Ugly Americans

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Ugly Americans

“What’s the derogatory term for Americans in a foreign country? ….Americans” unknown 

As Americans traveling the world we do apologize often for our behavior. But we may have outdone ourselves with Trump. Trump represents the America that the world hates. He embodies the worst anti-American stereotypes: vulgar, violent, cash-obsessed, racist.

 I had heard about the  Ugly Americans abroad but this was my first experience with them. We were at a beautiful resort in the Pantanal in Brazil where meals were served at community tables. There they were- loud, arrogant, older Trump supporters and the BF took the bait.  Sometimes I think we’re all too much like this. We are rude to people we don’t know precisely because we don’t know them, and we think it doesn’t really matter.  We treat people with differing political views as evil rather than consider that they have had different experiences and ideas. 

My boyfriend apologized the next morning and they agreed to talk only about the jaguars that we were all hoping to see . There had  recently been a huge fire in the Pantanal  and it affected and killed many animals. The safaris were like treasure hunts and we had been lucky and had seen almost all the animals including jaguars, 

The next morning out on the jeep with them we saw nothing. The Ugly Americans complained loudly and compared the experience unfavorably to their many trips in Africa and boat trip to Port Jofre. A vacation always goes better if you don’t compare.They wallowed in a swamp of complaints.They measured their stay in the Pantanal with an American yardstick instead of immersing themselves in the culture they came to see.

Their anger escalated in the afternoon. Again, we saw very few animals and we pulled up to go canoeing on this beautiful lake in the Pantanal. They were furious. He yelled at the guide.  “I flew five thousand miles to go canoeing. I’m not going and I’m going to just sit here and complain.”

Righteous anger boiled up inside me. I felt compelled to tell him that his negative energy was impacting the group experience and this beautiful place. He replied in a loud angry voice that i should shut my mouth and go back to Brooklyn (where I grew up). His response was several notches more intense than necessary. “You are healthy and you are here,” I answered and walked away.

I got into the canoe and begged my boyfriend not to say anything. He. agreed but when we got back to shore, the man stood in his path. The next thing I knew was that they had their hands on each other about to fight. “I hate you Hollywood types. You think you are better than everyone,” he said.  It was right out of Trump’s playbook.

The wife would stand in front of the jeep so I couldn’t get on without asking her to move or go around to the other side.  If I tried to talk to my German friends sitting behind me, she would get involved and push me out of the conversation. No one liked them but everyone was trying to keep the peace and talk to them so that there would be no more incidents and we would see more animals. I haven’t seen bullies like this since  junior high school.

We bonded with the hardworking  staff and the other lovely guests from all over the world over our dislike of “the Ugly Americans.” i tried to avoid them as much as possible but staying in the same lodge it was difficult. They were still complaining in the doorway as we were leaving.

Just to be clear, every country has horrible people who are loud, rude, and arrogant, and these people are horrible when they travel and, presumably, horrible at home. It’s not limited to a single country.

 

Fly safe,

JAZ

Are You A Republican Or Democrat In The Time Of Trump?

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Are You A Republican Or Democrat In The Time Of Trump?

“Thinking is difficult. That is why most people judge.” Carl Gustav Jung

Whenever I ask someone if they are a Democrat or Republican and they are Republican, there is always a silence or I am asked if that will make a difference in how I treat them. That is how I know that they are Republican in the time of Trump. There is such a widening divide between Democrats and Republicans these days. The divergence is everywhere from Washington to my dinner table. We avoid discussing politics in”mixed company” more than we ever have before. 

I think part of it is the media. We all don’t listen to the same objective  news anymore. Our news is biased. Republicans watch Fox News and Democrats watch MSNBC or CNN . Opinion news is our new reality. Between the internet and all the cable networks, you can now get the news with whatever personal  bias you choose.

If someone on the phone tells me that he is Republican, that fact alone would make me think that he is not black, lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual or  nonreligious. If he says that he is a Democrat, I would assume that he is not Evangelical Christian and does not live in Kentucky. There are plenty of people who break their party’s stereotypes but it is not the first thought that comes into my mind.

We can always blame the Russians. It is said  on my news stations that the trolls and bots (still not 100 per cent sure I understand these words) help to increase the fact that life in America is no longer great. It’s now well-established that Russia attempted to influence the results of the 2016 US Presidential Election though the propagation of online misinformation. Whether it did influence the election, and to what extent collusion occurred and by whom, remains a matter of partisan debate. It is a subject we intensely avoid with people who do not share our political beliefs.

