To my great sorrow, the Alps Mountains are under the clouds. The water surfaces seem to be preferred by gods. It is probably a coincidence that almost always when I flew above the sees or oceans the sky was cloudless. England, neither water nor continent, only an island, displays a flock of small clouds, looking like sheep, as thought they want to remember us about the famous wool of Shetland. We could not see the Shetland Islands from here, but they are not far away. Times were changing... Former English people used to graze sheep; today they shepherd clouds. Toward the West, the small sheep turn themselves into dinosaurs, and finally a milky mass makes uninteresting any scenery. (I was about to write "landscape" but probably "water-scape" or "cloud-scape" would be more proper.)
Meanwhile we have passed beyond the England. Above the Ireland the clouds are so high that nearly touch the wings of the plain which is flying at 33,000 feet, altitude that was just announced on the display. Clinton was in Ireland yesterday. Maybe he is there yet but, with all these shames, his visit remains in fog at proper and figurative sense as well. It is a pity with the mist, because I would have had the opportunity to look at him from up to down. Anyway, he never looks so up.
The Ireland is now at the back of us. Odd thing! The Golfstrom (or the Gulf Stream if you like it better) and the sun love each other. It would be expected that a warm water current which penetrates into a colder area to form fog above it. This time it is not occurring. It is as clear as possibly. Not a single cloud! That's surely the gods love water more than earth.
We are crossing the ocean. Nice but boring! The same scenery under the same plane wing... And this chair narrow and narrow...
A good sleep would be the best but I cannot fall asleep. I am too tired because my travel has begun earlier in the night from Brasov, and I am super-excited. Even my neighbour on the next chair has fallen asleep, probably because of my chattering.
Late in the day Groenland appears on the display, in the right of our route. Groenland (Green-Land) what an irony! It seemed to be green to those who, coming from the glaciers, have baptised it like that, even though 80% of the island are covered with ice. Here is what the point of view may mean.
It is eight o'clock in the Romania now. At the TV a "tele-novela" has just finished and another one is going to start. They are suitable with the Romanians mentality and with our landscapes too. Hill, valley, hill, valley, and so on toward the infinite. Nothing new! Why do you take great pains, any longer? This feature of Romanian people has been noticed by our philosopher Lucian Blaga. Let us see what "tele-novela" I shall do in the New World.
The ocean, looked from the up, with some small clouds on it, seems to be exactly like the sky looked from the earth. The same shapes, the same colours. Here is a case where two different objects seem to be similar. It is not the single. I could find more examples. Particularly among us, many people seem to be what they are not.
We have arrived. After three years, I am again on the American land, for the beginning on the concrete of JFK airport, where a Chinese girl's voice is announcing something that is hardly understandable if you do not know beforehand what she says. But urgently is to change my thick clothes with a T-shirt, because there are 87 degree here, face to 40 as it were in the night when I left Brasov.
Another plane, much smaller, will carry me to Miami. Till than I have shaved myself and am looking at the people walking up and down. In the Romania it is in fashion for women shoes with very thick soles, but almost nobody wears they here. The Americans are more practical people. An easy sandal surely is more comfortable than a shoe like a caterpillar. If I look better, the fashion is nearly unchanged here, but I am far from a specialist.
Sometimes the Chinese voice from the loudspeaker seems to sing. I better go to my gate. This song is not just of a mermaid and I am not Ulisse, but it could be as dangerous for my me, due to my tiredness. There are more than 24 hours since I am awake.
The flight to Miami was without remembrances, except a nice view to Miami itself, looked from the plane in the night.
Of course, it is warm in Florida. Warm and Humid! There often are threatening clouds coming from the ocean, but they usually stop in front of the coast. Anyway, nobody takes account of them because the rains are short and warm. After several minutes, any trace of the rain disappears.
What annoyed me throughout in USA but particularly here was the excessive cold air inside the buildings, due to the air-conditioned. It is as cold as, getting outside, my glasses were covering with steam, as it happens in Romania when, during the winter, I suddenly enter a warm room.
