United States

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In my opinion, there’s not a single more complex country on the face of the planet than the United States of America. It’s the land of opportunity, where a person can build themselves up from nothing and make a better life for themselves. They call it the American Dream. It’s the land of plenty… the richest country on the face of the planet. There’s more to do and see on one stretch of land than just about any other place in the world. No matter what your itch, you can probably scratch it in the United States. If you’re into nature, there are wonderful beaches, lush forests, huge mountains, and the biggest canyon on the planet. If you’re into sports, you can get your fill just about anywhere in the country. There are vast stretches of farmland. There are areas where the city never seems to end. You can’t tell where one stops and another starts. If you want to be in the middle of the action, there are a number of places that you can do that. If you want to get away and live a life of anonymity, even if only for a little while, you can do that to. There’s no end to what you can do in the United States. You’re free in the US to do whatever it is you want to do. Well… to a limited degree, I guess.

In recent times, the people of the United States have gotten a bum rap in the eyes of the rest of the world. The US government has a tendency to make stupid decisions that prove to be unpopular in the eyes of the rest of the world. As a result, US citizens end up paying the price when they travel abroad. I’ve been traveling for almost ten years now and it’s definitely not the same as it used to be. Back in the beginning of my travel days, it wasn’t uncommon for me to meet people that loved me for no other reason than the fact that I was an American. That’s not the case now. In fact, the opposite seems to be true now. Seems to me that Americans have become some of the most unpopular people on the face of the planet. That’s especially true since this bullshit started in Iraq. I don’t think that’s fair. Judge me for me, not for the actions of others. I can’t remember how many times I’ve been abroad and had to defend myself for no other reason than the fact that I’m American. I felt like I should have been wearing a shirt that says “I Didn’t Start The Fuckin’ War”. It’s not really a fair situation. I don’t think that I should have to do time for decisions that I didn’t make.

We might be an ignorant society, but the United States has some of the nicest and most trustworthy people in the world. This is especially true when you get away from the cities. You come to any small, Midwestern town and you’ll find a conglomeration of people that are only too quick to say hello or lend a helping hand. They’ll welcome you into their home. They’ll invite you to enjoy a meal with them. They’ll do whatever they can to make you feel comfortable. That’s not always true in the cities, where people have a much more guarded mentality. Good luck getting a helping hand if you have a flat tire on the 405 Freeway in Los Angeles. City folk and country folk just aren’t the same. But, generally speaking, I found Americans in general to be good people.

I think that the main reason that the rest of the world has such a poor opinion of the American people is because they’ve only met a small faction of what the populace has to offer. If you’ve never been to the United States, you’ve obviously only met the Americans that have come to you. As much as I hate to say it, many of the Americans that I’ve met in foreign countries weren’t the best representation of what the average American is like. In fact, many of them are just plain assholes. I’ve got a theory for that. You might like it. See, I’ve learned that travel is an expensive habit. Unless you’re a person like me who’s figured out how to travel relatively economically, you need money to travel. Hence, many of the people who travel are children of privilege. If you’re a kid who comes from old money, you’re often born with a sense of entitlement. Trust-fund babies have a tendency to be arrogant jerks. Most of them are douchebags. Sadly, these are the only Americans that much of the rest of the world ever comes into contact with. If you only meet assholes from one area, you’re going to assume that all people from that area are assholes. It’s not really fair, and if you hold onto this idea, you might never get the chance to meet a real American. You might never find out what we’re really like. I’ll never forget the situation that I found myself in one time when I was in Australia. I was the only person in a large group that wasn’t Australian. It didn’t take long for everyone to learn that I was from America. Before long, one guy said to me, “Man, you’re way too cool to be an American.” I didn’t know what to say. He was trying to give me a compliment, but it was kind of back-handed. I didn’t know whether to say “Thanks, man” or “Fuck you, dude”.

