Love it or leave it

There’s something about American culture that Canadians — heck, people all over the world — find absolutely compelling.

The USA is Canada’s biggest and most important ally, and not just because of how warm it is in Florida during the winter. While our respective politicians spar and posture with each other the way respective politicians are wont to do, it’s safe to say the vast majority of ordinary citizens on either side of the border are supportive or at least blissfully ambivalent toward each other.

Americans smugly know they’re still the world’s ranking superpower, and we Canadians are smugly aware that we know the names of US cities, beer brands and pop culture figures, while our American friends have to stop and ask, “who’s your prime minister again?”

All that said, there’s nothing like a road trip through America to entertain Canadians and remind us about how our cultures have evolved in remarkably different directions.

Take the above photo, on the side of a shack in America’s heartland that sells fireworks (big business in these parts). This is outrageous — anyone knows artillery costs more than that. But the point is, the mindset that even comes up with the idea of using that name for pyrotechnics isn’t out of place in the States. If this were in Canada, the focus of concentration would be on filling out the appropriate forms.

Then there are the billboards for “We buy antlers”, truck stops where a “small” coffee would keep a ship afloat, or the parade of bumper stickers with advice ranging from “Firearms rule” to “Happy yet? You can’t blame Bush any more”.

It’s a cultural tapestry that sure adds some richness to a long drive through the neighbour’s yard. Vive le difference.

Now back on the I-80, Bringing the General Home.

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