Saturday, August 25, 2007

Stupidities

A word to the wise ain't necessary, it's the stupid ones who need the advice. ~ Bill Cosby

It's almost unfair to discuss stupidity. There's so much of it about that it makes an easy target for the ridicule it so richly deserves. However, some stupidities need to get their just due for going over and above the call of duty.

Everyone has heard about Michael Vick copping a plea to his dog fighting activities and getting suspended from the NFL. Now I could go on for pages about how idiotic it is to put a $130 million contract (not to mention millions more of endorsement money) at risk to enjoy participating in sadistic and cruel activities. But everyone has been doing that, so let's consider the NAACP's reaction.

I am grown weary with having watched the rich and famous getting free passes or slaps on the wrist when they commit crimes. I would have imagined that the NAACP has the same feeling. Evidently, though, if it's a rich black person, the rules change. According to R. L. White, the president of the NAACP Atlanta chapter, we should all be concerned with Mr. Vick's rehabilitation. Furthermore, the NFL and sponsor's should not abandon poor Mr. Vick at this critical juncture. Please note that these are the same people who were telling us not to judge Mr. Vick prematurely. Now that he has admitted his guilt, we should continue not to judge him.

Interestingly, Mr. White doesn't seem to be particularly concerned about the guys that Mr. Vick bankrolled, who copped their own pleas early on and sold Mr. Vick down the river. Of course, they aren't millionaires, either. He does think that we should regard Mr. Vick's own pleas as a matter of convenience to Mr. Vick, not an admission of guilt. Now, history is rife with examples of guys faced with my-word-against-yours testimony who have gotten off at trial. For Mr. Vick to plead guilty is a powerful reason to suspect that the other felons were delivering some evidence that could be substantiated by others.

Let's keep in mind that Mr. Vick is a millionaire already and will still be one upon release from his jail term. I doubt seriously that he will be turning up at Salvation Army stores to buy his wardrobe after getting out of the slammer.

As if that wasn't egregious enough, Mr. White wants us to think that had Mr. Vick killed a human being, it would not have gotten as big a play in the media than killing dogs did. Trust me, Mr. White, murder would have gotten some seriously big press.

The clincher is this statement from Mr. White: "His crime is, it was a dog." No, Mr. White, his crime is that he was a brutal, sadistic human being who enjoyed setting other creatures upon each other and killed those who couldn't perform. You know, the kind of thing Romans used to do to gladiators, all of whom were human, some of whom were Africans.

And let us not forget a time in this country where the murder of an African American would have dismissed by saying, "Well, it was only a n----r."

Mr. White has demonstrated something I keep bringing up and that is that all humans, regardless of race, creed, or ethnicity can be really stupid when they put their minds to it.

But the growing self-centered attitudes of modern adults seems to have hit new highs or lows, depending on your point of view. The other morning, I heard a set of tips from the Weather Channel that would indicate that a growing number of people should not have children. The tips were aimed at things parents should do to avoid forgetting that they have a child in the rear seat. That's right, dear reader. Apparently there is a growing problem with Darwin Award candidates going off and leaving their infant children in the car seat in the rear of the car, with the result that the child is left to slowly bake to death in the summer heat.

I've heard of people leaving children in the car to suffer in the heat out of sheer laziness or even out of some misplaced sense of "discipline" but I have never heard of anyone claiming they simply forgot the kid. How stupid would you have to be to do this? How absorbed in your cellphone call or iPod tune do you have to be for the existence of your own child to slip your feeble little mind?

I only remember two of the tips the Weather Channel gave because by that time the wife (who was watching with me) and I had gone into shock. Tip1 was to "put something you need in the back seat," the idea apparently being that if you left, say, your valuable MP3 player back there, when you went to retrieve it, you might notice the kid in the car seat being in your way.

The other tip was to "get into the habit of opening the back door." Someone too stupid to remember their own child is going to open a car door and forget why they're doing it in the first place. Someone this stupid probably forgets to breathe every now and then, too.

