16 January 2009

Teddy Roosevelt's Sad Goat Charge Up San Juan Hill.

This request comes from my long time friend Charles Russell. Charles has an interesting history with a string of unusual jobs including a couple of stints working as a park ranger in Alaska. Because of this, I wasn't too surprised when his request for a painting involved the "rough rider" and outdoorsy former President Theodore Roosevelt. He asked for a painting of Teddy Roosevelt "goat charging up San Juan Hill". I know Roosevelt became a hero in the Spanish-American war for leading his troops on a successful campaign that captured San Juan Hill and that this was some how important, but what does "goat charging" mean? When I wrote back and asked Charles he told me I could "run with it" and interpret it however I wanted. So here goes.

I chose to re imagine Teddy Roosevelt's later life. I imaged Roosevelt as a retired president who had become tired of his earlier adventures of big game hunting and boxing and the like and now prefered just kicking around his house, intermittently working on his incoherent memoirs which were never to be published. In my version, he lives on a large piece of land in some wooded area in the midwest. Stray animals sometimes wander onto his property. Mr. Roosevelt usually kills and eats these animals but sometimes, for whatever reason, one will tug at his strange little heart strings and he will take them in. His favorite of these "pets" is a rather large goat that he named Juan, in memory of his past glories in San Juan Hill. Later he is told by a local Mexican blacksmith that Juan is a male name and inappropriate for his female goat. Teddy Roosevelt has become even more stubborn with age and refuses to change the goat's name to the suggested "Juanita".
As time goes on, the former president becomes more and more attached to the goat and begins to insist that she is his son. He stops writing down his memoirs and begins only dictating them to Juan, who is told to store them in her memory "like priceless jewels".
Shortly before his death, Mr. Roosevelt decides to take Juan on a trip across North and South America with the intention of revisting important places from his past. Cuba is one of those places.
I think I'll let you re imagine the rest ....

No comments: