Sunday, March 26, 2017
New York Times Magazine - "Why Does Mount Rushmore Exist?"
By Sam Anderson
"Before long, of course, the boom went bust. Many miners left; the region’s economy sagged. In the 1920s, local boosters proposed an eccentric solution. What if some of the Black Hills’ ancient rock could be carved into a monument to American history — a patriotic tribute that would also serve, in this new era of automobiles, as a roadside attraction? Spindly granite towers, it was suggested, could be carved into free-standing statues honoring heroes of the American West: Red Cloud, Sacagawea, Lewis and Clark. Instead of gold, South Dakota could harvest tourists.
Only one American sculptor seemed up to the task. He was, like the sculpture he would create, a larger-than-life weirdo: John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum, son of a Danish immigrant, friend of Auguste Rodin, publicity hound, populist, salesman, self-styled tough guy with a white Stetson and a flowing scarf and a dark, bushy mustache. At the time, Borglum was working on another huge sculpture chiseled into the front of a mountain: a tribute, in Georgia, to great heroes of the Confederacy — Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson. (The project was initially sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and entangled with the Ku Klux Klan.)
When Borglum was enticed to visit the Black Hills, he saw presidents: Washington, Lincoln. Anything else, he argued, would be too limited, too provincial, not sufficiently star-spangled “U.S.A.!!!” Borglum believed that America was a special artistic challenge, a place so heroically grand that the effete styles of Europe could never hope to do it justice. “Art in America should be American,” he wrote, “drawn from American sources, memorializing American achievement.” He accepted the challenge to transform the Black Hills."
New York Times Magazine - "Wandering New Orleans After Seeing It From the Stage"
By Dessa of Doomtree
"I am a 35-year-old woman with dark hair, a slight gap in my teeth and olive skin. I earn my living as a touring performer, rapping and singing with a collective called Doomtree. The benefits of that job are easy to guess: You get to travel the world with your friends, make music you believe in, dress any way you like. You can tattoo your hands or face or neck if you’re inclined. Sometimes you get fan mail or free drinks or a standing ovation.
There is, however, an adventure tax. You may not be able to keep pets, houseplants or nonperishable food items. You will probably miss birthdays, weddings and possibly the funerals of people you love. While a national tour can hit 40 cities, you might not actually see much of them. Most touring indie musicians spend the bulk of the business day in transit — we lunch at roadside fast-food joints, stand in line behind one another at gas-station bathrooms, then roll into town just in time to set up. By the time the stage is set, the museums are long closed, as are the shops, the bookstores. It’s easier to crowd-surf than to get a walk-in haircut on tour. Work and play are both hard, and sometimes hard to tell apart. "