Not So Good

Not So Good

Things aren’t going well for tourism. It’s best in America where local travel has doubled over last year and is only about 15-20% below pre-pandemic levels. Europe is a close second. It’s really bad in Africa and the Middle East where current tourism is still only a third pre-pandemic levels. And the worst of all, of course, is Asia where China is learning the hard way that you can’t wipe out the virus like the Uyghurs.

Soon I return to Africa with 9 travelers, and as disappointed as I felt with the less than full safari my guys on the ground are ecstatic. At least I’m coming! Tourism in Africa isn’t anywhere near the level that was predicted, and this is leading to some very interesting stuff.
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Presses & Pandas

Presses & Pandas

Some of us took advantage of the one-two punch of Trump + Pandemic. With alternate mixtures of anger, depression and irresolvable feelings of capture we were motivated to learn a little bit about past U.S. pandemics and presidents.

My fascination with early man never reached the point of exchanging empathy with an Australopithecine, but boy do I feel brotherly closeness to the Republican reconstructionists and Boston priests and doctors conscripted for forced vaccinations! With a longer view of America than one lifetime there’s no democracy among angels. It’s been a sludge fest the whole way.
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Dream Away

Dream Away

I was 15 years old, wasting the last bits of summer wandering with my dog alone in the forests behind my house and the prairies behind the forests returning late for cold dinners.

“I have a dream,” Martin Luther King said as I was wandering on August 28, 1963, at the opening of the “March on Washington” in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

I always got home in time for Walter Cronkite at 6 p.m. Walter had just started with the “March on Washington” when my local Memphis affiliate cut out of the newscast to run a car dealership ad three times in a row before shifting early to local weather!
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People Day

People Day

Technically today is a federal holiday called “Columbus Day” but it’s rather confused. Oregon, Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont have all banned it and replaced it with “Indigenous Peoples Day.” Many more local counties have done the same or as President Biden did this morning simultaneously order the celebration of “Indigenous Peoples Day.”

NBCNews put it best, “Columbus Day is not a holiday the U.S. — and Italian Americans — should celebrate” …because?
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Labor Day Lies

Labor Day Lies

RaisedFist1Today marks the extended “Labor Day” weekend holiday in the United States, Thursday-Monday. America’s ‘May Day’ is officially Monday but everyone takes the whole long weekend off.

Vacations end, schools reopen, the fall sports season begins, the culture season with operas and symphonies begin in the great cities… Well, not now. Covid continues to wreck havoc on America; only about half the country is fully vaccinated. Some vaccine is going to waste. How could this be?
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Fourth of What?

Fourth of What?

Most younger nations in the world celebrate several independence days: the transfer of power (“Jamhuri Day” in Kenya) and the day self-rule began (“Madaraka Day”). South Africa’s “Freedom Day” marks the transition from post-apartheid rule. The variety of celebrations reflects the complexity of achieving and implementing self-governance.

We don’t like complexity in America, particularly during these Information Wars. Like the old man I am, the simpler my day looks, the better! We celebrate only one day to mark the end of British colonialism, July 4th, the date our bold Declaration of Independence was signed.

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Thanks, Dr. King.

Thanks, Dr. King.

I was 15 years old, wasting the last bits of summer wandering with my dog alone in the forests behind my house and the prairies behind the forests, returning late for cold dinners.

“I have a dream,” Martin Luther King said as I wandered, on August 28, 1963, at the opening of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

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Thanks At Last

Thanks At Last

At last. Well, almost “at last.” This week is America’s most universally celebrated holiday, “Thanksgiving.” It normally begins after work last Friday and continues through Sunday evening. The absence from work isn’t universal, but there’s no other holiday week as little worked as this.

And boy, does it ever come at the right time this year!

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Covid Columbus

Covid Columbus

This place is so broken. Technically today is one of ten federal holidays for which non-essential federal workers get time off with pay. FDR declared “Columbus Day” in 1934 formalizing a New York City tradition first celebrated with a parade in 1792, three hundred years after Christopher Columbus reported landfall in the “New World.”

The holiday is no longer. Fourteen states renamed it “Indigenous Peoples Day” and several more simply don’t celebrate it. Most of the southern States (excluding Alabama) do still rigorously celebrate it, and President Trump just championed it:

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Covid Celebration

Covid Celebration

The fireworks came early and are sputtering out. “He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”

Achebe’s famous quotation is apt but simplistic. We have fallen apart, worldwide. We didn’t collapse on our own. Wedges were thrust into us. But Trump or Bolsonaro or Johnson or Putin – or for that matter, anyone – as the “He” misses the mark.

It’s all of us. We knifed ourselves. And now in America this weekend, we celebrate it all.

I found two things to keep me sane this 4th of July. The European Union’s great CDC site is the first and foremost. It even has better stats and analysis on America than America. Read it if you want to know what’s really happening.

Second.

Listen as I always do to NPR’s reading of the Declaration of Independence. This is an anchor in these quasar queer times, a guide for humanity and remarkable for its age. Yes you’ve got to have the courage to step out of our collective narcissism to recognize that the late 18th century didn’t have wifi. And that “timeless” might not be without context but has a dynamic and meaningful compass in it.

The framers of our original America were not perfect men as we aren’t. But my goodness how beautifully they expressed the ideals that all of us, today in today’s age, should embrace. When you do, the fog clears and the faith that we can make things better shines brighter than ever.

Covid Consecration

Covid Consecration

In America today we would normally have a holiday called Memorial Day. Instead we have an abnormal holiday called Memorial Day.

The holiday is intended to honor the memories of U.S. soldiers who died in action. But this year it seems meant for honoring anyone who is defiant, suggesting all the American soldiers who died in action weren’t fighting only against an enemy, but against themselves.

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MLK is not Martin Luther King

MLK is not Martin Luther King

What I fear most is that we’ll give up. “A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true.”

MLK said those exact words at a church in Selma the day after Bloody Sunday, but they’re rarely quoted. Instead a much shorter paraphrased version is attributed to him, even though he didn’t say it: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Thus our age began.

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Christmiss

Christmiss

The long Christmas holiday in America starts soon and goes right through next week because of the day-of-the-week that Christmas lands. It’s one of the biggest end-of-the-year travel periods in decades because of this as well.

But somehow it doesn’t feel like a holiday this year. People are still spending like crazy in an economy that to me is all smoke and mirrors, but all over the world dissatisfaction with their lives is only growing. You know the list. America’s on top.

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