Friday, January 16, 2009


Christina: "How long will it take me to crawl to Wall Mart?"

That painter Wyeth died this week. I was never much of a fan. His art always seemed to be geared towards the elderly, religious people, and other cretins I disdain. I thought his signature piece, Christina's World, was about a young girl playing God in an ochre-brown landscape during The Great Depression. It always reminded me of an America that I would never know or never care to. But after reading Wyeth's obit in the New York Times my interest blossomed. I learned that the real Christina, on whom the painting is based, could not walk! Wyeth said she would drag herself around the farm, doing chores, all the while refusing to get a wheelchair! The painting suddenly took on a new meaning for me. It became a painting about American stubborness. It's the same kind of stubborness that George W. Bush turned into a virtue and most Republicans run on. It's the idea of never needing any hand-me-downs, that everyone should provide for themselves, and that if you are poor in any form, it's probably for good reason.
This new factoid garnered from the Times, when added to the Wyeth, acted like a catalyst. It reminded me of a story this guy told me about his mother, a farmer in rural Ohio. The storyteller had a very strict work ethic. He was insensitive and didn't like vacations. He said that even after his mother suffered a stroke or embolysm one day out on the farm, she still CRAWLED to the barn to feed the cows because "it needed to get done". I remember thinking that this woman was the emblem of hard-nosed middle-America. I therefore conclude that Wyeth had his finger on the pulse!
Christina isn't dreaming of a world, she's wondering how long it will take to crawl to that effing barn!

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