Tearing Down Columbus

I found a soggy note plastered to my windshield of as I was preparing to leave work the other day. A residue of sea salt still marks the spot where I peeled it off the glass. It’s from the widely feared pirate and international man of mystery, Captain Billy – rogue skipper of the ghost ship Muskellunge.

Ahoy, Landlubber!

This here notice is to call attention t’ th’ fact that October 12 is Columbus Day in the USA, or was, at one point, before it was changed t’ be th’ second Monday in October or some such nonsense.

But now payin’ respects t’ Columbus ain’t politically correct, so not much is said about him an’ hardly nobody gets the day off ‘cept fer longshoremen an’ postal workers. What wi’ labor unions an’ th’ very idea of government under assault from various angles, it won’t be long b’fore all recognition of Columbus Day is but a memory.

Not that me an’ the boys cares all that much about Columbus!

Aye, 1492 was a golden age for them what sought fame an’ riches on the high seas! Columbus wound up with both, I reckon. But now that his misdeeds have gained some ground on his legend, an’ bein’ a professional opportunist, of sorts, I’s of a mind t’ politely suggest that perhaps th’ American people needs a new role model of th’ salty waves t’ celebrate!

I hearby offers me’self as such a figure.

So if’n any municipalities is under pressure t’ tear down their Columbus statues, may I politely suggest that a much cheaper way t’ go would be t’ weld on an eye patch an’ a peg leg t’ th’ offendin’ figure, an’ change th’ name below from “Christopher Columbus” t’ “Capt’ Billy”.

I understands th’ Columbus statue in New York City is perfectly set up right now fer such a tidy make-over, what with a cozy room havin’ been built around it.

So why not head off any current or future criticism by re-purposin’ this here statue as a generic tribute t’ the seafarin’ explorer an’ man of adventure? Since I ain’t never had my photograph taken, I reckon no one will quibble wi’ th’ quality of th’ likeness.

An if any Italian patriots has a issue with th’ idea, I invites them t’ track us down! Me an’ th’ boys is always prepared t’ welcome company, th’ more hostile, th’ better. But don’t ferget to bring yer riches!

Yer seafarin’ pal,
Capt. Billy (an’ the crew of the Muskellunge)

Personally, I would be in favor if this change if Columbus Circle could be re-christened the “Billy Go-Round”.

What is your favorite piece of pubic art?

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67 thoughts on “Tearing Down Columbus”

  1. I got a kick from this poem from Monday’s Writer’s Almanac:

    Columbus sailed the ocean blue

    by Ramon Montaigne

    Columbus sailed the ocean blue
    Back in 1492.
    He sailed across and spotted land,
    A beach, and people on the sand.

    He called them Indians because
    He had no idea where he was,
    India was just a guess.
    When in doubt, declare success.

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    1. i think it was dales show on monday morning. he wasnt there but he had an interview with the people on the indian end of the deal who said columbus was a real jerjk to the indians. he was an odd duck in that he wasnt first, americus vespuscci was and he didnt really discover america , he never made it that far inland and he didnt get here on purpose he was trying for china and thought he hit india, but he was sch an intense note taker and such a good navigator he came across in 5 weeks that his log and his detailed notes of the trip got him proclaimed grand poobah of the new continent and so his day for the mailmen and the italians which got decreed in 19?? 20 ish i think to suck the italian vote over to some presidental reelection hopefuls side. dale does a nice job. i think the moral of the story was that this college in colorado has benn giving any indian a free college education for free for a long while and now with new buracratic poppycock it is coming to blows with the way it is supposed to be done. i was not overly crazy about the replacement guest host but what the heck dale must have had a doctors appt or something. columbus being a schmuck to the indians was a disappointing realization but i guess thats the risk you run learning stuff. some of it just doesnt come out the way you would dream it up if you had the ability to do that. kinda like the rest of life huh?

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  2. Good morning. I don’t have a single favorite piece of public art. I will mention one that I think is very interesting. It is near the bean sculpture in Chicago which is another favorite of mine. This one is a large wading pool with two large structures at each end of the pool. There is spot on each of the large structures that spout water from time to time. Images of various faces are projected onto the structures and the water appears to be spouting from their mouths. I don’t know the name of this piece of art, but I assume it was done by some one who does conceptual art. Kids have a lot of fun playing in the pool and getting water spouted onto them.

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    1. The wading pool I mentioned above is called Crown Fountain and is in Millennium Park in Chicago. It was designed by an artist. The very large faces on the towers at each end of the pool are created by electronics built into the tower. They are pictures of a wide range of people who live in Chicago.