The United States is definitely the land of excess. Just look at our two biggest tourist destinations: New York City and Las Vegas. The biggest tip I can give you about the USA is that if you visit this country, DO NOT miss either of these destinations. They’re beyond description. And they’re proof positive that no matter what it is, if we do it, we take it to the extreme. We’re a very selfish, hedonistic society. That’s why we have the highest obesity rate on the planet. That’s why just about every business has a drive-thru. That’s why you can buy 1.75L bottles of Jack Daniel’s just about anywhere that has a liquor license. That’s why we have the Wal-Mart Supercenter and the Super Target. We buy in bulk and we do it 24 hours a day. Wanna go shopping at 3am? You can do that in the States. Well, as long as there’s a city of any substance relatively close. It’s a wonderful place to be a consumer. It kind of spoiled me as a kid. It’s what I’ve always been used to. Then, I go abroad and just about everything closes at 5pm. I didn’t know what the hell to think about that. I couldn’t believe that I couldn’t even go to the grocery store at 8pm in many places. It tripped me out!!

Before I go any further, allow me to acknowledge that my write-up on the United States might be a bit biased. After all… I’m from the United States. But, in my opinion, there isn’t a better place on the planet to be from. Being an American that’s traveled to much of the world, I understand the entitlement that I have being from the United States that many people from the rest of the world do not have. I’m not saying that Americans are better than anyone else. I’m just saying that there are certain inherent advantages that come with being from here. It’s akin to being born a straight, white male. As a straight, white male, I’ve got certain advantages, many of them economic, that a gay person, a minority, or a female does not have. It’s not right, but it’s the way it is. I’m not going to apologize for them and I’m sure as shit not gonna give them back. I just wish the rest of the American people would understand just what they were born with. Their ignorance causes them to take it for granted. So, don’t hate the American people just because they’re American. If anything, they should be pitied. I can’t say it enough. They’re just ignorant. That’s all. They’re not experienced with matters of the rest of the world for no other reason than that they don’t want to be. They’ve got no reason to travel outside of their little safe zones. Come to the heartland in the center of the States and you’ll understand what I mean.

Just because the United States was founded as a puritanical society doesn’t mean that the vices aren’t alive and well. It only takes one trip to Mardi Gras or Spring Break or Las Vegas to learn that that’s true. We Americans like to party. If you’re looking for a good party destination, you’ll find a number of them throughout the country. One thing that’s frustrating about the United States is that it’s not always easy to know what you can and cannot do in a particular destination. You can’t get away with the same stuff in Minneapolis that you can in Las Vegas. It just doesn’t work that way. See, the US Constitution is centered on the idea of states’ rights. What that means is that the individual states are the ones that set the majority of the rules. As such, once you travel across an imaginary line in the sand, you find yourself staring at a completely different set of rules. Since there are 50 states, there are 50 different sets of rules. It can get quite confusing. The federal government sets very few rules in the United States. The ones they do set, though, are huge. Try to stay away from violating any federal statutes. One thing that’s worth mentioning, though, is that just because the states set most of the rules doesn’t mean that the federal government can’t lay down the law. It might be up to the individual state to decide at what level to set, say, a speed limit, but it’s also up to the federal government to withhold highway funds from a state that doesn’t set the limit at a level that the feds don’t find acceptable. You see what I’m getting at? The dickheads in Washington tell you it’s up to you, but they dangle the carrot in front of your nose to get you to do what they want. Sounds like bullshit, if you ask me. But, that’s the way it is. That’s why the drinking age in the US is 21 and the DUI threshold is .08%. It might be up to the states, but the feds really set the levels.

If you’re not a US citizen, getting into the United States can be a real bitch. First off, you’ll probably need a visa. The only two countries whose citizens don’t need visas to enter the United States are Canada and Bermuda. However, if your country is part of the Visa Waiver Program, you may not need an actual visa to enter the US. Instead, you’ll fill out an application with the Electronic System for Travel Authorization to get what essentially amounts to an electronic visa. There are 27 countries in the VWP, but just because you’re a citizen of a VWP country doesn’t mean you’ll be allowed in with no problems. As long as you’re not a fuck-up, you’re likely to be accepted. You’ll just have to check and see. If you’ve got a criminal record, good luck to you. You’re gonna have to jump through some hoops to get across the border. You’ll definitely wanna check and see if you’re going to need a visa before you leave your home country. You don’t wanna be standing in the US Customs line only to discover that they’re not going to let you in. That’d be a waste of an airfare. Most time, though, the source country won’t even let you board the plane without a visa or an ESTA. A good website for finding US visa information is http://www.unitedstatesvisas.gov/visiting.html. They should have all the information you’ll need.

