Little Note on a Wonderful Drawing

Thomas Nast, Tammany Tiger (circa 1870)

Nast was the creator of many iconic images and the first political cartoonist to hit hard.

This is from the Addison Gallery collection of drawings, and though we did not see it yesterday, I’m thrilled to have even a reproduction of it in the collection On Paper. (I can’t find any reproduction of it on the Interwebs.)

Nash’s brilliance is that he takes an otherwise un-humanized tiger and puts it in a human position: rolling on its back, arms folded across chest, legs kicking in the air and either roaring or laughing, doesn’t matter. The instant you see it’s called Tammany Tiger you understand it’s a caricature of a cruel, greedy, bestial human (Boss Tweed) given none of the dignity of being a person.

(Well, I should add, not a portrait of Tweed per se — he was a fat lump as uncatlike as could be imagined — but his corrupt organization.)

R.I.P.: Kate Millett

Cornerstone spirit and thinker. I had puttered around in The Second Sex during my exploration of French lit in high school, but ultimately found it too arty and indirect (the translation seemed terrible, too). Millett’s Sexual Politics came right out and said it. Unless you were a sex-stereotyper yourself, her arguments were undeniable. That my mother had always been a working professional probably helped my understanding. Also had a growing conviction that “the Revolution” was freeing men while leaving women in chains.

A Grisly Grizzly Anniversary

The positive message to take away from this is that people can wise up.

When I was a kid, a drive through Yellowstone Park wasn’t complete unless you managed to feed a bear from the car. That’s what you thought if all you knew about bears was Yogi. My family knew that bears were unpredictable and dangerous, and so the windows stayed rolled up while we waited out the endless traffic back-ups caused by roadside bears. How could people be so stupid? Surly bears would sometimes smack the side of a car if they felt they weren’t getting fed enough, fast enough.

There were rumors that bear incidents were hushed up because they were bad for Park business, but nobody seemed to know for sure. I did know for sure that “Night of the Grizzlies” was predicted over and over for years before it happened.