Thursday, February 28, 2013

Melvin, Banksy, and Government Shutdowns

Well, today was Mourning Locket day.  I spent a couple of hours cruising various antique/vintage sites, hoping.  Of course, the real fear here is that I WILL find it, and won't be able to afford it.  Mourning lockets have become quite popular, and pieces that used to go for a hundred or two are now going for a grand or more.  I don't know what I'll do if I find it and can't swing it, cash-wise.

I think that might be worse than never finding it.

I was reminded yesterday of Melvin Dummar and the bad ol' days of Margaret and her repeated ditching of her son on me and Lynda.  Of the terrifying time when Taylor, Meg's then two year-old son, escaped the apartment and went on walkabout at six in the morning.  Pulled his Tonka truck up to the door, worried that deadbolt open, and off he went, Lynda's keys in hand.

What's that got to do with Melvin Dummar?

Well, his parents, Arnold and Chloe, were our landlord and landlady.  And Chloe was sitting on the front porch, watching Taylor make his way down the walk, out to the car, and eventually off down the street to who-knows-where.  When we burst out the basement door, screaming Taylor's name, Chloe looked the other way, as if we weren't even there.  When asked point-blank if she'd seen a two year old wandering off alone, she said, "I saw him--he tried to get into the car but couldn't work the keys, then he walked off down the street."  She pointed off vaguely to the west, then went back to whatever it was she was doing.  I asked, "Wait--and you didn't stop him?"

She looked back at me, rather smugly, and said, "You didn't tell us you had a baby staying with you.  So I had no way of knowing I was supposed to stop him."

Why yes, it was difficult to refrain from smacking her.  How'd you guess?

And THAT is why hearing someone talk about Melvin Dummar (of Melvin and Howard fame, if you're unaware) reminded me of losing Taylor that morning.  

In case you're wondering, we found him.  We ran like I hadn't ran in years--the kind of running where your arms pump and you seem to be nearly flying.  Around the corner, just in time to see the cop car pulling up to a house.  We arrived, winded and panicked.  The woman who'd found him tried very hard to convince the cop to take him from us ("his diaper's loaded!  He's barely dressed!") but, thankfully, the cop recognized that a baby who's escaped his crib at six in the morning is likely to have a loaded diaper and few clothes on.

Now Arnold and Chloe weren't all bad.  Arnold was . . . eccentric and had some really grand ideas and wishes.  Had he lived just 20 years later, he'd have been a millionaire, but without computers, fancy printers, graphics, and an internet to work with, he was limited to bad copy-shop cuts and pastes and huge ideas.  He believed himself grander than he was, but at his heart he seemed very kind.  Chloe?  Harder to peg.  Tired.  Sad.  Resolute.  Not much joy there.  Both of them sickly, their house cluttered and full of towering, teetering stacks of old newspapers and magazines, antique sewing machines and paths carved into the mountains of hoarded things.  It wasn't dirty, there were no roaches or anything awful.  It was just full--more stuff than room, two old folks not wanting to let go of anything.  They've both long passed on, but I count myself lucky having the stories that go with living in their basement.  They were, above all else, colorful.

And Melvin?  Yes, he came by now and then.  Best I leave it at that.

But maybe someday I'll tell you about Arnold's handyman electrical work in our apartment.  And how we went all winter with no heat because we feared his handiwork would kill us.

Oh, and just in case you don't know, this is Howard Hughes.

A fascinating story came across my feed today.  About Banksy and his graffiti.  About people who feel it's a "gift to the community" and get very upset when it's removed and sold.  About the battle between what is "art" and what is "vandalism" and who gets to make that call.  And, ultimately, about who owns something someone spray paints on the side of someone else's property.

An example of a "Banksy."  This one's gone, was painted
on private property and painted over pretty quickly

To me?  Depends--is it graffiti, done without the building owner's consent?  That makes it vandalism, so I see no problem allowing the building owner to make money off the defacing of his building.  That it's pretty vandalism doesn't make a difference.  If Banksy (or the towns where he paints) doesn't want his graffiti sold, Banksy needs to stop spraying it on buildings without permission from the owners.  Apparently, there are plenty of Brits who would be thrilled to have Banksy spray paint their buildings.  Let them offer up their properties, and then we have no more problems. 

