It’s the 4th of July. My parents and my best friend are coming over today. We’re going to grill, we’re going to drink beer, and then we’re going to watch the parade through the neighborhood. Then, my wife, my best friend and I are going to see fireworks at the baseball game tonight. It’s like the most American day ever.

And it’s got so much of my favorite stuff, it’s inspired me to list a bunch of my other favorite American things. You can find those below. And I encourage you to list yours in the comments below. Have a happy and safe 4th, everyone!

* I love the Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways, also known as the greatest public works project in history. It’s one of the big road trip weekends, so I think it only appropriate to pay tribute to Eisenhower and his glorious system of interstate travel. This country is enormous, and this system shrank it. It’s a testament to what we can accomplish if we’re all pushing in the right direction, and not (rightfully) arguing about the rights of a fucking retail store to provide or not provide methods of birth control. Not to sound too much like Aaron Sorkin – who is a misogynist and a douche – but once upon a time our government built great things, and this is probably my favorite.

* The snarky live crowd at Monday Night Raw the night after WrestleMania. This is typically the best crowd of the year because it’s filled with hardcore wrestling geeks who cheer loudly for what they want, which is not always consistent with what WWE management wants. Sometimes it is, and you get moments like this. Other times the crowd just shits on the proceedings mercilessly. Either way, it’s usually the most exciting Monday Night Raw all year.

* This also applies to any time Raw visits Chicago. Great crowds there. Like when this happened.

* I haven’t written about New York City, but sometimes I fetishize my writing and rather than experience things in the moment, I spend my time thinking about how I’m going to write about them (Ohhh, this is where the article should take a turn! Blechhh) and end up having a meta-experience rather than a genuine one. In New York, I was so burned out on work, I didn’t even consider writing about it or taking pictures or anything, which I think is good.

Reflecting on it now, while hicks from the heartland might disagree, New York is so intensely American, I can barely handle it. It’s overstuffed with people that, while occasional aggressive rudeness will float to the surface, if you’re watching, you’ll find people being incredibly sweet and accommodating to each other. New York allows people from everywhere to enter, give their dream their best shot, and judges no one, whether or not they’re successful or a miserable failure. It’s a gorgeous perpetual motion machine that embodies the spirit of America, and allows you to carve any kind of vacation you want to have.

Simon and Jon

* Speaking of the American spirit, I am incredibly proud of this chat on the most recent episode of the Jon of All Trades Podcast. Simon Lomax is a proud American, an Australian ex-pat, and a major dude. This is a country founded on immigration, and Simon elegantly explains why so many so desperately want to come here. You’ll feel incredibly patriotic after listening to this.

* The fact that so much great Mexican food exists everywhere. I want to eat all the Mexican food. I don’t care if it’s Baja style Mexican food, New Mexico style Mexican food, Tex-Mex style Mexican food, or anything else. Just give me Mexican food.

* Also: Kansas City barbecue, Maine lobster, Georgia pulled pork, New Mexico green chiles, Austin breakfast tacos, gulf shrimp, and all the other regional foodstuffs you can put in front of me. This country abounds with food, eat it. And then, cap it all off with…

* Blue Bell ice cream. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that this was available in Colorado, and because I’m me, I hated this ice cream before I’d even tried it due to the hype bestowed upon it from all of my Texas friends. Then I had it, and, gleefully, I was wrong. This ice cream is creamy and delicious and worthy of the hype.

It’s befuddling, however, the disproportional quality of one company’s product and its marketing. Blue Bell, without question, is my favorite ice cream, yet their hokey, soft-focus, over-the-top-Americana style commercials with kind old grandpa voiceover just make you want to tilt your head back and groan so loud, a goose flying overhead falls out of the sky due to the shockwave. I mean, for fuck’s sake, just watch this. I can imagine the pitch for this. An ad agency sits down in front of Blue Bell executives, shows them a few covers of the Saturday Evening Post, most notably this one, and says, “This. With the production company that made the movie Pleasantville, but without any irony whatsoever.” Who would do the voiceover? “Is the Smuckers guy dead? If not, him. If so, a guy who basically sounds like him, but without the smoker’s rasp. Actually, forget that, we’ll find someone without the decks of Lucky Strikes in his glove box. But that type of guy.” You’re hired.

Great ice cream, awful commercials.

* I’ve gushed about craft beer enough in these parts, so I won’t till that section of earth any further. But suffice to say, no matter where you go, you find exquisite beer in an unbelievable array of styles with delightful people there to share it with. If you can survive some pretense, you’ll love whatever leap you take into craft beer and be better for it.

*And I guess if there’s a larger point to be made here, it’s that I love this country’s ability to keep surprising me. I’m always amazed at how we can dust ourselves off no matter the setback and continue to push ever forward, innovating all the way. I’m no Lee Greenwood, but I’m proud to be an American.

And I wish you a happy holiday.

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