Off Key!

By Bob Frederickson

From Too Gauche by Half to Too Close to Pass…

City to Statue: ‘Kiss-Off!’

As chronicled in this space many times over the years, a small but vocal minority of self-important, self-appointed art ‘experts’ has been horrified by the presence of the Unconditional Surrender statue standing at the high-visibility intersection of Gulfstream Avenue and US 41 ever since it arrived as part of a temporary ‘Season of Sculpture’ exhibit in 2005. No matter that it delights most visitors and locals passing by each day, with many tourists stopping for a selfie while assuming the iconic pose of its subjects, themselves patterned after the famous Alfred Eisenstadt photo of a sailor on VJ Day in Times Square sweeping a nurse into his arms and exuberantly planting a kiss on her.

I mentioned back in March that shortly after its arrival the Herald Tribune quoted local artist Virginia Hoffman as calling it ‘just horrible.”

“It has been getting all of the attention of an escapee from the Macy’s Day Parade, which is what it looks like,” she continued.

It has so offended the feigned sophisticates of the enlightened faculty lounge set hereabouts that they have lobbied for its removal for years, until now without success.

But now, emboldened by the ascendancy of today’s ‘cancel’ culture, opponents have seized the opportunity to finally banish from their (and a large portion of everyone else’s) view what they clearly consider to be nothing less than an abject artistic abomination.

Construction of a new roundabout on the bay front means the statue would have to be removed…temporarily. But at a recent meeting of the Sarasota Public Arts Committee members instead voted to make the removal from the bay front permanent; a plan is in the works to move it to a site where it will have a much lower profile…the Shriner’s Temple on Beneva Road near Fruitville, a plan reportedly embraced by the Temple’s members, but one which will clearly lessen its visibility compared to its current location where it mars the views of so many art sophisticates looking out the windows of some of the highest priced real estate on Florida’s west coast.

The argument that seems to have won the day this time around? That the statue glorifies a ‘sexual assault’ since the sailor never ‘asked’ the nurse whether or not he had her ‘permission’ to kiss her.

Really?

So, it has come to this? The exhilaration attending one of the apexes of not just American history but western civilization itself – the defeat of worldwide fascism – reduced to a sexual assault?

Just one word comes to mind: disgraceful.

BTW: I’m no Romeo, but if you think to yourself, ‘hmmm, should I ask her if she wants me to kiss her?’ believe me, she doesn’t want you to kiss her. When she does, you’ll know. And it works the same way in the other direction too.

Anybody outside the faculty lounge at Brown knows this.

Some Things Never Change…

Few things fire the imagination of teens like trying to figure out new and inventive ways to skirt underage drinking laws. Not that we would ever condone such behavior, but we need only examine our own generation’s conduct in this regard (and just about every other generation’s before that) to know the score here. But Gen Zers may have broken the code for success on this field of play, at least if recent posts on social media are to be believed.

A New York Post article describes how teens have refined the fake ID ruse for the current Covid-19 era by dressing up as elderly grandmas wearing oversized face masks before heading out to the neighborhood liquor store. They seem to have found there’s something of a cloak of invisibility surrounding older folks that allows them to slip through many social interactions virtually unnoticed. At least that’s the hoped for effect among the G-Zers trying to score some booze using this novel approach. They cover the bottom third of their face with the covid mask, add some strategically applied makeup around the eyes and cheek bones, add some baby powder combed through the hair, a pair of reading classes on a chain and perhaps a cane or a walker and volia! Grandma’s good to go.

The ploy is all the rage on sites like TikTok with teens and young adults boasting about their successful execution of the con, enthusiastically expressing on camera a thrill that is likely much greater than any they will ever find at the bottom of a bottle.

But I guess that’s a lesson we all must learn on our own, no?

Political Correctness Reaches Dizzying Heights of Lifeless Absurdity

The unabated march toward social conformity has gone into high earth orbit with NASA banning ‘cosmic’ names like ‘Eskimo’ and ‘Siamese.’

