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GUNS Magazine Digital March 2011 - Page 94
• j O H N C O N N O R • THE TWO AMERICAS in search of definitions. can’t casually use the term “americans” to describe the i residents of that geopolitical entity known as “The united States of america” anymore. it just doesn’t feel right. It’s real; I see it and feel it—there are two very different Americas. It’s a gaping division of the nation, but I lack words for it, and it evades definition. It’s not about “haves” and “have-nots”; it’s not ethnic or racial or neatly split along political party lines. It’s certainly not about military and civilians, though the first examples which come to mind juxtapose the two. Maybe you can help. The Soldier & The Senator-Select My home base is a ranching, farming and logging area, but there’s a 5-star mountain resort nearby. Local folks avoid it; it’s alien ground. One morning our little airport was jammed with 50-plus young people who had just concluded a week-long snow-and-skateboarding extravaganza, snowboarding the high slopes one day and playing at a million-dollar skateboarding park at the mountain’s base the next. I was jammed in line to check my gunbag, listening as three scions of the rich, swaddled in designer down, exhorted a fourth to join them for a month in Machu Picchu. “Dude! We’ll chew some tasty leaf, smoke some fine buds! We’ll hang, we’ll chill, dude!” He of the handwoven hemp pants and Patagonia parka, happily assented; he had nothing better to do. “Hempy” wound up in front of me in the TSA line, too. Ahead of him were three obvious brothers, two in well-worn jeans and scuffed boots standing outside the rope; one, the youngest, in Army ACU, inside. He was headed back to Iraq. His brothers had done their service, apparently in the same unit, and mustered out. They 94 Two distinct Americas—but the lines aren’t very sharp…. and pack. “Hmm… Army, Army… Yup; looks like I’m in the Army.” “That’s cra-a-a-a-z-zy, dude! Army! Like, war and everything, right?” Hempy declared theatrically. The kid cocked an eyebrow. “Yeah,” he said, “Like, war.” “That’s cra-a-a-a-z-zzy! Hempy repeated. “Man,” he shook his head, “Why? You could be hangin’! Chillin’! Dude!” The kid might have made a brusque reply, but just then an airline staffer stopped and looked at Hempy’s “board bag.” Besides his carryons, he had a huge, expensive bag which snuggled his snowboard and skateboard. The lady explained it was much too big for carry-on. “Nah, I got an extra ticket for my boards. They stay with me, man,” Hempy advised. At that “man,” the lady stiffened, then saccharine-smiled, “Sir, come with me, please.” The pilot had announced a delay, and we were all belted in when Hempy was finally escorted aboard and settled, smirking, in two seats: one for him and one for his boards, man… The kid and I shared a look; “from another planet,” it said—or is it “another America”? Let me ask you: Which one is most likely to become a US senator, and which might be labeled a “potential domestic right-wing terrorist”? spoke of raising beef, canola and high-school hell; an old girlfriend, a newer truck and a brand-new baby. The youngest received instructions to “Stick with Sergeant Long, he’ll steer you straight,” and “You write to Momma, y’hear, and don’t give her cause to worry!” As we approached TSA’s checkpoint, the brothers said their goodbyes, then turned back for fast, fierce hugs, last warnings, a last “love you, bro’”—and they were gone. When the kid turned, Hempy made eye contact and engaged him. “So, you’re like, Army and stuff, huh?” Putting him on, the kid peered and pointed at the Army tapes on his chest The Beautiful (and not so beautiful) People I’ve stopped wondering who these famous and fashionable “celebrities” are. It seems “The Other America” worships a star-studded galaxy of people who have no discernable performing or productive talents, no values other than stylish superficiality and no admirable accomplishments or traits whatsoever—yet they are admired, envied and fawned over fanatically. A GUNS reader recently noticed a blurb about an apparently famed Hollywood celebrity couple breaking up. He had never heard of them, so he investigated. Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag have their own pages on Wikipedia. WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • MARCH 2011