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        1. don cruthers was my dads thinking practical joker who was never at a loss to find a moment for a spare moment. he had a hotel room at the hotel overlooking the fountain and the way his brain worked was this: he had you come up to his room about an hour before it got dark and was talking about the guy he met out for his walk last night who runs the fountain. they had a real nice talk and the guy gave me his phone number and told me to give him a call sometime. i should give him a call tonight and tell him to turn the fountain on and have him work the lights. what do you think? he picks up the phone and places the call and says he has company over and if it wouldnt be too much toruble could you turn on the lights in the fountain and show my friends how pretty it looks. yeah right now if its not too much toruble , thanks bud i really appreciate it. … the lights come on and they watch for a couple seconds and he asks can i ask you to turn on the red lite thnaks now how about a green great thanks now a telow and so on.. for a couple of minutes, hey thanks bud i really appreciate it. i wil look you uop fro a coffee tomorrow morning . thanks good night. my friend really appreciated it. can you just hit a ramdom button now and let em go for the rest of the night? great thanks. bye. click.
          my dad would chucke because he knew dn had no one on the other end of the phone he had just kept track of exactly what time the lights came on and in what order and concocted the story around his collected data and now performed his smoke and mirrors show. ill tell you sometime about his mr wizard routine.

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    1. i love the david in florence and enjoyed the michelangelo sculpture in the piazza and found out it was a copy of the original so i went over to the museum to see the original and it was impressive as were the others he carved that were there, that stuff blows me away. michelangelo was only 26 when he took the david commision.

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      1. i had to call my wisconsin and ask if his son had a football game this afternoon. he said yes and i said i hoped he won his game because 3 losses in a row would be tough. three losses? i said yeah the packers , paul ryan and then your son that would be tough. he was amused and i have one gotcha comin back sometime down the raod.

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  3. love the bean jim.its a new favorite.
    the sculpture garden at the walker is so cool. i remember when it first went in and i wondered what he heck those little trees around the perimeter were supposed to be. me of little insight. i love the fish in the plant building by gehry, i love his other fish arounf the world too. i love the spoon i have always liked oldenburg, the henri moores are my favorites but there are so many cool pieces in the garden, what a great concept. in chicago the picasso the cezanne the calder all make moving around wonderful, in buildings and atrium’s everywhere we go the art is often the stuff you notice. the murals in the capitol building are marvelous, the fountains and statues and benches that we see around the world are great. in china they are flexing their world muscles by throwing really nice art all over the place. italy, is crawling with the stuff. i am a big fan of the new stuff, statues of guys are ok but i like abstract and free form stuff that we see out there. buildings have become the new public art. i was at the istatue of arts in minneapolis yesterday at 5-6 oclock and the sun was casting long shadows on the downtown skyline and i was not even aware prior to the experience that the north side of the mia has a giant window overlooking the downtown skyline from the architechts gallery with frank lloyd wright models and purcel , sullivan and the skyline it was wonderful art and public art. the way the sun plays on the faces of the buildings casting rich golden shadows and with the leaves of the trees trying to hang on to the last of their fall color . thats my kind of public art.

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  4. tim, I also like new, abstract, and free form art. My daughter has introduced me to conceptual art which I think is interesting even thought I don’t have a very complete understanding of this kind of art.

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  5. Morning–
    Success!! I like it…

    My current favorite art is downtown Charlotte NC. Don’t know the streets or names but I have pictures and they’ve influenced my theater designs lately. There’s a brick sculpture called ‘Life is an open book’ by Brad Spencer that is a favorite. There’s a picture here: http://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/26098

    But ‘art’ can be anywhere. I saw some pillars at the end of a driveway in Laurel Mississippi this summer and those were a main influence to my current scenic design. (Not directly of course, ‘That’s called plagiarism children’, but they were a starting point).

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    1. i was in charge of design team for pots in a past life. the urns and pots were originall made of dense styrofoam and morphed into the fiberglass/polyresin mix that is around today. the designs they were coming up with form the designers at hand were lame so i started plugging in architectual designs from the tops of buildings and the cool stuff they wrap around the building halfway up and around the windows, where the ledges go around the building etc. i hadnt paid attention to them before and then couldnt shut them off. inspiration is like that.. chrysler building is one i used.

      http://www.greatbuildings.com/cgi-bin/gbi.cgi/Chrysler_Building.html/cid_1068573398_P8295176.html

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    1. Let me take that back. My favorite public art is actually a chainsaw sculpture of a destroyed elm tree about two blocks from my home. A little girl of about six stands playfully dressed in overhauls, a cat slung under each arm. The real life model for this sweet piece of art was a little girl who lived at that address and who died of cancer.

