I found the Pax Americana in the mall.
And not just any mall, but my parents’ mall in the well-watered suburbs of greater Los Angeles. It is possibly the most democratic mall in all of the United States; nineteen-year olds with acrylic nails can buy twelve-dollar stretch jeans, and the affluent housewives of lower Pasadena can buy Nordstrom cardigans and plum-colored, high-comfort pumps.
In Macy’s, an elderly Chinese man is seated comfortably in the oversized armchairs. He has come to enjoy the air-conditioning, his retirement, and paint a while.
Smiling contentedly in the noon-day silence, he paints pictures of clothing mannequins using Chinese calligraphy pens.
It’s America as a mannequin and Macy’s as an art studio, but it is a peaceful one, nonetheless. Americana did not leave American print making when Norman Rockwell passed; this gentleman too is drawing America, as he sees it and as he sees fit.