In contrast to the Romanian people who permanently are frowning and morose, the Americans are smiling and kindness but, unlike the Romanians who are more and more kind-hearted as long as you know them, the American kindness stops very soon. But it is better than nothing. It is interesting that the old greeting "How do you do" is replaced by "How are you" and the answer ("very well") is as formal (and sometimes false) than the interest for one's health from the question. Still, I appreciate their efforts to seem in high spirits, because it is a sign of politeness and civility and, smiling every time, people finish to think they really are in that way. Even if they do not succeed in cheering up, the atmosphere is merry.
Another nice custom is that unknown people use to salute each other when meeting. This custom is almost lost in Europe, where only in very isolated placed, like mountain paths and in the countryside, people remind to be speaking beings.
This merry atmosphere is striking here, on the littoral, thanks to the tourists who are in their vacancies, but to the natives as well, even though they are not just native here. Let us not forget that Florida's population increased most after the II WW and also after the war from Vietnam, when many veterans have come here, attracted by the climate and lower taxes. On the beach, I friendly talked to an unknown man sunbathing there on the sand. Seeing off, he said "Good Bye, my friend". Two days later, I met him in the same place and we really enjoyed chatting again. Unfortunately, such meetings were almost as few as my bathing in the ocean. I stayed there only a week.
The atmosphere is less and less aestival as far as one moves away from the ocean coast and, as I was told, could be just dangerous because the people came from Latin-America. From all that, for me, the most pleasant recollection from Florida was a CD with Spanish music, recorded in Mexico. The world is filled with paradoxes.
Hearing the word "Georgia", my mind immediately makes a link to the well-known Ray Charles' song. Honestly, I do not like very much this song but, as long as I do not forget it, I must accept it is a good one. Visiting Georgia, other things are more visible. Above all there is the memory of Civil War and "Gone with the Wind". They have poor museums but lots of monuments and graveyards.
Actually, the most visible, in a direct way, the huge posters with photos of Clark Gable and Vivian Light are. "Gone with the Wind" is still the symbol of Atlanta. Unfortunately, they are to be seen on many advertisements for some local products, but it also proves the value of the symbol.
Georgia is a nice and rich area. We may suppose those two qualities have been amplified each other. The beauty of the nature attracted people who had the possibility to choose, namely rich people. They have built nice houses and take care of nature, making the area still nicer and more attractive for other people, and so on. There are lots and lots of very nice houses, particularly near by Atlanta, houses with large domains and many trees around. Tennis courts or golf links courses proved their landowners' wealth. Bill had the kindness to drive me among such properties. Maybe I am biased but, as any European, I appreciate houses made by bricks. I appreciate as well the American's vocation to practical and useful, and consequently to their pleasant houses made by wood, but I can't help remarking that most of valuable houses are made by bricks in USA too. Atlanta itself is a nice town. It is not a paradox the downtown is not very large. Even its buildings are not very high. The good taste has replaced the race towards "the most" with any price. The "Gothic" style of old sky-scrapers has been replaced with a real modern style, where new technology enables the architects to create a real new style. (In the language of Renaissance architects, Gothic used to mean barbarian.)
Once, Bill and Alma carried me to a party-dance at 11 AM o'clock. I first wondered myself what could be, because they told me that I do not have to dance. I have understood soon. The party used to take place in an asylum of old women, and one of its purpose was to offer them several pleasant hours. I must confess that I was much impressed by this gesture. I uttered in my mind a strong "bravo!" to a society like this who does not forget his old persons.
My visit in Georgia deserves more, but I shall write about it later.
