Brewing Industry Association - Please drink more please.

It looks like Rockwell. It smells like Rockwell. Hey, there's the signature. It IS Rockwe... wha? Douglass Crockwell? Who the hell is Douglass Crockwell? The first thing I thought was that it was Norman's son carrying on the family business and cashing in on dad's fame a ittle bit., but nope. Douglass Crockwell was no relation to the more famous Norman, and Douglass Crockwell was his real name.

He was a good painter, though, truth to tell, the magic of the photo-realists was slightly tarnished for me when I found out years ago that their paintings are almost always exact re-renders of photographs.

 Allegedly, Crockwell disliked the similarity of his name to Norman Rockwell's, motivating him to sometimes sign his paintings with his initials only. I'm a little skeptical of that, since the full version of his signature looks pretty similar to Norm's. I wonder if he resented the fact that he painted an awful lot like Norman, too? The argument could be made that this type of art was very much the flavor of the month at the time, and that if you were a commercial artist hoping to get any jobs at all, you'd better paint this stuff. But you know what? Haddon Sundblom did a ton of work for the Staurday Evening Post, Coke, etc., and I can spot his work a mile away. His work would never pass as Norman Rockwell's.

Anyway, apparently in 1951 the beer industry was worried enough about people not drinking enough beer that they felt the need to advertise for beer in general. That seems kind of funny to me. Ever hear anyone say, on a Friday night, "Gosh, I feel like I want to, sort of, just drink some kind of, uuh.... oh yeah! Beer!" Were people forgetting that beer existed? It does seem strange to think that, at that time, prohibition was just thirty years in the past, justifying the Beer Association's reminder that it's part of being free. For us, that'd be like alcohol being illegal in the seventies. I can't imagine getting through an episode of Laverne & Shirley sober.

The picture's kind of funny. What's grandma staring at? Is she staring off into space, wistfully remembering her days as a rum runner? Maybe she's fantasizing about stuffing that stupid apron into grandpa's mouth and burning her bra? Only jokes can tell...

Joke #1: Sadly, Grandpa wouldn't make it through the first chorus. now the kids would never know which river everything was "way down upon".

Joke #2: "You know, Mary, this wax statue of Grandpa was a great idea. I think the ukulele-playing robot version was worth the extra money. It's exactly how he'd want to be remembered. And Grandma doesn't have to sleep alone now."

Joke #3: "Lessee now. (Ahem! Ahem!) I'm, (uuh) goin off the raaails on a crazyyyy. (No, that's not it. ..)on a cray-zeee (cough!) crazyyyy! (cough) caray-zeee traaaaaaaaaaiiin! (Maybe another snort of that beer.)"

Joke #4: Grandma hated ukulele night. She'd get what she wanted, though. All grandpa's songs were annoying, except for that one tune by Billy Squier he played at the end of the night, right before bed. God, it drove her crazy with desire. She knew why Grandpa had the limp, and she wasn't going to let it heal any time soon.

Joke #6: "Beer: America's beverage of moderation. Always best served with cartoon cheese and sliced bull penis... an American tradition."


Anonymous said...

Norman Rockwell's work always had a subtle caricature quality and quaintness that differentiated them as the classics that they are.
What's with both the ladies in red, and grandma's dress and grandpa's tie matching green?
Surely there's a dueling banjos joke in here somewhere.

Phil Are Go! said...

Absolutely. Norman Rockwell's characters always had puffed out chests and absurdly straight postures... like everyone in his world had a broomstick shoved up their butts. The gawky poses and quaint subject matter were things I found charming as a kid and annoying as an adult. It really seems like Douglass was trying to be more than a little like whom I'm going to go out on a limb and call his "idol". For my money, there were several examples of more nuanced artists for him to imitate. "Aim medium and shoot low" isn't a bad way to try and make a buck, I guess.

Thanks for commenting, mystery reader!

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