As I said, I certainly haven't heard of someone claiming to forget a kid in the back seat, but if someone's done this, stupid isn't a strong enough term for them. But, whether the claim has been made or not, the Weather Channel deserves some sort of stupid award for thinking that anyone that stupid who pay attention to them -- and for insulting the intelligence of viewers who have an ounce of brains.

You know, the Weather Channel is in Atlanta and R. L. White is the president of the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP.

Is there something in the air over there?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Statue-tory Matters

Horsemanship through the history of all nations has been considered one of the highest accomplishments. You can't pass a park without seeing a statue of some old codger on a horse. ~ Will Rogers

People have weird attitudes toward statues. For instance, when I was going to school in Cleveland, I used to regularly pass by a statue of Some Great Man which portrayed him with arm upraised. He may have had something in that hand once upon a time, but, when I was there, it was empty. Well, it was empty most of the time. Sometimes he held a beer can aloft, until the city maintenance people spotted it and removed it.

At the other extreme, people take out their frustrations on statues. The Cleveland Museum of Art has a casting of Rodin's Thinker, originally cast by the sculptor, at the main entrance. In 1970, some loon or loons decided that, as a sign of protest, to place a bomb at the base of the statue. No one was injured by the late-night blast, but the statue was irreparably damaged. After some agonizing about what to do, the Museum put the statue back, blasted base and all, as a symbol of the endurance of art and the stupidity of man.

Then there's the Rodin figure, Jean d'Aire, Nu, a copy of which resides at the Birmingham Museum of Art. He stands in an enclosed exterior place and is an impressive work (as you can see from this image from a copy in Dallas), especially given that it was created as a study to be used to develop figures for a more famous work, called The Burghers of Calais. For some reason, there were some complaints about his anatomical correctness. It seems that some women were caressing his privates (which based on the above image, were not particularly impressive). Other women were distressed by this and demanded that Jean be, well, neutered. So he was, sort of. He still has testicles but is missing his other equipment.

Interestingly, the same women who so objected to the nude male figure had no problem with a rather corpulent reclining nude female figure in the same area. Draw your own conclusions.

In San Diego recently, a statue of a surfer was unveiled, which, for reasons which are not entirely clear based on the one picture I've seen, was considered an eyesore. Some of the citizenry decided to "improve" Surfer Dude by dressing him in a pink skirt and pink-and-white bikini top. Logically enough, realizing how embarrassing this would be to the statue, they decided to hide his true identity by adding a one of those "masked marvel" wrestling masks. You can see the result here.

Poor defenseless statue.

However, the prize for best statue dressing has to go to the phantom statue draper in Marion, Alabama. Seems that a local convenience store owner decided that a statue of Venus Di Milo would spruce up his gas pumps. So he went to his local statuary seller and found amongst the gnomes, angels, and gargoyles a copy of the classic Venus, complete with no arms and not much in the way of clothing. He placed her out front between a couple of the aforementioned gas pumps. That's when the fun started.

After the statue had been up a while, someone started coming by at night and dressing the statue up. It started modestly enough with a feather boa, but it escalated into a fully clothed Venus. About the only thing Venus didn't wear was blue jeans (there was a song Venus in Blue Jeans; very clever those reporters).Then it got weird.

Venus got pregnant.

One day, she was found to be in maternity dress, with a pillow to simulate her condition. As the days passed, the pillow grew. Recently, Venus was delivered of a bouncing baby Cabbage Patch Kid (or something similar to those creepy things), perched in a child carrier hanging on Venus' back.

Someone is spending a lot of money here. No one knows who that someone is; the owner claims it isn't he, although he certainly gets some drop-in business thanks to Venus' ever-changing wardrobe. One witness claimed to have seen a woman come by in the night to do the deed but couldn't provide any identification.

Now Marion is a small town, so it seems hard to believe that the phantom dresser could remain anonymous. She does seem to be clever about avoiding detection, though.

I'm not sure if statue dressing is about to become a new fad. Lord knows, now that the Internet has got hold of the idea, it may become the Next Big Thing. Apparently wanting to be on top the wave, the guy who sold the Venus did want everyone to know that he had another classical statue, a small copy of Michaelangelo's David, available for just $125.

You know, just in case you want to have a statue-dressing flash mob.