LAX – Welome to Amurika!

Welcome to LAX
19:50 LA Time on the 15th of May. 0350 in Dublin. 13:50 in Auckland.

“I will not filed, stamped, indexed, briefed debriefed or numbered!” – The Prisoner

Ten hours on a plane, before it drops into the Los Angeles smog. I leave the comfortable friendliness of Air New Zealand, and tramp down a musty corridor to a gruff disinterested immigration officer. Immigration? I’m not coming to America, I’m TRANSITING, sir.


I don’t say this. I keep my mouth shut – I know all about Guantanamo Bay. Instead, I allow myself to be biometrically fingerprinted, photographed, entered into databases – all in the name of National Security.
Next!
I walk around the cubicle, and hand the stub of my Visa Waiver card to an middle-aged American woman in an Air NZ outfit. Goodbye to the trickiest bit of paper known to mankind. The US Visa Waiver form is such a minefield that airline crews suggest that starting from the *end* might make it easier. Or more difficult to fuck it up. Am I Nazi? No. Am I a terrorist? No. Thank you, have a nice day, ya’all.
The waiting room – more of a holding pen, really – is furnished with bland orange/dead-salmon-pink furniture and carpets from some 70s catalogue. There’s sustenance on offer – horrible biscuits, delicately desiccated ‘Red Delicious’ apples and a few other unhealthy looking snack foods.
I refill my water bottle from the cooler, hoping for a taste of freedom. Then I remember a conversation I once had, on an Amsterdam-London flight, with an octogenarian WWII veteran. When he I mentioned that I did ‘environmental work’, he ranted at me for the entire flight for not doing something about the quality of water in Los Angeles, where he lived.
He was right – at least about LAX anyway. It’s like dishwater filtered through an old sock.
Some generic TV show is playing on wall-mounted TVs. It appears to involve romance, women with improbable hair, the paranormal, guns and a fair amount of killing. I think it’s called The last time I had the misfortune to sit in this room, it was earlier in the day, so we were subjected to Oprah, and her own brand of American Family Values.
The PA crackles into something approaching life. A squeaky voice emanates, sounding exactly like Lucy, the Sheriff’s ditzy receptionist in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. She informs us of the heavy fines we can and will incur if ‘the smoking laws are not adhered to’.
I wish I was a smoker, if only to test the law. I’d probably end up Folsom Prison, like Johnny Cash (although I think he shot a man in Reno… just to watch him die). Or Tim Leary, put away for life for possession of an single joint.
Paranoia grips me. I must eat the paper I’ve written this story on, due to the possibly seditious, treacherous nature of my musing.
There’s a clatter of shutters. A shop opens, selling things like ‘I HEART LA’ t-shirts. Good grief. I’ve spent my visit to LA stuffed into a nasty room. And they’re trying to fucking sell me souvenirs. Don’t they see the irony?
The squeaky voice emerges from a haze of static, and explains in a very roundabout fashion (involving confusing details about an Air Canada flight ‘deplaning’) that we may now board our plane. I race back on board, where the friendly Kiwis give me wine to help me recover from my visit to the City of Angels.
Welcome to America. Indeed.

daev
Chief Bottle Washer at Blather

Writer, photographer, environmental campaigner and “known troublemaker” Dave Walsh is the founder of Blather.net, described both as “possibly the most arrogant and depraved website to be found either side of the majestic Shannon River”, and “the nicest website circulating in Ireland”. Half Irishman, half-bicycle. He lives in southern Irish city of Barcelona.


40 comments

  1. Amazing! 5 weeks at sea blogging away and what do you do when you get to LAX? Keep on blogging! Wey hey! Welcome home amigo! Hope you’re at least getting some sleep now…..

  2. Sorry to hear that you viewed your experience in such a negative light. I eagerly await your suggestions on how to protect US borders, which house 296,469,143 American citizens clamoring for tighter border control on who comes and goes from our country. I assume that in light of your experience and criticism, that you will be able to offer us alternative solutions and/or suggestions that will be equally, if not more effective.

  3. It could have been worse. You could have been in New York at JFK. Everything exactly as you describe it but worse, more rotten attitude, toxic everything, and a few more layers of confusion.
    Flying is for the insane I take a boat or walk these days.

  4. Hi Amber,
    May I suggest you study the Schengen laws in Europe as a start? As someone who was also subjected to hours of intrusive questioning in Minneapolis whilst transiting to Canada I have to agree the the Kafkaesque paranoia of the whole “security” issue left me baffled, bewildered and depressed. Perhaps though as a way of creating a false sense of security and passifying the country, it is a useful piece of political conjuring. I leave that to you to decide.

  5. amber,
    it’s just a thought, but maybe, you know maybe, you could canvass your government to stop invading and bombing third world countries which are awash with fundamentalist maniacs who have been taught to hate you from the moment that they are old enough to speak. it tends to piss them off and give them the impression that america is not their friend.
    ask your congressman to raise questions about how bin ladens’ organisation got it’s training. write to your senator and ask him why succesive white house admins (and please note that i do not say ‘the american people’) have pursued a policy of propping up tin-pot, butchering dictators (such as Saddam Hussein) and denying any nascent democratic movements the slightest hope (such as the Bush 1 admin’s reaction to the pleas of the Kurds) for the future.
    people travelling to visit the united states should not be subject to intrusive, invasive orwellian interregations. it’s vile, ignorant and ultimately counter-productive. and i believe that america’s money can be better spent in fighting a highly dangerous enemy by investing in intelligence and serious attempts to root out the small leadership of al qaeda which (we are infomed) is hiding in pakistan.

  6. I have never said that we have anything perfected. It just sad that the international community has a favorite new past time of American bashing. If you were subjected to a constant barrage of insults and complaints, you too might be wondering “OK, so there is definitely some negative – but where are the suggestions or solutions to improve it?” Again, I am not putting the US on a pedestal and saying “Behold, we are the almighty super power and we have everything right.” Far from it. I do not support the Bush Administration and I do lobby my senators and congress people. I am active in both my local and national politics. I have signed and sent so many petitions to stop movements from passing on the senate floor. Let’s also keep in mind, that the congress and senate is right now controlled by Republicans.
    I do appreciate you not completely addressing it as the American people – but rather as the current administration. And living here, the American people are questioning Bush and his admin more and more – so much so that they (the admin) are now on the defensive about their actions. They never had, nor do they have, complete and consenting support of the people to invade Iraq.
    As for bombarding third world countries with bombs, you make it sound as if every day we are saying” Hmmm, which little nations do we feel like bombing today? Shall we toss a coin?” Don’t be naive. Everything is gray – not black and white. And last I heard Saddam was enjoying Doritos – not butchered.
    You wanna talk about human rights? Let’s. I understand there is much concern over the human rights issue at Guantanamo. Ok. I admit. Not an ideal situation. May I suggest Ireland take the POW’s and house them and figure out what to do with POW’s who openly admit that when they are freed they plan on killing more Americans? No? Ok – let’s figure out the human rights to the thousands of people who died in NYC, Washington and even Spain. Let’s talk about the men, women and children butchered in their own countries by said dictators. What about their human rights? Have the US actions solved the problems of the world? Hell no. Are our current foreign policies on the road to solving them? My money is on ‘nope’.
    Is anyone else trying? How else can we remove terrorists training camps? Do you go on the offensive? Or do we wait to see if we get hit again? (and I have no doubts that we will get hit again) But if we stop our current path – does it open the door for more terrorism – cause if it (terrorism) worked for this, will it work for that? Can they keep bullying us? The world? I don’t have the answer and I don’t know anyone who does for sure. Just more gray.
    Aside from immigration and Iraq, how ‘bout we mention that the US comprises more than half of all international humanitarian aid – giving amounts so staggering that it would cripple many nations to match it. Every one is so hung up on Guantonamo Bay – they seemed to either forget or don’t realize the extent that we provide aid.
    It’s easy to sit in a neutral country and cast stones while, admit it or not, are able to remain neutral due the foreign policies of countries such as the US and Great Britain. Please don’t mistake me for being on the side of “You’re With Us or Against Us” I’m not. I’m just saying theories and ideals are just that. It’s fine, and even desired, to point out flaws in the system – but make a frigging suggestion on how to fix it. Put some positive your opinions with solutions or ideas on how to change it. In the professional world, I could never go up to a client or potential client and say this is what’s wrong with your business. And then go silent. They would just get insulted. I can point out the wrong, but I need to bring some solutions/suggestions/ideas to the table.
    No one can take a hard line stance on one side or the other. It isn’t that easy. These are just generalities, I know. But what I would like to see is maybe people around the world, including here in the US, taking in the big picture and not picking on specific instances. And believe me, I want to put a strong piece of duct tape over W’s drivel dripping war talking mouth too… but as a whole, we aren’t a big bad nation. Can you at least see my point?