‘Our goal is that all names be aligned with our values of diversity and inclusion,’ the space agency now says.

So, a dying star blowing off outer layers previously known as the ‘Eskimo Nebula’ will henceforth be known simply (and oh so poetically) as ID NGC 2392.

Such is the Brave New World of colorless, lifeless language that awaits us; one blind to the point that words are the colors with which we paint our thoughts.

No Napping through this Sermon…

Father Richard Sutter of Saint Gabriel’s Catholic Church in Sparta, NC had a little help making sure his congregation was paying attention to his sermon a few Sundays back. He had just finished reading from the 19th chapter of 1 Kings about Elijah, saying “After the wind there was an earthquake – but the Lord was not the earthquake…” when suddenly the parish walls began to shake and the floor began to move beneath the congregation’s feet…and in a literal, not figurative sense.

A 5.1 magnitude earthquake had struck near Sparta, the first in more than a century, bringing with it a newfound appreciation for Father Sutter’s as a man of considerable vision.

A Rare Moment of Climate Change Candor.

As this is written, we’re already up to the letter ‘J’ for named storms this hurricane season, the earliest we’ve reached that.

Next week it will be the letter ‘K’, then ‘L’, ‘M’, ‘N’ and on and on all the way to the first cold snap in November

And of course, the explanation for more and more storms every year? Think Charlton Heston at the end of the film Soylent Green when he finally figures things out and, racked with anguish, exclaims “It’s PEOPLE!”

But have you ever heard the term Occam’s Razor? It describes a circumstance where when faced with varying explanations for a phenomenon, the simplest one is most likely correct.

I was thinking about that the other day as the chief meteorologist for WFLA in Tampa, Steve Jerve, was describing the same news mentioned above, that this is the earliest we’d hit the letter ‘J.’ But he pointed out the news very matter-of-factly, without any drama or sense of concern about the politics of the matter, something I have gratefully noted Jerve tends to avoid. But on this day he did add an interesting tidbit of insight, almost as an afterthought that I’ll paraphrase here:

“Yes, we’ve had a lot of named storms so far, but I think they’re naming things that never would have been named in the past. It probably has something to do with advancements in satellite technology.”

I almost fell out of my chair over the simplicity and candor of the statement and sure hope nobody else noticed lest a CANCEL campaign against the guy gets started. Honesty and candor should be rewarded, not punished. So all you climate geeks out there, leave Jerve alone…he’s a nice guy, and the best weatherman we’ve got!

I seem to remember another such moment from one of Jerve’s colleagues saying something similar once about why we have so many record high temperatures these days. The explanation was along the lines of “…well, they’ve been taking temperature readings at the same spot, the Tampa airport, for generations. Back when we first went on the air in 1955 the Tampa airport was a fairly sleepy place, surrounded by orange groves and coastal scrub pines. Now it’s surrounded by blacktop in every direction.

Occam’s razor strikes again!

Builder Requests Mulligan for Setback Screw-Up

When Kirk and April Shanara arrived from Alabama to move into their new home in the Rosedale subdivision of Manatee County they noticed construction of a new home was substantially complete on a lot adjacent to their own. But something looked odd to them. The new home was much closer to their own than the house on the other side of their lot…and much close than all the others in the neighborhood are to each other as well.

How close? Just 7 feet 6 inches away.

Well, it turns out Manatee County requires a 12 foot setback between homes in that part of the county.

Ooops!

So, the county slapped a ‘stop-work’ order on the home and gave the builder, Ashton Woods, a choice: Tear down the home or move it at least another four-and-a-half feet away from the Shanara’s new homestead so it complies with county rules.

The builder has suggested an alternative: a variance that would allow the home to stay where it is.

There’s a hearing on the matter in several weeks. I hope the County does right by the Shanaras. It doesn’t seem right that they should have to pay (with a neighbor right on top of them and a hit to their property value) for the builder’s inability to properly read a tape measure.

We’ll post an update when the hearing is complete.