Well, I'm not sure I know much more about the US of A as such. You see, I went for just a few days to stay with Craig and Terry Southard in Arlington and have a look at Texas; thinking that it would be a typical bit of America ... in my ignorance. Now I appreciate that The Lone Star State is really quite different and special; acute, intelligent, and with natural good taste. For example ...
One afternoon we spent a happy couple of hours looking at "the West" ... as seen through the eyes of painters including C M Russel and F Remington, both of whom seemed as miraculously adept in at getting a horse into bronze as into oils. I found myself wondering whether Russell (who just about lived late enough) ever saw the art of the Irish hippophile Jack Butler Yates, and whether he ever saw theirs. Then we strolled down across the lawns (where with my own eyes I SAW A MOCKING-BIRD!!!) to a gallery (the Kimbell) which would be the envy of any city this side of the water ... where Tiepolo and Rubens and the rest of the Big Boys were on show (to the sound of live music); but also a modello by Bernini for his fountain in the Piazza Navona; I could have walked slowly round it for hours. Then ... good heavens ... Michelangelo's first painting, done when he was an adolescent: horribly feely demons surrounding a delightfully indifferent and supercilious S Anthony. And, just round the corner, a late fifteenth century German silver statue of our Lady imperially crowned and standing upon the moon. I wonder if her wearing the Imperial crown was common on the continent at this time; there is a stone carving of Maria Assumpta thus crowned near here at Sandford upon Thames, which I suspect might have come at the Dissolution from the Oxford Whitefriars - but I have been having trouble paralleling the Imperial crown in other Marian iconography in England. I also wonder when the crescent moon (which we of course associate with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception) became a common motif in England.
Then, however, I made a mistake. We went to a nearby Dairy Queen, where I had ... Oh dear, I can't quite recall the name ... a sort of massive Ice Cream and Chocolate and Brownie volcanic eruption. Temptations, temptations. But I disgraced myself. I couldn't finish it. Fortunately, a charming and well-read seven-year-old called (apologies to her if I'm spelling this wrongly: spelling never was my strong point) Mikayla very kindly assisted me by finishing it off.
And, by a happy coincidence, there was also nearby a church - St Mary the Virgin, Arlington - which belongs to the Anglican Usage group of parishes set up (with Cardinal Ratzinger's connivance) during the time of John Paul II. More about that, if you would be interested, soon.
Texas has got just about everything except that I didn't get to see Boss Hog.