Rise of Empire
By Michael Boyajian
I remember being a child in the 1960s on Long Island and during visits to my grandparents’ home in New Jersey and my great grandmother’s home in Fresno and how there was still a 1930s or pre World War II small town feel to life.
You could wander into soda fountain shops with their seltzer smells or into pharmacies with their antiseptic aromas and find baseball cards and revolving racks of comic books and pulp fiction ranging from science fiction to mystery. The comics included, to the best of my recollection, Batman, Superman, Archie, the Green Lantern and Captain America.
In addition to baseball cards you also found Batman, Green Hornet and Monkees trading cards all with a hard flat stick of pink bubble gum. There were not many malls but downtowns to shop in. So really though it was 30 years passed the 1930s you could still find life in the Frank Capra tradition.
Oh sure there were technological advances like color TV, landing a man on the moon and air conditioning. The colors on the TV sets were extra bright and movie theater air conditioning made the interiors like freezers.
But really all of this old America ended with World War II at the conclusion of which America was reborn as an Empire decades before sketchy neo cons coined the phrase as something to yearn for and newly arrived at.
No it was a reluctant American people that took the mantle of Empire and probably the reason why remnants of the 30s lingered on into the 60s. Oh sure we were proud to be a superpower but we did not want to let go of the first half of the 20th Century lifestyle.
Now today after 60 years of continuous wars Americans are growing weary of Empire with our national treasure being drained by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and many of us find ourselves yearning for the neon bright color TVs, icebox theaters and pulpy comic books being read on lazy summer days that seemed to last for days rather than hours. Unfortunately there is no going back. Empire is here now and forever and future wars seem inevitable barring radical change which was once hoped for with Obama but has not come to fruition. It is sad to say but Thomas Wolfe was correct, Americans cannot go home again.