That's my spin.  I know there are those who'll cry, "But look how ugly that building was!"  Yeah--you know, I had a friend who bought an old house in a struggling, formerly glorious area.  A lot of beautiful but terribly run-down architecture.  She and her husband painstakingly restored that house, then painted it in a garish array of neon colors--purples and oranges and greens and pinks.  They thought it was beautiful.  Most folks thought it was an eyesore.  But bottom line, it was their house.  Had they done that to a neighbor's house without permission?  That's vandalism.  And had someone painted over their house to hide the gaudy colors and make it more  pleasing to their own eye?  That's vandalism, too.  Just because you think something's pretty (or ugly) doesn't mean you get to impose that idea with a can of spray paint on someone else's property.

Was reading the Standard this morning, the story of my friend's son and the achievement of his black belt. Loved reading about him, but, sadly, the piece was very poorly written.  Made me wish I could go in and rewrite it the same way I went in and recreated a Facebook meme for Politics with Jarred and Dave yesterday. 

Speaking of which, is it just no longer a "thing" to thank people for their help?  The meme, about Antonin Scalia, came across my wall, and the misspellings and typos were breathtaking.  Embarrassing.  So I pasted the thing into Photoshop, cloned out the type, and rewrote it, sans the mistakes.  I then sent it to them with a, "that's better" sort of note (I had already told them I planned to do it).  The response?  A terse, "I don't understand what your point is." 

Wow!  Okay. Didn't stop them from pulling down the horrid mess they had up (actually misspelled Scalia's name, along with a few other words) and putting mine up.  Without a word of thanks.  I don't require public recognition, but a private thanks is always nice.  Wendy/Rebecca didn't get that, either.  Took public credit for my legwork, gave no acknowledgement to me, privately or otherwise, and then called ME an egomaniac when I said, "You're welcome."  As far as I'm concerned, the egomania comes with taking credit for someone else's work, telling people you did the research when, in fact, someone else did it for you, and then freaking out and hurling insults when called on it. In private, of course--can't have your 12 adoring fans thinking you're a shrew, can you?

I often bemoan my son's "finely developed sense of justice," but I know where he gets it from.  It really does drive me batty when people are unfair or project their own shortcomings on others.

What can I say?  People amaze me.  And not in a good way, most times.

Anyway, I'll let it slide--it's not that important, and I did choose to undertake the task.  And, thanked or no, I feel better that the version with such gems as "Scallia," "furture," and "entitelment"  isn't still out there. 

Reading about sequestration, and, worse, the impending government shut-down.  Those bastards have one month to decide whether or not they're going to destroy my family by putting my husband out of work for days or weeks.  I don't see how we can recover from something like that. They've already decided that they want the sequestration because they believe it will harm our President.  But the shut down?  Here's the rub--if they DON'T get the sequestration, I fully expect them, out of spite for losing that one, to gleefully push us into a shutdown.  Just to get even. 

Never mind that shutdowns are devastatingly expensive in the long run (because all that work piles up, and when the shut down ends, it needs to be done, and the getting done requires huge amounts of overtime).  Never mind the services that, quite literally, SHUT DOWN.  Need a passport?  Need MEAT at the grocery store?  Need a Social Security card?  Tough, nobody's home.  Never mind the millions a day mass-transit providers lose, never mind the small businesses that depend upon federal workers to keep them going day in and day out (think about it--everything from print shops to coffee shops to restaurants to cabbies).  They don't care--shut down doesn't hurt their big oil buddies and the like, and that's all that matters to them. Making a crappy point on the backs of working folks?

Well, that's just tradition, son.  Who cares if it makes us a laughingstock? 

And here's how it will go--the democrats will cave because they DO care.  They DO care if millions are put out of work, if people are stranded and devastated.  They care.  The right doesn't.  And so, by necessity, the Democrats will blink first because they'd rather have a crappy deal where SOME folks don't suffer than no deal where ALL folks suffer. 

Well, all but the really rich ones.  Which is what this is all about anyway.

Same as it's ever was.

Do not reprint without permission. © KAQ

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