Those that know me know that I don’t throw around the word “bizarre” lightly. Not only do I limit my usage of the word to just a handful of times per year, but also keep a watchful ear on my friends to make sure they don’t abuse such a treasure. “Bizarre” is a sacred possession of the English language and is one of the few plug words—words that hold a place for a thought, circumstance, or scenario that defies explanation—that I allow myself. Although close to “surreal,” it nonetheless holds a place higher in the vernacular and lexiconial hierarchy.
That being said, the most recent issue of Smithsonian Magazine includes a picture, and the story behind the image, of then President Richard Nixon in a White House “summit” with then King of Rock of Roll Elvis Presley is bizarre. Agonistes considers himself a person with an ability to make observations and draw conclusions about the culture around us. This moment of our history, however, remains a statistical outlier and renders any effort at social commentary pointless—in fact, arrogant.
Our graphic artist and I also chose to use this photo in one of our resources for similar reasons: when worlds collide. I think this photograph suggests that a picture’s worth only begins at a thousand words. And you’ve got to read the short article that describes the events, decisions, and circumstances that lead up to this moment: a bizarre moment of Americana. Click here to read it—it’s not your typically long Smithsonian piece.