  7. amber,
    i can certainly see many of the points you are making. and you make them articulately and with conviction.
    there are so many things to discuss in your post, that i fear we would need an entire discussion forum to ourselves to get through them.
    but, i’ll just quickly respond to a few (and this very much ‘on the fly’).
    regarding aid: yes, the united states (and please note that when i refer to the USA i am referring to it’s government, not it’s people – despite the fact that they are supposed to be one and the same..) does give whacking great sums of cash to developing countries. but as you point out – it’s not black and white. there are conditions to these aid packages.
    the recent G8 debt relief deal is just another example – most of us saw this as an extraordinary act of altruism and generosity. scratch a little deeper and you will actually see that there are deeply cynical motivations behind it. those countries recieving relief are those that have subscribed to the IMF neo-liberal model of economic management. this involves deregulaton (translation = fire all the civil servants), privatisation (translation = sell state assests off to the G8 countries) and the adoption of market based solutions (translation = price things like health care higher and higher so that poor people stop complaining because they are all dead).
    regarding the imprisonment of ‘terrorists’: this is a seriously thorny issue and one which we in ireland have some experience. Interment (imprisonment without trial) has in every instance in our history bred more violence. That’s a sad but simple fact. For every man interred, another three will take his place.
    There’s a mass of other points which we should discuss here, but time doesn’t allow me right now. I’ll be back tomorrow and hopefully we can chat about it a bit more.
    Thanks for your comments – they’re productive and thought-provoking.

  8. Gee Damien you got there before me on the aid issue… more info about that here:
    http://opendemocracy.org/democracy-africa_democracy/NGO_2630.jsp
    And yes, Amber no-one is pointing a finger at the US and claiming that it is all black. Far from it. However, when a policy is unjust, then that should be pointed out. Acknowledging that something is wrong is simply the first step towards seeking a solution, no?
    As for the quotes coming out of Guantanamo, where access to the prisoners there has been minimal to say the least, I for one would be very keen to see where you got the information suggesting that the prisoners there have made such statements.

  9. I look forward to it, as I am always up for understanding another person’s point of view no matter what the subject.
    Question for Jen – the Schengen laws – the same as the Schengen Treaty? As I am not in the EU, I am unfimiliar with them, but I am interested and want to make sure I am reading up on the correct subject.

  10. Re Schengen yes it’s the same thing
    http://europa.eu.int/comm/justice_home
    /fsj/freetravel/frontiers/fsj_freetravel_schengen_en.htm
    To quote the site:
    The Schengen Convention is designed to take into account the interests of all the States that have signed up to it. Accordingly, this freedom of movement without being submitted to checks at internal borders was accompanied by so-called compensatory measures . These measures involve setting a common visa regime, improving coordination between the police, customs and the judiciary and taking additional steps to combat problems such as terrorism and organised crime .

