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I've been trying to find this one short (I think) story, in which a man is touring a Japanese man around the states, trying to sell him historical/cultural sites. Eventually he realizes (with some definite disdain/racism) that the man doesn't care at all for these pretentious sites, and wants something truly American, and sells him a baseball stadium somewhere.

It's set far in the future, and they're essentially selling the ruins of America (and zooming around in flying cars). I'm also fairly confident it comes from a science fiction anthology

Anyone know which story that is?

  • It makes me think of Zelazny's This Immortal (aka ...and call me Conrad), but only a little. – K-H-W Jul 26 at 0:17
  • @K-H-W That's funny, that's exactly what I was reading, which reminded me slightly of this one that I had completely forgotten about. Turns out it was "A Thing of Beauty" by Norman Spinrad. – drdavehere Jul 26 at 2:05
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Perhaps a somewhat misrecalled "A Thing of Beauty" by Norman Spinrad? As I recall, and as this summary suggests, an American guide tries to sell Yankee Stadium to the visiting Japanese plutocrat, who is tempted but finally decides against it in favor of instead buying the Brooklyn Bridge.

An especially neat example is Norman Spinrad's short story from 1973, "A Thing of Beauty," first published in Analog January 1973, and later reprinted in Spinrad, No Direction Home (1975). This is set in a future America, depressed and bankrupt, in which an American antique dealer (almost the only paying trade left in the country) is visited by a Japanese billionaire who wants to buy an outstandingly impressive cultural artifact. The dealer, Harris, tries to sell the buyer, Mr. Ito, a sequence of American cultural icons, first the Statue of Liberty (now headless); then the baseball stadium, now derelict, of the New York Yankees; finally the United Nations Building. All three are rejected. The first is too sad. The second is greeted with greater enthusiasm, but rejected in the end, in spite of Mr. Ito's own personal wishes, because he knows the stadium would carry no prestige within Japanese society. The third is rejected contemptuously as an icon of political failure. And then Ito sees the now-unused Brooklyn Bridge, and insists on buying it to be re-erected in Japan. The joke here is that Brooklyn Bridge has iconic status within America as the thing that only a hayseed would imagine he could buy, the colossal equivalent of a fake gold brick. But the joke turns on Harris, not Ito, once it has been taken away, re-erected, and turned into one of the wonders of the world. Ito proves his astuteness (and his wealth) by sending Harris a fake gold brick: only it is not a fake, it is pure gold.

Google Books, A Companion to Science Fiction

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    That's exactly it, thanks! And you're right, definitely somewhat misrecalled. For posterity and my future reference, it's actually turned around. He initially wants the baseball stadium but is eventually convinced to go for the Golden Gate Bridge, and the "Racist Disdain" I remembered was more the seller thinking he was going to pull one over on the "sucker" of a buyer. Regardless, thanks loads, this used to be one of my favourites! – drdavehere Jul 26 at 2:07
  • I have edited in the relevant paragraph from the link in case it goes down. I transcribed it from the source by hand so there may be a few typos here and there. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 26 at 9:54

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