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Back when we was young in Minnesota, life was was in every which way bigger. To the west, North and South Dakota was just One Goddamned Dakota and Canada had several orbital moons. There wasn’t a size long-john any less than an XXL and they came pre-stained with the blood of mammoths. We drank milk from rain gutters since our cows stood at ‘low cloud height’  and sure enough we was all giants and when we was bad we hadda go pull a Tappin’ Tree for our mommas to beat us with. Shucks, the beatin’ wasn’t all that bad really. But pickin’ your Tappin’ Tree was awful. I of course always tried to pick the skinniest tree and it wasn’t until I was older that I figured out that a skinny tree only hurts all the more. I went through lotsa birch to learn that. When we’d plucked all the trees outta the land our elders took to using Beatin’ Lakes where they’d make us pick a lake and they’d scoop it up and slap the water across our bare bellies. Nowadays our kids might be a little bit smaller but they ain’t one whit better behaved and the like might be said about those two Dakotas.

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When we was younger we didn’t have no fancy spoons. That stuff was for rich folk. We had to use our hands mostly. Course, since we didn’t have forks either we had to handle all our hot BBQ and we mostly had burnt up hands all the time. Sometimes if somebody got enough BBQ sauce on their hands we’d all just pass their hands around the table and eat ‘em up to the wrists ‘til either we or them caught on that we were splintering ulna and radius between our not-so-pearly-whites. Having no spoons of course when we made soup we’d pour it from mouth to mouth, the cook to the oldest kid and them to the next oldest all the way down to me, the youngest of our litter. Course, my older brothers were hungry something awful all the time and they’d have ate up all that soup long before it every got to me and all I’d get was a mouthful of acid reflux, gingivitis, and belched air. Yeah, we was poor and there wasn’t no shame in it because we was pretty stupid to boot. We just figured everybody burned their outhouse gleanings for warmth and showered in the nearby bakery’s air exchange fan. We weren’t the warmest or cleanest kids on the street but on the good side we smelled heavily of rye bread–and what kid doesn’t love the smell of rye bread? Course on the bad side, we’d all get giant cysts on our faces and legs that burst forth yeast and frosting. We was poor! And we’d all look for extra work to help out the family. Even as young kids we’d be doing our share. That’s the way it was back then–everybody lending a helping hand. If you couldn’t or wouldn’t get a job or steal your fair share we’d tap your arm in your sleep and sell your blood to the Satanist church. A pint could get ‘ya four dollars! That sounds like good money but most of it would go straight into the monthly costs of exorcisms and crucifix tattoos. We was poor alright. I once got hired on by our neighbors the Bjornson’s to dig a hole to bury their horse in. Being poor of course I didn’t have a shovel but I had always been raised to believe that a little elbow grease and a lot of sebum will get any job done and so I said to myself this here hole will be dug come hell or high water! As it turned out, that was the summer of the Great Moose Flood, when a fast moving moose rammed into the dam above town. But sure enough as soon as that water was drank up by the Jorgensenson family dairy cows and the ground came back I got to that hole. To get to the Bjornson’s place, it was a fifty odd mile trek up Shit Creek and of course I hadn’t got no paddle so it took me near until breakfast to get there each morning which is why I would leave at sundown two days early but that wasn’t all too often I had to do that because for the most part I just slept there in a deer bed I found in a stand of pine trees. Anaway with no shovel to my name I just ate my way into that hole but of course as you can imagine by the time I got the hole finished my soil-bloated body filled the hole completely. When winter came around the Bjornsons poured tar over me and sealed me in pitch and all-weather wood sealant. This kept me warm for the most part though I had to put up with animals stumbling into my tar pits and then the wolves coming in and getting stuck when they’d come checkin’ on all death screams of dairy cows going on. When spring came along and then the next couple years’ worth of freezing and thawing I got loose enough to get dug up with a skid loader. By the time I’d wriggled loose that ol’ horse had been given to the elementary school’s Stew Night Fund Raiser and I never did see any money as a payment for my troubles but that was the best job I ever did have. Like they say, its all about the people you work with and I find my company well suitable to my liking. I haven’t got much work since then save the few times I’ve been hired on as a fishing guide. In the winter I’ll drive ‘em out to a flat field where I’ve got a retrofitted outhouse I tell ‘em is an ice fishing shed and tell ‘em they’re on Eagle Lake and I leave ‘em there for a weekend. I don’t get much money to speak of since I work for tips and the bottom of my tip jar’s rusted out and most my clients are too frostbit to reach for change but heck I don’t mind being poor ‘cuz as a Minnesotan I was raised to value the simple things in life: perennial drunkenness and the ability to equally distrust and envy the middle class.

Yeah, some folk do call Minnesota the Land O Ten Thousand Lakes. You know who those people are? Wisconsiners and the Jealous, though that is a bit redundant. We got on hand more than ten million lakes and including the water of our sweaty palmed hands, we got well nigh into the billions. We’re natural born swimmers we are. Most of us are born directly into a lake or at least into the live bait box. Don’t know how many siblings I lost to being mistaken for minnows. We got lakes such that if you’re dry for more than a few minutes, anxiety kicks in and you’d better take a step to the right or left and get yourself into Perch Lake or Lake Arrowhead. I once just about drowned after drinking a few Hamm’s and falling off a fishing dock. I fell like a stone to the bottom of that there lake and when I did what’d I find there but four Mer-people sitting around a lower fishing hole catching tin cans. Nice folks, them. Ended up spending the weekend with ‘em before making a casserole of ‘em.

