The Blessed Virgin Mary and Three Billygoats Gruff
Expanded from the 10-24-99 Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune
This is a tale of three cities and three billygoats gruff. The gruffenstuffs, Rudy, Jeff and Oscar, work as pep boys for New York, Reno and Las Vegas.
You get the feeling all three grumpy old men were beaten up by small girls back in grade school.
Rudy Giuliani is the most high profile billygoat. He presides over the Naked City, the Gotham of eight million stories and an occasional King Kong or Hillary Clinton.
Presiding over a naked city has apparently driven Rudy bananas. He recently gassed Jews on Yom Kippur. A governor named Jerry Brown once resorted to similar mass Malathionizing of his constituents, killing both insects and his political career.
At least Jerry lost to a guy. Hillary is currently selling well in the Big Apple. Hell, she's even selling New York pizza for Pizza Hut.
Rudy is running scared. Following Reno's lead, he's trying to privatize hospitals for the profit of the powerful. Like Reno and LV, Rudy has serious police brutality problems. All three PDs have outstanding track records of beating and executing hapless citizens.
Billygoat Jeff Griffin set the tone for his administration when he called Reno homeless people "human debris." Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman made his name as Oscar the Grouch, defense attorney for a mob he insisted did not exist.
Griffin and Goodman lead cities with big inferiority complexes. Reno and LV live off the wages of sin and their mayors act like typical cathouse operators, spreading the wealth to expiate their transgressions.
Long ago, Father Martin Luther objected to a similar practice.
The boss of the Big Apple should have no such hangups, but Rudy is the most uptight white guy to come along since Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Some artist hung a piece of mixed media with an unfortunate title, calling a Picasso-esque African figure a portrait of Holy Mary Mother of God.
No big deal. For centuries, Madonnas all over the world have been made unto the image and likeness of local populations or folklore. This amoebalike depiction portrayed an androgynous black person, but the painting was decorated with pearl-encased elephant dung.
Blasphemy. Heresy. Was the artist some girl?
Rudy came apart like a fake Rolex in Times Square. No one could explain to him that in the part of Africa from whence sprang that artwork, elephant dung is a symbol of reverence. Rudy would make no allowance for somebody else's culture, exhibiting the kind of narrowness communities address by establishing museums.
Rudy should read his Bible. Way back in religion class, we once read about Jesus healing some sick person by taking some spittle from his mouth and anointing the patient.
We Catholic kids were grossed out.
"It was a symbol of God's healing," explained Brother Hugh Kennedy, F.S.C. (One of THOSE Kennedys, he died young after contracting a malady while teaching in the outback of Africa.)
I don't know Rudy's position on sacred sputum, but he went certifiably postal over holy elephant dung. He's trying to evict the Brooklyn Museum of Art for failing in its duty to "enlighten, educate and provide enjoyment."
The museum owns more than $1 billion in artifacts and art objects, a collection of 1.5 million pieces standing second only to Manhattan's Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Maybe Rudy still harbors a grudge after the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the 1955 World Series.)
If evicted, the museum trustees can take the collection anywhere they want - even New Jersey! No New Yorker could permit such sacrilege.
We can help.
Reno and Las Vegas have public projects in the pipeline eclipsing the value of the museum. Griffin has a railroad trench, a duplicative convention center, a vague and expensive redevelopment plan and a money-sucking white elephant of a bowling stadium. Goodman is working on a publicly funded arena for casino mogul Steve Wynn's purported NBA team and a monorail train which will force every Nevada taxpayer into becoming a co-signer.
Jeff and Oscar should make Rudy an offer he can't refuse. Send us that blasphemous museum with its disgusting Winslow Homer paintings, Egyptian mummies and African fertility objects. We've already got the Luxor pyramid on the Las Vegas Strip and Pyramid Lake in the desert east of Reno where Cecil B. DeMille filmed part of "The 10 Commandments."
Fertility objects? Forgeddaboutit. We make our living off fertility objects.
Best of all, thanks to Mr. Wynn's self-centered lobbying, Nevada gives wealthy art investors huge tax breaks at the expense of school kids.
This could go a long way toward making Nevada legit as we move from gambling to gaming. Sin cities get culture. Rudy scores points against that Hillary woman. Rich people get tax breaks and Nevada taxpayers at least get something that will appreciate in value. (Ever check the resale market for monorails and railroad trenches?)
To appease conservatives, Rudy can draw up restrictions requiring anything claiming to be more than 4,000 years old to come with a note from its mother, Methusaleh or Moses. We may make an exception for Charlton Heston.
We could kick it off with a Don King-produced pay-per-view event and build support like San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. He just got the local cable company to mail four free movie coupons to all its customers courtesy of hizzoner - eight days before the next election.
The Three Billygoats G wouldn't get caught dead stealing somebody else's idea, including the great suggestions in this column. So I'm freely handing this great marketing solution to them as a token of my esteem for the dignity they bring to high office.
Be well. Raise hell.
© Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a member of Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of U-News, where the past three years of columns may be accessed. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks Tribune since 1988 where an earlier version of this column appeared on 10/24/99.
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