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The Electric Grapevine | Star Spangled Banter | 03.14.10

It has been awhile since I ventured past Washington State up until my trip to Las Vegas last week where I was reminded in true American fashion just how over the top the country can be. Granted Vegas is the pinnacle of excess, even on the way there I ran into some larger than life characters and portions for that matter. The way the border operates had me attempting to sleep in the airport terminal at Spokane for a few hours at 3 a.m. before catching the flight to Salt Lake City, Utah. It took me a while to sleep thanks to some foul mouthed guy pumping eff bombs into his phone as if it were powered by ignorance. I finally got to sleep only to be awoken by a rather large security guard thumping his way through the terminal to begin his day of defending America from his reinforced stool within the United Airlines check in desk. If his clanging lunch pail, keys and thundering footsteps weren't enough to wake me, his yelling at the top of his lungs sure would be. As it were, someone had left a couple of bags in line to venture out and read some tourism posters further down the terminal. America's hero apparently mistook the sound of his clogging arteries for the sound of ticking as he yelled at the dozen or so travellers attempting sleep about the threat of bombs. After startling everyone in earshot. we all learned that the bags belonged to two elderly people about 90 feet away. This did not stop Paul Blart from yelling aggressively at the pair. "POST NINE ELEVEN PEOPLE!" The seniors headed for the unattended luggage as fast as they could but the guard kept yelling at them. Even as they picked up the bags he continued to yell. "No unattended bags! This is post 9/11 America!" It certainly is, as our National Insecurity card member would observe and report. I couldn't decide if I was being naive or just plain Canadian. I'd have this question answered for me a week later upon my return to Vancouver where I do some work in a law enforcement supply store on occasion. As Friday wound down, I received a call from a resident of Colorado, who was going through his father's "war shed" as he put it. He was trying to sell us a variety of items such as guns and uniforms, none of which interested us. Turns out these items were just a warm up as the man then proceeded to tell me that he had uncovered a few hundred pounds of C4 explosives in the shed. After telling him he should be calling the bomb squad he proceeded to attempt to sell me these insanely dangerous goods. It took me a couple of minutes to realize that this is exactly the kind of thing that starts here and ends with a Timothy McVeigh clone being executed after pulling off some homegrown disaster. A quick call to the local authorities ensured that this would be Uni(form?) Bomber likely would have a rather trying day at the hands of the Denver Police. My mind narrated itself, oddly in Michael Moore's voice, and asked itself: "Do we just think America is a country based on excess and violence or is it really that way?" Flashback to six days prior and Im standing in a line attempting to order a drink in Vegas. A small coffee was 16 ounces and a large was roughly the size of a garbage can. The Starbucks employee became somewhat annoyed with me attempting to describe how she could in fact just fill the cup less. Apparently not. My tolerance for crappy baristas is low to begin with, however my appreciation is high for great baristas due to my background. This one was hopeless and rather rude. How could I politely wipe the smirk from her face after she laughed at my telling her that Canadians drink Canadianos rather than Americanos? Well, let me tell you. "What the heck is a Canadiano?" "It's like an Americano only stronger and better at hockey..." Smirk gone. Canada 1 USA 0, or was it 3-2? Related Links http://www.flickr.com/photos/48391875@N07/sets/