 

Mer-People Casserole

Debone and de-trident Mer-people.
Make offering to Neptune (unless serving during Lent or Dionysian Feast)
Crumble Funyuns into casserole dish
Use crock pot
If Minnesotan, you know the rest. (If Wisconsiner, get bent)

When you think of Santa Barbara do you think of frolicking dolphins?
Wine tasting?
Surfing?
So do I!

And I also think about red hot and very raw sewage.
You know, like sewage sushi with lotsa wasabi.

Check it out:
Santa Barbara has the highest rate of sewage spills of cities between Santa Cruz and Thousand Oaks of similar sized sewage systems (100 or more miles). Give us a gold trophy cup filled with stool!

In 2009, Santa Barbara’s sewage spill rate was triple the California average.
That’s 15 spills, people!
But like they say: Don’t cry over spilled milk. Or sewage. Right?

Or…Does Santa Barbara have to comply with the federal Clean Water Act?
You know, the act that makes any spill a violation.

But maybe more than just trying to “follow the rules,” Santa Barbara should
work on their reigning title as Poop Town USA because of risks to public health, the degradation of the environment and quality of life, the endangerment to marine life, the loss of tourism revenue.

So until we can workout a plan for Santa Barbarans to eat less or UPS their feces to some remote fjord, concerned citizens and grossed out tourists can send an email to Santa Barbara’s (lovely and right honorable) Mayor and/or go to Santa Barbara’s Channelkeeper organization for more information.

Mayor Helen Schneider:
HSchneider@SantaBarbaraCA.gov

SB ChannelKeeper
http://www.sbck.org/

Opening night of the 2011 SBIFF was opened with the strong film “Sarah’s Key” directed by Gilles Paquet-Brenner.
Introducing the film was SBIFF’s Roger Durling who lifted up SBIFF and other film festivals as vibrant expressions of the best of democracy–where creative expression spurs careful and intelligent discussion of the most important values and issues of our societies. With that sentiment in mind, “Sarah’s Key” was an apt film to kick off the festival for it opens doors to discuss history, collective memory, shades of guilt, and oppression’s many forms.

It is a story of a young girl’s experience of France’s ghettoizing and deportation of Jews into the hands of Nazi Germany and the impact that her memory and legacy created through later generations. What places “Sarah’s Key” in a unique place among the many good films made on the subject of the Holocaust is it confrontation with the lived impact that reverberates still through the generation of those whose families and country were complicit in the genocide.

The film’s theme is stated by a reporter who is driven to uncover the untold story of a Holocaust survivor when she says, “The truth is always better, whether we like it or not.”

The truth in this film is costly. As the characters in the film are made to confront the past and separate the truth from the fictions, they are devastated and changed–ultimately for the better.

The film’s two concurrent story lines of the 1930’s and contemporary time were not well balanced and give the film an uneven feel. The acting in the ‘contemporary’ scenes is not as strong and the film’s desire to capture so many of the events from the book which gave it its inspiration bog it down.

Despite its weaknesses, this powerful and memorable film was a great kick-off to the 26th year of SBIFF.

It takes a unique confluence of ignorance, social pathology and artistic unfitness to get public art so wrong that it becomes deserving of our contempt. A public statue can invoke a ‘sense of place’, express a community’s values, inspire, memorialize, and engage the public at large with a sense of lasting grandeur–of the meaning of art in our lives.

A public statue can also frighten, disturb, confuse, ruin a person’s day, and perhaps even discourage a community from leaving the house in the first place.

The exemplary pinnacle of the latter type of statue is found in otherwise beautiful Santa Barbara, California.
I ask you to behold the horror that is “Generation Bridge.”

Look not long, lest you form an ocular ulcer or so sully your human soul that no penance can redeem you. 
This is your MindFlowers “Creepiest Statue” award winner and believe me it was not a close contest.

The statue “Generation Bridge” can be found near:
15 E. Figueroa St. in the ‘La Arcada.’
Despite it being in an open and heavily foot trafficked gallery, once you are there–there is no escape.

Here we see that the bent and leering Old Man is holding out some melty chocolate in his grimy, sweaty hands as one may hold to a dog a piece of hamburger with a euthanizing dose of tranquilizers hidden inside.
After the viewer decides to never again eat Hershey’s chocolate, they inevitably begin to try to remember the last time a piece of art prompted them to almost call the police.
 

Here we have the biblical picture of what destructive greed looks like. Note the consuming need for chocolate written across her face that is surely meant to serve as a Willy Wonka-esque commentary on how a ‘sweet tooth’ inevitably leads to children disappearing.
What clinched this statue as “world’s creepiest” is not just the theme and content of the statue, but the aesthetic ‘little touches’ that are indicative of an artist’s spiraling syphilitic madness. The choice to paint bronze is beside the point: marvel at the sickly pink pajamas that may or may not be made of asbestos.

At first glance, if you are a rational member of society you may think “Wow. The ol’ creepy-guy-with-candy trope. That’s disgusting.” But even then, you have not plumbed the depth of this statue’s depravity.  
Pictured below, you can see that this Creepy Old Man is certainly no ‘one trick pony’ when it comes to debauching children who happen to wander by his Shelob-like web.

Like a rabid St. Bernard, Ol’ Creepy stands guard between the girl and the safe re-capture of Dolly. 
As public art goes; deplorable. As strategy guide for dragons, terrorists, and Lex Luthor; brilliant.  

Below, the plaque honoring the creator of the Creepiest Statue, Seward Johnson. Kudos, dear sir.
Your art may not last long outside the walls of city dumps but your fiendish statements of ‘art’ will live on in our collective nightmares forever.

Does your city have a ‘runner-up?’ Drop us a line and a picture!

http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM9RD7
http://www.sewardjohnson.com/site/index.html

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