Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard. A performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
March 4 in Kent, OH Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard. A performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Garrison Keillor and the Hopeful Gospel Quartet come to The Wayne Theatre for an Evening of poetry, gospel, sing-alongs and the News from Lake Wobegon. 7:00PM
High Point, NC
Garrison Keillor and the Hopeful Gospel Quartet come to the High Point Theatre for an Evening of poetry, gospel, sing-alongs and the News from Lake Wobegon. 7:30 PM
Garrison Keillor and the Hopefuls (Robin and Linda Williams) comes to the Carrollton Cultural Arts Center for an Evening of poetry, gospel, sing-alongs and the News from Lake Wobegon. 7:30 PM
Personally I like the statue of Theodore Roosevelt on a horse standing majestically in front of the Museum of Natural History in New York, which I often pass on walks and so I’ve followed the controversy about the statue, along with the debate about the statue of Columbus at Columbus Circle.
The statue removalists argue that Roosevelt and Columbus were guilty of inappropriate treatment of indigenous people and so don’t deserve this prominence. The removalists, I’m sure, have done their homework and especially in the case of Columbus could cite cruel and outrageous deeds and I respect their seriousness. There’s an avenue named for Columbus and a university, plus the Circle, and you could change them all to Smith and it’s no problem for me. The statue in the Circle stands on a very high pedestal so as to make it harder for pigeons to defecate on him, so high that his gender is not clear, and I seldom bother to look up.
The mounted Roosevelt statue, it was announced last week, will be removed to Medora, North Dakota, where he spent some pleasant time living the life of a cowboy out west and refashioned himself as a man on horseback, which made it possible for him to be elected president. Medora is a town of 129 people, and I imagine they’ll be thrilled to get this work of art, which may attract people who’ll then stop in a café, have lunch, buy postcards, a souvenir blanket, coffee mugs, teddy bears, and so on. In New York, the statue is no big deal, just a guy on a horse.
This is my point. Ninety-nine percent of those who pass, the crowds of school children, the tourists, we ordinary folk who haven’t studied late 19th-century American history since high school and didn’t find it all that interesting — to us 99 percent, the statue is purely visual, with no particular significance. It is serious scholarship that makes it significant to the 1 percent. If a one-percenter stood below the statue with a loudspeaker and lectured us on Roosevelt’s misdeeds, I would stop and listen, but only for a few minutes, and then I’d walk on. So would you.
I don’t oppose removal, but I do feel that it leaves a gap, visually, and the stone pedestal the horse stood on demands somebody else take Roosevelt’s place. I nominate Kathryn D. Sullivan, the noted geologist and astronaut who was born across the river in Paterson, N.J. Manhattan is built on bedrock, a good foundation for those skyscrapers. Ms. Sullivan dug into the earth and went up in the sky. She’s perfect. I’d put her on that pedestal, holding a big jackhammer, cutting into the pedestal. I’m serious. Geologists don’t go around in ballgowns so you’d have to come up close to see she’s a woman and there you could read a plaque that would tell you something about her and the rock underneath you.
The news story about Roosevelt’s removal gave me a new word that I am eager to use: recontextualize. Removing Teddy to North Dakota would recontextualize him.
Let me insert two other words here: elitist hegemony. Statue removal is justified in the case of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson who were traitors to their country and knew it, but in the case of Roosevelt, it is a project of elitists who are smarter than the rest of us and seek to exercise authority. That is my recontextualization of the whole story. I wish Medora well; I think Roosevelt and his horse will feel more at home there than in Manhattan. If Columbus is hauled down off his towering pedestal and sent back to Genoa, its effect on my life is less than if you put No Parking signs up in front of my apartment building. I don’t own a car. I don’t drive. I ride the subway or I hail a cab.
But if you haul these guys down off their pedestal, how can you ignore Henry Hudson who sailed up the river when indigenous people — who were not friendly to him — occupied Manhattan? And what about the Duke of York? James Madison? The guy whom Lincoln Center is named for — how did he feel about women’s rights?
I am organizing a demonstration in Columbus Circle, holding big signs: DOWN WITH ELITIST HEGEMONY. STOP WEAPONIZING HISTORY OR WE WILL RECONTEXTUALIZE YOU RIGHT OUT OF TOWN AND THE HORSE YOU RODE IN ON. As soon as it’s warm again, let’s get together and march and then we can go have lunch at a little café on Smith Avenue.