Saturday, January 7, 2017

I’m better off with culture jolt to avoid thinking about the new president-elect

Friday was the day that the U.S. Senate formally confirmed the results of the Electoral College – which upheld the results of the general elections held back in November throughout the nation.
One of the centerpieces of the Art Institute collection. Photographs by Gregory Tejeda

It doesn’t matter now what flaws or quirks or screw-ups are uncovered in the future – Donald J. Trump really will be our president for the next four years.

I’M SURE THERE are some people who contrived all sorts of schemes they would have figured would deny the presidency to the one-time New York real estate developer. Others probably fretted away a day of their lives on Friday.

Personally, I didn’t bother.

I took advantage of the fact that my work load for the day was fairly slow. I wound up catching a commuter train into the Loop, taking a walk along that Great Street (a.k.a., State Street), then spent a good chunk of the day at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Which is a place I must confess I haven’t visited in many years. It may well be a decade or so since I last set foot inside that building.

TO THE POINT where I must admit it felt like a new experience to me – even though many of the paintings and sculptures I saw were ones that I knew were there. They were parts of the collection that make the museum world-renowned.
Does image move you? Or mention of Bill Murray?

And made for an afternoon I’m not likely to forget – particularly since it meant I didn’t have to get obsessed about the thought that we’re soon going to have the same nitwit who actually managed to come up with an architectural structure ugly enough that it makes the old Sun-Times Building that it replaced look interesting by comparison.

In fact, I only gave the presidential circumstances two bits of thought during the day. Once was when I saw a calendar that provides the next four years in full – giving us a literal countdown to the day in January 2021 that Trump (we hope) will no longer be president.

The other was the nitwit government official in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., who admitted Friday afternoon that he made no effort to reach out to the president when it came to the airport incident involving a gunman on the loose.
Chicago the "most beautiful great city?"

INSTEAD, THAT OFFICIAL went out of his way to contact Donald Trump and Mike Pence. They won’t be executives-in-chief for another two weeks., but is seems some people are just waaaaaay too eager to have them take the oaths of office.

To the point where they probably are eager to act as though Barack Obama was never in public office to begin with. A thought that probably would bother me much more significantly than it does Friday night – except that I have my cultural jolt now.

Perhaps what it takes for all of us to be lightened up politically is a dose of Jules-Adolphe Brezon and his painting, “The Song of the Lark.”

Which, the museum made a point of telling us, was a work of art that both former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and actor Bill Murray felt some affection for.

IF ANYTHING, I wonder how much better off we’d be as a people in Chicago if we all managed to take an occasional jolt of the cultural amenities in our midst – but which many of us just take for granted.
Would the people in that painting have any interest in watching us?

If it isn’t a ballgame that serves up overpriced beers (seriously, $9?), some of us just won’t care.

At the very least, it would help us put aside the more miserable aspects of our existence.

Although I still have to admit one gripe -- $37 for a souvenir t-shirt?!? It almost has me eager for springtime and a ballgame, where I can likely get a cheap seat for less than that.


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