If you ask her about her age, she answers that she has forgotten it. After her appearance, she seems to be of 90 years. Of course, she is much younger, probably around 70. By the liveliness of her gestures, she does not have age. Speaking all the time, even to herself, moving her hands for more eloquence, and smocking a cigarette at every fifteen miles, she drive an old Datsun with about 70 miles an hour on a narrow route that wines among the mountains. Of course, without seat belt. Shaks the aches through the opened window because fresh air is better than air conditioned, in her opinion. She does not know if the installation of air conditioned ever worked.
She lives in a small locality in northern Arkansas, in a mountain region. Every fellow citizen, or maybe better country-person, knows her and she greets them. Her last hobby is the Internet. This was the way in which I have known her. Knows a lot of things and wants to know more and more. When learns something new, she enjoys herself as if someone gives her a new car as gift. She has no more teeth and this seems to be one of her greatest regrets. From this reason she did not allow me to take any photo, although it would be a good portrait. She also regrets her mother, who died many years ago, but to whom she still love. I guess there are moments when she thinks that her mom is still alive upstairs. During our talks within a day, she remembered her twice, each tome with tears in her eyes. She consoles herself with a nice Bengal (I think) cat that sleep ceaseless even when you stroke its beard, but to whom she talk almost ceaseless as well. Only a small red tongue comes out from a mass of grey-bej fur, showing that it is a cat.
As almost any old and lonely woman, she is afraid of a lot of things and forgets many things. When the fear and oblivion work together, you could expect surprises. I had a great one.
When she invited me, I did not know that she is so old and lonely. When I learnt, it was to late, I was being there, without any possibility to leave but the next day. Meanwhile, we talked about a lot of things, she admired my paintings and I revealed her how to use Internet more efficiently. Things went in a perfect harmony. In the morning, the surprise: I woke up with a policeman. The night was a bad advisor for her. Or, she maybe called one of her daughters, she has two, who scared her more: "Who is that man? Why did you bring him in the house? Get him out immediately!" The policeman checked my luggage as if I were some boltsevik spy. He seemed to be an understanding man and did so for her satisfaction. At one time he said to her "you must be a detective, madam." Of course, I packed my luggage. After it was in her car, she started to apologize and, up till the noon, when the bus was to cross by there, she showed me the nice spots of the region, treats me with some local delicacy, and talked a lot to gether. As a matter of fact she invited me to see and paint the landscapes around. Saying good-bye, we hugged each other and she kiss' me on the neck. Her eyes seemed to have some traces of tears. In fact, she is a good-hearted woman. The age makes her to be fearful and inconsequent but she is good, very cleaver and uncommonly nimble. I will keep a good remembrance of her, with all the trouble that she provoked me.
I first visited down town and old town of Albuquerque. There are two very different architectural styles: the Mexican one and the modern one. The modern one, and the down town are not interesting. I needed a time to become used with the adobe style. Such building materials are disdained in Romania, but there are just elegant buildings in this style in Albuquerque. I notice also the unthinkable great number of lawyers. Old town, instead, is very interesting. They have turned the old destination of all houses in shops with Indian handicrafts. But what is attractive for the beginning, become tiresome and boring after a while, but in the whole, I liked it. There is almost nothing Mexican or Spanish there, except a church and the architectural style of some buildings. They sell only Indian things; nothing Mexican. Albuquerque itself developed in the last time as a modern town, and covered local particularities.
In the second visit in Albuquerque, I saw another part of the town, with new and large malls. I found here a shop with my name. The owner wrote it Georgiou. Unfortunately, in Albuquerque there are not art galleries.
I was told that Santa Fe and Taos are the towns of art in New Mexico.
Thanks to James kindness, we visited Santa Fe on Saturday. It was one of my great day. All the houses of an entirely street had been turned into art exhibitions. One person exhibitions, group exhibitions, art galleries, and so on. Good or less good, small or large, all kinds of exhibitions were to be found there, on a single street. I loved it very much. They are not useless for me but very nice. Instead, in the centre of the town, there are several large and very nice galleries, where I would be able to exhibit. Unfortunately, paintings must be framed, and I had not time for it. Besides, I had begun to look more and more frequent in my wallet. Anyway, those are the kind of galleries I search for.
