A Land Not Soon Forgotten

Just a heads up, I’ve just published an article for a British site, Calling America, titled A Land Not Soon Forgotten. (The title was a play on the title of the book Land Remembered, which traces the story of the fictional MacIvey family of Florida from 1858 to 1968.) Here’s their synopsis of the story:

A story about a young Puerto Rican boy growing up in the city of Tampa and overcoming cultural differences.

And here’s a clip:

Like everyone else that comes to the States, I thought that people here spoke only English, lived in either Disney World and New York, wore jeans and denim jackets and sunglasses, break danced, and ate nothing but hamburgers and pizza. Well, heck, except for the English, the Disney World/New York thing, I was pretty much an American-by-proxy: I watched all the movies, wore all the clothes, and ate all the deliciously fattening McFood. I even tried my hand at break dancing, though that failed rather miserably. And I, like the rest of the world, got my chance to make fun of Americans for being… well, Americans.

The site’s run by fellow 9Rules member Andrew Eglinton, who also runs the London Theatre Blog, and his brother, Alan. Both wanted to create a site where Americans could share stories about the US in their own words, stories which the mass media wouldn’t cover because they may not be flashy, and to show the 90% of America overshadowed by Hollywood and foreign policy.

The idea for the site came after their first visit across the pond. From their About page:

American without ever having been to the United States. American without ever having met an American person face to face. More intimate with America than perhaps with our own native England. But soon came the New Millennium, and with it a great shock. We had reached maturity and had begun to think for ourselves. And in analyzing our youth, we had grown critical of America: it was all a construct, a figment of some wealthy Hollywood director’s imagination, a lie greater than the myth of Santa Claus! – And indeed the source of our malaise. We had built the foundations of our youth on an imaginary land and the cracks were beginning to show.

In 2004 I was fortunate to travel to the US for the first time. It was all too brief a visit that took me to a few cities along the North-East coast: New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC. But in the space of that week and as writer and friend, Patrick Judd, has described it, “all the clichés were at once confirmed and rejected”.

(By the way, Andrew, I just realized that I borrowed that “American by proxy” line from you. Great descriptor, though.)

The site is open to submissions, so if you feel like you have a story to share, drop them a line. You don’t need to be a professional writer. You don’t need to invent or embroider, just tell it like it is. And you certainly don’t need to write a novel, since most of the entires they look for should be between 500 and 1500 words, with videos and pictures also accepted. (I must confess that, in my verbosity, I sinned and wrote a 2500 word monster. Mia culpa, mia culpa, mia big time culpa.)

Again the site’s CallingAmerica.co.uk. Check it out. And read my article. You’ll like it.

Edit: I just realized how well timed this is. In the article, I talk about Tampa’s pirate history. Turns out that today is (once again) International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Hurray!

6 thoughts on “A Land Not Soon Forgotten

  1. Hi Gnorb,

    Thank you very much for submitting a story and indeed for this great write up. I hope some of your readers will get inspired and take the plunge!

    Perhaps ‘American by Proxy’ could have been a good alternative title for the site. But I don’t know, I kind of like Calling America, people think we’re some sort of phone company!

    Thanks again and take care.

    Andrew

  2. Sorry Gnorb for hijacking your comment thread but in answer to Quantum’s question, anonymous submissions are perfectly acceptable. Thanks Gnorb (…creep out…)

  3. As a young boy of about twelve or so, I was mesmerized by the US. I read papers and stared at maps and picture books for hours. Apart from the BBC World Service, I also listened to the Armed Forces Network to improve my understanding of the accents. I guess I just wanted to live like Elliot in ET and get to kiss the girl.

    Over the years, my vision of America has grown: wider, deeper and especially more complex. I think this idea of Andrew’s is wonderful and I’m a great fan already. I loved your contribution. Well written, inviting and yet another addition to my knowledge of the country I was conceived in (yep) but never visited. Yet.

  4. @andrew: doesn’t count as a threadjack when the post is about your site. 😉

    @Nils: thanks for the complements on the piece. And I agree, I’m already a fan of Andrew’s work. Frankly, I’d like to see more sites in the same vein (think “Network”, Andrew!).

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