Monday, April 25, 2016


On the rare occasions I peruse the geographic statistics of where people are reading my blog I find that a third of all my readers are from a place called Samara, in Russia. The fact that these people are all Internet manipulations, computer bots on some vaguely nefarious and meaningless pursuit, and do not reflect any humans, is a notable contributor to why I so rarely consult the geographic statistics of where people are reading my blog. But I admit my ignorance on these matters. It is theoretically possible that these Samaran readers are not all part of the vast sea of automated and pointless Internet, and that, for all I know, there is a small town in Russia where everyone hangs on my every word, learning English through the study of my essays, and thinking of my great body of work much as I think of it.

How do I think of my work?

I'm too shy to say. You'll have to ask someone in Samara, Russia.

And so, with all of this in mind,  I have decided to explain America to my devoted readers in Samara, Russia. If you are not one of my many Samaran readers, and hail from the same country as I do, you can just knowingly nod along as you read.

My wife and I were at one of the great malls of America, perhaps even the greatest mall in America. It clearly thinks it is because it has named itself "The Mall of America".  It is a place where many, many, many things are for sale (more than you can imagine, but somehow all slightly less appealing than you might imagine as well) in a weather sealed, multi-level, enormous indoor environment. As we walked along one of the great balconied lanes of this mall a large American woman came walking the other way towards us. Her T-shirt boldly caught our eyes:

"Amount of fucks I give..." It read on the first line.

Then there was a picture of a Nun, who was flipping us off, followed by the final insouciant line:


Now you might imagine my point is that this is America because of all the not giving, if you'll excuse the expression, a fuck. But that is not my main point. What makes it such a beautiful expression of America is in the confident, untouchable nature of its closed system: No matter what one's reaction to the shirt, and how could one not have a reaction to so wildly obnoxious, aggressive, and offensive a shirt, the shirt has that reaction covered.

"What a rude shirt!"

(She does not give a fuck)

"You have offended me, a Catholic, and the many Nuns I know who have selflessly toiled for the poor."

(She gives no fucks whatsoever!)

"That is one hilarious shirt. Right on sister!"

(You think that changes whether or not she gives a fuck? It doesn't. She gives no fucks and never has.)

It's like Buddhist, but angrier. And you can shop in it.

You could run a large American Corporation in it.

You could probably even run for President in it.

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