"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Friday, January 12, 2007

News Tidbits

Yes friends, once again it's time for another rousing issue of...

Always on the cusp of current events, Wind In The Wire takes a look back at a few of the more bizarre news items from the first full week of the new year. Please note that while I did not plan it this way, it turns out that several of these stories are somewhat scatological in nature; so please, if you are a young, impressionable high school student whom your school board has deemed unfit to think about such things for yourself, click here and do not, repeat, do NOT read further. You've been warned.

All right, the rest of you may recall that earlier in this space, we reported on one Stephen Murmur, high school teacher and so-called "Butt Printing Artist", who had been suspended by the Richmond VA school district where he was employed, for using his buttocks and genitals to create abstract artwork (such as "Tulip", shown here). These paintings sell for up to $900 on his web site. Word now comes that he has been fired, according to a spokesperson for the Chesterfield County School Board. Despite overwhelming support for Murmur from students, parents, and Wind In The Wire readers, the board stated that "students have a right to receive their education in an environment free from distractions and disruptions". (I guess this means that the gum-snapping, rubber-band shooting smart-ass who sits in the back of the room, constantly interrupting the class with wisecracks, will have to go too? After all, fair is fair.) Here is a comment from a parent of one of Murmur's students:

"Stephen Murmur has been an inspiration to my daughter for the last 3 years. He has been her teacher and mentor and he is highly respected in the school where he was teaching. My daughter knew about his artwork years ago but it was no big deal to her - it was what he did. What message are we sending everyone when we say that you can't have harmless creative outlets? We want to tell our children they can be anything they want when they become adults EXCEPT who they truly are? I don't like that message. Are we saying that all people have to be "G" rated? How many people do you know that are like that? Uh oh, we better not talk about body parts, those very things we were born with. Stephen Murmur is a credit to the teaching profession and was wrongly fired. He inspires students to excel, they take him into their confidence and they trust him. We should all be so lucky as to have Stephen Murmur as a teacher in our schools."

I'm having a hard time determining exactly what the school board is worried about. Not only did Murmur practice his craft totally removed from his class and on his own time, but these are high school kids, for heaven's sake. They are regularly exposed to a lot more material with the potential to warp their minds than this. The lesson, if any, that they will learn from this is that you must conform, you must submit to authority, and that art, individuality and creative expression is wrong. Shame on the School Board. Murmur's attorney Jason Anthony summed it up perfectly when he referred to the Board's decision as "a bad day for the first amendment."

Speaking of art, that leads us to our next story. It's no secret that we are a nation of celebrity worshipers who delight in the exploits of Britney, Paris, Brangelina, and other high-profile star types. Now, as if Ms. Jolie isn't famous enough, a painting of the actress as the Virgin Mary hovering over a Wal-Mart check-out line is on sale for $50,000. The artist, Kate Kretz of Burlington, NC, says that the work "addresses the celebrity worship cycle." She said she chose Jolie for the subject "because of her unavoidable presence in the media, the worldwide anticipation of her child, her unattainable beauty and the good that she is doing in the world through her example, which adds another layer to the already complicated questions surrounding her status." Even more exciting is the fact that Ms. Kretz has a Blogger Blog where she is relating the daily adventures of her sudden notoriety, and her blog has gone from near obscurity to thousands of hits a day since her Jolie painting. So now not only can you be pop icon by being a star, you can be one for painting a picture of a star, and blogging about it. Isn't the Internet a wonderful thing?

In Columbia, South Carolina, the body of James Brown has yet to be buried, and remains in a sealed casket inside a funeral home while attorneys for various relatives fight over where he is to be laid to rest. Security guards are watching over the late singer, who died of heart failure on Christmas Day at the age of 73. His will has yet to be filed, and legal wrangling over his estate continues. Brown's home has been locked since hours after his death to protect his memorabilia, furnishing, clothes and other personal items, according to his attorney, Buddy Dallas. "Just imagine what would have happened," said Dallas. "Items of James Brown would have left there like items off the shelves of Macy's in an after-Christmas sale." What a sad end for the Godfather of Soul.

Meanwhile, we can authoritatively report to you that executed former Iraqui dictator Saddam Hussein is, in fact, still dead. We've seen the video. (What, not what you were expecting?)

Across the pond in Lancashire, England, police are stumped following an incident where a man broke into a woman's home, put on her clothing, and proceeded to, er, make himself happy on her bed. According to the BBC, the prosecutor in the case claimed that he "could not find an offense for the case to proceed", in that burglary was out, since the man never tried to steal anything. The best they could come up with was that the defendant had "intruded appallingly on someone's privacy". Can we charge Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell with this, I wonder? Please, anything to make them both shut up.

If you've ever considered converting to Hinduism, this may change your mind:
in the largest religious pilgrimage on the planet, over the next six weeks some 75 million Hindus will make their annual journey to bathe in the sacred waters of India's Ganges River. Problem is, it's more like holy sludge than holy water, due to the millions of gallons of raw sewage and thousands of sacrificial animal carcasses that are dumped in the river. Levels of fecal coliform bacteria are up to 3,000 times the accepted Indian standard and 1.5 million times the safe level in this country for drinking. Think aboout that the next time you slug down an AquaFina.

Finally, here's a related story that hands-down earns the Wind in the Wire "What Were They Thinking?" award for this edition: in suburban Miami, a 20-year old man showed up at an emergency room complaining of rectal pain. Upon closer examination, doctors found "
a stony hard, vertically oriented, low-lying radiopaque object in the rectum." After being questioned further, the man finally admitted that he and his boyfriend had been "fooling around", and had stirred up a batch of concrete mix which had then been poured into his rectal cavity using a funnel. After surgically removing the hardened object, the physician's report further stated "Examination of the specimen revealed a perfect concrete cast of the rectum, measuring 12 X 7 X 5 cm and weighing 275 grams. Grooves in the mass were consistent with rectal mucosal folds. A layer of concrete was chipped off the upper part of the specimen and revealed a white plastic ping-pong ball." Click here, if you dare, for a photo of the object.

There's really not much else that can be said after that, is there?


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