Monday, January 12, 2015

Winter in Atlanta

Der Struwwelpeter (1845)

Bare oaks with Struwwelpeter limbs, moaning winds and pewter cast skies, it's winter in Atlanta, the capital city of Georgia. 


Rupert Brooke "the most handsome man in England."

I am a wee bit homesick for England, the beloved homeland, at the mo. Temporarily trapped in the Caucasian urban provinces of Midtown Atlanta, exactly 4,204 miles from Notting Hill and Ladbroke Grove, the Georgian Poetry of Rupert Brooke springs to mind: 


"God! I will pack, and take a train, 


And get me to England once again! 


For England's the one land, I know, 


Where men with splendid hearts may go..." 


Welcome to Sunny and White Virginia Highland

Alas, there's no corner in this foreign field that is forever England. I don't know anyone and have very few friends (quelle surprise?)  Since we were posted here, two plus years ago, I have lived a bit of a hermit-like existence -- only leaving the house to gym, shop, dine or let rip on full autos at the local gun club. Why have I been living like this?  Because I have been writing non-stop since I got here.  Yes, I must make more of an effort to assimilate into the host culture, and its social landscape, in 2015. 



Or not. Like the 1956 novel Peyton Place, the prim clapboard houses and Aryan bungalows of the locality mask seething dysfunction and social enmity. And the white Americans of Atlanta are a two-faced lot.  They come at you with smiles and hugs of welcome but watch out for the knife in your back and the boot in your rep!  I have come to the conclusion, after two plus years of expat rumination, that it's best not to have anything to do with whitey and the indigenous population. Self exclusion also lessens the possibility of infection from the Holy Trinity of modern American hang-ups: fear, greed and force majeure


Male Trailing Spouse goes undercover in Shock Corridor


But I am a long way from home and must exercise caution in the colonies. Only last week I was warned, by a native admirer, that the natives don't like their country being criticized by opinionated foreigners. This came about after an interview that I gave on Lip TV about my work. 


"Careful, Americans don't like foreigners telling us how to run things. Look what happened to Piers Morgan. With that being said I'm interested in learning about your experience in other facilities. The mental health system is in great need of reforming."  


A foreigner loses the right to his opinion in the land of the free? How interesting. 


Islamic anti-Americanism often seems related to the ability of the American media to project the sensuous attractions of the American way of life around the world.


Am I being anti-American?  Not really. My Old Man is a Yank and I know all about anti-Americanism. But what exactly do I mean by anti-American? Hostility towards the material success and military might of the USA, often accompanied by contempt towards the popular culture and its social institutions. Anti-Americanism is a boring, well worn thing, and ironic given that many people who wish to emigrate from their country of origin, wish to move to the USA. Not so the French. Their anti-Americanism has a cultural context. They loathe the invasion of their language, the kitsch nature of American society and forever highlight the naivety of American dealings with folk from other cultures (I can attest to that).  


But I am not all complaints about the new locale. This is, after all, a city in a period of growth, transition and urban renewal.  The population of Atlanta grew more than 6% to 447,841 between 2010 and 2013 and is now home to about 5.45 million people. Like it or lump it, I am now one of them. And, being English, the city's housing market has been getting my attention of late. According to mortgage company Freddie Mac, property prices in metro Atlanta went up by 11.5% last year, out performing Georgia (9%) and the USA as a whole (6%).  Hmm, good thing that we are buying a house.


Until next week.


The Male Trailing Spouse