  11. Wow, nice to know I can still open a can of worms occasionally. Jen – wrong way around, check the date IN the article. I scribbled it down on the way to NZ, only wrote it up a couple of weeks ago.
    Amber – don’t take it so personally, you seem to be adopting a bit of a ‘are ye wit us or agin us?’ stance. My article was an observational piece – about the surreality of going through US immigration (and having trinkets peddled to me) when I didn’t even want to visit the damned country!
    As for Ireland being neutral? Don’t make me laugh. Do you know how many US-fucking-troops have transitted through Shannon? 10,000 a month apparently.
    When pressed on the issue, our glorious Taoiseach, Gobwshaw Bertie Aherne admitted that telling the yanks to feck off would be “tantamount to. declaring war on the US”.

  12. Amber… Do not over complicate this.. Accept the fact that the President and his administration lied and blundered and now we have a fight in Iraq that is doing nothing but breeding terrorists. Last night he lied again when he said there was a connection between 911 and Iraq there is no connection. How many times does it take for him to ask for another 80 billion for it to be clear this is a disaster? Rumsfeld said the other day this could take 12 years? Maybe it will end when the Chinese get tired of loaning us Billions?

  13. Ummmmm, no Dave. I am not taking a ‘with us or against us’ stance as i stated. Personally, I don’t believe we should have ever invaded Iraq. I believe that instead of making up scare tatics to trick the American people into supporting such dead end causes, that our gov’t should be spending more money on seeking alternative sources of energy rather than keeping us on such a major dependency on foreign oil. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about – oil and money – because we all know there were never any WMD’s there.
    As for terrorism, before the 2004 election, this country went on high alert so many times, I lost count. After Bush got re-elected, I don’t think the alert has gone up – something I find suspect.
    My point was, make observations, make critisms – and yes that is the first step to acknowledging and solving a problem, but don’t make it just critisism, make it constructive. I see a lot of America bashing and finger pointing – but not a lot of suggestions afterwards. Negative perceptions and views, without suggestions for improvement, can be jus as dangerous as the negative event itself. Poisin in the well so to speak. The whole negativity breeds negativity breeds contempt.
    As far as the Schengen Treaty, I can see the merits of it, but when reading more about it – it too is not without it’s own set of problems, cracks and privacy issues.
    I guess the way we view things, is largely based on what we read or are willingly to read. As a whole, we need to be more open minded, open to accepting the flaws as well as the good. When we see the flaws, it is our responsibily to point them out AND try to fix them.

  14. I live in Manhattan, a small island off Amurika. I do have a couple of positive suggestions.
    The US should obey the Geneva Convention. We should not torture prisoners (or outsource them). It is immoral, illegal, gives us bad info, and makes us hated. I would even say it is a bad idea.
    The US should clean up its own elections. The last two presidential races were rotten with fraud; and we refused to allow UN monitors. This makes us look very silly when we preach the virtues of democracy to our benighted brethren abroad.
    The US should bolster the separation of church and state. Many conservatives here are trying their evangelical utmost to dismantle it; turning us into an explicitly Christian state only pours oil on troubled flames. And it makes us ridiculous when we try to discourage Talibans elsewhere.
    Bush should stop invoking the 9/11 attack to excuse everything he does (he mentioned it five times in his foolish speech last night).
    The US should stop uniting our enemies and dividing our allies. Even Republicans should be able to come up with a smarter plan than that.
    That’s a start. None of these makes us more susceptible to attack, and it will be easier to work in a cleaner house.
    And Dave, I hope you do visit LA at some point. It’s a strange place, and I know you like strange. If you have already, never mind. Once is enough. Cheers!

