Anthony N. White - Arts and Culture Writer searching for the American Dream

What the Hell is the American Dream?

Most of the research you read says you should have a niche as a freelance writer. I had no clue what category I wanted myself to be in the last few years so I bounced around between sports, arts, and local.

But none of it felt like something that I could stick with long term until I realized that everything had a common theme. I realized I was trying to define this country with my words no matter the topic and everything came out as if I was toying around with what it is to be American, to feel American and to live in America. Oddly enough It all felt so foreign, as if I was an innocent outside bystander constantly looking in.

I tried to be non-partial, I tried to simply tell a story as if I was a from another planet but it was way too difficult. I couldn’t see this country as anything other than how a typical American sees themselves; proud, tough, gritty, and outspoken.

One day when I was sitting there at the picnic table in my backyard waiting for the grill to warm up, I suddenly had a strange and outrageous thought that I had never had before. I suddenly found myself questioning everything I know. And I mean absolutely everything. Maybe it’s the disinformation age we’re currently living in that brought me to this thought, but what if everything I know about America is actually wrong.

What if history is, as most of us view it, completely revisionist.

Maybe everything that ever happened just seems so much more principled, astute, and well planned because those who retell it decided it that way. Maybe everything is just completely made up in some half ass attempt to cover up some wicked truth.

I couldn’t make the connection. How could I convince someone that this was true if I couldn’t convince myself of it? It wasn’t like I could look something up in a history book, that’s what I supposedly couldn’t believe in anymore. I sat there for a long while trying to come up with a way to test my theory in a subtle way, one that attacked the fabric of society but not directly America itself. The grill got hot.

I decided to attack Peyton Manning and I wrote an article that suggested that he was a lying scumbag. It was my way of seeing if an American archetype could have holes in the argument, my way of taking a shot at what is viewed as truth, Peyton Manning is the All-American Quarterback. Taking a shot at his truths are just a tiny microcosm of what we all agree is the acceptable and true version of American history.

I decided to attack Peyton Manning and I wrote an article that suggested that he was a lying scumbag.

What happened after that article was published was truly amazing. Something that I honestly didn’t see coming. Absolutely no one agreed with me. And I mean no one. I got hate mail. My twitter blew up with people hoping that I could casually get hit by a bus or get blown up by a bomb and right then and there I knew I was on to something.

It reminded me of the time in college when in the common area, on a big screen TV, they were showing Forest Gump. I decided to go just to make fun of the movie, out loud. I got thrown out in about thirty minutes. No one thought making fun of that movie was funny. But why?

Going against the grain just because you can, is just being anti for no reason and that’s pretty annoying. But it’s really the most American thing you can possibly do. Status quo and this country do not belong in the same sentence. We were once the global misanthropes, the dreamers, the hell raisers. Some of us sent here, some came here seeking change, others were just plain hellions. And that’s what I wanted to be, a hellion, a rebel, a punk, a goddamn outspoken misanthrope. I wanted to purposely bring the antithesis, I wanted to go out of my way to hate Forest Gump, I wanted to be what I thought America was. The attention, however negative at times, emboldened me, and I started craving more.

I wanted to go out of my way to hate Forest Gump

But I quickly found out that it wasn’t enough to incite. I wanted it to be deeper than that, to explore something, and get minds moving. What I didn’t want to be was Kent State Gun Girl or some other flash in the pan Instagram hack job. While at first it was the attention that I craved, it didn’t last, and I started to feel hopeless.

But there was that longing feeling, the one where I felt like I touched something, something real, it was ephemeral but it was so real. It was an American nerve, and what I wanted to do was follow it, not agitate it.

I wanted to follow it to the epicenter, one sentence at a time, one project after another, until I found something. I was let go from that writing job a few months later, but it didn’t deter me. In fact, I’m probably more in debt to that group than anything for allowing me to speak my mind and to find the nerve I wanted to follow. So, thanks to Dan McAuliffe, wherever you are, and Wai Sallas, too.

So here I am. Following along the nerve path, desperately trying to find what I’m going to call the American Dream through arts and culture, through writing, through connecting, through being an out spoken American, an extroverted misanthrope.

What Lies Between Hope and Myth

There’s a myth that continues to swarm about how certain groups of people are entitled to their position in life. The rich are entitled to everything. The poor are entitled not to work. The left is entitled to feel entitled. The right is entitled because of money. The Millennials are entitled because they’re self-absorbed. The Boomers are entitled because they worked their ass off.

The myth is that one group or generation is actually entitled. Everyone says each group is but no group actually feels that way. Instead they feel that another group is more entitled than themselves and so the myth continues.

