White noise lulled me as I slept in New York City, and when I woke and looked out the window, its source surprised me.

A cement mixer, directly in front of the hotel. Though cylindrical, (and therefore not an officially sanctioned shape, according to my very patriotic high school American history teacher) it bore an American flag on its torso. The mixer extruded cement into some sieve or strainer, and it was unclear where the cement was actually going. Did it matter? Like a cigarette butt, isn’t it just better if it’s out of my car? Who cares if, after I toss it from my car, it turns up in the park, sodden in the grass, perhaps never to biodegrade? (Where is their patriotism? Don’t our parks matter? When I see people do this, I want to call the cops. Or better, Homeland Security.)

If America (in the form of this working vehicle) squeezes out the cement and it goes somewhere, anywhere, so it can fortify, build a better America, or at least a newer one, reinforcing the lack of grass everywhere, increasing the possibility of flooding elsewhere, it will be a stronger America, reinforced by this substance, stimulating some abstract notion of economy, employing some underpaid humans.

I saw something today in this patriotic cement mixer. The white noise helped me sleep in, comfortable in my vacation bed, as the mixer turned, moving, changing, extruding something for some concrete reason, I’m sure, and I slept, wondering whether I was being bitten by bed bugs (there’s an epidemic in the city, I’ve read, and my skin believed it was under attack, even though it wasn’t, because one never knows, they could be terrorist vermin!) All this on 23rd Street, in the city that, when wounded, inspired the rest of the to country slap a little patriotism on our own vehicles in the form of the ubiquitous magnetic American flags. Someone is making a fortune off those. (I got a magnetic yellow ribbon a while ago, to demonstrate that we liberals care about the soldiers too, but it fell off. It’s probably languishing in the park with the cigarette butts.)

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