lunedì 23 gennaio 2017

SIMENON SIMENON. SEALS, PALM TREES, AND RATTLESNAKES / 4

America by Car: a journey down the Atlantic coast in 28 days 

SIMENON SIMENON. DES PHOQUES, DES COCOTIERS ET DES SERPENTS A SONNETTE /4 
L’Amérique en auto : un voyage tout au long de la côte Atlantique en 28 jours. 
SIMENON SIMENON. FOCHE, PAPPAGALLI E SERPENTI A SONAGLI /4
L'America in auto: un viaggio lungo la costa Atlantica in 28 giorni


We’re in Florida at last. Cotton had yielded to tobacco, which now gives way to sugar cane, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and bananas. The ocean, beaches, coconut trees, and tangles of tropical plants remind Simenon of Tahiti. 
But the “not always discrete” billboards announcing hotels on the approach to Miami disappoint him. He had seen The World’s Greatest Attraction beforethe Desert of Maine, nothing but a come-on―and now Florida’s version is a curious Zoological Garden with a sleeping alligator, four bare-bottomed monkeys, and a wildcat interspersed among some pheasants and chickens. Marineland, however, is the greatest aquarium in the world” where he spends hours, two days in a row. 
From the bridges over the Indian River, “men, women, and children” are fishing steadily and pulling in immense fish constantly. He believed angling was “a national vice” in France, but it’s in America where he sees even more people fishing. 
We next hit Miami, and Simenon paints quite a grand picture: “A world of white palaces, yachts, and speedboats.” With “more villas than Cannes, Nice, and the Côte d’Azur put together, it’s “immense. Its thousands of “vast dwellings” have “seaplanes a few yards from their front doors.” Most striking is how “everything is brand new without a doubt.” Modern. Unspoiled. Rich. In perfect taste. Clean. Beautiful. “Miami has, without question, the world’s best beach.” World class shops. Air conditioning. “I defy you to find anything that is missing there.” 
After Simenon sums it up as “an earthly Paradise, an earthly Paradise for multimillionaires, he notes, “You will be astonished by the simplicity of the people you meet.” After observing, “Basicallyliving in the public eye does not exist in the United States, Simenon describes how “when one wants to see folks, one organizes a [private] party. 
Because a hurricane threat shortens his Miami stay to one week, in “the final step, he crosses an “authentic wilderness, a swampland “rotten with alligators, water snakes, prickly bushes, and insects greedy for your blood” on his way to the Gulf of Mexico coast. 
Brandenton Beach is where Simenon settles down at last, probably because it’s peaceful and informal compared to Miami. In simple words, “here one fishes on “an island that is only a long strip of sand.” In writing he has “never seen anything that resembled Tahiti more,” he likely explains this ironical statement: “I know nothing less American […] than our island and its population.” 
After riding with Simenon “for more than three weeks without ever spending more than 48 hours in the same place,” the hoped for conclusions are there: 1America is so multifaceted one has only to choose. 2) After passing the Statue of Liberty, each and every one who disembarks can choose the America he wants. He is virtually certain to find it. 3) In the largest and richest country on Earth, you will enjoy freedom that nothing will come close to impeding.” 4) America is truly “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” 

David P Simmons 

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