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01-4-2016 17:39:53  #1


What It Means to Be an American

Typewriter Enthusiast, Climate Control Operator, Wacoan, Texan, American.  These are the titles that describe me, and I'm proud to be all of them.  I know the last three titles have taken a beating all around the world, especially the last one, but I'm still very proud to belong to them.  And, as well as speaking for myself, I can speak for others like me who are proud of where they come from.  Yes, our country may be guilty of sin, but I also know that we have done some good too.  We may also not be at the top of our game, but I feel that with hard work and diligence, we will once again have a country that we can really be proud of.  

I also know that outside of the United States there is a certain enmity, and even hatred, for our country and its citizens.  We are viewed as arrogant showoffs who don't seem to give a rat's you-know-what about anyone else but ourselves.  In fact, many call us "Ugly Americans."  This may be evidenced by the observation of many of ours who can afford to travel abroad.  The average blue-collar worker, like myself, know what it is to struggle to get by.  We also know this is a global problem, and that there are others out there who are way worse off than we are.  We would like to help out, and many of us have, without "something in it for ourselves," such as money and/or glory.  We may not be as sophisticated or even refined as what most consider the more "Genteel," nations, but we have a certain pride in who we are, what we do, and where we come from.    


Underwood--Speeds the World's Bidness
 

01-4-2016 20:56:44  #2


Re: What It Means to Be an American

This is an interesting topic , and potentially dangerous one - in terms of misunderstandings and consequent offence.  I think we shall all have to choose our words carefully in order to contribute effectively, and without straying into politics.  One thing I have learned from forums such as this is that there is nothing you can write or say which cannot be interpreted as offensive, whether that was the intent or no.  Neither can you say anything which cannot be interpreted as sarcasm, even if a smiley face follows.

I don't have the time this morning to be sure of saying what I would like to say about this complicated subject in a manner well constructed enough to avoid the above as far as I can.  Perhaps later.
 


Sincerely,
beak.
 
 

01-4-2016 23:30:20  #3


Re: What It Means to Be an American

I'm really not liking the subject of this thread. It will - already has - dipped into that nasty bog called politics, a subject that incidentally is not allowed here as is explained in the very modest rules that govern this forum (see rule #2). I've yet to see a political discussion in a forum consisting of international participants that didn't turn into an ugly mess. And as Beak pointed out, anyone who does try to tackle this subject will find themselves tip-toeing through a minefield, and as a result will inevitably have to censor their comments, so why bother?

I'd much prefer if we kept things light around here, and stick to fun subjects such as typewriters.  


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

02-4-2016 03:45:36  #4


Re: What It Means to Be an American

I'll throw my tuppence in first, Uwe, if that's all right. Not to be political! I am also American, of a combination of very old (Mayflower) and very new (ie, my grandfather) stock. Two of my uncles were European - one was a refugee from Stalin aged 5. 

I've lived in London since my late teens - my entire adult life and over half my life. 'How the US is viewed around the world' is the story of my life - I'm the expert in this subject. I've been here taking it through two gulf Wars, for a start. I was working in a mainly Muslim (and quite pro-Bin Laden) neighbourhood in the years after 9/11, so I even know how that works. It was not comfortable! Not a week goes by that I'm not asked about my accent, whether the speaker thinks I've kept it or lost it; anyone from Texas would definitely just think I was English if they met me. Most people, because of my NY sensibility and my dark hair, think I'm Jewish. Right now I live in the middle of the third-largest Haredi (Hassidic) (fundamentalist Jewish) neighbourhood in the world, after Jerusalem and Brooklyn - it's hard work, frankly, as they are not into mingling, and the situation for women is impossible - but I can recognise it! My neighbourhood is also full of displaced Turkish Cypriots, so that we have access to some of the most wonderful food in the WORLD. Fresh mint, coriander, dill, parsley, gorgeous aubergines at any time of year, tomatoes to make you weep, and amazing Turkish restaurants that are open all night, as if you were in Turkey. And fwiw, my mother cannot believe the quality of the meat and dairy in Britain, compared to the US. 