  15. Good God Doug! Don’t encourage the man to go back! Look at the fracas he created just from sitting in the airport! 😀

  16. Getting back to some of the things that amber said above. Regarding how to deal with terrorists. Ireland (my home) has had to deal with ‘terrorism’ for over 40 years. In fact, you can argue that we’ve been dealing with it since the 12th century, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.
    In the last 40 years however, both the Irish and British people have lived in perpetual fear of bombing, murder, racketeering and fundamentalism of the most frightening ferocity. And it hasn’t gone away. Only last night, a teenager was shot in a ‘punishment’ shooting – which generally involves the IRA placing a gun behind the victims knee and pulling the trigger. This is an almost daily event in Northern Ireland.
    So, how have we dealt with it? Well, more often than not, pretty badly. During the 1970’s the British attempted to criminalise the IRA, refusing to acknowledge their claims that they were soldiers fighting a war. They also interred thousands of people. The results were catastrophic and instant. More people died. The violence escalated horribly.
    So what’s the alternative? Do we try to give our misunderstood Al Qaeda brother a hug and assure him that we really understand his pain?
    Nope. We do not. If I am to be honest about this, my natural instinct is to blow the bastards off the face of the earth.
    But what is needed is a balance. And, critically, an understanding of what type of enemy you are fighting. The IRA are not Al Qaeda. They have different motivations and different goals. Some would argue that the IRA were fighting for unification of the island. Others would argue that they are nothing more than the mob. Their recent behaviour gives some weight to this. And again, even today, we the people of Ireland are sitting waiting for *another* IRA statement whihc may or may not bring an end the bloody thing.
    Al Qaeda are a completely different animal: they are highly organised, frighteningly well-financed and alarmingly committed to their cause. And this last observation should be one that forces us to ask some questions. Why do they hate America so much? What did the USA do to these people that drives them to such incredible extremes? What does it take to make 18 guys hijack airplanes and fly them into skyscrapers?
    There are no simple answers. But I do believe this: it’s not just about religion. Most terrorists (wherever they are from) are driven by a deep rage, born of exclusion, radical racist philosophies, poverty, illiteracy, ignorance and (if you can believe this) a wish to belong. When you grow up in a slum, a terrorist organisation can be a very attractive brotherhood fulfilling some basic human needs: food, shelter and a sense of purpose and direction. Religion is merely the smokescreen which zealots like Bin Laden use to convince the downtrodden and disenfranchised that all their ills are because of a foreign power. The IRA did it in Ireland and Bin Laden does it in Saudi Arabia. There is ultimately no difference. Except that Al Qaeda’s weaponry is designed to cause mass murder on a scale previously unimaginable.
    Before America can deal with this problem (and it’s going to be around for a lot longer than Bush2 will) it needs to understand what it is involved in.
    I have no simple solutions. I have no pat, ten-word answers. I’ll leave that to the reductive, moronic spinners in the White House. But I do know this: if you dehumanise your enemy, treat him like an animal and incarcerate him without trial, it merely adds ammunition to the very people that you are trying to stop. It gives them the perfect material with which to recruit the next generation of angry, frightened young men and women who due to a lack of education and free-thought, may be all too willing to sacrifice their lives in killing more Americans.

  17. If I do anymore airport reviews, I’ll have the UN down on my head.
    Doug – by the middle of July I’ll have flown into LA 4 times, without ever having been there… I’m trying to resisit LA and Las Vegas for a long as possible…
    Amber – while I do not for one minute mind the debate that has broken out here – I’m flattered that I should have written the catalyst.
    But my article wasn’t even a criticism of America – just because I found LAX to be a weird experience doesn’t mean that I want to take the entire American people to task over it.
    Suggestions for LAX? More comfortable waiting area, less piped television, better water quality and less surliness from the staff.
    Unless there’s a touch of First Earth Battalion/Guantanomo Bay tactics being used in LAX,
    Am I a trrrst now?
    First Earth Battalion stuff:
    Jon Ronson: The Men Who Stare At Goats
    First Earth Battalion Manual

  18. “Furnirs” and “Uhmerkins” alike should also read James Kelman’s novel “You Have To Be Careful In The Land Of The Free” a Glaswegian persepctive on living in that strange and amazing land, but don’t let that out ye off 😀

