Sunday, May 17, 2009

For God knows how long, I have been morbidly fascinated with LBJ and Lady Byrd.

Today as I picked out tomato, pepper, and tomatillo plants for my garden, I was reminded of Lady Byrd's fervent support of highway beautification saying, "And ahn evreh street coh-nuh, there woood be a shuh-rooob."

My grandpa lived through the Johnson administration, and always joked that highway beautification should be "riding with the top of the convertible up so no one would have to look at Lady Bird's ugly daughters".

The genteel Lady Bird was also a strong woman, one of the few who could reason with her heavy-handed husband. Against the wishes of LBJ, she used her inhertence to invest in radio and television stations in Texas, ammassing a $150 million dollar empire.

Playing second fiddle to Jackie Kennedy, devoted to her brutish and filandering husband, Lady Bird strikes a tragic yet stoic figure. Enduring the scorn of her contemporary liberals, Lady Bird--revisionist history notwithstanding--remains one of the most influential first ladies.

Despite their outdated gender construction, first ladies hold a special place in my heart. That's why Theresa Heinz Kerry would have never done: her eccentric accent and silk scarves were just too much for an America weaned on graciousness and accessibility.

Michelle Obama, seemingly overcoming her "strange mix of priviledge and victimology", has already won me over by planting a garden outside the Whitehouse. It's true, the path to my heart is through subsistence agriculture.


craiger said...

You would like anyone with the name Lady Bird! =) PS, Hank's dog on King of the Hill is named Lady Bird. That is my highly academic response...

rachel said...

what is your email?.....So, i went to my "lady" doctor...(i know, poor segue-way) and she has a daughter who just finished her first year at stanford. while she was here in columbia, she studied voice with none other than the ms. jo-ella todd.... she wants to continue taking lessons, but i guess it is hard to get in with the department out there. i told her (the doctor) you might know some folks or maybe would be interested in giving lessons yourself....or craig....? i promise i didn't commit you, but i did mention you were out there. her daughter also really wants to go to the opera but can't get tickets....any suggestions? let me know what you think of this rambling mess.