To watch an American on a beach or crowding into a subway, or buying a theater ticket, or sitting at home with his radio on, tells you something about one aspect of the American character: the capacity to withstand a great deal of outside interference, so to speak; a willing acceptance of frenzy which though it's never self-conscious, amounts o a willingness to let other people have and assert their own lively, and even offensive, character. They are a tough race in this.
The Scots say that Nature itself dictated that golf should be played by the seashore. Rather, the Scots saw in the eroded sea coasts a cheap battleground on which they could whip their fellow men in a game based on the Calvinist doctrine that man is meant to suffer here below and never more than when he goes out to enjoy himself.
[In 1889] the last big tract of Indian land was declared open for settlement, in Oklahoma. The claimants and the speculators mounted their horses and lined up like trotters waiting for a starting gun. The itchy ones jumped the gun and were ever after known as Sooners-and Oklahoma was thereafter called the Sooner State.
Between a quarter and a third of Los Angeless land area is now monopolized by the automobile and its needs-by freeways, highways, garages, gas stations, car lots, parking lots. And all of it is blanketed with anonymity and foul air.
I wrote to Mr. McEnroe, Senior. I said: "Here is the sentence once written by the immortal Bobby Jones. I thought you might like to have it done in needlepoint and mounted in a suitable frame to hang over Little John's bed. It says, The rewards of golf - and of life, too, I expect - are worth very little if you don't play the game by the etiquette as well as by the rules." I never heard from Mr. McEnroe, Senior. I can only conclude that the letter went astray.
It used to be said that you had to know what was happening in America because it gave us a glimpse of our future. Today, the rest of America, and after that Europe, had better heed what happens in California, for it already reveals the type of civilisation that is in store for all of us.
In the best of times, our days are numbered anyway. So it would be a crime against nature for any generation to take the world crisis so solemnly that it put off enjoying those things for which we were designed in the first place: the opportunity to do good work, to enjoy friends, to fall in love, to hit a ball, and to bounce a baby.