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Thursday, July 10, 2008

OFF WITH HIS HEAD!

I have lately noticed a dampening of spirits around the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project. When I last checked there was a Ronald Reagan Parkway in three states, Florida, Georgia and Missouri. There is a Ronald Reagan Memorial Highway in Alabama and Colorado, a Ronald Reagan Road in Arizona, the Ronald Reagan Freeway in California, the Ronald Reagan Memorial Toll Way in Illinois, the Ronald Reagan Expressway in Indiana, the Ronald Reagan Cross County Highway in Ohio, Ronald Reagan Drive in Philadelphia, a Ronald Reagan Avenue in Hickory Creek, Texas, even a Ronald Reagan Metro Station in Northern Virginia. But the Ronald Reagan coinage seems to be suffering devaluation because of all this inflation. It would appear there was considerable proof in the childhood warning, “That’s my name, don’t wear it out.” And now comes the blowback. As part of what might be called the “Shrub Legacy Project” there is an effort to rename the Oceanside Water Pollution Control Plant outside of San Francisco as the George W. Bush Sewage Treatment Plant.
Okay, a sewage treatment plant lacks the gravitas of a highway, but you have to start somewhere. Bush the elder has a toll road named after him in Dallas, but so far Shub doesn’t have even have a dead-end street that carries his name. But the sewage treatment plant name change suggested will be on the November ballot in San Francisco after supporters turned in 10,000 signatures in favor of the idea. I would have signed it. One Republican spokesperson called it a “horrible idea” and “stupid”, but the director of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission has a different objection. He says naming the sewage treatment plant after President Shrub would be an insult to the plant and the people who work there, not to mention denigrating to the stuff that goes through its pipes. And who would ever vote funds for improvements for the George W. Bush anything? Still, allow me to point out that nobody has even suggested naming a sewer grate after you or me.
But I’ll bet you could get some creative suggestions on how to memorialize Andrew T. Fox the third. Thirty-one year old Andrew lives in Hartland, Maine, a tiny mill town of 1,800 people straddling the Sebasticook River where it runs out of Great Moose Lake. Andrew is a thirty-two year old man, and his pugnacious pride was on display during a family game of croquet on the Sunday evening of the long 4th of July weekend. According to several dozen witnesses, Andrew was playing a lively game of wickets with his wife Lisa and her sixteen year old son. But Andrew lost to his stepson and he was not magnanimous in defeat. There was shouting. There was yelling. And then Andrew punched his stepson in the head. The boy and his mother fled, calling the sheriff’s office from the safety of a neighbor’s trailer.
When Sheriff’s Deputy Zachary Logiodice arrived on scene and attempted to interview Andrew, the suspect locked himself inside the trailer’s bathroom. Through the door he told deputy Logiodice that he had weapons with him and if the officer tried to enter the bathroom he would “find out what kind”. At that point Logiodice withdrew and called for backup.
While officer Logiodice waited for reinforcements the neighbors heard smoke alarms going off inside the trailer. After State Trooper Peter Michaud and Somerset County Detective Mathew Cunningham arrived on scene all three officers advanced on the now smoking trailer with guns drawn. Andrew immediately came out and surrendered peacefully. He was handcuffed, placed under arrest, and briefly interviewed by Detective Cunningham at the scene. Once he was in custody firefighters from Hartland and nearby St. Albans extinguished the fire, but not before half the home was badly damaged and several pet cats, fish, hamsters and rabbits were killed. One cat and her kittens were rescued. According to a friend of Mrs. Fox, the damaged trailer was in her name and she had no insurance. I assume Andrew will not be receiving a present from his stepson come next Fathers’ Day.
Neighbors were reluctant to discuss the events out of fear of Andrew, even though he was being held in the Somerset County Jail on $5,000 cash bail. He has been charged with arson, domestic assault and domestic assault terrorizing The arson charge carries a possible penalty of 30 years in prison while the two domestic violence charges are each punishable by up to a year in jail; a whole year. Stay tuned for the blubbering “I’m sorry” defense when Andrew is hauled before a judge. It’s enough to make everybody else named Andrew decide to change their name.
However, it is difficult to think of any name with a lower moral cache then that of the little Austrian paper-hanging anti-Semite dope fiend, Adolf Hitler. But half a century after World War Two der Fuehrer has turned over a new leaf. As portrayed in the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum which just opened on Berlin’s Unter den Linden, a couple of hundred yards from the site of the Fuehrer Bunker where the original Hitler killed himself, this Hitler is not merely a mass murderer and war monger, but also a tourist attraction. Berlin’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit, played along, urging the so-called museum not to display Adolf as “cult figure”, thus ensuring one more news story about the museum opening. The museum even assigned two security guards to the exhibit. Their primary duty was to stand around as publicity props and to prevent any Neo-Nazi’s from posing for a quick snap shot with their beloved Schicklegrubber. The “museum” could afford the guards because this tour of fake people surrounded by fake artifacts costs $30.00 a ticket. Evidently it never occurred to the museum staff that someone might actually be offended by including Hitler along side Ringo Star, Sophia Loren and Winston Churchill.
Then, last Saturday, when the new museum officially opened for business, the second customer through the door was a forty-one year old ex-policeman known publicly only as Frank L. Frank immediately shoved an actual tourist out of the way, ran to the Hitler exhibit, climbed over the huge desk which was supposed to keep the public at bay, grabbed Adolf by the head and twisted violently, popping der Fuehrer’s head right off der Fuehrer’s shoulders. According to an eyewitness, “The security men closed in to pull him apart from Hitler. When they fell to the floor Frank shouted, "Never again, war!”- which is the most curious part of the entire story. What does that mean? What about the war against Hitler?
One German politician noted, “At last, a successful assassination attempt – sadly 75 years overdue.” Frank L’s girlfriend, Yvonne, said, “I’m really proud of him. I’ve been furious about Hitler for days.” Really? Think how angry the British blitz victims must have been. But maybe my favorite comment on the whole affair came from the German Social Democratic politician Frank Zimmermann. He said, “It’s more of an artwork to rip off Hitler’s head than to put it on display.” The same could probably be said for Andrew Fox III and George Bush II as well.
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