Growing up as an American citizen, I haven’t really noticed the US to be an expensive place. However, when I started traveling, I came to find that many of my destinations were considerably cheaper, so maybe I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. I still don’t think the US is an expensive place, but it is on par with many of the member countries of the European Union. You’re not likely to find it an especially cheap place, especially if you come from Eastern Europe, Central and South America, or Oceana. But, the place isn’t going to break you, either. Just as with any other place on the planet, you’ll notice that it’s more expensive in the cities and other tourist traps. For instance, Los Angeles and New York aren’t going to be as easy on your wallet as a small town in, say, Iowa or Nebraska. Since the US is such a big place, though, you’re likely to find yourself renting an automobile. Depending on where you’re from, you might find US gas prices to be a pleasant surprise. While American citizens are continually bitching about how expensive gas has become, the price of fuel is among the lowest of any country in the western world. In fact, only oil-rich countries like Venezuela or those in the Middle East have significantly lower fuel prices than those found in the US. Prices in Europe are usually two- to three-times those prices found in the America. The price has converged a bit in recent times, but gas is still significantly cheaper in the US.

Contrary to popular belief, the United States isn’t a dangerous place to visit like one might think. Since much of our pop culture has infiltrated the far corners of the universe, it seems to me that the view of America is that of a land of lawless rebels with car chases galore and shoot-outs aplenty. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, considering the world-wide popularity of movies like the Die Hard and Lethal Weapon series. But, I’ve been to just about ever major city in the US and have yet to come across a single bad guy hanging out of a window exchanging gunfire with a police car. I’ve never seen a single high speed chase through a shopping mall. I’ve never even seen a single person dive into the street to avoid a runaway madman racing his car down the sidewalk. It’s cinema, people. It’s not real. The crime rates in the US are comparable to the majority of the civilized world and have experienced consistent declines in the past 15 years. However, it should be stated that the US has a disproportionate number of gun-related incidents relative to the rest of the developed world. The US has one of the highest homicide rates among industrialized nations. This is attributable to the fact that the US has some of the most liberal gun laws in the entire Western world. It’s easy to acquire a firearm in America, even if you’re the bad guy. So, make sure you use a bit of care. Don’t fight unless you have to. You never know if the next guy is packin’ heat. Touristy areas are usually pretty safe. You’ll have to worry more about pick-pockets and scam artists than homicide by firearm. Don’t act like an asshole and you’ll probably be safe. Oh, and don’t flash your fuckin’ money around. You’re asking for trouble if you do that. The thing about violent crime in the US is that it’s usually directly related to the poverty levels of a particular area. As such, there are considerable differences in violent crime levels throughout the various regions of the country. You’ll find higher levels of crime in the poorer areas like the Deep South or the former industrial centers like Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Buffalo, Detroit, and such. If you find yourself in the poorer, less educated areas of the country, you’re going to find a much more desperate class of people. But, we’re definitely not a country that condones lawlessness. The US has one of the highest incarceration rates in the entire world, so watch your ass. America has 5% of the world’s total population, but 25% of the world’s incarcerated population. We don’t fuck around when it comes to crime!!

I should include a separate paragraph about the various police forces in the United States. Most law enforcement is left up to the jurisdiction of the individual states. On the state level, police forces are divided into three levels: local, county, and state patrol. Bigger city cops are usually much more hands off. They actually know that their job is dangerous. They won’t fuck with you for no reason. You’ve gotta be a bad guy to get their attention. In my experience, the worst type of law enforcement officer is the bored cop from a small area with nothing to do. A bored cop will find ways to appease himself. That usually entails fuckin’ with people. Just hope that’s not you. I find that state patrolmen are also dickheads, for the most part. They’re not even real cops. They drive around and bust the heads of people who drive too fast. But, for some reason, they have delusions of grandeur. Your best bet in dealing with cops in the United States is to avoid them as much as possible. And for god’s sake… keep your mouth shut. Nothing good can ever come out of talking to the police. If a cop asks you if he can ask you a few questions… say no. Let me repeat myself: KEEP YOUR FUCKIN’ MOUTH SHUT!! You don’t have the obligation to say anything to the police without a lawyer present. Or, just tell them that you’ll only talk to them if you have 100% immunity. Get it in writing, too. They’re much smarter at law than you. Nothing you say can help your case. The judge won’t allow things you said into the trial that can help you. But, he or she will allow things that can hurt you. That’s the catch 22. I can’t stress it enough: don’t talk to cops. All you can do is incriminate yourself. Also, don’t expect leniency because you’re not from around these here parts. Saying, “I’m sorry, officer… I didn’t know I couldn’t do that” will never work as a valid defense in the United States. Law enforcement expects you to know the laws. And, whatever you do, don’t fuckin’ bribe ‘em. Bribing a cop often entails a bigger penalty than the one pertaining to the original infraction. Just keep you mouth shut. Did I mention that already?! Hmmm… must be important if I keep saying it!!

