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?
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.