(Сам я никогда не видел такую Америку, я был только в Нью-Йорке, Бостоне, Сан-Франциско и Силиконовой долине, Портленде... словом, "богатая Америка побережья")
(Если кто-то хочет перевести на русский, я с удовольствием добавлю в запись, у самого нет времени сейчас.)
A: "I just got back from a trip to Sicily. Every town is drop-dead gorgeous (especially Taormina) with picturesque architecture, delightful cafes, restaurants, and some of the best town squares in the world. The weather is always perfect, at a comfortable 75-85 range in the dead of summer. The food is of course some of the best in the world.
And yet, there's a sort of dragging apathy to the place. Unemployment is sky high, there are a ton of homeless beggars, shops open late and close early, and service is terrible. The locals seem to take 1-2 hour lunches and dinners, and spend the time between meals hanging out at cafes or bars (exaggeration obviously, but less than you might think). On multiple occasions I saw workers sleeping at their posts, including a museum tour guide who woke up when he saw my group, spoke to us for five minutes, and then promptly went back to sleep.
I don't know if this is a uniquely Sicilian, Italian, or European problem, but you don't get this environment in America. The US still has a dynamism that most of the rest of the world is lacking. I'd love to take a lazy month-long vacation in Sicily, but I would never ever want to live there, let alone start a business there or do anything productive with my life. For the ambitious, innovative, and productive, the US is still the best place in the world to live."
B: "...on the subject of America. I'd reckon that most of you, when you think of the States, think of California, NY, NJ or some other coastal glitterworld/wonder city. These are generally wonderful places to live - even by first world standards, compared to places like Paris and London etc - and the quoted segment absolutely applies. I doubt the sense of social malaise of Sicily can be found in Dublin, London or Paris either.
There is a very different America that the coastal population rarely if ever sees. It's one thing to know that something exists like Somali or Cité Soleil (I recommend reading that link, it's insane), and entirely another to live it.
My medical school interviews took me to the South and Midwest. Now, I'd bet long odds that most people here say "the South isn't so bad" while they're really thinking "Nashville near Vandy is beautiful!" or "What's wrong with the Midwest, Chicago's a gem!". "I love Texas!" while really meaning "I love my Californian-exodus tech hub in Austin!"
What follows is my personal experience with all the disclaimers that entails. But if you're reading this it's likely you wouldn't feel much different.
The second the plane touches down in Fort Smith and Joplin, you might as well have landed on the moon. About a third of the people are decently fit while the remainder are walking/rolling (mobility scooters aren't just a meme) evidence for the Bojangles Belt - gratuitously obese. Think Nurgle-obese. The roads are falling apart and the cars on them not much improved. There are dead cats on the sidewalk, rotting away, visibly having been there for days. On major city streets. All of your Uber drivers (n=5), when asked why they chose to live there, say they got stuck there. A vastly higher proportion of people are smoking at any given time. The gas stations close early to prevent getting robbed. The school deans talk about God in their pitch to prospective students. The population even looks very different in terms of heritage - even the white Americans look immediately different than white Northerners in terms of facial structure, hair, etc.
I felt like a millionaire. There were some perks to moving there. My money went much further. Women - whom if they lived in NYC wouldn't give me the time of day - were flirting with me. You could live like a king there for poverty wages in NYC. (In the end I chose another Red-State-with-Blue-State-characteristic
Optional Vignette to demonstrate just how different this country can be:
One Uber driver in Joplin was 75+. He was a point-man in 'Nam. Figure LRRP, but it's been more than a year and details are fuzzy. He told me how we went into the jungle with a 1911 - alone - at night to boot - to call in artillery. Said he didn't know how many people he killed (didn't ask but he told me). When I told him I wanted to be a psychiatrist, he said he didn't care for them as they kept putting him on meds he didn't need for PTSD. He also, without a shred of malice, used the term "retarded" to describe his neighbor's disabled children.
Now, we all talk about the decline of social trust but this man drove me to his house and gave me some old coat-hangers for my suit. At 1am. To save me $5.
I can't wrap my head around any of that.
It was a very different America than the one I thought I knew and I've never been able to look at this country the same. And the cities I saw are cities. Small town America is, well, up Shit Creek. Or at least what's left of them in 2018. Large, rich urban coastal America is a very vibrant place. But...
I don't think that most of people here really understand how royally bad things have gotten outside of the rich/educated bubble. I want to laugh when people try to talk about drug abuse and suicide in the American interior. Most of them pattern-match to why people commit suicide in their communities - but if you see where the suicides are clustered, and you take a drive around the places where they're clustered, it becomes very hard to argue that suicide isn't ever a sane decision."
C: "I'm European and I found the level of poverty in California to be absolutely staggering. There is places like skid row in LA, sure, and the homeless problem is far worse than anything you'd see in Western Europe but that's not the start of it. I got a greyhound bus to Vegas and some of the places I stopped in were indescribable.
Then I did some work in Texas - Austin is beautiful and is somewhere I eventually want to live but I did some work on the Oil Rigs in the Texas Louisiana border. Fucking hell man. Its exactly as you describe.
I'd take Sicilian malaise (I spend a lot of time in a poor part of southern France so I'm familiar with the vibe) with its sun and beaches and food and women and social supports over a lot of the rural US in a heartbeat."