  19. Ok – so I have been reading up a bit on the EU Schengen Treaty as suggested. The link that Jen provided is a great site for it’s merits and purpose. Definitely check it out. Found a couple of sites that discuss both it’s merits and disadvantages. Here is an excerpt from one of the sites – I have posted it’s links below.
    “The worst that can happen is for a person’s name to be entered into the Schengen Information System as unwanted alien who should be refused entry. The disadvantages are that entry refusal by one country automatically disqualifies one from entering all the other Schengen countries. There are many reasons why a country may enter ones name into the Schengen Information System for the purposes of entry refusal under Article 96 of the Schengen Convention. Let say for example that an Australian environmental activist does not like the Norwegian whaling policy and demonstrates against that here in Sydney or any other place. Let us say also that the Norwegian authorities do not like the idea (which God forbid). The authorities then decide to enter the name of the activist into the SIS as an undesirable person who should be refused entry. Then because there is a conference for environmental activities in Spain, the activists decides to travel to Spain but at the airport on external border check, it occurs that the activists name is registered in the SIS database as a person to be refused entry. Although Spanish law may not permit entry denial for such a reason as used by Norway, nevertheless, because the Spanish must take into consideration the national security interests of the other Schengen countries, they decide to refuse entry to the activist.
    This illustration is not far fetched because it is based on a real case. A Greenpeace activist from next door, New Zealand, by the name Stephanie Mills, was refused entry into the Netherlands in June 1998 because France hadentered her name in the SIS as undesirable person to be refused entry for national security reasons. One may ask what was Mills’ crime? Mills’ crime was that she was not pleased with the way France was detonating nuclear bombs in the south pacific and she and her colleagues decided to demonstrate against the detonation. France responded by entering her name in the SIS without her knowledge. That meant that Mills could not enter France or any other Schengen country. The above instances demonstrate how easy it is to travel into the Schengen area but at the same time how easy it is to be refused entry. ”
    http://folk.uio.no/stephenk/pub/notused.shtml
    It’s an interesting read – but unfortunately not dated – so if the information is irrelevent now, please let me know.

  20. True systems always have technical flaws which need to be monitored and controlled. The basic principle of freedom of movement however remains the overriding goal of Schengen.
    As an ex-employee of Greenpeace I am happy to say that Stephanie was a frequent and regular visitor to Amsterdam once the error was cleared up.

  21. Hey, I don’t come to Ireland and complain bitterly about my treatment at your airports! So why not keep your smarmy comments to yourself! AND make sure you smile while US Customs is doing that cavity search!
    I skipped lunch and now I have TONS of hostility! don’t get me started!

  22. You know those automated walkways you get in airports, like a horizontal escalator?
    God I love those things. Worth the ticket price alone.

  23. the Visa waiver wasn’t so bad for me, and neither was the security at D / FW Airport.
    Gatwick, however, was the bitch. i was fingerprinted and had my photograph taken, then i — and i alone — was herded into a room, where my bag and clothes were meticulously searched for “contraband.”
    i doubt i would’ve been treated any worse if i had written “tiocfaidh ar la” on my passport.

  24. Wait, how can you be ‘herded’ by yourself? If it’s just you, there is no herd? I’m confused by that whole statement.

  25. dave, next time shave your head when deplaning in america.
    i got a “NICE HAIRCUT, SON!” from an ex-marine-turned-border-guard type who barely looked at my paperwork before stamping it.

  26. shepherded is what i meant.
    it’s not so difficult to understand my statement just because i forgot to type for letters.

  27. @Amber Brown:
    Virtually every major international airport in a “respectable country” has a transit area: Where people who are on _transit_ get from plane to plane without coming close to immigration.
    Not so in the US, where transit is (pardon me) a major PITA. So much that (routes and money allowing) I avoid stopsovers in the US.
    I have no problem with what the US does to me when I visit. Check me up and down, front and rear, fine. I’ve seen much more thorough border checks and as a kid. But don’t punish me for using an US Airline to go to South America.

  28. @ Jaguar
    Hey man, It’s exactly your attitude that your fellow country people on this posting have been trying to steer away from. i.e the Whoo Yeah!!! I’m Umurikan and we sh!t bullets.
    Please keep your promise and don’t come anywhere near my country.
    @ Everybody else
    As a regular traveller (one who has never visited the US, and never will), I think that you will agree that all airport transit lounges are boring, drab places where no one wants to be.

