“There’s quite a crowd here today enjoying the pure Americana of the game.” I heard beloved, long time broadcast play-by-play announcer, Duane Kuiper say that during a lull in the second inning while announcing the Giants game the other day. It was just a throw-away comment to fill in some “dead air” that is a normal feature of baseball broadcasts.
His obvious comment about Americana struck a few chords in my mind. First, baseball is as American as apple pie. Second, the San Francisco Giants have quite a pedigree that goes way back. Third, Duane Kuiper is a legend in the field of sports broadcasting. Fourth, Kuiper’s statement about Americana caused me to think about the multifaceted field of Americana. Fifth, it inspired this blog post.
When we think of Americana, a lot of images appear in the mind’s eye. America’s national pastime, baseball, is one. The Statue of Liberty is another one. I think of antique novelties decorated with images of Uncle Sam or the Betsy Ross version of the Flag.
To enjoy Americana is a normal American way to experience a less bellicose, more genteel version of nationalism. Americana is not specific to political party affiliation nor ideological beliefs. You don’t need to be a conservative or a liberal to love a slice of old fashioned apple pie or feel nostalgic when viewing a Norman Rockwell painting.
Americana is a very broad collective term that relates to artifacts, cultural heritage, folklore, historical persons, and geographical references about the United States of America. A picture of the first page of the Constitution is an effective image that is often used to inspire the love of “American values” of democracy, freedom, and liberty.
Some of my fellow Nebraskans are astonished that a heart-on-the-sleeve wearing, liberal, civil liberties advocate like me loves Americana. In response, I mention that most folks like me are glad we live here and place high value on the institutions and freedoms of the U.S. Our ideals and feelings of national identity are not dependent upon the fickle winds of politics and rhetoric.
I had feelings of awe and a fair amount of national pride when seeing the Statue of Liberty for the first time. I smile at the mention of “Route 66”, roadside mom and pop motels, and malt shops. There’s the serious Americana of going through dad’s Army paraphernalia like his old tunic and badges. There’s the small yellowed 48 Star Flag he placed in a picture frame to hang in his den.
Americana is not restricted to a narrow list of “patriotic” things and ideas. Americana is a culture that is much more inclusive. Think of James Dean or the young Marlon Brando in their blue jeans and white tee-shirts. That pure American look spread around the world like wildfire and remains popular today.
Old Hollywood movies are much beloved examples of Americana. Then there is the music–New Orleans Jazz, Chicago Blues, West Coast Rock, Broadway Show-tunes, Appalachian Folk songs, and Country Music to name a few.
The Americana I like best, right now, are jeans, tee shirts, Mark Twain books, and Giants baseball on the Internet. This list is subject to revision.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes actor Clayton Moore (“The Lone Ranger”). “I think you’re going to find out that westerns will be coming back. It’s Americana. It’s part of our history, the cowboy, the cattle drive, the sheriff, the fight for law, order, and justice. Justice will always prevail, as far as I’m concerned.”