Once, shortly after I returned from living in Hong Kong, I wanted to see the United States. So, I took a drive. It wasn’t hard to find. I knew exactly where to go. After about 3 hours, I arrived at the spot and there it was. It wasn’t a pretty sight. The once gleaming and magnificent creation, the work of so many a proud laborer, which once had moved with quick agility and assurance in that era when it could glide across space and time, now sat behind a chain link fence, still and alone in a desolate and abandoned spot. There was absolutely no one around that seemed to care. It seemed depressed. Lonely. Hungry — if only for attention. It had the mean and angry look of any chained-up junkyard dog.
The shameful sight of this once-proud vessel that had carried so many on journeys of joy now brought a tear to the eye.
The reports of experts regarding its condition varied, and there were many a divided opinion as to its remaining value. But it didn’t take a doctorate degree to see that the United States was very far gone.
One could not help but wonder: could it ever be restored?
While some people, politically and otherwise, seem nostalgic for a time that never existed, I have a thought as to how this particular piece of the past could be made magnificent again. There is no need for ocean liners so trying to restore it to its former purpose would be absurd. Yet there are many instances of floating icons. Given its name, the SS United States, and the fact that it already in Philadelphia, how wonderful would it could be if the ship were to become a floating museum and school for young children on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, of the history of religious freedom in this country (in fact, that’s why the first settlers from Europe came here!) and the right to free speech. Wouldn’t that be amazing? And wouldn’t that help keep this country moving towards it true idealized greatness?
• Speaking of the potential of monuments, I just listened to a fascinating interview that Deepak Chopra conducted on his podcast, INFINITE POTENTIAL with Michael Arad, the architect of the 911 Memorial in Lower Manhattan. Very much worth checking out.
• Also, I’m still surprised to learn that so many of my friends are not aware of Kanopy. It’s a great FREE streaming service of classic, foreign & documentary films that are difficult to find elsewhere3 — all you need is a library card to join! As a for instance, this week I watched a really interesting documentary on and with one of the quintessential photographers, Robert Frank, entitled DON’T BLINK. Swiss-born Frank’s book in the ‘50s entitled THE AMERICANS (with an introduction by Jack Kerouac) is considered one of the top photo books of all time — you could easily trace this book & his work’s influence down to my photograph above. Frank, still alive today, went onto make a film with & surpressed by the Rolling Stones called COCKSUCKER BLUES, stills of which adorn their EXILE ON MAIN STREET album. If you don’t know about Frank, this is a good place to start.