[published: July 01, 2009]
The American character has changed a lot in the 233 years since the Revolutionary War, but the notion of independence is still central to our sense of ourselves. We’re wary of environmental treaties and, in many cases, owning passports. We refuse to play the same sports that the rest of the world does. Even some of the left-leaning among us sneer at the idea of “hand-outs” and feel entitled to guard our property with firearms. Our greatest cultural hero is not a saint or a general, but that mythical American creature, the self-made man.
But these days, the very definition of independence is changing. Globalization makes isolation impossible, and our new president has set a tone of cooperation and compromise with the rest of the world. Meanwhile, recession has brought hand-outs on a massive scale to the corporate sector while cutting hundreds of thousands of individuals free from these same corporations. As a result, there’s been less shopping and more cooking lately than there has been for a long time.
In this issue, we look at the various meanings of independence, from free-thinkers to off-gridders, the unembedded to the unencumbered.
Last Exit co-editor Paul Menchaca checks the pulse of America’s anti-war movement almost six months into the presidency of the “anti-war” candidate who pushed for a troop surge in Afghanistan.
Photojournalist and Nieman Fellow Kael Alford shows the unfiltered view of unembedded journalists during the early days of the Iraq war.
Author, documentarian and off-grider Nick Rosen explains why he’s leaving Britain for a better off-grid experience in the New World.
Horatio Gates, miffed at being passed over for a promotion, performed a similar emigration more than two centuries ago and went on to become one of the most important generals of the American Revolution. Historian James S. Kaplan examines why his grave in Lower Manhattan remains forgotten today.
Last Exit contributing editor Kramer O’Neill documents the free spirits at the Madagascar Institute, who recently celebrated their 10th anniversary by reenacting a pivotal naval battle (in paddle boats) in Prospect Park.
Our art critic Cynthia Daignault reviews the endless reflections and refractions of Dan Graham’s retrospective at the Whitney.
And our flavor columnist Anne Dailey looks at how Americans have begun to declare their independence from industrialized food with simple vegetables like heirloom tomatoes.
- #1 Rock 'n Real Estate
- #2 Farm/Land
- #3 Showbiz
- #4 Violence & Conflict
- #5 Islands
- #6 Animals
- #7 The Subterraneans
- #8 After the Deluge
- #9 Boredom
- #10 Fear and Loathing
- #11 Medicine
- #12 Obsession
- #13 Migration
- #14 Revolution
- #15 Hidden In Plain Sight
- #16 Independence
- #17 Exploration
- #18 Education
- #19 Walls and Borders