Out and about
December 8, 2015
"When I’m not playing solitaire/I take a book down from the shelf/
And what with programs on the air/I keep pretty much to myself."
These days, more and more, I seem to be living out the opening verse to the classic Duke Ellington song "Don’t Get Around Much Anymore."
I must admit, however, that lounging in my hermit cocoon has proven quite comfortable. Not that, every so often, giving the ol’ cave the slip doesn’t offer its own rewards. Last week is a prime example. Believe it or not, I even got as far as Provo.
Midweek past, friends coaxed me down to a Norman Rockwell exhibit at the same BYU museum that houses that great Maynard Dixon Collection.
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It was a quite enjoyable trek, I must admit. As one who was only peripherally aware of the famous artist/illustrator in question, I learned a lot about Norman. The obligatory biographical film provided necessary context to the exhibit while touching upon influences, milestones, and such.
Then came a room with each of his Saturday Evening Post magazine covers adorning various walls where you could mosey around and get your game face on for the major works hanging out in the larger gallery.
The coolest thing about this part of the show dealt with his process, how he took his original notion through a series of steps before putting it all together in his final piece. I found him to be much more profound than your average, run-of-the-mill talented magazine artist.
The effect was quite similar to that of the recent Bob Dylan box set ("The Cutting Edge") that takes you through the creative process of building all the songs that made up "Bringing It All Back Home," "Highway 61 Revisited," and "Blonde on Blonde."
Then came "Jay’s most excellent weekend adventure in Park City!" A sumptuous and intimate repast involving various wines and longtime friends from our earliest days in the ol’ mining camp kicked things off. Admittedly, the entire setting, from culinary to fermented grape to the spinning of yarns, unfolded much higher on the food chain than my usual fare at the hermitage.
The following evening, as you may have heard or even partaken of, featured former intelligence officer and whistleblower Eric Snowden at the Eccles Center via a Segway-like or maybe even a Hoover-looking gizmo called the "Beam."
Described as a "mobile telepresence device," the Beam maneuvered Snowden’s on-screen head about the stage, most often in close proximity to moderator Doug Fabrizio of KUER’s RadioWest fame.
This scooting around transpired while sometimes macrocosmic, sometimes close-up headshot images appeared on a much larger overhead screen. The entire evening was a gas! The quite articulate and comfortable Snowden responded to the assorted issues (charges of treason, right-to-know, eroding constitutional protections, etc.) with ease.
Of course with me, he was preaching to the choir. I’m a fellow traveler who believes our democracy works much better when it is transparent. However, I can see how others arrive at their "need for secrecy" positions. I just find that particular take to be the weaker of the two.
Locating a musical ensemble to which I could shuffle my feet arrived next on my agenda. Being a longtime Heber kind of guy, I found myself less than prepared, however, for what I encountered up on Main Street.
Now I’m sure, from what I’ve learned since, that the "Santa Pub Crawl" was conceived in good cheer, by good people, as a good-natured holiday cross-dress ramble. So was Clown Day, I might add!
But imagine, if you will, Dan Aykroyd’s Louis Winthorpe III character in the film "Trading Places" once he evolved into his drunk-Santa-in-search-of-revenge mode. He wouldn’t have even stood out at this gathering. Not that good cheer didn’t rule, but dance floors, where one couldn’t move at all, were much safer than sidewalks.
The weekend ended with my son Smokey and I hitting the big city for a Red Iguana birthday dinner (his) and the local one-night-only IMAX premiere of "The Sammy C Project," an extreme backcountry free-skiing film featuring the over-the-top skill-sets of X-Game legend Sammy Carlson and the direction he and his assorted thrill-seeking friends are now taking the sport. Incredible stuff!
Upon arriving back at the digs, I found another of Duke’s lyrics dancing in my head: "It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!"
Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social scenes for more than 40 years.