As I learned from traveling, when you talk to people  you find out that we are not as different as we think. If we have different political beliefs, we can always find some common ground. Democracy is based on the idea that people from different cultures and different political beliefs can sit at a table and find a solution for the greater good. What is best for America is more important than whether our party wins or gets what it wants.

 We have always been a country where anything is possible and our destiny is in our own hands. We  face huge challenges but so does the rest of the world. We have always had “the right stuff” to ride out the coming storm. We are not a perfect country but we are founded on the loftiest ideals that any country has every articulated. We have to learn, progress and grow.  

Fly safe,

JAZ

President Trump And The Media

President Trump and the Media

“It may not be good for America, but its damn good for CBS “Les Moonves

If you need to boost traffic to your site, increase circulation, get people to pay for internet subscriptions, get higher ratings or bigger audiences – be all Trump all the time.

it is definitely a co-dependent relationship between Trump and the media, especially CNN. Out of all the networks, CNN seems to have given Trump the most air time. CNN is also the most criticized by Trump. He is always talking about how they don’t understand him, report what he says correctly,  have a very liberal point of view and eventually banned them from certain events.

Before the political season, CNN and the twenty-four hour news channels were suffering in the ratings. This campaign changed  all that for them. It also benefited SNL and some of the late night talk shows. TV news ratings surged during the political season. Unknown newscasters have become celebrities through the Trump coverage.  It is no longer Jake Tapper who?

Codependency is a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s failings or mental health issues or perhaps ratings. Are they like a codependent family? It’s exhausting. Trump tweets something crazy at 2am and the news programs go berserk for the rest of the day. The media doesn’t have to do this every single day, but then they wouldn’t get the attention either.

At first I was afraid, that the censorship of the press was the beginning of American fascism. I now see that Trump still gets a lot of criticism from the media every day. As we know in Hollywood, if you need attention, then any attention is good attention.

They hate each other to the benefit of both off them.

Fly safe,
JAZ

Make America Hate Again

Make America Hate Again

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” Maya Angelou

It turns out that it was not just the economy that brought out the Trump supporters but the shame that the white working class had previously felt about themselves. The Right was very successful in campaigning on the premise that it wasn’t the white working class that failed but some other villain – Muslims, Jews, Liberals, African-Americans, Immigrants, Gays, Feminists, the Media  – the list keeps growing.

The liberals and the media did not understand this deep level of classicism between the haves, have less or have-nots.

Right or wrong Donald Trump gave them back some pride. In doing that, he gave license to their rage and has done nothing to stop that.

I now live in an artsy, racially mixed (and by that I mean interracial couples)  neighborhood. I am at the beach and there are many visitors on the weekends. I was walking my dog and  there was a truck double parked facing in the wrong direction. A man driving by got out of his car to ask him what he was doing.  They were both white. The truck was an Escalade type thing. The car was the cheaper Mercedes model. The Mercedes driver wore a Hawaiian flowered shirt. They were arguing and it was getting ugly. As is my New York custom,  I crossed the street to avoid trouble. The truck driver yelled, “You are such a fucking faggot. You are a big loser. Did you vote for Hillary?”

The racism, sexism and xenophobia that Trump used to advance his candidacy had found its way to my street. When things happen right in front of you,  it is hard to stay open and indifferent. White hate speech against white people in a very liberal neighborhood is new. It is nothing new for black or gay people anywhere. Venice is the kind of mixed arty community that people move into to avoid this. The big conversation among strangers here is how are the waves today or look at that sunset. The lid against hate has been blown off. 

I still say that I wasn’t brought up to hate. I grew up in the shadow of the Holocaust, McCarthyism and my parents’ fears.  I was raised not to sign anything, peacefully protest but not call too much attention to yourself by leading the march.  

A younger couple had heard it as well and they walked up to me. He is blond. She is Asian. They asked how it started. “Stay safe,” they say when they walk away.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Fake News

Fake News

“My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them.” Mitch Hedberg

Today President Trump closed his twitter account. The UN  divided up all the Syrian refugees  and every nation in the world took some in. Peace was declared in Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Nigeria and Congo.  Other African countries are going to follow their example.  With a lot of effort on both parts, a peace agreement to the mutual satisfaction  of both sides, was finally reached between Israel and Palestine.  In a historic quick defeat resulting in no casualties, the Arab Nations banded together and defeated Isis. They are planning a joint effort against other terrorist groups as well. Boko Haram returned all the girls to Nigeria. They were unharmed and well taken care of. The Muslims Clerics issued a doctrine saying all girls must attend school. A mysterious virus is killing the opium and coca plants in Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. The Mexican cartels are looking into other businesses – perhaps building supplies. Scientists say that the hole in the ozone layer is noticeably smaller and that climate change is reversing due to the joint efforts of every country in the world.

