Monday, October 09, 2006

sidewalk chalk quasi-extravaganza

Our fair city is either blessed or plagued with sidewalk chalk artistes. The stuff is everywhere. Sidewalk chalk is surprisingly hard to photograph (for me), so I had to do a bit of amateur GIMP-fu on these.
I labelled this a "faun" on Flickr but I'm not actually sure what it's supposed to be. Something mythological, probably, or pseudo-mythological. It was in front of the PNCA building last Thursday. Yes, it was First Thursday, but I was just walking through the area on a beer run. I'm serious. Honest.

I also happened to run across a group of zombies, who I thought were part of the Zombie Apocalypse we'd been promised by the Mercury. Turns out they were handing out coupons for someone's Halloween haunted house. Damn. Now even the freakin' zombies have sold out. WTF is this world coming to?

I happened to walk through Pettygrove Park one day a while back, and found that someone had recently been there with chalk. Lots and lots of chalk. This was actually taken in broad daylight, but I think it looks better with this sort of black light effect. You know, for Halloween, etc.

I lost the left edge of this quote, unfortunately; it reads: "The era of procrastination, of half ass measures, of baffling expedients, is coming to an end. In its place, we are entering a period of consequences".

I'm not sure whose initials those are on the quote, but it actually originates with Winston Churchill, and the anonymous chalk auteur misquotes him slightly. He didn't say "half ass", naturally; that part actually reads "of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients". I know this because googling on "baffling expedients" or "period of consequences" brings up a large number of hits. All politicians love this quote. It's decisive, yet generic. It asserts we've been ignoring situation X, and now we have to face situation X, but without naming situation X, or specifying the action that must now be taken. It's useful in all sorts of circumstances. Al Gore quoted it in An Inconvenient Truth. Then-Governor George W. Bush used it in a speech at the Citadel in Charleston, SC, way back in September 1999, when he was fixin' to run for his current job. The speech itself is interesting, laying out his plans to transform the military, which is something that's now usually blamed on Rumsfeld. It looks like the buck doesn't stop at the Defense Secretary's desk after all.

This was on the sidewalk outside the Sears store at the Lloyd Center Mall. This'll really teach those corporate-lovin' Sears shoppers, and next time they'll wise up and buy Birkenstocks instead. Oh, wait, Birkenstocks are made of leather; they need to buy something that's kinda like a Birkenstock, but made of organic hemp, or mud, or tofu, or something like that, no matter how much more they cost. Also, shopping at the Mall is not allowed. You need to buy directly from the person who made them, or make them yourself, or do without shoes entirely. And if you can find a local shoemaker, someone with acceptable ideological bona-fides, of course, it has to be a barter transaction, because money is corporate. Maybe you can wash their recumbent bicycle every Saturday for six months, or make them an organic macrame plant hanger, possibly. Or give them copies of some old Dead shows you have on tape. (You do have some of those, right?) And then everyone smokes a bowl, and the whole world is all rainbows and unicorns and crap.

I absolutely agree that child labor is awful. I wholeheartedly agree that cheap overseas labor eliminates jobs and drives down wages here. But I'm not convinced the correct response is to go around lecturing working class people, the very people most affected by declining wages, people who maybe can only afford to shop at discount stores like Sears or Wal-Mart. Telling them they need to be paying a lot more for the basic necessities of life, in the name of ethical purity, but neglecting to mention how they're supposed to afford it. That makes very little sense to me. That's like trying to cure poverty by instructing the poor to buy mansions in Beverly Hills: If they do, clearly they aren't poor anymore, therefore Mission Accomplished. Feh.

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