I’ve got a lot of friends that are cops. I’m sure that last paragraph will have pissed them off. Oh, well… if they’re not that way, then it doesn’t apply to them and they shouldn’t get pissed off. Wouldn’t you agree?!

Drinking laws within the United States are tough to quantify from a nationwide perspective. Many of the individual laws are set by the state, so it would make more sense to cover alcohol laws within the individual state write-ups. There are a few national trends – for lack of a better word – that are worth mentioning. The first is the drinking age. While the drinking age is not set by the federal government, the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 essentially makes 21 the nationwide drinking age. It’s ultimately left up to the individual states, but under the act, the federal government can and will withhold ten percent of that particular state’s annual federal highway allotment. So, as of right now, the drinking age in the US is 21. The same can be said about the DUI limits. They’re technically set by individual states. However, through federal manipulation, all states recognize .08% as the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. It’s considerably lower if you’re a minor – known as “zero tolerance” – and the penalties are much harsher if you’re drastically higher than the legal limit. If you register above the minimum limit, your license will immediately be confiscated and replaced with a temporary provisional license until your court case is completed. Refusal to submit to a chemical test carries the same penalty. It is essentially viewed as an admission of guilt. And, the fuckers like to set up DUI checkpoints to snag your ass, especially around traditional drinking holidays. So, watch yourself. You have to be careful with alcohol in the states. You can get DUI charges even when you’re not driving. If the keys are in the ignition or, in some cases, even if you’re just sitting in the driver’s seat, police are legally allowed to assume that you have the intention of driving and can charge you with a DUI. It’s fuckin’ bullshit, but there’s nothing that you or I can do about it. If you’re gonna sleep it off, do so in the passenger seat or climb over into the back. Also, you can be charged with a DUI if you’re not even driving a car. If you’re under the influence on any form of transportation, even one that doesn’t require a driver’s license to operate, you can be charged with a DUI and your driving privileges can be taken away. This includes a moped, a lawn mower, or even a bicycle. More bullshit… I know. Just be careful. Keep the keys out of the ignition, leave the moped in the garage, and walk the bicycle home. Alcohol laws in the US are fuckin’ ridiculous. I don’t want them coming up to bite you in the ass. They’re borderline fascist, so I recommend the shit out of finding yourself a designated driver. A DUI can wipe out your wallet in a heartbeat. Believe me… I speak from experience.

Overall, boozing in the US can be a pleasurable experience. The US has an excellent selection of both domestic and imported booze. From spirits to wine to beer, you can find just about anything you want and it’s not hard to find a taste of home sitting on the shelf of any liquor selling establishment in the country. For the most part, though, American beer is considered to be pretty shitty, but the California wine regions produce some excellent wines. There are a shit-ton of rules and regulations attached to purchase and consumption of alcohol, but as with just about anything else, they’re left up the jurisdiction of the individual states. Some states don’t let you buy booze on Sundays. Others do, but only with lower alcohol levels, known as three-two beer cuz of its 3.2% alcohol content. Some states allow supermarkets to sell, some don’t. It’s all a bit confusing, so I’ll tackle things like open container laws, public intoxication statutes, and other alcohol oddities within the individual states. Ditto for the age of consent laws. They’re muddy as shit. Many people believe that the age of consent in the US is 18 across the board. That’s just not the truth. In fact, the limit is below 18 in a majority of the states. You can bet that a state’s age of consent will never be below 16, but unless you’ve got a hell of a good memory and can remember what the age of consent is for the particular state you’re in, I recommend you adopt an 18-year-old rule of thumb. Just make sure your partner is at least 18 and you shouldn’t have a problem keeping yourself out of trouble. Not only that, you’ll save yourself in the court of public opinion. In the States, there’s a bit of a stigma attached to an adult fuckin’ around with a minor. No matter what the law says, I recommend keeping your sexual escapades away from those who aren’t old enough to vote. I’ll touch on the age of consent laws a bit more within the write-ups on the individual states.