The Republicans  have repealed and replaced Obama Care with a low-cost high level health care plan pleasing the medical profession, the patients and the insurance companies. Donald Trump has created so many new jobs that we need to take in more immigrants to fill them. Suicide and murder rates are the lowest they have ever been. America has been declared a smoke free country. A new drug has been approved that cures Cancer, Diabetes, MS, Autoimmune Diseases, Alcoholism, Drug Addiction and Racism. Pharmaceutical companies are working over time to cure-all other diseases as well. American billionaires have all banded together to eradicate homelessness and they are expecting everyone to have homes by 2025. The government has poured money into education and mental illness research and treatment. The police have issued a new  policy stating that if you get to your car while they are writing a parking ticket, they will rip it up. Gas prices are the lowest they have been in one hundred years.  Kindness is up fifty percent  and continues to soar.

If we are going to have fake news and alternative facts, let’s use it for good. Why not fake what we want the world to be like? Why not pretend to be the people that we didn’t think we could be?

Fly safe,

JAZ

Staying Sane In An Insane World

“The most insane things can become normal if you have them around you long enough. A mind can’t seem to hold anything too crazy for too long without finding a way to make it seem normal.” Deb Caletti

You can get used to anything. You think you can’t but you can. When I came home from New Zealand I had horrible anxiety every time I turned on the TV. There was another Presidential order that was always badly rolled out and more protests. There is way too much bad news bombarding us twenty-four hours a day.

A few weeks later, I just feel numb. I am becoming desensitized. Things were said today  that went almost unnoticed. A month ago they would have been front page news. What is going on in America is wrong and it takes all my sanity to get through the day. In the midst of all this I am trying to live a conscious life of kindness and intelligence. Just because America is going insane does not mean that I have to follow.

The cause of these external events have been a long time in the making. They did not just happen. There are no simple answers. Finding a scapegoat to blame sounds very fascist to me. It’s the Muslims. It’s the Feminists. It’s the Immigrants. It’s the Jews. It’s the NRA.  It’s the Whites. It’s the Blacks. It’s ISIS. It’s the Environmentalists. It’s the Left. It’s the RIght. It is so convenient to have someone to blame – especially when said in a confident, authoritative voice. It’s becoming really hard to separate the real threats from the manufactured ones.

Here are some real threats. There are 117 suicides in the U.S. each day compared to 43 murders. There are 129 deaths from accidental drug overdoses. Ninety six  people a day die  in automobile accidents (27 of whom aren’t wearing seat belts)There are 1,315 deaths each day due to smoking, and 890 related to obesity, and all the other preventable deaths from strokes, heart attacks and liver disease.

I need meditation and yoga in my life now.  I can’t exhale this out. Beaches and travel help. I allow a short time period to watch the news and take days off. It looks to me like all this fear mongering is illogical. We are the biggest threat to ourselves.

Fly safe,

JAZ

Watching The Trump Inauguration In New Zealand

“A leader is best if the people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, we did it ourselves.”  Lao Tzu

It was not all Trump all the time on Sky News. They  played a five-minute clip.  We saw Michelle Obama accepting Melania Trump’s gift with awkward newscaster banter about regifting. We heard that “Some Americans were not happy at Trump’s victory and would have preferred someone else” as they cut to a grim faced Hillary Clinton. They played a bit of the speech and commented that ” it was unlike any American inauguration speech that we have heard before.” They showed the first dance at the different inaugural balls.  I did not see KelliAnn’s outfit or Scott Baio till late at night.

What I did see was that our country is on display as a divided America.  Protest signs and Pro Trump T-shirts showed our Democracy until it erupted into violence.

There were big protests in Sydney Australia-not against Trump, but against the hatred and prejudice that was brought out.

Sky News makes no secret of their anti Trump views. This part of the world liked Hillary and wondered why Americans preferred Trump.

They often repeated that the new American focus is domestic. The newscasters say that they are hearing aggressive tweets and not proper strategies. His commitment is to transform Washington and create jobs. They believe he will be running a What’s in it for America  government.

Having low expectations is good for an incoming president. But what they didn’t hear in his Inauguration Speech was a call for unity as his policies continue to divide the country.

“A man who is used to beating to his own drum is now running the free world. He is about to write his own playbook.” We will have to wait and see what happens.

Fly safe,

JAZ