Sunday we visited an Indian pueblo. A lot of dust, and a fat Indian speaking how Spaniards victimised them. As anything in excess, the commerce with Indian goods, and not only, has become tiresome. For a complete service, every visitor receives a ticket for a jug and a gamble. He is able to pick up them in a very ugly "casino", not very far away, but enough for not deserve the gas. In spite of all these, most people do it, of course not for only one game.
Early on my way toward Albuquerque, before arriving, lots of balloons were to be seen in the sky. I did not first know what it happens. Later on I learnt that on whole that week was the "Balloon Fiesta".
Leaving New Mexico, I had first thought to visit Grand Canyon, but I changed my mind. It would be expensive enough and without utility for me. Natural scenarios do not impress me very much, and I was told there are not art galleries there. That's why I took the bus toward Las Vegas. It was very interesting, and I shall write about it next time.
I hardly discovered an art gallery in a big mall. A singe one. For the moment I became optimist. Two persons working there liked my paintings and the business was about to be concluded, I thought. It is true, they used to own many and very nice statues, but few and not too good paintings. The surprise came finally, when they said there is a "buyer" who decided, and he is going to come after two days. They also said that I may stay calm because the buyer takes account of their opinion, and they have already decided. I stayed those two days for I knowing the great cad that I ever met. No trace of those two people which I talked to two days ago. The small hotels are not expensive in Las Vegas. Also the food, but those two days was an useless expense for my budget. I remained with the remembrance of the Las Vegas itself.
On my homeward, I made a two-days stop in Dallas. There is nothing Texan there, but it is a nice town. I liked it. Here is where they killed Kennedy.
On the way from Dallas to New York, my suitcases travel with other buses. One cannot control it. I found them in New York, but the padlock of one of them was removed, and the other was cut inside the pocket, as large as to introduce the hand. They took nothing, probably renounced after founding nothing interesting from their point of view.
In United States, as all over the world, people are different: some good, some bad, educated or less educated, etc. Nothing miss'. Even American states are different. One could not compare for example Georgia with New Mexico, even though they are at same latitude and not so far each other. The diversity may be interesting, sometimes even amusing, but for me, as Romanian tourist, more important is not the diversity but the unity, not what is different, of slight value, or frivolous. Not what separates, but what unifies and gives them that common, special feature that makes us to say "this is American". In other words, what can be identified under the label of American. Also, I must confess a such curiosity to the causes of the American success, some of its explanation, particularly face to Romanian lack of success, but it is a personal question.
Here are some remarks in this respect:
1. From the technical point of view, there is a strong standardise in most important fields. One can recognise an object to be American because it is the same over all. What it is important is standardised. The liberty is in details. An engineer will realise immediately the colossal economic advantages of an advanced standardise. The investors also have realised as well its psychological and finally commercial advantages. They have established chains of shops, hotels, motels, restaurants, etc., identical all over the United States territory, and not only. In a large park, for example, where used to be visible at least five different restaurants, all the people, who came out from a bus making a rest of thirty minutes, were go to McDonald's restaurant. Why? Not because it was the best, or the cheapest. On the contrary, it is just boring with its limited offer of dishes. But just because one knows exactly what he will find inside and how much it cost. If you have not enough time or you are not in a mood to test something different, you will choose what is well known: McDonald's. The success is sure. Their success. The same it happens with hotels and motels like Motel 6, Days Inn, Holiday Inn, etc., without saying about the Greyhound network of busses: all the busses are similar. Different drivers, car mechanics or clerks work according the norms for the system.
2. There are very severe rules in the main public activities. Alimentary hygiene, for example, may be precarious at the individual level, but is impeccable in every restaurant. One seldom sees an American washing his hands before eating, but everything around him is clean, and he receives his classic sandwich with a lot of paper serviette.
