Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

The sun never managed to come out yesterday, but that’s probably just as well. It was hot again, the worst day yet. 96 F. They cancelled the horse racing at Saratoga because officials were afraid the horses would collapse and die of heat stroke.
The stroller has become Bao’s new, best friend. In this heat and humidity, he’s tired before we even start. When we reach a destination, he sits and waits for me to take it out of the back seat. Then he heaves a little sigh of relief as I unfold it, climbs in happily, and immediately goes to sleep. He won’t budge without the stroller, and I don’t blame him. In fact, I wish we could take turns.
It’s too hot to do much sightseeing, especially outdoors. It’s too hot to go swimming. It’s even too hot to shop.
We did manage to visit the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, which is about an hour’s drive south from here. People think of Norman Rockwell as an illustrator, which is what he was. In fact, Rockwell and Walt Disney were the last, great illustrators of the 20th century.
But illustrators aren’t artists. At least, not in the sense that individuals like Picasso and Matisse and Winslow Homer and Frederick Remington were artists. Right?
The museum features perhaps a hundred of Rockwell’s oil paintings, many of which ultimately became covers for the Saturday Evening Post. The covers were illustrations. But the oil paintings themselves are art; traditional rather than so-called contemporary art, and a bit old fashioned. But art, nonetheless. You could take any one of these paintings and hang it in a traditional art museum with other representational paintings, and people would ooh and aah.
Of course, I remember many of these Saturday Evening Post covers. I also remember when the United States was actually like the world depicted on these covers, and in these wonderful, detailed, evocative paintings. It was a world in which your doctor lived down the street, and made house calls; a world in which people still said their prayers; a world in which kids threw sticks for dogs to fetch, and rode bicycles, and did chores for pocket money.
Walking through this display, looking at the paintings, remembering them in the context of my perennially hopeful lemonade stands (where nobody ever bought any lemonade) and selling packets of seeds door to door (did anyone else believe those ads in the comic books?) and shovelling snow and eating popcorn at the Saturday matinee, I understood why people who’ve been here call it a “feel good” museum. And I defy any (older) American to walk through the wonderful Four Blessings Room without a lump in his or her throat.
In case you haven’t already figured it out, I grew up in New Jersey during the Eisenhower years, when nothing much happened. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There’s a Chinese saying, May you live in interesting times. It’s not meant to be a blessing, though. It’s meant to be a curse.


Blogger Dogwalkmusings said...

And if the times of today are exemplary it truly is a curse.

7:57 PM


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