I get it. There’s a heat wave. There’s no need to remind me, except that there are reminders EVERYWHERE. My ice cream turned into mush before I could even get a lick in. I am relegated to the bedroom- the lone room with AC- with two very, very unhappy and hot dogs. Because my husband and I essentially live in an attic (hey- it’s what you get when you’re both graduate students)- the ceilings of our humble abode in the trees are literally hot to the touch.
I was in the car for about three hours today and listened to a constant drone of stories on NPR about David Cameron, Libyan rebels, the gang-of-six debt ceiling negotiations, and other topics that I simply can’t seem to recall through the haze at this time. It was all, yes, a strange and terrible mixture of depressing news, hot car seats, poor air conditioning, and vision blurred from sweat and smog.
It’s days like today when I wonder whether or not I might go completely insane.
Instead of going in this direction, I decided it would be a grand idea to turn on Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. After all, I’m about three more sweat beads away from grabbing the bottle of tequila in the freezer and clutching it as I type. I’m sure by the end of this I’ll have gotten into that terrible yet glorious stuff. I’ve never been one to indulge in anything beyond alcohol, but good god do I love tequila. And beer. Good, cold beer. Incidentally, Flying Dog’s Gonzo Imperial Porter usually graces the shelves of my fridge.
Fear and Loathing is not only the perfect movie to watch during a soul crushing heat wave; it is the perfect movie to watch during a soul crushing political atmosphere. Scandals erupt and fester abroad, genocide and war happen worlds away, and all the while we sit here and rot in our own pile of political filth as we can’t even do something as simple as come to a compromise on something that most everyone agrees is necessary. The needs of the poor and underprivileged are on the chopping block, and unemployment remains stubbornly above 9%. Gay bashers, Muslim haters, and Bible thumpers run rampant in the Republican party, and we’ve got a presidential candidate who once upon a time predicted the world would end in 2006.
And yet, there are those of us who still find it appropriate to hail American Exceptionalism and deride those who question it.
The American Dream, realized.
As I’m sitting here, I realize this isn’t just a strange and terrible day because of the heat. I realize these are indeed strange and terrible times.
In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Raoul Duke searches for the American Dream, and finds its ugly underbelly and central nerve at the epicenter of Las Vegas. As I watch Raoul Duke careen through an ether-induced circus scene, I cannot help but think what a disgustingly picturesque and perfect representation of this ideal this moment is. It is a foul and disheartening thing, the American Dream, just like this damn heat wave most of us are experiencing right now.
“We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave…”
For now, we’ve got flat, acrid water, barely rippling under this oppressive heat wave.
Perhaps more optimism will come on a cooler day.