If you’re traveling to the States from abroad, you can bring a bit of your favorite booze from back home. You just have to declare it to the US Customs Service. Up to a certain point, what you bring in is duty free. It’s not much, but it’s better than a kick in the head. For alcohol, each person age 21 or older can bring in up to 1 liter of alcohol and up to 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or a “reasonable” amount of loose tobacco. If you’re a US citizen, you’re tobacco allotment jumps to 1000 cigarettes or 100 cigars. The booze allotment doesn’t change, though. If you exceed any these limits, they won’t be taken from you, but you will have to pay a duty and tax on the excess from within that group of items. You must declare the goods and provide proof of purchase so that the amount of your duty and tax can be calculated. I recommend that you don’t try and hide what you’ve got. You risk large fines if you get caught. Oh, and speaking of cigarettes, I hope you’re not overly attached to your smoking habit. The attitude in America toward smoking and, by extension, smokers themselves is pretty negative. Smoking is being eradicated at an alarming rate. A number of states have already enacted complete bans on smoking in all public places. Even in places where the individual states permit it, a number of local ordinances prohibit the practice anyway. Peer pressure’s a bitch, too. You’re likely to be looked at like a leper if you blaze up a cigarette in the States. And, whatever you do, don’t throw a lit cigarette butt out of your car window. Not only can it result in big fines, much of the country is made up of vegetation. I’m sick of hearing about forest fires or prairie fires started because some idiot tossed a lit cigarette butt out the window. Use the fuckin’ ashtray.

As you probably guessed, alcohol is a pretty big part of the culture in the United States. Well, so is drug use. If you think that the alcohol laws are fucked up, wait until I tell you about some of the drug laws. If drugs are your thing, US laws will probably bum you out. For the most part, any type of controlled substance is illegal to possess without a prescription. Obviously, there is no such thing as a prescription for most recreational drugs, like heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, and the like. Pain killers and such can be possessed with a prescription. Same with marijuana, but good luck getting over there. Marijuana legality in the United States is somewhat cloudy. For the most part, it’s illegal, but with each passing day, weed becomes more and more socially acceptable. Laws have been in place for nearly a hundred years to criminalize pot, but in recent times the laws have slackened, for lack of a better word. Since the 70s, marijuana usage has become more of a civil matter, carrying little more than fines and maybe drug awareness classes as punishment for recreational use. Don’t let that lull you, though. You can still get hammered for possessing and using pot. Starting in the mid-90s, states began approving marijuana use for medical purposes. More will be said about state-level penalties for marijuana possession and usage. However, it should be said that from a federal level, possession or usage of marijuana on any level is still a criminal offense. Some states have decriminalized the usage, but that still does not trump the federal laws. In many places, a small amount for personal use is not likely to end you up in the slammer. You might get a fine and your pot taken away, but you’re not likely gonna be going away for any significant amount of time. There are three things to keep in mind, though. The first is the “small amount” label. Keep it reasonable. You’ll have a tough time convincing a judge that 2 kilos of pot is for personal use. If you end up with intent to distribute, you’re in trouble. Ditto on trafficking. Those invisible lines in the sand called state lines are tricky little buggers. Carry shit across those lines and you’ve just jumped into federal jurisdictions. Penalties are much harsher for trafficking. Finally, keep the fuck away from smuggling at all costs. You’re taking a hell of gamble if you try to sneak shit into the States. If they bust you, good fuckin’ luck to you. These rules of thumb go double for so-called “hard drugs”, like coke, meth, crack, speed, and the like. You’re not going to get a misdemeanor slap on the wrist if you get caught with that shit. You’re looking at felony possession; do not pass Go, do not collect $200. You’re going straight to jail. If you wanna use drugs in any capacity, more power to you. Just fuckin’ be careful. The law enforcement in this country has a fuckin’ hard-on for drug users. There are more people currently incarcerated in the US for drug offenses than all other crimes combined. Oh, and FYI: in the eyes of the law, there are no “users”… only “abusers”.

