Wednesday, July 05, 2006

In one last bit of patriotic chest thumping

before getting back to my usual moronic posts:

50 Reasons Why It's Good to Be an American Man (In No Particular Order)
More from Esquire

1. The original Tommy's burger. Not Tommies, mind you, that sorry mall-rat imitator of the real deal in L.A., but Tommy's-the y indicating that the chili on top has been brewing in the same pot for fifty years, which may be why you find very few American women in the long line.

2. Canadian import Emanuelle Chriqui.

3. Redwood National Park in California. An atheist could find God here.

4. Outlaw Country (channel 63) on Sirius. Self-description: "A sanctuary for the freaks, misfits, outcasts, rebels, and renegades of country music.

5. 3-in-one oil.

6. The Wonderbra.

7. The first eighteen minutes of Conan O'Brien.

8. The first four days of the NCAA tournament. Forty-eight games in eighty-four hours.

9. Cheap cars with cojones. Like the Dodge Magnum, a wagon that'll do 130 miles an hour.

10. Slow-pitch softball. I'm old, nearer to adult diapers than to my free-wheeling days, and when I shut my eyes at night and try to pry dread's fingers from my failing brain, I don't count sheep, or women, or my blessings. I recall team names from my slow-pitch days, and in my mind's eye I see the balls I crushed fly again-over outfielders' heads and wiremesh fences-in Cleveland, Iowa City, Austin, Philadelphia, and Manhattan. It makes me feel young again-and proud to live in a country where being slow, fat, and stoned is no barrier to pseudo-athletic excellence. I have played slow-pitch with ex-major-leaguers and Division 1 footballers and Orthodox Jews wearing tzitzis and women bus drivers who could grow a much better mustache than me. Thanks to slow-pitch, I have walked into town a stranger and left with dozens of friends; I've scored runs, jobs, weed, apartments, and more women than you could shake a Bombat at, although never from those mustachioed broads. Not that I didn't try. What I'm saying is, I have insomnia. Also, slowpitch is more than a game. It is as good, and as free, as America gets.


11. Texas Pete hot sauce.

12. Tater Tots.

13. Baked beans at Durgin-Park. In Boston, of course.

14. The lyrics to Hank Williams Jr.'s "Texas Women": I've got some fond memories of San Angelo / And I've seen some beauty queens in El Paso / But the best looking women that I've ever seen / Have all been in Texas and all wearing jeans.

15. Five-blade razors.

16. Four-door trucks.

17. Three-bean chili.

18. One-hundred-eighty-minute happy hours.

19. The Food Network's Giada De Laurentiis. Specifically, her plunging necklines and the placement of her oven so that she has to lean over at least a dozen times per show.

20. Low expectations. A few months ago I was outside a beer joint in Ecuador, peeing behind a blond horse named Gringa. Peeing behind his own horse nearby was an old friend, Enrique, who was in the middle of telling me about some unpleasantness he'd recently endured at U.S. customs in Miami. Officers there had refused to believe that a thirty-one-year-old banana republican earned enough honest bucks to own a vacation condo in Florida. Was he a narcotraficante? A terrorista? A narcoterrorista?! The interrogation concluded with an emasculating strip search, and the experience left Enrique thoroughly fed up with Americans. "I don't mean you," he quickly added. "You're different." For what it's worth, he's right: You'd never catch me rubber-gloving a rectum just because its owner looks a little Escobar-y. But my point here is that our rep has plummeted so low that it's almost impossible not to rise above it. Most foreigners, unless you're forcing them to play naked Twister or collaterally damaging their wedding parties, are pleasantly surprised by our lack of visible fangs. This has led to a happy paradox: While we're collectively in the toilet, we individually smell like roses.

21. You're never more than a car ride away from a decent public golf course.

22. You can eat Krispy Kremes sautéed in trans fat at every meal for the next three months and still not be the fattest person at the state fair.

23. When you think about it, our flag is still the coolest looking of any nation's. Except maybe Kiribati's.

24. Titanium is our mineral. Titanium drivers. Titanium bats. Titanium armor.

25. Salad in a bag.

26. Wine in a box.

27. Boy shorts on women.

28. DVR for just seven dollars a month.

29. The smell of a box of baseballs.

30. The duality of never buying a Jack LaLanne juicer but being happy that he's selling them.

31. The rebirth of the steak house. Less burgundy, better meat.

32. The C-note.

33. The red-eye out of Vegas. At 3:00 P.M., you're poolside, trying to sweat out an ill-advised round of mojitos with three women from Nova Scotia. You haven't eaten since the night before, when you had a porterhouse at a place where they made the Caesar salad at your table. At 6:00, you get your bag from the bellman and wash up in the casino restroom. You still look good. At 8:00, you stand at the craps table, your bag at your feet, and make one last concerted effort to hit on your famous parley on the horn high yo. At 9:45, after laying a quick five hundred on the Redskins, you grab a cab to the airport, where you drop a final hundred into the Wheel of Fortune slot machines as you tug on a Bloody Mary. At 11:56, you take your seat on the plane, and fifteen minutes later, every reading light goes out, every head tilts into a makeshift pillow. When you land, you debark bleary-eyed, crook-stepped. It's 5:58. In three hours you will be at work.


34. That concurrently Bob Dylan and Kanye West both, in some way, speak for you.

35. That the Yankees haven't won the World Series in five seasons. And it ain't gonna happen this year, either.

36. The surfeit of attractive actresses named Jennifer.

37. The ever-changing standards of American beauty. While men elsewhere have fairly stagnant tastes, our ideal swings constantly from Kate Moss to J. Lo. This is good. It means American women have countless norms to pick from and ensures us of a truly eclectic buffet.

38. NFL Sunday Ticket.

39. Tiffany's. Any schmuck with a credit card can walk in, buy the cheapest trinket in the store, have 'em wrap it in that peacockblue box with a satin bow, and melt any woman's heart.

40. Batting cages and driving ranges. In the same spot.

41. The never-ending quest to find the perfect barbecue joint.

42. And the perfect cheeseburger.

43. ZZ Top. They're from Texas, and they're not from old money. In fact, they just got paid today, and it was all nickels and dimes. They sport beards that would be unacceptable to most biker mamas. They have consumed booze, drugs, topless dancers, pork ribs, and pecan pie with equal and unadulterated ferocity. And considering that they haven't made a decent album since 1983, it's somewhat remarkable that they're still around. But ZZ Top continues to define the aesthetics of unrepentant American maleness; this is the music of liars, fighters, and gamblers. ZZ Top is what you hear when there are thirteen people in the bar and twelve of them are men (and the thirteenth is a waitress, and she's been divorced three times). It's a straightforward equation: Billy Gibbons gets his ax in the pocket, everybody hunkers down with Camel straights, the world turns into chrome and leather, and thirty years of political correctness evaporates like spit.


44. Corn bread.

45. Yellow mustard.

46. Macaroni and cheese. And hot dogs.

47. Because someday you could grow up to be Grand Exalted Ruler of a club called the Elks.

48. Because if you're an American man, you're not a British man.

49. This formula: a Tuesday, the dizzying sun, cheap beer, bleacher seats.

50. Eight more Sopranos episodes.

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