It's Independence Day! I have lots of American friends and family, and of course the cultural soup in which we all swim is largely American.
So for once, I'm not going to be snarky about all the awful things Americans have done to the world and each other. After all, I'm sitting in the UK, which has done lots and lots of terrible things to most of the planet. Whatever has happened since, and whatever the nuances and complications, the American War of Independence was a glorious moment and an inspiration to Ireland, France and lots of other oppressed nations - which is why the British defeat was greeted with street parties in most British cities.
Because I'm a lazy sod, I'm not going to write a full account of all the American things I love. Just a random list.
Tom Paine (not American, but a major influence on that nation's foundation). Henry David Thoreau. Helen Keller. Patti Smith. Emily Dickinson. The American ones from Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Frasier. Cesar Chavez. Burr. The Yippies. Green Lantern. Superman. The Nation. Star Trek. Bob Roberts. Sitting Bull (who probably didn't celebrate July 4th). REM, despite everything. Wednesday Adams. Film noir. Woody Allen. The Violent Femmes. L. M. Alcott. The Tevatron. Kevin Smith. Raymond Chandler. Auster. Delillo. Sheri Tepper. John Adams. Philip Glass. Steve Reich. Conlon Nancarrow. George Crumb. Doonesbury. Joan Baez. South Park. The early years of The Simpsons. Frank Lloyd Wright. Laura Cantrell. Massive trains (largely RIP). Willa Cather. John Berryman. Robert Frost. Jonas Salk. Clueless. PZ Myers. Denis Kucinich. Bernie Sanders. Gil Scott-Heron. Bessies Smith and Jackson. Gore Vidal. Earth First!. The Hepburns. Bogart. Casablanca. Steinbeck. Studs Terkel. Grosse Pointe Blank. Bison. The Folger Library. The Abraham Lincoln Brigage. Hell, Abraham Lincoln. Vermont in autumn (fall, if you like - that's what Shakespeare called it). Huey Long. Tom Paxton. Bob Dylan. Pete Seeger. Phil Ochs. Angela Davis.
And that's just a tiny list. Last Friday was Canada Day, so here's a short list of great Canadian things.
Only joking, there's loads more. Joni Mitchell. Neil Young. Stompin' Tom (I'm advised this morning). Anne of Green Gables. Van Vogt (author and SF magazine). Proper cold weather. Margaret Atwood. William Shatner. The record label Secretly Canadian. Pierre Trudeau. Marshall McLuhan. Leonard Cohen. Frank Gehry. Melissa Auf Der Maur. Denny Doherty. Negativland. Subvertising. James Gosling. The drummer and guitarist from Megadeth. Frederick Banting. James Randi. Tim Buck. Tecumseh (on territorial grounds, sadly). Northrop Frye. JK Galbraith. The Rockies. The trans-Canada railway. Nunavut. Prince Edward Island. Steven Pinker. John Charles Fields. Terrance and Philip. Ondaatje. Munro. Mistry. Saul Bellow. Coupland. William Gibson. Elizabeth Smart. Aboot. Ay. Poutine. Glenn Gould. Superman (Joe Shuster was Canadian).
Be proud, Canadians and Americans. Be proud