Thursday, August 23, 2012

American Dream: A Statue of Oneself, and Not in Wax

People Commemorated for their Big American Dreams

George Washington, José Martí, and Christopher Columbus all have statues in New York City commemorating their leadership, which they exercised for good or ill. You'll see what I mean in the captions.

A bass relief of Washington kneeling in the snow. The sculpture is outside the Federal Building on Wall Street where he was sworn in as the first president of the United States.  His American Dream came true--he won the war so he kept his life and his beloved farm, Mount Vernon.  He put them both at risk to fight England. 

All the rest of these shots were taken within footsteps of Columbus Circle.  Here is a cool statue on the southern edge of Central Park.

Sculptor Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington (-1876–1973) created this larger-than-life bronze equestrian statue depicting Cuban patriot and author José Martí (1853–1895)

Another view of José.

The Maine Monument commemorates the 260 American sailors who perished when the battleship Maine exploded in the harbor of Havana, Cuba.

Statue of Christopher Columbus, whom Native Americans remember not as a hero but as a torturer, enslaver, and tormentor of indigenous peoples.

Last spring, Woytuk's sculptures graced Columbus Circle.

Nothing like African wildlife in New York City on a brisk spring day.

To be honest, I've wondered what it was like to be so famous that somebody made a statue of you. Maybe I could sell my soul to the Devil and gain the fame, or at least notoriety, that spurred Madame Tussaud to make a wax image of me. What about you? Have you ever thought you might like to see yourself in Madame Tussaud's? : )

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The American Dream of Home Ownership

I have a guest blogger for you today, Elaine Stock, blogger at  Everyone's Story whom I met at a writer's conference in St. Louis.  She wrote about the American Dream of home ownership; see pic below for the unusual way she fulfilled hers.

If you like my blog, would you sign up to follow it? If you like hers, sign up, too!

Thanks a bunch! May your dreams come true!

My American Dream—And Why It’s Changing 

by Elaine Stock

One month after my husband and I first met we became engaged. Eight months later we wed. There was no child-on-the-way to factor into the picture. Just love. But, we were young, oh, so very young. In hindsight, I can now understand why older people thought we were silly to ignore the obstacles of lack of firm finances, advancing in post-graduate studies, or horrors: not having a house.

Everyone needs a house. A beginning. A foundation.

The realtors treated us as if we were synonymous with the word Joke, showing us the worst of starter homes. The banks demanded proof that we can pay off debt—hard to do when you’re too young to have any!

And we had a piano restoration business. We needed room.

I refused to give up.

Husband suggested the old railroad station up the road. In rough shape, we could pay cash for it and fix it up ourselves. I located an engineer to see about designing an accommodating septic system for our unique land situation. We both battled with the banks for a mortgage.

And we moved into our “Station In Life.” Half home, half business. It has been a blessing, this unusual living arrangement.

But, I now want more. See, I still dream of the American Home. I want an extra bedroom and a bath. I want a “real” kitchen. Not much, right?

Just as we were paying off the last of our mortgage, this envious American social and financial climate began to implode. People with The American Dream Job and The American Dream Home lost these taken-for-granted-niceties. Or, they had to “downsize.” Life has changed for many.

I still dream. But my dreams have morphed. I now try my best to walk down the lane leading to my front door, keeping my balance between satisfying my human longings, remaining satisfied with what I have in life, and looking upward to what God wants for me. I can only trust Him with my future.

Elaine lives and works in a former railway station in Upstate New York.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

American Dreams in New York City

Whitman and O'Hara Celebrate the City

American Dreams: Financiers, Poets, Immigrants, the Huddled Masses

I love New York City!  American Dreams have been going boom and bust in the Financial District since the Dutch arrived and called Manhattan "New Amsterdam."

What do you think? True or false: Is the American Dream all selfishness? Please comment below.

The Winter Garden in the World Financial Center.  In neighboring skyscrapers, American Dreams are being dreamed, fulfilled, or mercilessly shut down.

Walt Whitman's poem about the city is worked into the wrought iron railing outside the Winter Garden.  It reads, "City of the world.  (For all races are here, all the lands of the earth make contributions here:)  City of the sea! City of wharves and stores - city of tall facades of marble and iron!  Proud and passionate city - mettlesome, mad, extravagant, city!"  

Another poet's words are worked into the railing in another spot -- Frank O'Hara:
"One need never leave the confines of New York to get all the greenery one wishes -- I can't even enjoy a glade of grass unless I know there's a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life."

The Winter Garden from outside, with the Freedom Tower half clad in glass to the right behind it.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How Do You Define the American Dream?

Your American Dream: A Great Car?

I'm focusing on the U.S. again.  In this and future blogs, I'll talk about the American Dream we are all caught up in some way, since we are steeped in it from birth. 

To kick off my return to the U.S., let me give you one definition of the American Dream.  This is part of Wikipedia's definition, and I hope it gives you perspective on your personal American Dream:
          Historian James Truslow Adams popularized the phrase "American Dream" in his 1931 book Epic of America:

But there has been also the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to his ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.

His definition is one of many.  What is your definition of the American Dream?  Some people define it as freedom of speech or religion.  There are as many definitions as there are people.  Comment below with your definition. 

Owning a motor car is part of the American Dream for many people.  Some exceptional ones can be seen  Friday nights from Memorial Day to Labor Day in Somerville, New Jersey (warning: not all models are made in America): 

A Triumph.

Austin Healey, maybe '63 or '64.

A vintage Thunderbird.

Love those T-Birds.

This is a Victory motorcycle engine.