Downeaster Alexa


The American Century was defined by optimism. And we Americans sold that optimism to a world hungry to feel optimism either directly or vicariously through us.  We sold our optimism through art – film, music, literature, clothing.  Everything and anything that touched us was left cleaner, healthier, younger and stronger.  

Or so it seemed to the world because that is the impression we sold, and everyone from the movie moguls to the guy selling black market Levis in a Moscow alley during the Soviet era got rich selling that impression because there was, at its heart, some truth to it – or at least enough truth to allow the willing suspension of disbelief.

The American Century is over, and a nation facing massive unemployment, declining literacy, declining life expectancy, increasing infant morality, increasing racism, bigotry and blind religious dogma snuffing out reason and the Life of the Mind cannot sell optimism any longer.

I wonder how the world will embrace Recession/Depression Rock.  I wonder if there will be any money in it?

Downeaseter Alexa

Well I’m on the Downeaster Alexa
And I’m cruising through Block Island Sound
I have charted a course to the Vineyard
But tonight I am Nantucket bound

We took on diesel back in Montauk yesterday
And left this morning from the bell in Gardiner’s Bay
Like all the locals here I’ve had to sell my home
Too proud to leave I worked my fingers to the bone

So I could own my Downeaster Alexa
And I go where the ocean is deep
There are giants out there in the canyons
And a good captain can’t fall asleep

I’ve got bills to pay and children who need clothes
I know there’s fish out there but where God only knows
They say these waters aren’t what they used to be
But I’ve got people back on land who count on me

So if you see my Downeaster Alexa
And if you work with the rod and the reel
Tell my wife I am trawling Atlantis
And I still have my hands on the wheel

Now I drive my Downeaster Alexa
More and more miles from shore every year
Since they tell me I can’t sell no stripers
And there’s no luck in swordfishing here.

I was a Bayman like my father was before
Can’t make a living as a Bayman anymore
There ain’t much future for a man who works the sea
There ain’t no island left for Islanders like me.



But there is a silver lining to every cloud, and in this case America’s loss is Australia’s gain as someone (maybe even Americans) steps into the void left by the American Decline to sell Australian optimism to a world still willing to pay for just the scent of it.  I predict an explosion of media selling Australian images, sounds and objects dusted with Australian optimism.


14 Responses to “Downeaster Alexa”

  1. melbomartin Says:

    You are so right. It makes me deeply sad. It’s a country which by virtue of its wealth and position could have had anything. But it’s been frittered away and its citizens left to rot. Unless they have money that is.

    I wish I shared your optimism about Australia but at times I think the three second memory of the average voter and their complete inability to see through the lies they are peddled will do us all in. Either that or when the minerals run out, it will happen anyway.

    I’ve always liked the lyrics to that song by the way. BJ is a bit of a storyteller and that’s what I like about his stuff.


  2. Anonymous Says:

    But you are still #1 in % of population incarcerated and the highest per capita number of lawyers. I wonder if there is any correlation?


  3. That was me, not anonyomous sorry


  4. Bondiboy66 Says:

    I dunno. There is a fair bit of optimism here, sure. And a whole lot of stupid to leaven it out. As long as the footy/cricket (depending on season) is on, the beer is in the fridge and the sun is shining, the average Aussie couldn’t give two flying fucks about anything else.


  5. We’re not really the same kind of optimists as Americans have been. The dominant world power based on democracy and free enterprise had the right to feel optimistic and bullet proof. Australian optimism is crrently copping a hellstorm of a beating hrough a daily national talkdown by conservative politicians and their media cohort. Its funny that those who listen to this and accept it will also ramp up the positive vibes if our cricket team wins. During the olympics we’ll be the happiest nation on earth whenever one of our mob steps up on the podium to receive a medal.
    As BB pointed out, cold beer on a sunny day also works.
    Fuck it, I’m going to the pub after work and watch football. Carn the Blues!

    p.s. Happy Birthday America! Get them fireworks, beer and burgers happening.


  6. Dino not to be confused with Says:

    Happy 4th of July.
    I was brought up with alot of American Television shows and movies.
    I feel like I am part American and am sad at what is happening.
    There are many stories on the internet that inspire me and give me hope. For instance, isn’t there a movement started in LA that questions a Company’s vs an individuals rights?
    I am sure it has spread.
    As for ‘Australian optimism’ repeat after me-

    “She’ll be right mate !” (loose translation ” It’ll be ok !”)
    And America, please don’t sneeze cause we will catch a cold.


  7. America’s ability to sell its optimism was largely due to the intense patriotism felt by the majority of its citizens. Australia is not allowed to be patriotic, as apparently flying the flag is racist:


  8. paulboylan Says:

    The study results seem quite proper to me, Cat. The same sort of thing happens here, but I think more intensely. There are parallel studies that show the more right wing someone is, the less intelligent they are, including a corresponding lack of critical thinking – and the more likely they are to be racist. That doesn’t mean that everyone who loves their country is a reactionary moron. All it means is that it is more likely.

    I disagree that it was American patriotism that sold as optimism. The Beach Party movies were big hits all over the world, and barely profitable here in the United States. The reason was the optimism of healthy, good looking teenagers living well without a care in the world, optimistic to a fault. It had nothing to do with patriotism.


  9. DrBunker Says:

    Quite, Paul. The order of events has been muddled; it appears the survey says it is not racist fly the flag (an oft quoted theory) but that the statistics illustrate that flag flyers are more predisposed to that way of thinking.

    The side-shoot of this is the negative cycle it perpetuates, i.e. that people who would not identify as being racist will be offended that they cannot fly a flag with out attracting that label which in turn can cause them to become more strident in their views.

    Personally, I wouldn’t fly one and I can honestly say I don’t know precisely why.


  10. paulboylan Says:

    Even though I do not display the US flag when I am traveling because I don’t want to make myself a target I often and proudly fly it at home – not to honor what it stands for now but to honor what it once stood for and with the hope that it can symbolize those ideals again.

    But the average began doesn’t think that far, if at all. For them national pride and patriotism is a blind emotional exercise, which very early is manipulated and encouraged to become blind obedience to authority and hatred for those who disagree.

    And then, when there are enough of them, they are manipulated into taking political action – even running for public office – where they pass laws forcing women who want an abortion to essentially consent to torture – which really is just a distraction while the wealthy game the system to get pig rich at the expense of the system they feed off of, like a parasite that eventually kills its host, and moves on to another.

    The American host is dying. The parasites are turning their rheumy gaze your way. Take action to prevent a slow, painful death before it is too late, as it is too late for us.


  11. Considering our politicians have had four hefty payrises in six months (our PM is now paid substantially more than the US President), I’d say we have quite enough parasites already thanks Paul.


  12. paulboylan Says:

    Four? And the peasants didn’t rise up and vote them all out of office for doing it?

    Bad sign for you. Another sign I could have my head up my ass on all of this.


  13. bangarrr Says:

    Stupid is a growth industry.


  14. anxiety…

    […]Downeaster Alexa « PEOPLE OF EARTH: ATTENTION[…]…


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