On the surface that might seem like some kind of sick, cynical joke--but only if you've never actually been to Wisconsin or never actually known a Wisconsinite. We Wisconsin folk are, in fact, are the true heirs of the SPIRIT of St. Valentine, not some fromage-swilling, knee-breech wearing, bewigged European aristocrats. No, our love is the pure love of chaste devotion rather than decadant sensuality--a love as honest, callow and enduring as the heartland fields of corn whose bounty forms the pith and marrow of our very bones. Some may accuse us of being naive and inexperienced hayseeds, but this we take as the highest compliment: it is only the birthright of the Most Typical Americans of All.
For my money, it all began with Doris Day in the late '40's.
Yeah, Doris was great, maybe even the best of the lot. She never once bucked a trend or challenged the status quo. But tragedy haunted her, too. Sadly Doris Day died in 1968 leading a squad of marines against a Viet Cong outpost, a tour of duty bravely undertaken to publicly rebuke the cowardice of Cassius Clay's anti-draft ravings. If only all-American leading man Rock Hudson had proposed to her in real life as he had so many times in film, he might have kept her down on the farm and she might still be with us today.
The next 2 decades were a mixed-up, confusing time in American culture, marked by radical change in everything from hairstyles to hemlengths to heroine doses. We seemingly couldn't make up our minds about what we were looking for in an "ideal woman". Schizophrenically cycling between the edgy subliminal threat of the ambiguous Dianna Ross and the more reassuring gingam-tinged appeal of Karen Carpenter, a vast canyon-like chasm seemed to have opened in our collective romantic imagination, one that no single woman seemed capable of completely filling. These I call "America's Lost Years".
|Dianna Ross Karen Carpenter|
But even more than that, Madonna seemed to have a deep, innate understanding of the divided character of the American soul and flawlessly combined in one stunningly attractive paradox the virtues of amoral shark-like ethic of rabid self-promoting capitalism and the familiar and homely comforts of our obsession with crypto-Nordic blondeness. Madonna made us feel ourselves again, a tidy and organic whole, untroubled by socialistic notions of income equity, morality in foreign policy or even plain common sense. She was a perfect counterpoint to the politics of Ronald "Uncle Dutch" Reagan.
Alas, even the reign of fair Madonna must come to an end, just as "Summer's lease hath all too short a date" within Shakespeare's famous Sonnet #18. She died as the First Lady of Argentina, in the arms of her ruthless caudillo husband in 1996, after a bout of pneumonia brought on by standing out all night in a cold driving rain feeding her devoted peasants at a local soup kitchen.
But if Madonna was gone, she was hardly forgotten. Her un-self-conscious worship of Mammon reminded America what our nation has always been about deep at heart: the amoral pursuit of material gain. Her legacy guided us through some lonely times, with the help of the new-fangled VCR, remained firmly on our retinas and in our minds as well. It wasn't long until our next female love fetish, our next Beatrice Portinari, if you will, appeared: that Louisiana lovely, Britney Spears.
But while Britney's classic Southern-belle appeal seemed to perfectly coincide with the tsunami-like resurgent fortunes of a Dixie-dominated Republican party, led by Connecticut-born Texas cowboy George W. Bush, nothing good lasts forever. Euridice-like, Britney died in 2008 of septicemia after trolling barefoot through the lavatory waste and spent heroine needles covering a petrol station's restroom floor.
Britney angel being taken from us too soon, America went through kind of a tail spin in 2008. Feeling mired in a decades-deep rut littered by two seemingly endless wars, scores of foreign policy failures and a collapsed economy, we just couldn't continue to ignore reality any longer without the aid of some distracting gris-gris or love idol, America was just plain desperate. Shit, we even contemplated Hillary Clinton at one point. Sunk in our grief and national trauma, we leapt at the first voice that seemed to promise us change--something, anything different. So we tried something really new and gave Barack Obama a go.
|America's last little darling, Ms. Barack Obama|
But now . . . Now I don't know. After the first couple of dates, things are starting to seem a little funny, a little suspicious. Like maybe America hadn't gotten quite what it asked for back in 2008 when we met Barack outside the Chi-Town VD clinc. She began acting differently: smoking, starting fights, talking like the trashy girls we used to go "hogging" with to fraternity keggers during the 1980's. To tell the truth, some of her friends seem a little shifty, too. Don't like 'em, don't trust 'em.
Oh yeah, and let's not forget that night in December. We took her out to a fancy DC bistro and she left with some other dude--and stiffed us with a $900 billion check to boot.
Not that we regret the experiment, but let's face facts: the bloom is off the rose here. Time to move on. But where to? Who will be America's next little cupcake?