In other words, no one country has to be better than another, and no one country has to be defensive abou whether they're 'better' or 'the best' or whatever. We're just all here together.

My kids are English: Hackney kids. The middle one has gone to live in California with his dual citizenship - he's a guitar geek and there is much more guitar culture in the US than there is here. i come from a big, close family that's spread out all over the US, and my big beefy brother is a hospital nurse. Very proud of him. My sister teaches special needs in a school where there isn;t enough budget and she's working 60 hours a week to fulfil the paperwork requirements... same as teachers here have to.

Here, my friends are European, Caribbean, African, Asian, (which in the UK means the Indian sub-continent), and indeed American. My best friend is a 
Polish artist with an English husband, who has lived in London almost as long as me. She grew up in Communist Warsaw and then Oz for a bit and then the US for a bit. She has some very compelling things to say about ways in which Communist Poland was better, especially for women.

In short, there is no need, and no use, for defensiveness about one's country! Everyone has that. Everyone feels that their country is misunderstood or whatever. Americans are the main ones who insist on talking about it. But we have a wonderful internationalist typewriter forum here. One of my favourite typewriters, by the way, is my Consul, an adorable little Czech machine that was very common behind the Iron Curtain and which my friend Natalia says brings it all back to her. (She also says this about the Hermes, as everyone there had a Baby.) 

Having said all which, when I needed to choose which typewriter would be the guest book at my book launch, I went for the Royal, the QDL, as it's what my mother had, and it was in the book - and everyone LOVED it. The type quality isn't perfect, but it's lovely, and everyone said how exciting and pretty the machine was. They even made me get it out again in the pub. This isn't a competition! 

Another short post from me... 

Uwe, sorry if this begins to feel political. I think we just need to acknowledge and celebrate one another, as the human exponents of our wonderful little machines...

 

02-4-2016 13:48:47  #5


Re: What It Means to Be an American

...wasn't sure if I should stick my big nose in here, but I decided why not. It'll give me good practice when talking to people who aren't as nice as the ones on this forum.

I do think it's important that, as a community, that we learn about the people behind the typewriter and the culture and experiences that surround them. The typewriters, in a way, are a reflection of the people, and the environment of the people and climate of the geographical area. For instance, Typewriterking has never owned a single Olympia SM series, even though he's been collecting for 30+ years. Uwe has access to all sorts of brands, from Continentals, to Imperials, to Underwoods. The composition of one's collection shows what the area is like, such as that Texas has a very sort of "heartland" feel to it while Toronto was once a French colony, a British one, and very close to the US border, so it's a whole conglomerate of cultures and people and things. (I have access to a lot of Royals for some reason. Don't know what that says about NJ, because Royals were made in Connecticut...)

The point is, the typewriters are just an extension, a reflection, of the people. If we learn more about the people, the typewriters and the circumstances surrounding them, it will make a bit more sense because typewriters can only tell us so much about a culture. I'd love to know more about the people of Australia, or what it's really like in Canada, but until I have a steady job and can afford to travel there myself (which will be in over a decade...), I really won't know. 

Anyways, that's my two bits on the matter. I don't think it will get too political, because at the end of the day, it's just about the typewriters, and how political can that get? (Ok, don't answer that). And I think typewriter collectors, especially the ones on here, are polite to each other and are aware of the power that their words have. But what do I know? I'm just some punk kid who doesn't know anything about the world, right?


A high schooler with a lot of typewriters. That's pretty much about it.
 

