|The women of "Mad Men"|
|Don Draper character from "Mad Men|
"Let us be lovers we'll marry our fortunes together"
"I've got some real estate here in my bag"
So we bought a pack of cigarettes and Mrs. Wagner pies
And we walked off to look for America
"Kathy," I said as we boarded a Greyhound in Pittsburgh
"Michigan seems like a dream to me now"
It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw
I've gone to look for America
Laughing on the bus
Playing games with the faces
She said the man in the gabardine suit was a spy
I said "Be careful his bowtie is really a camera"
"Toss me a cigarette, I think there's one in my raincoat"
"We smoked the last one an hour ago"
So I looked at the scenery, she read her magazine
And the moon rose over an open field
"Kathy, I'm lost," I said, though I knew she was sleeping
I'm empty and aching and I don't know why
Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike
They've all gone to look for America
All gone to look for America
All gone to look for America
So I'm interested now, as I was then, in what was the impact of the culture of mid-twentieth century America on it's people and values. There seems to be a nostalgia for it today.
Jane Richlovsky is my husband's niece from his first marriage. She is a talented artist living in Seattle, Washington. Jane paints on recycled fabric such as tablecloths, slipcovers, and curtains, the idealized images of mid-twentieth century America as envisioned by Madison Avenue ad agencies.
In her artist's statement, she writes:
|The Buddy System by Jane Richlovsky|
|This Is The House You Ordered by Jane Richlovsky|
|Surface Tension by Jane Richlovsky|
|Easy as Peeling a Banana by Jane Richlovsky|
|Day After Tomorrow by Jane Richlovsky|
Jane Richovsky is moving to her new Art Studio this month - '57 Biscayne - in historic downtown Seattle. The Grand Opening Reception is today, 6-10PM. See more news about Jane here.
The American mid-twentieth century was the time I grew up (I was born in 1950 in Los Angeles, California). You could not avoid being immersed in a highly materialistic culture via the new media of television. I remember as a teenager that I was keenly aware that I was so lucky to be born and raised in California in the USA in the mid-twentieth century. But there were many contradictions. I saw hypocrisy in much of my daily life. I was very unhappy with a war being waged in our name upon farmers and poor people in Southeast Asia. I was angry at the absence of civil rights for Black people in America and the brutality that authority used against the Freedom Riders. I joined the Farmworker's movement to fight for a better life for poor immigrants who harvested our food. I feared the spectre of nuclear annihilation during the so-called Cold War. I experienced discrimination and sexist behavior as a woman in the workplace.
I think that a lot of today's nostalgia and interest in this period in America has to do with our discontent and rethinking on what our American values are in the 21st century. Depending on your economic and social conditions, you may remember the last half of the 20th century as a happy time or an awful time. To understand today's Tea Party movement is to understand the anger and discontent of the predominantly older, white, Christian, and politically conservative people who are not at ease with todays values and culture which has become ever more diverse. To understand the Occupy movement is to understand the anger of younger and poorer Americans, as well as those from the middle class who are losing their jobs, savings, and homes, who feel that they were lied to and manipulated by Madison Avenue values and capitalism. I have previously posted on why I believe today's struggle of labor unions against the right wing political effort to kill them off is a fight to maintain a Middle Class.
So, what do you think?