble on a hell of a lot of hatred in Ireland, mainly directed at the British, the rest of the nation seems to actually, honestly, care about people, the little people the world over. They really do, the Irish are the people that care. I like the Irish.

I like the Scots as well, but you have to be careful when you go to Scotland. There is an illness that a lot of people suffer from. I can’t remember the proper word for it. It’s a form of depression that comes when everything is overcast. I had a roommate that would get bitchy when it was winter. The term is really generic. It’s something like “Seasonal Affective Disorder.” Something general like that. You probably understand what I’m writing about. At any rate, the Scots, to a person, all suffer from that. If you go there when the weather is nice & they actually see the sun, the Scots are great people, otherwise they get bitchy. Be careful when you visit, you have a small window of hospitality before their normal good graces start to turn.

Now Germany, the punk culture is still alive & well in Germany. I mean full on 1980s punk fashion is alive, well, & thriving in that country. Not the B.J. Armstrong punks that you have here in the US. US punks are nowhere near as hardcore as German punks. US Metal-heads are also nowhere near as hardcore as German Metal-heads. The US anything isn’t anywhere near as hardcore as the German anything. When German’s embrace a subcultural movement, they tend to go all the way with it. I’m not complaining, but I’d also never have a Mohawk, but more power to you if that’s your thing. I have nothing against subcultures, especially punk. Punk has put out some mean shit. But push comes to shove, I’m sorry, I just like American punk bands more.

Yeah, the German’s are hardcore, but they are also great people. I haven’t met a German that I haven’t liked. I tend to tell them that too, not to kiss their ass, but to get that expression of shock on their face. Try it some time, next time you run into a German, tell them that you love Germans. They really aren’t used to it, Hitler & all that, but aside from the Nazi Party, there is really nothing bad to say about the Germans. When you start meeting them, it becomes really hard to believe how those people could have done that much evil. But I suppose, when it comes down to it, that evil that they have to live with by place of birth is the reason why they go out of their way to be, well, awesome.

Last time I was in France, Oh God, I hate wine. I was with a lot of my friends, we were going to a wedding. One of our mutual friends from Chicago had been living in France for some time & was getting hitched to a French woman. We spent too long in the south of France. By the time we finally made it to the wedding, I was Frenched out. There was a German there, he could see in our eyes what we wanted, what we craved as Americans. He came to our rescue, his arms stuffed with bottles, and as he walked outside where we were lingering, he screamed, “Americans! Americans! I have beer!” They had told him that America was going to make a hell of a showing at the wedding so he had drove all the way to the wedding, with his trunk full of beer, just to show us a little German hospitality. That’s not unique to the individual, German’s will go that extra hundred miles just to be hospitable.

Germans are great people.

Now the French, they can be kind of French & being kind of French is really just an insulting way of calling the people pretentious. But you know what? They are not nearly as pretentious as the British. And sure, their capital might smell like piss, but Parisians are not as bad as everyone will have you believe. Sorry to burst your bubble there, but you probably won’t run into the Paris snob that you are expecting to.

But the stereo-type about their food, that’s true. They take their food too seriously there. To make up for it, they have about a million different flavors of potato chips, but their food is taken to the extremes. People call them Frogs because of it, I didn’t see frog on the menu too often in France. What people should call them is Ducks. There is a shit ton of Duck on the menu. Too much duck. Too much wine. Wine is cheaper than beer & soda in France. You get tired of wine fast.

But beyond that, there’s not much to say. The French are huge on their culture, but when you actually go to France, you see American culture. The music that you here is American. You can be in France for months on end before you find a radio station that only plays French music. Otherwise, all you hear is the same crap American pop that you were listening to when you left the good old US of A. When you turn on the TV, it’s American shows, actually, it’s Friends. That show is huge in Europe. Friends & the BBC. Ultimately, the French won’t admit it, but they have been lazily co-opting US & British culture since Miles Davis & producing nothing of their own save a few OK movies. But the Germans, Spanish, & Brits do movies better.

I could go on & on, but then the Netherlands, the Dutch, they are like a calmer less extreme versions of the Germans. They are every bit as awesome, but they don’t take the subcultures to the extremes that the Germans do. Belgium, isn’t that different from the Netherlands, it’s really like a French version of Germany, but unlike France, you hear Belgium music on the radio & see still Friends on the television.

Now Canadians, well, the women are super hot & fuck-me boots are huge up there. But most Canadians are trying to live down that stereo-type of being nice & polite people. Some of them still embrace it, but not the people that you run into in Toronto. Montreal is different, Montreal is the better city to visit if you are doing the whole Canada thing. But then, in Montreal, you meet people that pretend that they don’t speak English. And you know, you just know that not being able to speak English is a flat out lie. Now if you go to France, most people there will speak English, but not Montreal where English is spoken a lot more often than it is in France.

Most of the people you meet in Montreal are really good people & when I travel abroad, I do like to meet people half way, or at least be patient until I can make out enough cognates to catch the gist of what they are trying to tell me. I understand that I am a foreigner, & it is shocking how often a German will approach you in Spain & ask if you speak English, but when it comes to places like Montreal & an asshole that has lived his entire life in Canada attempts to tell me that he only speaks French, I just want to bash his head it. That asshole is a liar. Plain & SIMPLE.


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