For all intents and purposes, all Italian children should grow up to be either perverts or sex maniacs. Or that is what I am inferring from the story I am about to tell you. A true one.
The city of Los Angeles has a big commercial port, a gigantic one actually, located in the sunny city of San Pedro which, in itself, has an old and respectful history. Other than knowing that my belongings landed at that port when I first moved here and poking around once many years ago, I never spent any significant time in San Pedro. For reasons unclear, there must be some sort of connection between San Pedro and Italy, maybe an old Italian community settled there, which could explain why, when a fairly unknown Italian sculptor decided to donate a bronze statue to the city, their administrators gladly agreed.
The statue was meant to represent human fellowship or any variations on the theme that statues of dubious artistic value usually represent. But I am no art expert so I shouldn’t be catty. Last week the statue was unveiled to modest fanfare, ribbons were cut, speeches were made and everyone went home happy. But for a local reporter who was intrigued by the tears of a speaker who talked about the 2 years odyssey this project went through. LA City Council can be bureaucratic and we know about Italy and red tape but 2 years for a gift? By prodding the teary speaker a bit it turned out that the City of Los Angeles looked in the gift horse’s mouth and wasn’t pleased at what they saw. Namely a penis. The statue depicts a man made of bronze, encircled by birds. He is naked and, true to anatomy books, sports a penis, of rather modest dimensions at that. It would have been absolutely unremarkable were it not for the dismay and the puritanism of LA city officials. After two years of to and fro between the Harbor Master and the sculptor represented by the Italian Consulate, it was finally agreed that the statue would be placed not at the entry of the Harbor where innocent children could have seen it but at the end of a small avenue where foot traffic is virtually absent.
The symbol of the city where I grew up is a gigantic bronze Neptune in the middle of a fountain: it’s muscular, proud, naked and well endowed. I walked by it pretty much every day of my life until I was 21 without giving that dick a second thought. The doorway of the building next to where I used to live was supported by 2 very naked men who, I believe, must have members on display. Not being able to remember whether they do or not is not a cause of my faulty memory but rather an infantile disinterest, an ability that all children have to disassociate art from real life. Little boys who get dragged to the Uffizi and shown Botticelli’s Venus are more likely to remember what a boring afternoon they had rather than a pair of tits. Which brings me back to the perversion of Italian children, or lack thereof.
Shouldn’t art and the human form it sometimes depicts be an integral part of a child’s development? Or are we hiding behind what is good for our children in an effort to disguise our unease towards everything “sex”? Could it be that demonizing sex leads to the pregnancy rates discussed a few days ago? Wouldn’t it be better parenting to drag children in front of art, naked or otherwise, than letting them sit in front of mindless and more offending entertainment on tv and on-line?
Thank you to L who shared the story and poked around…