If fornication is your thing, you should know that the United States still harbors much of the puritanical influence on it’s attitudes toward sex. It doesn’t mean that you won’t get laid. Believe me, there are horny people aplenty in the States looking to hook up. It’s just that you have to understand that a certain faction of the population will look down on you for your promiscuous ways. For instance: Roe vs. Wade made abortion legal. Go to the abortion clinics on any given day that abortions are being performed. You’ll find picketers aplenty. The Plan B “Morning after Pill” is available over the counter without a prescription. However, Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, didn’t want to carry it. They’re too “Christian” for that. The government made them. Chalk up one point for the government. See! It’s not all bad. For the most part, though, the attitudes about sex are becoming much more liberal. Most of the resistance is still held by members of the old breed. Oh, and by nearly EVERYONE in Utah. Don’t expect to get laid there!! For the most part, though, the US is a somewhat sexually liberated society. It’s not quite as open as many Western nations, like France or the Netherlands. But, on the flip side, it’s a hell of a lot better than places like the Middle East and much of Africa. Generally speaking, if you wanna get laid in the States, you’ll be able to take care of it. Well… unless you’re a douchebag. But, even douchebags can pay for it!!

Speaking of prostitution, the US generally speaking has pretty strict laws on prostitution. By and large, exchanging money for sexual services is not legal in any capacity. This includes street-walking, brothels, and all forms of sexual solicitation. The laws are left up to the individual states, but there are only two states in the country where prostitution in any capacity doesn’t have a total ban. The first is Rhode Island, where prostitution is legal indoors, but operating a brothel is not. The second (and more well-known) is Nevada. Contrary to popular belief, though, prostitution is not completely legal in the state of Nevada. Street-walking is illegal everywhere. Licensed brothels are permitted, but only in those counties with populations less than 400,000 people. In practice, that means Clark County. Yeah, that’s where Las Vegas is at. That means that Vegas does not have legal prostitution. In addition the other two major tourist destinations, Reno and Lake Tahoe, have county-based legislation that does not allow licensed prostitution. You’ve got to go out of town in these three areas to find a legal brothel. But, just because prostitution is illegal in the States doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. That goes not only for Vegas, but the rest of the country as well. Street walkers can often be found with a little diligence. The easiest thing to do, though, is to pick up a local entertainment guide and look for “escorts”. In my experience, the word “escort” is just a name for a glorified prostitute. Most “escorts” put out for the right price. You can find male or female escorts and you can find gay or straight escorts. You need to be careful with illegal prostitution, though. First off, if you’re not safe, you might catch something that’ll make your dick fall off or your vagina crust up. The second reason has to do with the law. Penalties for prostitution or solicitation of prostitution are not severe, but they do exist. Both are misdemeanor offenses that carry at least a fine and the potential of jail time. Also, police periodically run sting operations to crack down on wayward prostitution. This is especially true of street-walking. One rule of thumb: go for the ugly chicks. A good-looking street walker is probably a cop!!

If you’re looking to fuck around in the States, the danger is relatively low when compared to many places in the world. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be safe. Wrap that rascal!! Promise you, ya won’t regret it. Overall, finding HIV and other STD rates has proved illusive. All I’ve really been able to find are generalized rates that compare the US against other countries throughout the world and, in some cases, North America with the rest of the continents. The main thing that I was able to extrapolate from the data I found is that STD rates in the United States are comparable to the rates those countries in the rest of the Western world. 2007 estimates put the HIV rates in the United States at around 0.6%. That’s about 6 HIV cases per 1000 people. So, hook up with a thousand people and you’ll only catch HIV six times!! This rate is lower than most of Africa, South America, and Asia. Most European countries are a bit lower, between 0.1% and 0.4%, but 0.6% is still pretty low. You should always watch yourself, but don’t be convinced that by hooking up in the States, you’ll catch AIDS. As far as other STDs (to include chlamydia, syphilis, and gonorrhea) are concerned, the infection rate in North America is about 1.9%. By comparison, Western Europe has an STD rate of around 2.0%, Eastern Europe has a rate of about 2.9%, and Australia has a rate of around 2.7%. These rates are far better than the worst places in the world. Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Africa have rates of 5.0%, 7.1%, and 11.9%, respectively. If you’re thinking of doing some fuckin’, the USA isn’t such a bad place to choose. I’ll post better statistics as I find them.

