Saturday, November 15, 2008

It starts...

And so, I have begun my Grand Samoan Adventure.

Even though I'm still on the U.S. mainland.

Right now I'm staying the weekend at my boss's (extremely nice) house in Las Vegas. In fact, you can see a picture or two of it on the website of my future immediate supervisor, which also includes quite a few shots of his original trip down there in 2004.

The flight over here was good. Except that while I was checking in and saying my goodbyes, my laptop fell off of the checkin counter, which I later discovered had cracked the screen. Today I shipped it to my dad, who is either going to get it fixed at this place he found online or send me an almost identical one that he found on eBay. So I guess this means that there is little chance of talking to me on Skype or me posting pictures until I get it back, which I'm guessing will take just over a week. Sorry, iFail.*

Things I've learned about Vegas that I didn't already know thus far:

-There are slot machines in the airport. Larry says they have bad odds.

-It's surrounded by beautiful mountains.

-They have In-N-Out Burgers here.

-Larry's family is really nice.


-That's it.

UPDATE: Larry has now shown me around town and it is awesome. I would show you pictures, but my computer is broken, and I'm not about to put them on the Fuss family computer. I also have awesome video of the fountain show in front of the Paris Hotel and the giant LCD screen show downtown. More when I have the pictures to show you.

But the good news is, I have plenty to tell everyone about where I'm headed. There are a lot of interesting things that I've already learned about American Samoa. It took long enough, but I finally found a more or less complete history of the territory. I would just like to point out that 1) John Williams, the first missionary to the island, was indeed eaten by cannibals, but not Samoans. 2) Holy crap, there is a lot of whining in the last two paragraphs about how the US government "smashed the Samoan way forever" when they brought in all kinds of foreign demon things like running water and electricity in an attempt to fix the standard of living there. My personal favorite part is where they say that the US introduced juvenile delinquency to the territory. You know, because kids there were perfectly behaved until that darned tuna cannery showed up! They also conviently left out how free health care was brought in, but I digress.

In reality, Samoans are still very much about preserving the fa'Samoa, or traditional Samoan way. Obviously it's less about wanting to live in a fale, or Samoan hut, and more about the language and culture. They hold a traditional Pacific Arts festival annually, as well as a tattoo festival. Larry also owns a radio station on the island that mainly plays Samoan music, which is very popular. I have been told by at least one Samoan already that a good story idea would be on the balance that modern Samoan youth try to find between being an American and a Samoan.

Since then, there have been a few moments where the rest of the world noticed the territory. In the 1920s, anthropologist Margaret Mead wrote her famous book, Coming of Age in Samoa, which is where I got the name of this blog. It became an international best seller, possibly because a lot of it was about sexual permissiveness among Samoan teenagers and brought much attention to Samoa and anthropology.

And then it turned out that all of that stuff about the sexual permissiveness was wrong. She had actually gotten all of her information from a small handful of Samoan girls who had been pulling her leg after being asked all kinds of crazy questions about whether part of the fa'Samoa was sleeping around. So this handful of teenage girls essentially fooled Mead and the millions of people all over the world who read her book with a bunch of dirty jokes.

This makes them awesome.

American Samoa was then ignored until it's modernization in the 60s, and then was written about in the 1970s book Tales from the Margaret Mead Taproom. It's by Gary Trudeau, author of the Doonesbury comics. Despite this, the book is actually funny.

Most recently, there was a bit on it last spring on The Colbert Report. You can watch it by clicking here and then scrolling 3/4 of the way down the page. Do it. It is awesome. It is also your prize for reading this entire entry.

More on what I'm actually doing once I actually get there.
blog comments powered by Disqus