It would be hard to exaggerate the hype surrounding the bicentennial upon us.
The long-anticipated anniversary of a bunch of Virginians (and some Pennsylvanians and Frenchmen) clambering across the American West to camp on the shore of the Pacific pretty much blows away the perennial post-holiday blahs. Although some fourth graders may strongly disagree.
Charlottesville has more than two claims to the honor of being Lewis & Clark headquarters. We have Lewis and we have Clark, which puts us way out ahead. The ace in the hole is Mr. Jefferson, who dreamed and bought the American West and then dispatched the melancholy Lewis and the gregarious Clark to explore and map it.
From January 15-19 local history buffs will have an average of 1.73 author events a day to choose from to relive the exploits of the Corps of Discovery.
We’ve got scholars, historians, adventure writers, and preservationists. We’ve got Native American authors Dark Rain Thom and William Least Heat Moon, as well as a recipient of the National Cowboy Hall of Fame’s Wrangler Award. We’ve got photojournalists, filmmakers, and atlas designers. We’ve even got a one-man act in which a nimble performer will scamper around a candlelit table portraying President Thomas Jefferson and Captain Meriwether Lewis simultaneously.
On January 18 and 19, witness the great sport of dueling editors. Gary Moulton of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln tests the heft of his 13-volume edition of the Lewis & Clark Journals against the trim single-volume edition of National Geographic’s Anthony Brandt. Brandt has tidied the “chaotic prose,” but Moulton has the Virginia Quarterly Review’s backing as “the American epic text.” Moulton also has a single-volume compendium up his sleeve in case his set of 13-tomes begins to heave to like the Spanish Armada (not to mix historical metaphors).
You be the judge– who has perfected the synopsis of endless days of beaver spottings and pigeon roastings?
And for the re-enactors out there, there’s paleocuisineologist Mary Gunderson. Yes, paleocuisineology. I don’t know who made this one up, but it basically means eating stuff you wouldn’t normally eat in the interest of historical accuracy.
Gunderson’s is the “Official Cookbook for the National Council Lewis & Clark Bicentennial.” Where else are you going to find recipes for tongue grass salad with a side of palatable paste?
So if you’re not already, get psyched up for what I can’t help but call Lewispalooza, with no disrepect for “Capt. C” and infinite respect for a man named Meriwether who commanded an epic expedition and penned more than a half a million words along the way, only to succumb to apparent suicidal writer’s block when it came time to publish the results.
Thank goodness for Brandt, Moulton and the paleocuisineologists out there.
Lewis & Clark - related events are held January 15-19 at Barnes & Noble (984-0461), Monticello Bookstore ((984-9800), and at UVA (924-7550). See calendar section this and next week for individual listings.