The American attitude towards nudity and pornography varies by region. In some place like Utah and other religious centers, it’s strictly a no-no. Travel just south into Nevada and you can find it everywhere. Lists of strip clubs and social nudity locations, like nude beaches and the like, will be address in the individual state-by-state break-downs. As far as pornography is concerned, it’s readily available in the United States. Just about every hotel offers the porno channel. Just about every gas station or truck stop has an abundance of titty magazines. Adult bookstores (read: sex shops) are present in just about every big city. Adult video stores are omnipresent. Peep show booths can be found in most major cities. And, when all else fails, our internet is completely unfiltered. You can find anything on that sex-box. Porn is big business in the United States. You won’t have any trouble finding a little T&A, if that’s what you’re after. Generally speaking, just about any type of pornography is acceptable. The only major exceptions should be obvious: types where people are excessively degraded or victimized. Child pornography is fuckin’ sick and is obviously illegal. We have some of the harshest child pornography laws in the world. Expect to get fucked if you choose to indulge in it. And, I mean “fucked” in every way shape and form. When the law is done with you, the inmates get next crack. They don’t like child porn offenders. Keep in mind: prisoners have kids, too. Have fun getting anal raped. As far as “regular” porn, you gotta be 18 to purchase it. Expect to be carded. There are a few regional pornography statutes that exist. I’ll post them as I find them.

Gambling is another form of big business in the United States. The laws are weird, though. The most well-known centers for gambling in the United States are Las Vegas (actually, all of Nevada) and Atlantic City, NJ. But, at just about anyplace in the States, you can find a place to gamble. If all else fails, you can always find a poker game. The poker boom originated in the States and has a deeper hold here than the majority of the rest of the world. Fuck… poker players have become just about as popular as rock stars. If that ain’t fuckin’ ridiculous, then what is?! If a game of poker isn’t enough, there’s probably a casino within driving distance. See, each state has different gambling laws. To complicate matters, lands belonging to Native Americans make their own laws. They don’t fall under state jurisdiction. As such, many Native lands host casinos in states that normally don’t allow casino gaming. In addition, a number of illegal gambling centers exist, especially in the cities. Ask around. You might find one. If you don’t find what you want, you can always jump online. Just about any form of gambling can be done on the web.

There are a number of other types of gambling that can be done in most places in the states. Lotteries and scratch tickets are popular. Only a few states don’t offer them. Horse tracks are very prevalent and frequented by a number of people. This is especially true during the three races of the Triple Crown of horseracing: The Kentucky Derby, The Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes. These three races are surrounded in hype and even those people with only a passing interest in the sport tune in to check out the race. Better still, the races have become party destinations. There is no shortage of drunken revelers present at any of the three races of horseracing’s Triple Crown. Read my write-up of the Triple Crown if you’re curious about it. Dog tracks exist as well, but are not near as popular as horse tracks. The state-by-state breakdown of gambling opportunities, as well as the legal statutes behind them, will be addressed in the write-ups of the individual states.

For the most part, the country of the United States is a relatively accepting society when it comes to individual differences. The country is known as The Melting Pot, so there are no shortages of ethnic representation within the country. Blacks, Latinos, and Asians are well represented within the country. For the most part, the races get along, but there are still individual instances of racial tension within the country. At one point, it was legal to own black slave laborers in the southern portions of the country, which shows up in the demographic breakdowns of the races in these areas. Often times, blacks are not as economically privileged as whites in these areas. As such, much tension exists between the races in the former slave states of the South. There are other instances of racism throughout the country, with the extremes being represented by the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi white supremacy groups existing in small numbers in certain areas. Without a doubt, though, the race of people in the United States that have gotten fucked the most are the Native Americans. They were victims of genocide in the 1800s and a lot of tension still exists to this day. But, at least they get casinos, right? Okay… bad joke.

Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11, I’ve noticed a significant increase in the amount of racism directed toward the Muslim population and specifically members of the Arab community. It’s been quite a while since the attacks, but it’s still a pretty sore subject amongst the American population. No matter what your opinion on the tragedy, I recommend that you refrain from joking about it. You’re liable to get your ass whipped. For that matter, racism is a subject that you should choose your words carefully if you choose to make jokes or even have a simple conversation about. Racial jokes may be fuckin’ funny, but they’re also pretty powerful. People get testy about issues of race. Talking about it can get you in hot water real fuckin’ quick. Claims of racial profiling by police towards minorities are often made. For the most part, though, racial tensions in the States don’t seem to be as strong as some that I’ve seen in other places of the world. Then again, they’re stronger than others that I’ve seen. Shit, hate crimes have come to the forefront in the past 20 years or so in the States and in this day and age there is a hell of a lot of legislation that exists to protect members of the various minorities from victimization. So, your prejudices can land you in legal trouble in addition to the ass-whipping you might receive. Overall, though, racism in America is not that bad, in my estimation. Then again, I’m a white male, so what the hell do I know?

The same can be said for sexism and homophobia. As with racial issues, gay bashing and other forms of discrimination toward homosexuals is much more common in areas where the population is bit more ignorant. If they don’t have a lot of experience with minorities or homosexuals, they don’t really know how to deal with them. Expect a bit more tension in the smaller areas of Middle America and the Deep South. As for sexism, it’s not all that common. Women are generally accepted as equals in the eyes of the laws. In practice, there is a little bit of subjugation that occurs, but as with racism, it’s much worse in other parts of the world. Women are viewed as individuals rather than property in the States. They’re not second class citizens. For the most part, women are safe in the United States. But, just as with anywhere else, you should be smart if you’re a woman. Carry mace, don’t go down dark alleys, and watch your fuckin’ drink. Don’t get roofied or you might wake up with your pants around your ankles wondering what the fuck happened to you. If a guy wants to buy you a drink, don’t be afraid to accept. Just go with him when he orders it. Also, don’t leave it on the table when you go to the bathroom or out to the dance floor. Be diligent and you should be safe.

There are a few other little things that you should know about traveling to the United States. First off, we drive on the right side of the road. If you’re from the British Commonwealth, get used to it. Tipping is standard practice, but not everyone who helps you is worthy of a tip. Just because you see a tip jar doesn’t mean that you need to chip in. Most of these leeches make plenty of money. Tips make the service industry go, though, and some people actually depend on tips as part of their income. If you sit down for food, tip your wait staff. If you go to the bar, tip your wait staff and your bartenders. If you stay at a hotel, grease the bellhop. If you take a cab, give little extra to the cab driver. A few other examples that I can think of right off my head: hairdressers, masseuses, limo drivers, restaurant delivery guys, room service, housekeeping… people like that. 12% to 25% should suffice. Use your own discretion. Don’t worry about the fuckers working at McDonald’s or the cashier at Wal-Mart. Keep in mind, though, a well-placed tip can get you a little extra even when it’s not necessary to tip. Grease the door guy to skip the line into the club. Throw some extra at the sandwich guy and maybe you’ll get the super-special sandwich hook-up at two in the morning. You know… stuff like that. Oh, and keep in mind that sales tax in the US is not included in the display price. Expect your bill to be a little higher when you check out.

Okay… that’s about all I’ve got for you. You’re ready to take on the good ol’ U.S. of A. It’s a great country, regardless of what you’ve heard. I’m going to include a list of party festivals and destinations below. If you’re looking for something to do, that’ll help you out. Have fun in the States. I doubt you’ll get bored. If you plan to get into trouble, know your embassy number. Here’s a website that’ll help you:

Embassy World

One tip: make sure you know your consulate number before you go to jail!!

Click HERE To See The Table Of Useful Information On The United States.

Which State Do You Wanna Go To?

California

(Sorry... that's all I've got so far.)