Swing the statue

Politics and other mistakes
By AL DIAMON  |  March 22, 2006

I’ve decided to follow the philanthropic lead of Portland Sea Dogs owner Daniel Burke, who recently offered the city of Portland a sculpture of a family walking to a baseball game. Municipal culture commissars balked (although they were overruled Monday by the City Council), claiming the statue was politically incorrect. (Nobody mentioned it was also butt-ugly.)

Despite Burke’s problems, I intend to show my gratitude to this state by commissioning a monument to be placed in some appropriate public space, such as atop Mount Katahdin or outside the Blaine House restrooms. It would depict historic moments that define Maine’s character (which is, to be honest, kinda weird). For instance:

The state instituted Prohibition years before the rest of the nation. Temperance fanatic Neal Dow would be shown cracking a fifth of Jack Daniel’s across the head of a drunken slob, while being applauded by figures representing current crusaders against smoking, fast food and sex.

In 1936, Maine was one of only two states to vote for Republican presidential candidate Alf Landon, an event to be depicted by an ax-wielding lumberjack chasing a wheelchair-bound Franklin D. Roosevelt across the state line. A disclaimer would make it clear this isn’t intended as a metaphor for the way Maine treats development proposals, such as those of Plum Creek, Poland Spring or retail operations larger than a lemonade stand.

After all the media hype about Bode Miller’s close ties to the state, the skier was abruptly disowned by Mainers for going 0 for 5 at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Families would be shown around a bonfire tossing in copies of magazines with Miller on the covers, as well as Miller-endorsed Nike products.

The Maine Democratic Party (motto: “Depends what you mean by ‘is’”) is battling allegations it violated federal campaign-finance law by acting as a conduit for an illegal $10,000 donation to a Rhode Island US Senate race. Dem state chairman Patrick Colwell (motto: “Depends what you mean by ‘illegal’”) will be depicted with a halo over his head and wearing a white robe that almost covers the Tom DeLay tattoo on his tush.

In November 2006, Maine voters will probably reject the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR), which calls for limiting increases in government spending and refunding excess money. A coalition of municipal officials, state workers, and others who suckle at the public teat intends to defeat this sensible proposal by flooding the airwaves with specious claims that TABOR would cause the shuttering of fire stations, schools, and libraries, as well as the forcible eviction of little old ladies from nursing homes and little old men from bars. This triumph of the tax-and-spend crowd would be commemorated by a giant politician (bearing some resemblance to the current governor) holding a helpless taxpayer by the ankles and shaking money from his pockets.

My artistic vision, like Burke’s, may attract critics. Allow me to address their concerns before they spew them forth.

First, there’s the lack of diversity. In Burke’s sculpture, the family is white, and, as one of Portland’s racial profilers pointed out, that city already has enough public art showing white people. To correct the problem:

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