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Happy Independence Day ya'll - a celebration of the USA's madness
Posted on the 6th Jul 2016 in the category sport



 

In 2005 I was lucky enough to go to New York state with the Rotary Club. For a month I travelled up and down the giant state living with American families, talking about Birmingham to Rotary Clubs and working in various newspapers. 
 
The trip changed my life, I fell in love with America, Americans and even a very attractive American. I'd only been once before when I was a teenager, to Florida, but this month long trip really helped turned my life around. As so often since I got the plane to America a broken man and got off a plane from America with new energy and zest for life.
 
I was suffering from some severe self loathing but a month of being told I was "awesome, funny, talented" etc etc by countless Americans did the trick, I must have shook a thousand hands. And as I had to speak everyday in front of Rotary Clubs I learnt how to speak in public.
 
I got front pages in American papers and sent back Adam's Big Apple - Letters from America to my papers back home, The Great Barr Observer, Sutton Observer and Tamworth Herald. I interviewed 9/11 heroes and eposed the piss poor reaction of the American Government to the Hurricaine Katrina tragedy. The reaction was good but mostly included text messages from friends saying "stop eating - every week you are getting bigger."
 
 
The article below though was one of my favourites, I threw all the bonkers stuff I'd seen and heard into one article.
So this is one of my many love letters to America.
 
Have a happy Independence Day ya'll. 
 
"Only in America" has become a phrase that encapsulates the extremes of a society that includes 500m people and spans an entire continent.
 
Coined by Don King, the killer who became a multimillionaire boxing promoter, I have uttered the phrase over and over since being in the US.
 
This country is an amazing place where the unbelievable is only a sentence away and the shocking is around every corner.
 
Living with families and seeing workplaces has been eye opening to say the least.
From what I can tell dogs sure have a raw deal over here, one dog even had its brain blown off in his owners living room by cops who thought it was a Rotweiller on the loose. The house I'm staying in at the moment has two dogs, Buster only has one eye and he is the normal one, the poodle Dooley was not even invited to its first obedience class in case it went crazy. 
 
Whilst taking a walk with the Goshen Ladies Walking Club I innocently asked if they had a Barbara Woodhouse figure in town because the dog population was extremely well trained and quiet. Countless pooches would come running to the end of the garden and quietly watch us go by, now as a paper boy in Perry Barr I remember been chased from house to house by crazy dogs.
 
But the ladies told me that it wasn't obedience classes that created these Stepford dogs it was electric force fields. It appears Americans buy these force field fences powered by electric to stop their dogs leaving their garden or even keep pets out of bedrooms. In the land of the free it appears that dogs don't have this privilege.
 
And as well as not being able to roam free they can not even bark because of electric collars that discharge a shock when they want to do what is natural. Now surely being a dog is all about barking and running but over here that is a thing of the past. Why have Barbara Woodhouse when you can have electric volts racing through your dogs body to ensure it does not step out of line.
 
It is either one extreme or the other, in Woodstock I walked around the weekly pet parade where kind hearted souls parade their llamas and mongrels for fun. Wonderful people and cute animals but at odds with a website that offers virtual hunting. Web surfers from all over America can log on and see prime cows and animals wandering around a field in Texas. Then with their keyboard controls shoot the animals on the screen thousands of miles away, to make the experience even more real the dead animal is 'Fed Exed' to their door.
 
Then as well as the animals getting a raw deal there are the kids. I'm lucky enough through Rotary families to have met some wonderful children who have brightened up my trip like a sparkler at Bonfire Night.
 
At my current in a house of five children four of them been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, two with added hyperactivity. These children are clever, funny can be wild but their brilliance coping with modern kiddy lifeis wonderful to watch.
 
ADHD is a big business over here. I think America is too quick to diagnose children with a problem to brand them as ill or crazy. There are children all over the US, like my new clan, who are being given lots of drugs so they can concentrate at school and be docile so the teachers can control them. However they wear out about 4.30pm so the parents have to try and deal children coming down from the drugs.
 
And it takes months to wean these children off these mind altering drugs.
I'm pretty sure if I could concentrate on the subject long enough I might diagnose myself with ADD as well because it seems most people have it over here. One doctor even was diagnosed with it after patients complained that he had changed his mind over their illnesses.
 
He got sued of course this being the home of the suing culture, it appears you can sue for anything or be sued for anything in America. That is why the insurance business is booming as are the lawyers. One recent court case showed a bus crashing and pedestrians running to get in to the wreckage so they could sue the bus company.
 
Being in America I thought there would be guns everywhere, but it appears in New York State it is hard to by a hand gun unlike the South where you can buy a shotgun in Wal-Mart.The police have guns though and lots of them, visiting the police and jails has been an eye opener to say the least.
 
The police in England have to fill out reams of paperwork for one arrest but over here the police book them in and throw them in the slammer with the fraction of the fuss we make for our boys in blue.And during a tour of Orange County Jail I was amazed to see 16-year-old girls in the main prison system. But New York is progressive compared to other states in the US. In a country where insane prisoners on death row are given drugs to become legally sane so the state can execute them the Government spends more on prisons than schools. Seeing these palaces of punishment dotted across the countryside it is not hard to imagine why.
 
Whilst millions starve across the world the food over here is obscene not to mention there is something wrong with the cameras over here because every time a snap of me is taken some fat bloke appears on the picture.  The portions are just daft, I counted 15 giant onion rings for a starter dish and the amount of beef consumed would make Desperate Dan flinch. It is no surprise that there are so many house size Americans waddling in and out of their gas guzzlers. 
 
The concept of walking is alien to most Americans, they complain gas is over fifty pence a gallon it is no wonder global warming is not stopping as this continent is car crazy.
 
And television is something to behold. There are more adverts than you could think possible, there are even adverts between the end of the programme and the credits. And after escaping Big Brother in England I found it reaching its finale over here. And it is completely different to ours, no drunken brawls and fat tarts getting their breasts out. No they take it all very seriously, the house divided into three camps. The Sovereign Six, the Outcasts and the Friendship Alliance, they take the American dream seriously in their reality TV shows.
 
The myriad of television channels perfectly shows the diversity of American life and as Don King would surely agree it is this diversity that make it a knockout place to discover.



 

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