3. People from abroad are still coming in USA: unskilled workers come from Mexico, South America and Asia, and very skilled from Europe and eastern Asia. In this way, they emphasise the trend of the two social layers. On the one hand the tendency to ignore classical cultural values, and on the other hand just the recognition of the culture as a key to the progress. But all of them want to be Americans so that they finally work together: educated people make norms and rules, and the others respect the norms and rules already made. People unify themselves in their common wish to live in an organised ensemble. The culture seems to be a sign of decadence for most people of the bottom layer. Culture belongs to those who look in the past, they think. America looks still ahead. In most houses, if there are some books, they are only for decor like knickknacks. For all that, the bookstores are full of books and people. There are many people in USA and, some of them still read, and read a lot. We can see it because there are many intellectuals of first size. Maybe just this dichotomy is a key of success.
4. There are many poor people, some of them very poor. For an European it may be odd, but an American without car is very poor because the American life is organised along the road. Without car is similar to be invalid, without legs. But they are happy to be poor in the richest country of the world.
5. The American pragmatism is well known. They only want to feel well. At the first sight, most of their houses look bad, but the inside is very comfortable and well thought. Many people, particularly women are fat (this could be a sign of decline), but they do not care for it.
6. The Americans love rules. They abide by rules not only by fear, but because the rules give them the conviction that they live in a civilised society. The traffic is an example. Where there is a chain, they stay quietly even if nobody obliges them to do it.
I could make many remarks like these. Most of them lead to the conclusion the common cause is the education: not toward the classical culture but to the American values and their norms of life. They are proud to be Americans. The word "nationalism" has negative connotations only for small nations. In a top of most nationalist countries, USA would be on the highest position. The American hero is triumphant in every movie, the American draw is the biggest draw from the world, etc. The American propaganda is surprisingly similar to the Soviet one of 50's years, but, unlike that, the Americans know to avoid the extremely exaggerations keeping the equilibrium. While in Romania nobody used to believe in communist propaganda, just because its exaggerations, in United States people still trust in official slogans. American flag is present almost everywhere, even on the prostitute's underpants (I have heard). If I put a Romanian flag in the front of my house, I would be accused to be jingoistic. The Americans respect the rules, while the Romanians try to avoid the rules just because they do not think in their efficacy. The Americans, even poor or disappointed, are proud to be Americans, while the Romanians denigrate their country and its history. The Americans trust in their administration, while the Romanians are mistrustful. The Americans know their leaders are wise persons, watch them to be like this, and consequently accept the rules. The Romanians know the rules work against their interests because the leaders are some opportunist, time-serving persons.
Out expectation? Common people are trying to educate our leaders in order to have got some better ones for the next generation.
No matter when, and everywhere in USA during my travel, the television programmes were plenty of debates around Clinton's wrong steps. I said that it was the beginning of the end. Certainly, I am exaggerating. The American democracy will not finish because of Clinton or of his adversaries. And then, what is the matter? I must explain!
1. Democracy is not as much a political system, as a state of things. A state of equilibrium, a balance of power, in which people express their opinions, and politicians take these opinions into their account. There is trust between them. Early in the life of every democracy, people are enthusiastic and the trust reaches the maximum. Peoples' actions are convergent to the general interest, and the economy is prosperous. In time, trust grows weaker and democracy grows old just owing to such events like Clinton's case. The Italians or Greeks are good examples of old nations. Nobody would succeed in persuading a common Italian that his efforts could bring back the lost glory of Roman Empire. That's why he acts on an individual way, in own interest, at the most for his family.
2. USA is a young nation and democracy yet. The common American still relies on his leaders, and American flag - as symbol of his proud to be American - is to be found everywhere.
3. This public debat on Clinton's case was not a gain for the democracy, on the countrary, it was a step to its ageing, because the loss of the trust. Clinton is not the first and, surely, will not be the last president who took a false step. Moreover, after few years, people will forget him and his good or bad actions. What it remains is people's marked conscience, the idea that American politicians are not perfect, necessarily. That's why, Clinton's guilt is not so important. Much more guilty are the republicans who, in their fury, generated this shindy, evidently for momentary politic interests, without caring for long term sequels.
