Two and two are four. Art is around us, but it is something that you have to open your eyes to see. Fairly often we find ourselves focused on a task too hard to take a look at our surroundings. We need to learn to take time to glimpse at the world around us. The towns and cities we live in may not have the Louvre or the Met; they may not have a thriving theatre or a concert hall, but there is art everywhere. I am glad to have grown up in Washington Court House because I have had the opportunity to grow up with art. Some of it is hidden in the confines of old buildings; some however, is in plain sight. It blends into the town’s culture and heritage and eventually is forgotten, because we forget to open our eyes to it. We forget the brushstrokes and sweat it takes to make our masterpieces blend in with the community. We forget how boring the blank canvas was before those brushstrokes took effect.
You may remember the end of John Steinbeck’s stage adaptation of, Of Mice and Men. After accidentally killing a young woman, Lennie escapes from the men hunting him and hides near a small river, waiting for George to come and save him. George arrives, but understanding that he can no longer protect Lennie, he makes the difficult decision to shoot him. He kills Lennie so that he will be saved from the cruelty of his pursuers.
It’s a difficult ending for a modern audience. Killing a developmentally disabled man is complicated enough, but adding the fact that the killer is his best friend and caregiver makes an already hard to grasp ending that much more complex. Every time I teach the play the discussion concerning the moral and ethical dilemma presented by the ending consumes most of the available class time.
But last week I was confronted by a response that I had never heard. When I asked for opinions on what the Steinbeck was trying to say to us through the ending one normally quiet freshman offered his unique thoughts. With some surprising degree of confidence this student said that George killed Lennie because he wanted his freedom. George was tired of taking care of Lennie and now he could spend his money on whatever he wanted.
If you’re younger than I you may have never heard of Rusty Warren or Redd Foxx. Even if you know of Redd Foxx it’s probably from his role as Fred G. Sandford of television fame. But long before Sandford and Son, Foxx was known as the king of dirty jokes while Warren was the queen.
In the 1950s people secretly listened to Redd Foxx and Rusty Warren on long-play, 33 1/3 r.p.m., vinyl record albums which society in general viewed as extremely raunchy humor. Everyone owned a couple of these albums, or had a friend who did. Adults routinely held house parties with a part of the evening’s entertainment consisting of sitting around the record player listening to the latest album from one of these comedians.
I’ve written about Parker J. Pfister before. Many of you around our area may remember him as Jason Pfister who graduated from McClain High School in the late 1980s. Jason was always a creative and talented person and in the years since leaving Greenfield he has carved out quite a name for himself in the world of photography, especially wedding photography.