Tuesday, September 09, 2008

So yeahhh...

So yeah, that mysterious place...a few days after my previous post, two things occurred to me:

1. This blog has one regular reader.

2. He already knows where I may be headed, thanks to my Facebook status.

So, in case that one reader (A Mr. Scurra of the UK) has forgotten, the mysterious place that I could quite possibly be headed to is...


Yes, I know what you're thinking, "Where the hell is that?" The American Samoa is a magical, faraway place where the sun is always shining, the air smells like warm root beer, and the towels are oh-so-fluffy! Actually, that's Albuquerque. The American Samoa is actually a magical, faraway place where it's either skin-canceringly sunny or raining for days on end, the air probably smells like dried squid, and the towels are not that fluffy, but still the most useful tool in the Universe. I still really, really want to go.

Also, by "faraway place," I do mean a faraway place. Far as in a 31-hour plane ride. Far as in being 7 time zones away. Far as in being about halfway between Hawaii and New Zeland, but a little bit closer to the latter. It's mostly one island, but there are several other smaller populated islands that no one cares about. The Territory has a population of about 60,000, roughly equivalent to that of such metropolitan hubs as Bismark, North Dakota and the lunar surface.

And really, it's perfect for me, as someone who just finished college. The AmSam, as I suddenly feel the urge to call it, is a place that is "in college." The American Samoa is an "Unorganized and Unincorporated US Territory," something that really shouldn't exist anymore. You might think that it remains unorganized because no one cares about it, and you would be thinking correctly. The federal government last attempted to pass an Organic Act for it right after WWII, but it was defeated by the local chiefs, who don't like bug-ridden hippie food.

But this is why it's a nation that's in college: It's independent of its parent nation without really being independent of its parent nation. Sort of like a college student who gets to live independently without having to pay any of the bills. It gets it's own stunning Olympic team, but it doesn't have to worry about defending itself militarily. It gets all kinds of government jobs and subsidies, but it's residents don't have to pay Federal income tax (woot!).
It's not quite independent like the Philippines, a real state like Hawaii, but the federal government isn't making it clean it's room, either. And unlike it's lame brother Pureto Rico, he's a total slacker and proud of it. PR went to Carribean State, so he could be close to his mommy and daddy. AS went to South Pacific University so it could party all night and skip class. PR is a self-governeing Commonwealth, which pretty much means that it has the same status as the AmSam, but cared enough to make it official. This pretty well explains why the government won't let the residents of the AS borrow the car on weekends, or vote in Presidental elections. AS just laughs this off while getting drunk with Guam.

(I may one day explain this seriously, and include things like how the tribal chiefs kept it unorganized because they didn't want to lose power in a more democratic government, but not now)

As for the territory's history, no one really knows. Seriously, they've found stone structures on the main island that are thousands of years old that not even the natives knew were there until the mid-20th century. Every different version of the AmSam history that I've read tells it rather differently, but I'm beginning to get a vague picture of how it went down. According to this site with pictures of topless women on it, quote:

"(Lots of boring stuff about pottery)

(Some fairly intersting stuff about anicent warfare)

The first recorded European contact occurred in 1722, when Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen sighted several of the islands. He was followed by French explorers Louis-Antoine de Bougainville in 1768 and Jean-FranÁois de La PÈrouse in 1787. A monument in Aasu, Massacre Bay, to the 12 members of La PÈrouse's crew who were killed there, is on the National Register."

Gosh, I wonder how those French guys died and why? It never really said...

From there, the best I've been able to understand is that the US needed a coaling station in the late 1890s, so we took over the entire island without asking permission. Germany, meanwhile, totally wanted the island for itself. Everyone was preparing to go to war over this tiny group of islands with plenty of strategic importance for someone fearing an invasion by Tahiti, sending ships, loading ammo, hunkering down, and then...

...a large hurrcane came through and wiped everything out. The two nations called it a draw and split the islands, with Germany getting what is now the independent nation of Samoa and the US taking what it still owns today. It was used as a military base through World War II, up until 1951, when they realized that Tahiti wasn't invading after all. The federal government promptly forgot about it and hasn't noticed all the money that has been going there ever since. Well, they had a pretty cool Dept. of Interior-appointed governor in the 60s who erected the TV first tower as a tool for teaching lots of students at once, thus making it possible for me to work at a TV station there. They switched to a sorta democratically-elected but also tribal political system in the late 70s. This is a form of government known as a Corruptocracy.

Well, I'd like to write a lot more about why I want to move there, the station where I would be working, and life on the island, but I'm tired. I've been up late watching awesome videos and updating Lolercoaster with peepee jokes, so it's time to go to bed. Perhaps another time.

(Witty closing joke)



Vicus Scurra said...

Oh Adam! I never fail to overestimate you!
1) I am your only reader, and, as you say, live in the UK. You then go on to suggest that I might not know where American Samoa is. I live in the UK. Unlike your pathetically self-absorbed culture, it is not uncommon for people to know where other places are. Some of us even have a passing knowledge of North American geography, even though Snotwad, South Carolina is virtually indistinguishable from Slowfart, Idaho.
2) Congratulations on doing some research. I am not sure, however, whether your referring to your future home as "The" American Samoa is some sort of amusing device, or another glittering display of your ignorance.

Adam said...

Don't be silly, Vicus. No one has more than a vague idea of where the American Samoa* is, and that includes a large number of the people who live there.

*I refer to it as "the" American Samoa because that appears to be what everyone else has done so far. But it may not be what the people there actually do. Now I'll have to obsessively watch future emails coming from there for that.

Normally this kind of possessive noun is preceded with "the" as in "the American government." But when "American" is part of the territory's title then you would kfanfjklabfalkjbfuzdq CARRIER LOST.

Sorry, I had to think about grammar for more than five seconds and my brain got stuck.

All that said, we're dealing with a place where nothing is pronounced anything like the way it's spelled, including the name of the capital city, so this kind of grammatical thing might be quickly overlooked.