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    As American as ____________?

    By John Tubles
    Jun 11, '12 4:11 AM EST

    Tomorrow (June 11, 2012) is going to be a special day… Not only because it is my mother’s birthday but also it also the day that I will submit my application for US Citizenship.

    It has been 3,578 days since my sisters and I left the Philippines and follow our parents here in Los Angeles after almost two years of separation… I can still remember the day we left, It was hot.. of course it was the Philippines but we had our Jackets on to prepare for the “Cold” American weather. I was rocking a red-collared but navy blue golf jacket and in my pocket was an envelope containing $26 and an infamous letter from my grand ma that I should probably not discuss… Anyways, our 14-flight was delayed by 6 hours, we had crappy airplane food (Beef Stroganoff ala Pedigree) and orange juice that tasted more like the can which that was served by rude flight attendants who were reluctant to hand me out a pair of headphones so I could watch the movie “I am Sam”. My parents and I were ecstatic when we were all re-united after almost 2 years of separation. So we went to Denny’s, at the time was the only “American” restaurant that was open at 2 in the morning. I ordered the most American thing that I could find which was a bacon-cheese-burger with a side of fries and root-beer float.

    Well a lot things has happened to America in the nearly 10 years I have been living here. It does not matter whether it was good or bad, I am still very grateful for all the opportunities and experiences that this country has given me.

    So there lies the topic of this blog post… May I ask you, my dear readers, What is America/n? Can you define it?  Is it still Apple pie? And most importantly, in our very complex and rapidly changing world, can America still be iconized?

    On a side note: This summer I am planning a cross-country road trip from Los Angeles to Boston before GSD starts… I am taking some suggestions for must-see/must-do “let’s-get-to-know-America” adventure?
    Thank you in advance!


    Archinect readers from across the globe, please feel free and share your ideas as well… I am very curious to read your perspective.


    • sameolddoctor

      I will shed more insight on the topic a little later, but no, America is definitely not apple pie, but more of a complex multi-dimensional, multi-flavored dish, that has a multitude of flavors and characteristics.
      Frankly this is the thing about America that is the most endearing to most people that live here...

      Jun 11, 12 7:26 pm  · 
      Save Western

      There's a great quote that Stephen Fry makes in his American road trip show that I'm going to butcher. Its something like 'there is no statement you can make about the country where you cannot also find the complete opposite.' If American is nothing else, its got stark contrast.

      However, I would say that no matter where you are in America you are within an easy distance of American breakfast: Coffee, eggs over easy with toast and bacon (and if you are fortunate enough to be in the South, grits too). I've yet to find a small town or big city in the US without a decent diner (not Denny's!!!).

      Also about as American as it gets: the cross country road trip. I would highly recommend I've couchsurfed all across the US and it has made all the difference. I would say, when you look for potential hosts, choose peers around your age that have had a few surfers before but not so many that its not a special treat for them to show you their city. I usually hover around the 5-10 reviews mark.

      If you are into camping or backpacking, go to the wilderness areas of the West rather than just the National Parks. The Cirque of the Towers in Wind Rivers Wyoming is the most sublime place I've ever seen, easily on par with Yosemite.

      Books to read: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig & Machine in the Garden by Leo Marx

      Jun 12, 12 7:23 pm  · 
      John Tubles

      @sameolddoctor Living in Los Angeles for nearly 10 years and having traveled in various major American cities, I understand that America is diverse "complex" and "multi-dimensional" but how about middle America... Sometimes I feel that americans living in metropolis are in a bubble of diversity and oblivious to the rest of America... Is it wrong of me to think this way... I sincerely do not know thus the roadtrip through America... As I become an American, I want to be as informed about it as possible..

      @save western
      Thank you very much for your input.. As much as i want to go to and meet/converse with locals i also do want to go to "quintessensial" american sights like yellowstone and mt rushmore.. Sites that i grew up reading and watching when i was in the philippines.. I will definitely try to visit
      wind rivers wyoming... I just googled it and all i can say is whoa... Can you suggest of any other "off the beaten path" like a random town... I know it is just impossible to get to know america in one summer but a good sampler for now will do..

      Jun 13, 12 12:51 am  · 

      Go to Las Vegas.  There is still much to learn there about the relevance of building, desire, and economy to architecture, if not necessarily finesse. 

      If you like history and/or remote ruins, I'd highly recommend Mesa Verde and nearby Pueblo Bonito.

      If you like moonscapes that challenge everything you've learned about scale, Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon still inspire me with awe.  

      Go to Chicago: it's important to see the gridiron American city realized seemingly into infinity on three sides, unimpeded by mountains (LA) or competing grids (NYC).

      There are too many charming and challenging small towns to count.  Columbus, Indiana has quite a collection of quality, if dated, architecture.  Cincinnati is making a concerted effort to use architecture and urban design to lift itself out of the slump typical of small rust belt cities.  The Serpent mound is nearby as well, if you like that kind of thing.

      Jun 16, 12 2:02 pm  · 
      Save Western

      I would completely agree with Raskol, Nevada is probably the most interesting and bizarre state in the country. Its the place the US thinks nobody is watching, so you get all kinds of crazy over the top things that happen there. There is, of course, Las Vegas and Hoover Dam. But also the Air Force Base roughly the size of Connecticut where they used to test nukes, house area 51, and for a while planned to store spent nuclear material for 1 million years. Not to mention Burning Man and the only state with legalized prostitution, all set within this vast eerie emptiness.

      If you go to the Bad Lands of South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore, I would really suggest hiking up to Harney Peak. Its the best example I've ever seen of a monolith made of a single material that grows out of the site. The procession to get in is also fascinating. Not to mention the view.

      If you've been living in LA, you are really familiar with suburban generic space. But it would be cool to see the same exact thing in a variety of places. The interstate and big box stores are like swimming and getting wet. If you want to avoid the suburban wasteland your going to have to stay as far away from interstates and major highways as possible. Which is great! All the amazing small towns and small cities are not on the interstates.


      Random other places I would suggest:

      Butte MO

      Gatlinburg TN

      Portland OR

      Hwy 101 & Hwy 1 in Oregon and California

      the flat, endless drive through Western Kansas to the Rockies

      driving across Northern New Mexico

      Grand Rapids MI

      Harper's Ferry WV

      Savannah GA

      Asheville NC

      Jun 18, 12 12:02 pm  · 
      John Tubles

      <Save Western> + <Raskol44>

      I just saw your messages and thank you very much for all the input!

      I just realized that my planned road trip across America will going to be relatively short.. unfortunately about a week the most... so i must condensed my "lets-get-to-know-the-rest-of-America" trip in limited stops...

      oh and yes i would really like to avoid the suburban wastelands...

      do you guys know any abandoned/ghost towns from the great depression and the more recent economic collapse...

      I will blog about the itinerary as soon as it is finalized...

      again thanks for the responses!


      Jun 29, 12 4:41 pm  · 
      John Tubles

      Sorry guys.... Plans have changed... My friend/Co-Pilot cancelled on me but for a really good reason.. he got his first architecture job! I tried convincing my family that I can do this trip all by myself but they are not having it... because it is kinda dangerous to be driving on your own for such a long time.. tiredness and fatigue more than anything... so i am going to be square and fly there...

      Again sorry guys but this "Cross-country-lets-get-to-know-the-rest-of-America" is formally postponed til maybe next summer ..


      Aug 11, 12 12:03 pm  · 

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