What is an American, anyhow?

A query in four parts:

1) “I am not American” by the Arrogant Worms

2) “It’s a letter to my Congressman… I wanta get it straight from Washington… Just which is the ‘American way’ of life, New York or Georgia???” by Jackie Ormes in the Pittsburgh Courier, 8 February 1947

Ormes

3) Excerpt from “A lighthearted tour of America” by Richard Bissell in Holiday, July 1965:

That’s the U.S.A.,” Frankie said [of the Empire State Building in New York City].

“No it isn’t,” I said. “That is just a curiosity. It has nothing to do with anything.”

“Such as what?”

“Such as Reno, Nevada. There’s the U.S.A. Or a kid sitting on the railroad track at Trempealeau, Wisconsin, looking at the Mississippi. Or a salesman checking into the Par-A-Dise Motel in Ashland, Oregon.”

“Last week you said the U.S.A. was a Santa Fe freight rolling through Gallup, New Mexico.”

“Did I? Well, it’s not. The U.S.A. is the sad street lights of East St. Louis on a cold winter’s night.”

“Can’t we go and look at the U.S.A.?”

“No we can’t.”

“Why not?”

“It’s too big. All you can do about the U.S.A. is sit and think about it.”

“You’re no fun,” Frankie said.

4) From the Blue Sky GIS blog, “Maps in Cartoons” (22 September 2013):

amer

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