Tuesday, October 9, 2012
The Cultural Sterilization of America
One of the things which I have noticed while traveling across the great US of A is what I have come to see as the cultural sterilization of suburban and urban areas in America. Large swaths of our great country are developing a blandness to them which threatens the uniqueness which separates each regional area from the next. It could be considered a epidemic driven by corporate greed to spread mass consumerism to each and every corner of the United States. Walmart of course comes to mind, but this can be substituted with any large corporation which is opening up a location in the most desolate parts of the country. Replace it with McDonalds, Hair Cuttery, The Home Depot, or Autozone and you have the same scenario. Small town America is dying and mass consumerism is fueling its death. When John and I travel, we actively search out small restaurants, bars, stores, and other local businesses to patronize. I feel it is important to support these small businesses as they are part of the backbone of America and its economy. In my opinion, the small business owner is one of the foundations of our great country. While in Arizona visiting his brother, we went to Reds Lobby Bar at the Sedona Rouge Hotel, Plaza Bonita Mexican Restaurant, Mooney’s Irish Pub, the Olde Sedona Bar and Grill and the Grasshopper Grill. Each was filled with the locals who provided a colorful cross-section of this part of the country: Native Americans, Mexicans, local cowboy types, artsy and intellectual folk from the Sedona Arts Scene, farmers, crazy locals who preached the word of God, laborers from the local cement factory, the local law enforcement, retirees, service and tourist industry folk, and other travelers from all over the world. What better way to experience the landscape than by experiencing and conversing with the locals? John and I didn’t just do this in Sedona, we do it wherever we travel to. We aren’t the type that spend our time at the most posh restaurants or just shop in the most sophisticated stores. And on the other end of the spectrum, we don’t just spend our time at the most common chain restaurants or stores. We like to fully experience the people and places which makes a community tick, which makes it thrive! It is a great experience to hear the locals talk about their work, their lives, their pride in the town or city that they live. Or to speak with an art gallery owner about last week’s En Plein Air Festival. Or to commiserate with someone who just got off work and had a bad day at the local cement factory. OK, OK, I don’t know what a day at the cement factory is like, but I can commiserate with a Mexican cerveza over a bad day at work! I guess my point is that you can have the “endless bowl of salad” at Olive Gardens anywhere. You can shop at a Walmart from Florida to Alaska. How about checking out the local luncheonette or diner and find out what their regional specialty is? We ate some incredible BBQ and Mexican in Sedona! Shop the local boutiques down in Old Town, USA or support the local thrift or consignment store and see what they have available instead of shopping for something that you can get in any large chain store. If we don’t support these small businesses in our cities and towns, a little piece of small town America will die when these businesses shutter up.