It’s sad really. That we all have something in common but don’t stop to realize it.

Life is good. We all can be OK. Whether you are rich or poor, democrat or republican, or whatever you are you probably need a hand. We all need a hand. Some people need it monetarily. Others just simply need a hug. Some might need a meal. One needs medical care, the other a light for their smoke.

This is a diverse and strange country. The people of the mountains of Montana don’t face the same daily obstacles as the people living in Stuyvesant. But as great as their lives might both be, they still might need something that the other can provide. It’s the way the universe works. No one thing is complete without another.

We as humans aren’t complete without plants and animals, to eat, to breathe, to love. Some need to eat more animals than love. Others eat no animals and only love. That’s okay. No one is right because you still need each other to balance out. The person who eats only animals is balanced by the person who only loves animals. Maybe those two get together and figure out world peace. First, get together.

It’s a myth to think that we’ll someday have a collective realization, stop hating each other, and actually help one another. World peace is a myth. Big Foot is probably more likely to be sighted than someone dropping their manufactured hate to take stock in humanity and just enjoy that we are all people. The myth is that me sitting here writing this might inspire someone, anyone, to do that.

Yet the hope meanders on. All that negativity and yet there is hope. Hope is not a myth. I have hope and I know others who also have hope. Hope can be heavy. Sometimes we drop it. Other times we carry it along when we probably shouldn’t. Hope can be carried along and we don’t even know it.

No one person or group is entitled to something more than another. We’re just people, that’s it that’s all. To see it in another way is taxing. To manufacture hate for someone else’s perceived entitlement is hard. It takes a lot of energy, energy that could be used to laugh. Energy that could be used to help someone who needs it.

Or maybe we’re just animals meant to compete for time, money, and space. Grueling over our daily tasks to make a bed in the grass and lie down, our bellies stuffed and our minds at rest. Maybe we’re meant to hate what seems entitled because our path must be harder than everyone else’s. Maybe we’re meant to hate what doesn’t look like us, what we see in the mirror, the ghostly imperfections and deep dark circles around our eyes, imagining all that entitlement that everyone else has, stewing in our growing manufactured hatred for everything that isn’t “us” and feeding the myth.

But still, there is hope.

Anthony Norman White - Freelance Writer

Historically Repetitious Inaccuracy Causes Generational Repression, Again

I was at a dinner party recently when someone almost 10 years younger than me exclaimed, “There’s no way I’m in the millennial generation. I didn’t have a cell phone until I was 16!” It was not received as anything but truth. Everyone agreed.

It had a profound impact on me. I left that party depressed, irritated, and sick to my stomach, despite the fantastic food.

If you were born between the years of 1981 and 1996, you’re a millennial. And it’s a soft border, meaning you might be a millennial if you are born on either cusp. The millennial generation has an odd and bizarre stigma attached to it that is more historically repetitious than accurate. But what that comment from the person at the dinner party illuminates is the control that the previous generation has over millennials. And it’s not Gen X, it’s the Boomers, the only other generation that has equal number of people enveloped inside and they feel threatened as every previous generation of Americans has felt since the 1600’s.

The first Jamestown colony on the New Land that Britain had acquired in what is now Virginia was largely a bust. No crop other than tobacco had grown successfully there and England’s premier tobacco provider was still Spain. Spanish tobacco couldn’t be overthrown by a successor until the King decided to make an announcement that the tobacco from the New Land was much better. This was in an effort to revive his investment and the marketing worked.

As production had to increase the workers that were sent to Jamestown in the first place needed help. They wrote to the King to send some new workers. The King, resourceful as ever, sent a younger generation there, in order to ensure that the farm system was taught to a new group, sustaining his investment long term. Not long after their arrival the letters started pouring back in to him.

King James
King James looking slightly like Tom Waits

The colonists wrote that the new batch of young workers he sent were lazy, unable to be trained, didn’t listen, and were practically no help. This began the American way of complaining about the next generation in order to preserve your own dignity and posterity, as a new batch of individuals is sent to take over.

My grandfather thought my dad’s generation was a bunch of lazy long haired, pot smoking hippies who were glued to their hi- fi stereos. They were, but they also were catalysts for change, ushering in an era where people stood together for what is right. Protests formed for peace, equal rights, and individuality around the country. These are the same baby boomers who are now repressing and propagandizing the Millennials in the same way that they were by the Traditionalist or the Silent Generation.

