30 March 2010

The Three World Wars

I was born in 1966. By the time I knew what was going on Nixon was caught up in Watergate. I remember one time when I faked brushing my teeth and my mom busted me, saying "That's why the President is in all this mess. He lied." She hasn't changed much. Before this I was vaguely aware of a world outside of my own. I remember wondering what POWs were and why we had to bring them home. My uncle George wore a POW button. He fought with the U.S. Army in the Korean War. He was referring, of course, to the prisoners of the Vietnam War.

North Vietnam and North Korea were the only countries standing between the U.S. and China, geographically, when we fought these wars. In both cases the U.S. operated from the southern half of a once united nation and, in both cases, the enemy nation bordered China. I'm sure China didn't think much of us having our troops so close to their border, which is why we fought to the 38th paralell of the Korean peninsula and no further. At the time there was serious concern that Communism would sweep through Asia, spreading from nation to nation, like a cold, and it could only be caught border to border apparently. This is referred to as the Domino Theory, the cornerstone of any good Cold War philosophy, which seems kind of silly to me. But I saw the Berlin Wall fall when I was barely in my twenties, so maybe I don't have an idea of how real the threat of Communism or nuclear war was. The Berlin Airlift of 1961 and the Cuban Missle Crisis of 1962 were both episodes of direct or almost-direct U.S.-Soviet conflict. When the 1980's arrived the U.S. hockey team defeated the Soviets at the Olympics, the Afghans defeated them in Afghanistan, and Rambo, Rocky and Bill Murray had faced off against them in the movies. Before I turned twenty the real life Soviets had become cartoon villains. Of course, by this time, Ronald Reagan had ridden into office and started to move us beyond detente.

I had a professor who argued that the reason for the Sixties, the reason that people became dirty hippies, is the failure of the U.S. and Soviet Union to blow each other up during the Cuban Missle Crisis. I guess he figured they figured that if it didn't happen then, it would never happen and it was time to be self-indulgent and self-centered; the professor was kind of a dick. I don't think that's why the Sixties happened. The Fifties were repressed and the Sixties just brought the pendulum the other way. Guys and girls that had to suffer through heavy petting in the Fifties got to have Free Love in the Sixties, if they weren't married to whoever they were petting. And if they were they could just get divorced. The Free Love-rs had to worry about being drafted and here begins distrust of the government in a whole new way, a distrust that Nixon would hammer into the public consciousness so deeply that it is still being felt today.

I wonder if all of the Cold War actions, the proxy wars, the Space Race and all the economic and political competitions will eventually be referred to as the Third World War. It has definitely been a different world since the Soviet Union collapsed. It's messier and not as well-defined. Our enemy now is not a nation, but a loose network. How do we define them? They aren't within specific borders, even borders as lazy as Vietnam's. And a "war on terror" does not make sense either. We are fighting a war against a tactic? Because that's what terrorism is: a tactic of war. Like I have said before, I miss the old days when Reagan was president and the Russians were clearly the guys in the black hats.

You're Probably Thinking..."A Vacation From What?"

I am officially on vacation. If you know me, if you have been to my house in the last three months, you will know, you will ask yourself, "what could he be taking a vacation from?" I don't work, I practically don't feed myself (not true), I don't do my own laundry, or housework, or dishes (almost not true). But my friend Ralph lives outside of Washington, D.C., one of my favorite places, and an opportuinity to road trip presented itself. Anyone who reads my blog knows that I am a history nut and, for people similarly afflicted, D.C. is like a big playground, a history geek's Graceland.

I would like to go to the Library of Congress sometime this week. Maybe I can dig into my family history while I'm here. I would also like to go back to the National Archives and get myself a t-shirt with both Elvis and Nixon (they're shaking hands!) on it. Of course I want to sit on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for awhile and look out at the reflecting pool on the National Mall. I might do that Friday. Also, the cherry blossoms are out here.

When I was a kid my family drove to Florida a few times and we stopped in D.C. The cherry blossoms were out and, of course, it was a good memory. So I'm excited for that too. I think I am going to try to talk my friend Ralph into driving to Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's house. We'll see. The rest of the time I am going to sit on the patio and enjoy the sun. Pretty much what I do at home when it's warm enough. Pics will be forthcoming.

30 March 2010 11:51pm
Tomorrow is gonna be 70 here in DC tomorrow.

31 March 2010 10:58am
Well my first day in the D.C. area was a lot like a typical day at home except I drank more and earlier. I have the patio door open at my friends condo to let the sunshine in and later we're going to a seafood buffet!

Right now I'm watching The Breakfast Club, the classic Judd Nelson/turkey pot pie monologue. The author of my favorite site on the internet, POP CANDY at USAToday, is going to call five of her 15,000 Twitter followers this week. I submitted my name and phone number and I am keeping two of my fingers crossed that she chooses me. She is from D.C. I think she would appreciate that I'm watching an 80's classic before noon on a weekday.

1 April 2010
I must be in the middle of an 80's movie marathon on tv because this morning One Crazy Summer, with John Cusack, was on. Strangely enough, it was not nearly as bad as I remember it being.