02-4-2016 15:10:56  #6


Re: What It Means to Be an American

I realize that I'm going off on a tangent, but I want to set the record straight that Toronto was never a French colony. The first Europeans in the area were French, explorers and fur trappers who had outposts in the region, but Toronto's roots are very much British. Toronto was in the heart of Upper Canada, a province that once was a British colony and later became Ontario. Toronto was also largely populated by Americans (United Empire Loyalists) who remained loyal to the British after the American War of Independence and resettled here. I feel for those who are not Canadian trying to understand the whole French thing in Canada.

I travel to the U.S. very often and have always had to deal with the misconceptions many American have about Canada. It's particularly bad in New England because the area is south of Quebec and must have a lot of French-Canadian tourists. "How come you speak such good English?" I was once asked by a waiter in New Hampshire after I told him that I was from Canada. He assumed everyone in Canada spoke French. The truth is that less than a quarter of Canada's population are native French speakers.

In terms of typewriter collecting, there's something else about Toronto that is worth mentioning: It's the fourth largest city in North America, a fact that surprises many Americans. The four largest cities in order of size are Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles, and then Toronto. This is a relevant statistic in terms of typewriter collecting as it means that a larger variety of machines can be found locally, especially when you factor in the large number of immigrants that make up the population. I've bought a surprising number of machines with QWERTZ keyboards in this area because many were brought here by German immigrants. However, I do buy machines online as well, and the reality of online shopping is such that regional limitations have been greatly reduced; there's no longer a reason - other than cost - for a typewriter collector to be limited to a selection that reflects the region he lives in.

 


"To save time is to lengthen life."
 

02-4-2016 17:30:45  #7


Re: What It Means to Be an American

Uwe, when I was growing up in CT there were pockets of French Canadian communities there - there must have been some sort of work-seeking route along the Eastern seaboard... also, NY state you find quite a lot of French names.

 

02-4-2016 17:31:43  #8


Re: What It Means to Be an American

Hey ztyper, you're a good kid ;) 

 

02-4-2016 19:18:38  #9


Re: What It Means to Be an American

I apologize Uwe for my misconception. But you get my point that there are many factors about the area that you live in. (And for living a short 40 minute drive from NYC, you'd think I'd get at least one QWERTZ machine, but nope. No such luck).

And I'm sure that most collectors tend to only buy typewriters that are local to them for, like you said, cost reasons, and even just convenience. I try to limit myself (key word try) to typewriters that I can physically hold before I get them. Though it's purely for practical reasons because I am literally piling typewriters on top of each other by now. But anyways, the machines that are bought locally still reflect the area in which they inhabit. Not sure how a few Olympias, a single Olivetti and loads of Royals and SC portables says about New Jersey, but I'm sure if I keep collecting, I'll be able to make a connection. Though the fact that you can have QWERTZ keyboards, French keyboards, and Imperials says something about the city in which you live in. It says that it's a place with a lot of different cultures, people, and histories. Which is quite obvious. But it's true, right?

And I do notice quite a few visitors from Quebec during the summertime. Don't know why they chose to drive because that's quite a hike from there to here. 

And thanks KatLondon


A high schooler with a lot of typewriters. That's pretty much about it.
 

02-4-2016 20:28:03  #10


Re: What It Means to Be an American

Uwe wrote:

I'm really not liking the subject of this thread. It will - already has - dipped into that nasty bog called politics, a subject that incidentally is not allowed here as is explained in the very modest rules that govern this forum (see rule #2). I've yet to see a political discussion in a forum consisting of international participants that didn't turn into an ugly mess. And as Beak pointed out, anyone who does try to tackle this subject will find themselves tip-toeing through a minefield, and as a result will inevitably have to censor their comments, so why bother?

I'd much prefer if we kept things light around here, and stick to fun subjects such as typewriters.  

I was not intending to be political.  All I was doing was trying to defend myself from others who would automatically and without trial believe me as being nothing more than a pig.  No, I can't control what others think of me.  I would like to believe my words and actions to speak for themselves, but we, unfortunately, live in a judgmental world.
 


Underwood--Speeds the World's Bidness
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