Happy 4th of July!
It’s an odd one, this middle of the week celebration, but perhaps that awkward timing renews enthusiasm, as folks have big plans, including barbeques and neighborhood parties despite the hottest summer on record. We spied decorations in unexpected places, and for the first time ever received gifts and cards as we honor two hundred and thirty-six years of America's Independence.
(pictured, My Security Blanket, 1996, an original silkscreen by George Rodrigue)
I planned for today a post paying tribute to the city and people of Houston. We’re here seven weeks now, about halfway through our Texas summer, and despite the circumstances, George Rodrigue and I have renewed our fondness for the Lone Star State, a true American neighbor to Louisiana in times of need, harboring our citizens following hurricanes, supporting our economy with weekend Big Easy vacations, and, on a personal level, treating us to a healing, hospitable, and unexpectedly entertaining Summer of 2012.
In anticipation of that post, George photographed the spectacular Houston skyline, dominated by skyscrapers, seemingly more than “mere corporate shells.” They are “monuments to the arrogant yet philanthropic spirit of America,” writes Patti Smith in Just Kids (an artsy Independence Day gift from my equally artsy cousin Jill Wolfe), viewing New York City as beautiful, “a real city, shifty and sexual,” even as the young Smith sleeps in parks and scrounges for food.
(pictured, Big Apple Blues, 1995, an original silkscreen by George Rodrigue)
George also photographed, although not yet in the right light, the 1950s Sears building, almost seductive in its ugliness, “the old world and the emerging one served up in the brick and mortar of the artisan and the architects.” (Smith)
But that post will wait, because it needs George’s photographs, and he’s still scouting daily, knowing he has the rest of the summer, waiting for the right shadows, the right atmosphere, manipulating for hours within photoshop, yet still not perfectly pleased.
Our plans today are far from a barbeque. Yet we’re happy, as our loved ones visit virtually through their messages and well-wishes. We’ll eat homemade chocolate cake lovingly baked and gifted by our Santa Rosa Beach friends Lacy and Andy, topping it with homemade preserves from my cousin Judy Wolfe, a gifted nutritionist out to save our American bodies from our American chain restaurants with her clever website Jeatwell.
Thanks to my college roommate Debbie we’ll enjoy at last the contagious and utterly un-American Downton Abbey Season 2, followed by, courtesy of Rhonda Egan of the Rodrigue Gallery, the classic and purely American Tracy & Hepburn, the Definitive Collection.
During this quiet morning, as I write this, George Rodrigue sleeps behind me after working late on plans for painting a barn (I kid you not! …details when he lets me share-), and I watch the Houston downtown silence, unlike yesterday’s rush hour chaos, from our ninth floor window, the same window granting us an excellent view of tonight’s fireworks.
(pictured, my sister Heather joins her son Wyatt in Birmingham, England last month as they cheer on Wyatt's brother, William Parker, who placed 4th representing Team USA in the 2012 BMX World Championships! Read the exciting story here-)
Finally, I leave you with an American memory:
Thanks to a clever Saturday morning program called Schoolhouse Rock, each 6th grader at New Heights Elementary School in Fort Walton Beach, Florida stood at the front of the room and passed his or her history test with melodic ease, reciting the Preamble to the United States Constitution. Thirty-five years later, like my former classmates, I know it by heart. Won’t you join me in this reminder of our “blessings of liberty?”
Happy Independence Day to you and yours! And Happy Birthday to my dad, born on the 4th of July!
-also this week, patriotism dominates the Cajun heritage and paintings of artist George Rodrigue in my latest story for Gambit Weekly: “The American Cajun”-
-for more art and discussion, please join me on facebook-