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  6. I’m in a boring teleconference meeting at work but I have to say that I’m surprised that no one is responding to Dale’s REAL question “what is your favorite piece of PUBIC art?” :-)
    I’ll think about his intended question (that you have all answered) and pipe in later.

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  7. I’ll answer Dale’s intended question, mainly because I’m not familiar with much in the way of public art. Like, tim, I love the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden by the Walker Art Center. Every visitor we’ve had from elsewhere, near or far, has been taken there; it’s a treasure. I’m especially fond of the emblematic Spoon Bridge with Cherry fountain, and I love Deborah Butterfield’s horse sculpture. Another favorite place to enjoy public art is the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

    As a Dane in self-imposed exile (as my brother-in-law recently referred to us), I feel an obligation to mention the Little Mermaid, sitting there on her rock on Langelinie in Copenhagen, but frankly, I’ve never understood what all the fuss was about her.

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      1. Now that I think about it, most pubic art isn’t public, unless you count all nudes as pubic art. It’s too late in the day for this debate. Old codger that I am, I should just go to bed.

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  8. I don’t know whether it’s a favorite, but I feel strongly about the lost bronze sculpture by woodcarver and sculptor Ivan Whillock at the Bea Duncan Memorial in downtown Faribault. Ivan was commissioned by the City of Faribault to do the sculpture of Alexander Faribault trading blankets with a Dakota man. The City of Faribault was founded in 1862, the same year as the Dakota Conflict. It was a time of hardship and terror for both the Dakota people and the white settlers. Alexander Faribault and Bishop Henry Whipple, both from Faribault, were great diplomats with the Dakota people and tried to work for peace and understanding. The statue makes me proud of the town where I grew up. You can see a picture of the statue here: http://mnprairieroots.wordpress.com/2012/09/02/new-exhibit-highlights-rice-county-in-the-u-s-dakota-war-of-1862/ . Scroll down to see the statue. I also took some carving lessons from Ivan and participated in early house concerts in his studio in the early 1990s.

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  9. I imagine Dale will blush to the top of his shining pate when he sees what he has typed. There are some great sculptures tucked away in nooks and crannies just off the sidewalks on the very narrow Rue St. Paul in the old port section of Montreal. My favorite is one of three plump gossiping matrons holding tea or coffee cups. With regard to pubic art, I suppose we must look to something by Rodin for examples.

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      1. musical comedy based on the myth Pygmalion where a sculptor creates a beautiful statue of a perfect woman (naked of course… you know those Greeks…) and then falls in love with her and she comes to life….

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  10. Already mentioned and loved by me: Ghery’s FIsh, the Chicago Bean (I don’t know if I can claim it as I’ve only seen it in pictures), horse sculpture in the Sculpture garden.
    I think it might be controversial but I like the whimsical round blobby people on the plaza near the Hennepin County Govt center and City Hall.

    There’s a fabulous site in New Jersey called Garden for Sculpture. Among many, many intriguing sculptures on exquisite grounds, there are 3D life sized recreations of Monet, Manet and Renoir paintings.

    My cousins and I walked into the middle of one and couldn’t figure out what it was (no labels) until we found, higher up, an additional figure which turned out to be a life sized sculpture of Monet himself, viewing the area and painting it on a canvas.
    A more famous one that we would have recognized right away if we had seen it first was Déjeuner Déjà Vu, inspired by Manet’s Déjeuner Sur L’Herbe.
    If you’re ever nearby, check out that park.

    http://www.groundsforsculpture.org/c_jjohn.htm

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  11. I’m fond of sidewalk poetry. Here’s one that baboons may like:

    Evening Chores

    When the door claps its frame
    the goat runs as if I were
    bringing the world instead
    Of rotting squash. His
    strong teeth search
    me for more – gently
    As if he couldn’t bear to know -
    that one world is all I have
    to feed him
    and one is not enough.

    by Sara Clark

    And this one:

    A dog on a walk
    is like a person in love –
    You can’t tell them
    it’s the same old world.

    By Pat Owen

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    1. one more

      Life magazines for shin guards.
      Skates too big, stick cracked and old,
      jacket patched and tattered.
      I ignored the smirks and winter’s cold,
      love of hockey was all that mattered.

      Louis DiSanto

      i didnt know it existed . what a tremendous idea

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    2. I love sidewalk poetry, makes for such unexpected pleasure even when you’ve encountered it hundreds of times before.

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