Make no mistake, not everything since the 1600’s is repetition. This current generation grew up in a socially different time that causes more time in front of a screen than in front of anything else. But what is seldom argued is that the Millennial generation’s world is the world, they grew up inherently global and so there views seem so completely different because they are the first generation to see what they want to see, have all information just a click away and seem generally accepting of all types of people regardless where they are from.

Much in the same way the baby boomer generation was ridiculed by their parents for spending far too much time and energy on rock and roll, radio, and television, this new generation is on their phone. The older generations didn’t grow up with things “going viral” and that term has a negative feel to it, and they themselves find they spend far too much time on their phones and on social platforms. If it’s addicting to them, it must be more addicting to the younger generation because they simply have less experience.

But it’s just not true. It’s always been in our hands and so we adapted much quicker. The issue isn’t addiction from the younger generation, but actually from the older. 62% of Facebook users are over 35, 20% is in the Millennial Generation, and 10% is over 65. All of these generations have had social media the same amount of time. And the numbers are actually pretty similar. The only exception being television. Millennials don’t watch TV they stream off their tablets, phones, and computers. Gen X and the Boomers still watch a few hours of TV every night.

Somehow the TV screen is lost in translation when compared to the cell phone screen.

The Millennials are the first generation to make inclusivity a priority, renewable energy a reality, and social media a tool. These initiatives were largely thought of by a previous generation that wanted to make things better for the next generation, but has now become irate and jealous that it is becoming a possibility. Fabricating things to complain about the next generation is a silly way to show support. But maybe a few of us will use that chip on our shoulder to break the rules all over again.

But how about instead of ridicule there is general support? What if we all worked together instead of drawing a line in the sand of who is right and who is wrong?

The Millennials themselves will be the first to try and weasel out of being part of their own generation. Where does that come from? Handed down from the previous generation trying to prove that their worth is still a worth. If you were born between 1981 and 1996 and you are saying that you are not a millennial you are only being beholden to the previous generations who paved the way and now have shackled you to a slower rate of growth, to their fears, and to their shadows disappearing as the sun sets. You’re buying into 400 years of historically repetitious inaccuracies fueled by tradition instead of truth.

Time to unshackle.

2018 marks the first year we could have a Millennial as president. Young leaders are being elected already. Justin Trudeau of Canada is 46 and Emanuel Macron is 40. The Millennial Generation is now larger than the Baby Boomers and that number will continue to grow larger as the years go by. We are in control. Not monetarily, but in populous and that means that we can start to dictate the direction of this great nation.

If you are already using phrases like “the kids these days” and “back in the day” you are already cementing into place the same repression and historical inaccuracies that previous generations put in place. But it’s not supportive and won’t help us all out long term. The younger generations should use their time and effort to connect with the older generation, to learn where certain things went wrong, and where things went right and accept that wisdom and learn. If everyone was willing to work together we could all be part in making the future of this great nation much brighter.

As long as everyone puts their phones down long enough to listen.

The Art of Drunk Food

It’s late night and you’re wandering with a few friends. You had dinner around 6pm but a blurry check of your watch shows that it’s now just past midnight. The last IPA you guzzled left your mouth dry and you can feel that shot of Tully sloshing in your guts as you trod clumsily along.

It’s Time for Drunk Food

The question is, to what degree of greasiness will you be willing to go? Pizza? Cheeseburgers? Nachos? All of it?

There is an art to drunk food, a je ne sais quoi if you will, from conception to plate. Certain things seem less appealing, like an arugula salad with a pair of soft boiled quail eggs, although at 6pm that would seem like the perfect option. But it’s after midnight now and you’re hammed. Arugula and quail eggs can go straight to hell.

No, it’s time for something double fried, dripping with grease, topped with cheese and soggy with mayonnaise. It’s time for a heart stopping, artery clogging mess that you are certain will give you plenty of time for regret as you perch upon your porcelain throne time after time after time the next day.

Why Do We Do it to Ourselves?

It’s for the sake of the art, of course! Someone put together this creation much in the same way that you came around to eating it. You can imagine the chef coming home late, drunk as ever, looking helplessly around his fridge for something to annihilate. There are sparse ingredients, but just enough to pique the curiosity of the blotto culinary creator. A dish is born, and with certain delight it is consumed in pure gluttony, its ephemeral existence quantified by the inhibition-free state the spirits have created while swimming through your bloodstream.

It’s pure bliss. The next step is finding a place to stare into space for a few minutes until your head hits the pillow. Before you know it you’ll be waking up looking for water, your shriveled prune like body devoid of water, saturated with salt, and dreaming of an ice cold Grape Gatorade.

