Monday, February 23, 2009
Two stacks of paper sat on the ground in an open space. Large pieces of paper, retangular and poster-sized, each stack 2-3 feet high. One stack contained copies of a white poster, completely white, with the words "Somewhere better than this place" in tiny, black, Times New Roman letters in the center. The other stack was nearly identicle, but contained entirely black posters with "Nowhere better than this place" printed right smack in the middle in tiny, white, Times New Roman letters. Visitors were encouraged to take a poster, or take one of each. A study in human behavior, human needs, human desires, the modern world. The stack of white posters, promting onlookers to think of "somewhere better than this place," or perhaps grumble that somewhere HAS to be better than this place, was almost a foot shorter than its more optimistic kin that proclaimed subtly that nowhere was better than this place.
I took the white one.
The restless poster, the wanderer poster, the malcontent poster. Does "somewhere better than this place" really exist anywhere, wherever you are? I have moved from Ohio to Montana to Scotland to Colorado and through so many places across the world with the poster in mind, with the art, the statement, the study, the taller stack of "Nowhere better than this place"-es in mind, and if I still had it in its physical form, I'd have it framed and put it on my wall. Is everyone looking for "somewhere better than this place?" Are we all just in transit, with our little white posters tucked under our arms, waiting for "this place" to fall to the wayside and to stumble into "nowhere better?"
Or is perhaps "Nowhere Better" the negative poster, the malcontent poster, the pessimistic poster, declaring that nowhere is better because nowhere is good, that every place is just as miserable as the next... And "Somewhere Better" must exist because there is good out there...
It was just... something that sticks with you.
Friday, February 20, 2009
I’m no New York Post or Rupert Murdoch fan (though I am awfully glad Family Guy is back on Fox), but I do think that sometimes, a political cartoon is just a political cartoon and not some underhanded attempt to revive popular racism or invite someone to shoot the president. Both a chimpanzee and a president make easy targets in this country that values free speech.
This brings up the infinite question: can a man be compared to a chimpanzee if he isn’t black? Let’s look at this prime example. In case you don’t want to follow the link, I’ll describe it. I’m sure you’ve seen various versions, but the website shows a series of photos comparing President Bush to a chimpanzee. Side-by-side, face-to-face, mono-e-ape. Gaping mouths, vacant expressions, sharp teeth. The usual. So, based on the logic of protests occurring currently, can I state that these cartoons are comparing Bush to a black man, and therefore it’s saying that all black men are as incompetent as Bush? Can I say that?
Can a chimp ever just be a chimp and a president ever just a president?
I'll keep this short and split it up into two entries, so as not to overwhelm you, the viewer, with my overabundance of memory card space and itchy camera finger.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The ginormous bull elk died last week in Gardiner, MT, my old hometown, while trying to jump a fence in someone's yard. He was at least 15 years old (in a world where they only live to be between 13 and 18), and was 725 pounds (less than in previous years, in a world where even the big bulls get to be 700 pounds tops). I had the pleasure of seeing him many times while I lived in Yellowstone, and he even thought about chasing me once, though I was more than far enough away (as any good employee should have been). He attacked people, attacked cars, loved the ladies, and even got to have his antlers cut off twice because of his high energy. I even know the guy whose job it was to keep Number 6 from fighting with his arch-enemy, Number 10, afterward being stripped of his trophy headpieces, because the poor guy thought he still had them.
The press release from the park is here for those of you who want to know more. There are also various Odes all over the internet. He was a giant of a beast, and he was truly loved by all who knew him. Except Number 10.
I swear, tourist cities should PAY me to come there and drive away any chance of snow or cold weather, as it seems such things are everywhere I am not.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I suppose this is an okay approach, but I have a better one: how about cracking down on drunken violence?
Example: while I was living in Scotland, there was a violent incident in Edinburgh that had the whole city buzzing. A guy was walking along South Bridge and idly bumped into a drunk dude. He turned to say a brief “excuse me” and the drunk dude and his buddies proceeded to beat the crap of the guy. Weeks in the hospital and thousands of dollars in reconstructive surgery just so he can function properly. And it was ALL CAUGHT ON CAMERA. They stomp on his head. On camera. And what is the punishment for the hooligans? Prison? Noooooooo. The drunk dude is slapped with a steep 500 pound fine, and the other guys are let off the hook.
A savage beating is caught on video, and the perps only have to pay a fine and are free to beat another day.
In Scotland, if you get caught by the police assaulting someone, no matter how severely, you can pay 250 pounds in cash to the officer, who will issue you a ticket, and the crime will simply go away. No arrest, no court, no lawsuit. It won’t even goon your record. So the drunk dude’s mistake was not to leave 250 pounds at the scene of the crime.
So if this is the way Scotland punishes criminals who get drunk and attack people, is drinking the problem, or is the stupid law enforcement the problem? Where is the drunk dude’s motivation to not let his anger run wild and nearly kill someone? How about, Scotland, you start sending violent offenders to jail, or at least tazing them, before you start punishing all drinkers, regardless of violent tendencies...
In other news, I've been watching Rebus, this fabulous British mystery show that takes place in Edinburgh and stars the witless brother from The Mummy (who is most definitely NOT witless in this show). Apparently, in TV Land, Scottish police are notoriously corrupt and hardcore, making the badguys quiver even without guns. It's rather cute.
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
The contrast between old and new was phenomenal, with the strange, concrete hotels/casinos (Vegas Style, with names like Fortune Valley and Fitzgeralds) intermingled with Victorian homes built in the 1800s. On the main drag in Central City, only one building that was there in 1860 is no longer there; the rest is all authentic and restored to cater to the bus loads of old gamblers making their ways up from Denver and Boulder. There is a fancy, old-fashioned opera house with a thriving theater company that operates in the summer, a unchanged since the 1800s and still in operation, and even a brew-pub with award-winning brews.
Jonmikel was in love instantly, and has decided to move there. It was a little to backcountry for me, but it was still pretty neat to see...
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Really. And I always will.
Jonmikel and I headed out, with the rest of my office, to our graphic designer's (Paul) place for the Big Game. Paul works for the National Association for Interpretation (who miss us immensely since we moved out of their building) and designs our publications for us. He's a delightful, red-haired Phillies fan with a big TV. We were all invited.
Everybody arrives, and all the men promptly take bets on, no the game, but on how many times they show Kurt Warner's wife on TV; the going bet was 2.5 (the number was 4, I believe, though it could have been 5; we stopped watching when the game was over). She looks freakishly like John McCain's wife...
I was bummed about the Cards' loss, but stoked that they didn't get CREAMED, as was generally predicted. The going bet was for a 7-point spread at least in Las Vegas, so I bet there are some pretty disappointed betters out there. Also important was that there was a cake designer present at our Super Bowl party, who made a pretty impressive foot-and-helmet style chocolate cake. Apparently, last year she made an entire stadium. Yeah, I was impressed.