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2005 is Dead

The week between Christmas and New Year’s Day is a dead time. What is on most people’s minds is vacation—either one just taken, or one mid-taking, or one untaken but dreamed of—and this is true of politicians, lobbyists, celebrities, and reporters alike: each of them newsmakers according to their kind. It’s one reason why so much of what we see in this week is retrospective. On television retrospectives are clip shows, opportunities to rewind, remind, and recline (with a glass of wine) while the pictures fill air time. Everyone’s on vacation, after all.

As for me, it would be nice to be on vacation. That would mean that I have a job from which I’ve taken time off. Alas, such is not the case. I am unemployed, or at best infrequently employed, which means that retrospective is not time taken out from my life, it is my life. Much, much, much too much of it. Self pity, however, isn’t much for returning to things encountered in passing, so in an effort to change my habits, today I take a cue from everyone else. Where have I been? To find out, I’ve been skimming the archives.

In May I remarked on the purchase, by Alice Walton, of Asher B. Durand’s painting, Kindred Spirits (1849, see image at left), and I promised I would return to the topic shortly. Obviously, shortly sometimes means “in seven months.” After buying the painting from the New York Public Library, Walton loaned it to the National Gallery of Art, where it will hang until February 2007. Walton purchased the painting to hang in an as-yet unbuilt, 100,000 square-foot art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas, Crystal Bridges. The museum announced this month that it had hired Christopher Crosman as chief curator. What Walton’s collection amounts to is anyone’s guess—there is speculation, for example, that it was she who bought Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington, also from the NYPL, this year—although Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee seems to have a pretty good idea (as well as grandiose notions of what the museum promises). My suspicion is that Walton envisions her museum to be on the order of the Getty, which is a tall order, but not outside the range of her pocketbook. For the present, the more enduring question might just be, Why is the NYPL selling its collection?

Since the same month, the term snowflake baby has not, in fact, been picked up in the public sphere. I can think of a few possible reasons: 1) The term was stupid to begin with and everybody knew or, at least, sensed it; 2) the Bush Administration is big on photo-op, small on substance, and truly microscopic on veto threat; 3) the bill in question, H.R. 810/S 471, has gone nowhere in the Senate.

A bit further from home but closer in time is the All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, which in November went public with the story that the Internal Revenue Service had challenged its tax exemption because of a sermon preached there just before the 2004 elections (I opined about the story then). The publicity has gathered powerful advocates to the church’s side. Early this month Representatives from California, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina penned a letter to the General Accounting Office in protest of the IRS review; more generally, the Church has gained support from faith traditions and First Amendment scholars from across the political spectrum. TaxProf Blog has kept up with the story since it was first broken. Its coverage includes a citation of an op-ed by the pastor who gave the sermon in question. In the op-ed, he wrote, “I took great care to say that I did not want to tell people how to vote, but that I was challenging them to go into the voting booth on Tuesday taking with them all that they knew about Jesus, the peacemaker. To take all that Jesus meant to them and then vote their deepest values…. No one from the IRS attended my sermon, to my knowledge.” But they can read the sermon in question.

Finally, I still can’t see Brokeback Mountain. I lamented this fact soon after the movie was released, and I wrote about the short story, instead. I looked then for commentary on the film from Tony Perkins, since he’s always good for a good laugh—or cry—but I couldn’t find anything. Turns out, I was looking in the wrong places. I ought to have searched for it in Narnia, since that’s where Perkins popped his cork. Ironically, by the Family Research Council’s reckoning, it makes Brokeback a lot like Narnia itself: never where you expect to find it and turning up in the most unusual places—Los Angeles and New York excepted, of course. Meanwhile, the FRC has deployed Peter Sprigg, its most passionately dispassionate Brokeback detractor, to NBC Nightly News and to the Los Angeles Times, to whom he said, “I really don’t think America is ready for a homosexual love story like this. I’m sure it has a great deal of appeal within the Hollywood community itself, which is already committed to a pro-homosexual ideology, but I can’t see it as a big box-office success.” It will, however and speculation to the contrary, be playing in Nashville. But not here.

On that note, I declare that 2005 is dead. As far as years go, it was a cup of concentrated Downy poured too soon into a wash of whites: it left pink stains on nearly everything, but the stains were just unnoticeable enough to make make me question whether or not I ought to replace the clothes. Of course, I should—but, if I wear this shirt under a sweater, will anyone really know?



Some thoughts thought post posting:

“Crystal Bridges” is a terrible, terrible name for a museum.

When will America be ready for a “homosexual love story like Brokeback Mountain”? If not today, then? I mean, I love “The Birdcage,” and I love “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” too, but it’s tiresome that if 1) you’re in a movie and 2) your character is gay, ergo, you must be a queen. Queens are funny the first 150 times you see them, but that 151st time…

I’ll be writing further about Crystal Bridges soon, in part because I’m discovering more of the collection Walton has amassed, which includes stuff from Homer to Heade. See a scroll at Crystal Bridges’s Web Site!

hey, hey…

what about the gay/straight/drunk alliance of will and grace?

don’t try and tell me that we only let gays be more than queens… we let them be just jacks as well

Oh yeah. Kathy reminded me of W&G too, and I promptly forgot.

I realized the unsorted (bulleted) list didn’t fit the story, so I revised them out and changed the organization to better fit the telling. Sorry to cause any confusion, if I did in fact cause it…

we’re now back from afar. offline updates await those who request them.

for what it’s worth, my favorite gay characters are the two guys in four weddings and a funeral (i love the funeral poem!) and the houseboy in the birdcage.

it was good to see greg and kl over the break!

it was great to see chris & mb, too! what a nice ending to an otherwise insane weekend…

we saw The Family Stone last night, and that movie contains a loving (male) gay couple, but it’s more domestic bliss than hot cowboy-on-cowboy action…however, that coupling is a significant plot device that leads to a heavy dramatic moment for the key characters, so that’s something. actually, it’s more the kind of depiction that the family research council should be worried about, i would think, because it shows a more realistic, run-of-the-mill version of couplehood. that is to say, it suggests that nice, gay people can live together and do nice, normal things. eek!

I echo chris & kl on hermit sightings. It was good breakfast, but it was better company.

I, too, love Hank Azaria in the Birdcage—actually, the whole cast is good.

Is somebody gonna have a 2006 Predictions list for tomorrow? (hint, wink)

The one advantage to unemployment is that one does have time to have many Great Thoughts. . . well, one has occasional moments of such time in between the much longer moments of panic and How Will I Pay the Bills? and What Am I Going To Do With My Life? At least that’s what I recall about unemployment. Lots of time, no money. Now, of course, I have no time and almost no money, as I am busy paying off debts accumulated during my time of unemployment. . . all too familiar, I’m sure. Happy New Year, in any case (although, faculty brat that I am, I still think the year starts in September).

let that be a warning to the faculty who post here: your childrens’ time will be screwed up for life. :)

we (who were at the home of kofi annan) missed you in i.c. last night, laura.

And I you!

You missed a killer game of Scrabble. We all decided that you must have stayed in Chicago for NYD?

I had to work on the 31st till 5 pm, so I kind of had to stay. (Well, I suppose in my younger and wilder days I could have immediately jumped into the car and driven like a bat out of hell to get to IC by 9. . . oh well). Poopy.