 Personally Speaking After Going Ham

I’ve drunkenly roamed late night in Boston, New York, D.C., Atlanta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Toronto, Baltimore, and smaller cities like Syracuse, Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Kingston, Manchester, Raleigh, and West Palm Beach. I have eaten late night meals in pretty much all of them. Regretted some more than others, but never hated on how great a night it was.

Here are the 3 meals unique to a specific area that I would go back for:

  1. Primanti Brothers in Pittsburgh –  Absolute carnage. If you have never had the privilege of eating a sandwich there, its meat, coleslaw, and French fries on the sandwich itself, all piled up and delicious. I had pastrami, with swiss, and I added onions and an egg. I ate it greedily, obsessively, and without breathing. It was the perfect end to a great night.

    primonti bros
    Primanti Brothers Sandwich 
  2. Pat’s King of Steak in Philadelphia – Do me a favor and spare me the “the best cheesesteaks are not at Pat’s or Geno’s those places are for tourists” speech. I was in Philly and I was a damn tourist and the first time I ate a “Whiz Whit” I damn near cried. Tender steak and cheesey goodness was enough to send me to cholesterol bliss. Great night in Philly, too, complete with a memorable 3D Avatar porn experience and Monk’s Café Sour Flemish Ale. Not at the same time.

    pats cheesesteak
    Pat’s Cheesesteak
  3. Dog Town in Rochester – Despite its namesake, The Garbage Plate is delicious. Home fries on a plate topped with mac salad, a hot dog, and a cheeseburger, drowning in spicy meat sauce and speckled with raw onions. Sound gross? Come to Rochester and spend a few hours with yours truly walking around Monroe Avenue and then see what you think. You’ll cave in and then have to sleep for a week.

    garbage plate
    Garbage Plate on an actual plate

What it All Means

I’ve had late night hot dogs and slices of pizza in New York, grabbed after hours meals in Boston, and had a soft shell crab poor boy once in Baltimore that blew me away. But it’s not just what it was, it was the nights that surrounded the first time I had these specific meals, what I was doing, who I was with, and the meal just hit me. It hit me in a spot inside my mind that I can’t describe.

I went to school for a while in New Paltz, New York. I remember a little pizza joint that was on my stumbling walk home from the frat parties. It was called “Italian Supreme”. It’s not there anymore. I remember they had stuffed pizza slices, which were basically just two slices of pizza stacked on top of one another creating a “stuffed slice” effect.

I’m not sure if that pizza was any good. But at the time, at eighteen years old, with friends, drinking cheap beer and whiskey and smoking Natural American Spirits, it was the best pizza ever. We ate it like we were kings, sloppily sucking the sauce off our fingers and laughing till our heads fell off.

The art of drunk food is not just how the meal will satisfy your uninhibited hunger, it’s how that meal will entice your memory to go back to that spot in time and relive it all over again.

 

Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.

He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband

Or on Facebook, of course.

 

What This Shit Means to Me

It’s so much more than a petrified piece of poo. It’s a sharp reminder that life happens fast and you should never take shit from anyone, especially if it’s something that you truly believe in. It’s a putrid reminder that sometimes shit rolls downhill, that there’s always shit on your mind, there’s always lots of shit to do, and you’re always looking for ways to escape all this shit. But it’s also funny, because sometimes shit is funny.

This shit reminds me to stay patient that sometimes you have to wait for shit. That shit doesn’t come easy. Not all shit that does come easy is bad shit, sometimes quick shit is easy and good, but waiting and being patient for shit usually pays off the best. The best shit makes you wait and that shit feels good when it finally arrives.

But most of all this shit reminds me of my Grandfather. He put this very same fake shit on his head when I was a kid and walked into the room. He got my attention and I looked at him and saw the shit, but thought that shit was real and I was so disappointed in him. All I said was, “Oh, Papa!” and everyone started laughing. Then I found out the shit was fake and I realized that sometimes it’s funny to play a practical joke and that he really didn’t let a big dog shit on his head. And I learned a little something about comedy and love.

But it also shows some humility too, that you’re willing to take some shit because sometimes you have to and sometimes you have to be willing to give a shit, even when nobody else does.

I keep this shit on my desk when I’m writing. I look at it to remind myself to dig down deep into the shit and to be as real as possible. It’s a little reminder that you have to get all the shit down while you can, and you better love the shit you create, but never take that shit too seriously.

This shit is important to me and so is writing. So I keep this shit to remind me of the past, the present, and the future.  It reminds me that I’ll never be scared shit-less, no matter what shit I face.

Thanks for reading this shit.

 

Anthony N. White is a writer currently living in Rochester, NY.

He can be heckled on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat @Ruthieshusband

Or on Facebook, of course.