I am hardly alone in having grown up with “The Wizard of Oz” as an annual TV-watching ritual. My younger sister also had a number of L. Frank Baum’s books that followed in the Oz series that I read with delight in my youth. This Smithsonian channel film tells the life story of Baum and traces how he developed the enduring fantasy in a fascinating tale rich with details that not only cover specifics but also illuminates the American imagination and culture.
It should come as no surprise that this shrine to American democracy and four of its most significant presidents has a fascinating story behind its creation in what was a remote, off-the-beaten path locale. And as the American Experience series does with it stories about our nation, this episode recounts a compelling story around sculptor Gutzon Borglum’s quest to fashion this giant monument and impressive work of art. Just as pivotal to the story as the eccentric and oftentimes difficult creator are the everyday workmen who were just as committed to fulfilling his vision. Underneath it all is the striving to do great things for the sake of them that was once a hallmark of the American character that now seems sadly lost.
When Delbert McClinton and Glen Clark recorded their two little-known but highly influential albums in the early 1970s, their musical vision and the personal perspective in their songs were preternaturally mature. Now four decades later, their roadhouse music stew of blues, country and roots rock sounds as comfortable as an well-worn pair of jeans yet brims with a still youthful spirit and fire. Filled with irresistible grooves that run from rollicking romps to deep soulful laments, this is true American music in its splendid, witty and assured adulthood.
From The Progressive Populist, October 15, 2013
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