  29. Nosferatu – I think Jaguar maintains a sort of healthy right-wing disdain, and I think his tongue is quite often in his cheek…

  30. Hey Dave,
    Is that the same healthy right wing disdain that Hitler maintained and present groups like the KKK, Combat 18 and the National Front currently maintain?
    G.W and Co only got themselves elected by promoting right wing christian fundamentalist ideals that appealed to the majority of white middle America. Leave religon out of politics.
    They ousted the Taliban from Afghanistan because they were a Muslim Fundamentalist Government. Cant they see that the Non-Christian world view them with the same contempt that they view everybody else? It’s no wonder that Muslims think that they are in the middle of a Religious War, because that is what it is.

  31. Nosferatu – you miss my point. I’m not defending American foreign policy… all I was saying is that Jaguar appears to be a lovable curmudgeon! (sorry Jag)

  32. Curmudgeon: a crusty irascible cantankerous old person full of stubborn ideas
    Ha ha ha… I take it all back. I think you hit the nail on the head there, Dave. Sorry about the rant, I get soooo mad when I read such narrow minded views. You know what it’s like, they invade Dublin wearing elasticated green polyester pants and arran jumpers after getting the ferry to Doon Leg a Haira and wander around Dublin like lost sheep.

  33. Nosferatu: Just remember, America hates you.
    Dave: I resent being called a curmudgeon. I’m only 30 and I think I still qualify as a ‘crank’.
    Lastly everyone knows that both the democrats and republicans are actually alien sauropods bent on world dominiation and only effect rivalry to split us humans up, which is why I vote Libertarian.
    Libertarians may be satanists, but at least they are human.
    What?

  34. Typical sophomoric commentary… the young Europeans go in expecting to find things to disdain about the U.S., confident in their cultural superiority (never mind all the evidence to the contrary, the countless great contributions America has made in every field of knowledge, the general spinelessness and lack of real imagination among the Eurobrats), and sure enough – lo and behold – they find the very things they were looking for.

  35. Young? Nice to know 32 is still regarded as young!
    Fitzie, you miss the point. I didn’t actually really enter the U.S., I was TRANSITTING through.
    Damn, you people are touchy!

  36. No, Dave, I think you’re missing the point. I know you were TRANSITTING through… I guess the reader is meant to be all the more impressed with your quick and keen powers of observation, and the endless faults of the U.S. are seen to stand out even more than usual, given just that transitory aspect. Yes, 32 is young, and close to the age I had imagined you’d be, judging by your writing: you have yet to develop the quality of balance that comes with experience – every single reference you make is negative, with nary a hint of a positive thrown in. The usual oh-so-jaded musings of the youngish.

  37. What I find interesting here – apart from the lack of of a sense of humour, is how touchy and defensive people are about their country – in particular, the U.S. On blather.net, we tend to give hassle to everyone, equally – we’re forever slagging off our own country/countries, politicians governments, etc. We don’t even take ourselves seriously, hampered, as we are, by our tender years and lack of wordly experience.
    But why are you so inclined to defend the wonders of LAX? I’d love to know…
    I’ve been all over the U.S., – from California to Texas to Vermont to New York to D.C. Not just waiting rooms in LAX, so that’s why I find transitting through LAX so surreal – and U.S. airport ‘homeland security’ such a curious thing.

  38. It’s not LAX per se: in your ‘Amurika’ essay (in my esteemed 50 years I’ve never heard any American pronounce the name of the country that way, by the way -your choice of title is revealing in itself)you’re using your fascinating LAX experience to say or imply that Americans are 1) fascist, 2) dumb, 3) tasteless, and 4) sadly ignorant of their own lowclass status. Hey, news flash, airports suck pretty much everywhere, but putting that aside, a lot of us genuwine Amurikans are tired of the (at least partly baseless) cheap shots we are constantly having to take, y’all. And I’m just saying – as someone who has worked as a journalist himself – that your writing (while actually pretty good, in its way) would be better, more persuasive, and funnier if you didn’t drive such a steamroller. Try a sportscar with several different gears, including even reverse.
    But it’s been nice meeting you Dave, and fun to chat… thanks for your replies.

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