Fourth Estate

Fourth of July weekend is here, a time for barbecues on the beach, fireworks over the East River, and...that other thing. What was it again?

Bahiyah Robinson
Age: 22
Resides: L.A. and New York
Occupation: Clothing company

Are you patriotic? No. I don't agree with the value system America projects. The school system is definitely a problem, and there's no reason because we have all this money. Instead we have a huge military budget.

Best thing about America? Opportunity.

Worst thing? Many Americans are brainwashed into thinking that we don't have a lot of opportunity-especially people of color.

If you had to live somewhere else? Ideally Brazil. They've kept a lot of their African culture intact.

Veronique Aptekman
Age: 39
Resides: Paris, France
Occupation: PR

Are you patriotic? No. I have dual citizenship, France and the United States, but no. I have a love-hate thing. American people are, at least, much nicer than Parisians. But I am touched by the beauty of Paris.

Best thing about America? The sort of infinite possibilities you have. If you have an idea, you can go forward with it. It's much less true in France. They're more rigid and closed. There's also a greater civic sense here.

Worst thing? There's a certain vulgarity to America. Also the fact that people can own guns here. It's scary to me.

If you had to live somewhere else? I love Italy. That's where my heart belongs.

Dan Riter
Age: 22
Resides: East Village
Occupation: Student/bartender

Are you patriotic? Yeah. I love the United States.

Best thing about America? Arizona. The rocks. The wide open spaces. The sky. Also, pizza. Baseball.

Worst thing? The women's attitudes. They're colder here than, say, European women.

If you had to live somewhere else? Probably Paris. I've lived there for years. It's beautiful there. Statues everywhere; a sense of history.

Dexter Brown
Age: 37
Resides: Upper West Side
Occupation: Doorman

Are you patriotic? Not much. It wasn't really embedded in me when I was growing up. I just never got into it.

Best thing about America? I guess the freedom that we have. Freedom of speech, the freedom to live the way we live. Especially when you look at Kosovo, we've got so much here.

Worst thing? The lack of spirituality that people have these days. Not that many people are looking for God anymore. It's a downward cycle for us now. Racism. That's also a downward-spiral thing.

If you had to live somewhere else? Probably somewhere like Paris. It's the place everyone talks about.

B.J. May
Age: 19
Resides: Illinois
Occupation: Student

Are you patriotic? Moderately.

Best thing about America? The intention of freedom. Even though it's not always there, I appreciate the attempt people make.

Worst thing? That same freedom gives people the freedom to morally be less than good. There's too much concentration on people's rights. They commit a crime and because of some loophole they get away with it.

If you had to live somewhere else? I stayed for a while in the Dominican Republic. It's beautiful there. And the people really care about each other. They'll give you the shirt off their back.

Alfonso Zhiciy
Age: 28
Resides: Woodside
Occupation: Cook

Are you patriotic? I don't have too much idea about this country. I'm from Ecuador. I came here a few years ago. But I like it here so far.

Best thing about America? Business opportunities. Better than back in Ecuador.

Worst thing? The drugs. Everywhere I go, they try to sell me drugs. That's the biggest problem for me. But I'm trying to become a citizen.

If you had to live somewhere else? I'd like to go to France. The food business. It's big there. I want to go into the restaurant business.

Eddie Hand
Age: 42
Resides: West Village
Occupation: Personal trainer

Are you patriotic? Yeah. I love this country. I'm not an extremist but I'd go to war for this country, but only if we were being attacked.

Best thing about America? Freedom to be who you want to be. In most places, that is. Like in the South, you can't. New York's beautiful. I'm more of a New Yorker than an American.

Worst thing? The Ku Klux Klan. The hate groups.

If you had to live somewhere else? Some island, like in the Caribbean.

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