View From The Loft: Suddenly ‘Southern Belle’ is worse than a Cross-Dresser

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By Jim Coleman, Special to The Paper

I’m confused.  I’m mad.  I’m disappointed.  I’m dumbfounded.  I’m perplexed.  I absolutely cannot believe what’s going on right now.  If you read this column, you know I normally have a tongue-in-check approach with just a dash of snarky sarcasm thrown in.  Well I’m just not in a very funny mood for one thing and I’m almost afraid to write a sentence for fear of offending somebody.

There is no way I’m even going to address the situation in the country today for fear that I’d be tarred and feathered by one side or the other.  The problem is, I can’t figure out of whom I should be afraid.  Everybody is right.  Everybody is wrong.  Our elected officials are only interested in pandering to get re-elected on both sides of the aisle.  Every single person on television would have gotten an F in my journalism class.  The angel of death is still lurking in the streets.  It’s dangerous to go to school, dangerous to go to church, dangerous to fly but ok to gather in the middle of the street.  I bet the gays are thrilled.  June is Pride Month and not a single person on the earth is paying attention to the drag queens and the muscle boys.  God help the one who dresses up like Scarlett O’Hara!  It’s a new world… suddenly “southern belle” is worse than cross-dresser.

Seriously, it IS a new world.  We’ve known it was coming for decades, so don’t be shocked.  The baby boomers are aging and dying and the millennials are taking their place.  There is nothing wrong with that, it’s the natural order.  The new generation didn’t grow up in the post-World War II twentieth century.  They didn’t have the same experiences that some of us had like Vietnam, the assassination of President Kennedy, Watergate, segregated schools and public transportation, mortgage rates at 17%, Cuban missiles pointed at us, two attacks on the World Trade Center, the AIDS epidemic and threats of war on every front.

I was fascinated when the curator of the Guggenheim in New York curated a national show of the works of Norman Rockwell around the turn of this century.  The art world was outraged.  It was their learned opinion that Rockwell was a magazine illustrator, not an artist and therefore not worthy of a Guggenheim show.  The museum staff argued that Norman Rockwell was a twentieth century impressionist.  How, you might wonder, could those beautiful pictures on the cover of LIFE magazine which were almost photorealistic,  be considered Impressionism?  Because they depicted a world that NEVER existed.  Those pictures were the hopes and dreams of the people who read LIFE magazine.  Those pictures weren’t real.  They were impressions.

Anytime we face paradigm shifts in our lives or in our society it’s always difficult, but we always emerge from the strife as better and more interesting people.  Maybe it’s time to stop dreaming of a brighter yesterday.

Oh!  The Norman Rockwell show was the biggest success the Guggenheim ever had.

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Jim Coleman is twice retired as a financial advisor and flight attendant. A theatre geek, musician, arts administrator and preservationist, he lived a relatively obscure life until he crossed paths with Corby Winters. Jim chose Newnan as his new forever home five years ago and is dedicated to making our community the best it can be.

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