4. The republicans did not win more, because people had the opportunity to see that they do not care for nation's matters, but for removing their political adversaries. The senators' vote, according to their party allegiance, and not to the case, is illustrative for their real preoccupation. They did not destroy as much the trust in Clinton, as the trust in politicians generally, and republicans especially.
5. Together with trust, the democracy disappears too and, as the democracy is the key of economical prosperity, this one disappears as well, because there is not democracy without a good economy. Democracy and poverty are incompatible each other.
For me, Clinton, notnilC (read from right to left), or anybody else is the same. That's why I am supposed to be impartial. Why did I write these lines? Because I have a theoretic interest for the analise of the societies' evolution. For us, the Romanians, trust in politicians sounds like a joke. We have got old before having been ever young. This seems to be our misfortune.
From my correspondence, I have learnt that some of my first remarks about American people have hurt some of my American friends. Of course, it was not in my intention to wound nobody's feelings, particularly theirs. Because I am surprised myself, I think some explanations are necessary.
- I first word travel notes in Romanian language, for Romanian readers, to whom I try to point out that things from USA that might be a good example for they. I usually show the USA just in a more favourable light than it really is. Of course, I sometimes must put a little "spice", otherwise rather idyllic imagines would be not-convincing. Anyway, the general note is a very favourable one, just in order to reach its target: to be a good example. For the American friends, I translate only a part, so that there would be nothing there to offence them. My preoccupation is not for American people but for the Romanian one. The Americans are only a term of comparison.
- I suppose my style of expression is that that troubles most. It is true, my style always was harsh, cruel, to the disapproval of those who know my less. Maybe the computer programmer profession has emphasised my inclination to the accuracy. I always want to "cut the hair in four", to go to the essences, to identify to first causes and, especially, to find explanations. I usually am exaggerate pedantic in such analyses, as pedant as I annoy my interlocutors. I am sorry, but so I am.
- Wanting to draw general ideas, I try to remove subjective, partial, criterion and also to find other points of view, not only mine. Here is an example. There are numerous proves maintaining the thesis that Romanian people would be very gifted for music. (Many famous singers on the great stages of the world, many prizes won by young musicians, the great number of players in famous orchestras like those from Vienna, etc. Iehudi Menuhin himself chose a Romanian teacher - George Enesco - for developing his skill.) On the other hand, I was trying to discern between folk Spanish music and the light one. I must confess to a weakens for Spanish music, particularly for the Latino-American one. I have understood there is not a such difference. What would be the cause? The folk music style was so good that it was imposed itself, so that educated musicians compose in this style. The Romanian folk music, even if it has strong particular characteristics, did not impose itself. Even Romanian light composers do not inspire themselves from Romanian folk music. Not only Romanian people, but just more numerous people do not have an impressive folk music. Anyway, we cannot take up the thesis that Romanian people are exceptional gifted for music. The explanation of some Romanian musicians' success lies in the existence of a good music school moulding professionals of great value. The same is with the Romanian school of mathematics or gymnastics. Mathematics is a cheep science - it need only some paper and a pencil - and was a valve of way out from the isolation, for those wanting to do something important. The Romanian feminine gymnastics started in a small and cvasy-isolated town, where two ambitious teachers rallied the energy of some children. It is there where Nadia Comaneci leant. Those two teachers became the coaches of USA team. Later on, more schools with gymnastics profile settled up, but it does not mean that Romanian girls make more gymnastics. On the contrary, in my opinion they make a few sports. This is the kind of analyses I used to do. Maybe some Romanian readers get angry on me saying that the idea of the best gifted people at music, mathematics, or gymnastics is not true. Surely the American ones will agree with me. The reciprocal way would not be valuable?