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3:58 p.m., Feb. 19
Three More San Diego Unified Port District Public Art Committee Members Resign Over "Sentimental, Derivative" Statue Depicting Sailor's Homecoming
"Why didn't anyone tell us this travesty has been here since 1998? We would have resigned ages ago!"
CORNER OF HARBOR AND G STREETS, DOWNTOWN - Last week, three members of the Port District's Public Art Committee resigned in protest over the Port's decision to accept a permanent version of the cheesetastic "Unconditional Surrender" statue currently towering over San Diego's waterfront. The fiberglass statue, which reproduces a photo of a possibly staged kiss between a sailor and a nurse in New York City's Times Square on V-J day, has been called "kitschy," "an aesthetic abomination," "artistically bankrupt on a scale not seen since Benigni's Pinocchio movie," and "totally, completely awesome."
Perhaps inevitably, today saw the resignation of three more committee members, this time over a piece that has been a permanent part of the Port's collection for almost 15 years. Stanley Bleifeld's seven-foot bronze "Homecoming" depicts "the joyous reunion of a sailor, his wife and child upon his return from a sea deployment with the Navy. It's a scene repeated countless times over the years along the San Diego waterfront and in other homeports of the Navy."
The Port's website claims that "the reunion portrayed here evokes a liberation from awesome loneliness and fear, for all the participants...It eloquently attests to a shared sense of accomplishment, a recognition by sailor, wife and child that each has done the duty set before them."
"Balderdash," says resigning Committee member H. Winston Matterbottom IV. "For starters, the blamed thing's a copy of a statue at the Naval Heritage Museum in D.C. It's every bit as derivative and unlocal as 'Unconditional Surrender.' Second, you can lard it up with all the humbug you like, it remains a mawkishly sentimental depiction of a family that was sad to be apart and now is happy to be together. You might as well put up a statue at the airport that has two young people sloppily French Kissing before the girl gets on a plane to go visit her disapproving family for Thanksgiving. Maybe call it 'Tongue Tied.' Whatever, I'm out of here."
"I don't know, I kind of like it," says Sally McKinnon, a Navy widow who sometimes pays a visit to the statue and spends a quiet moment sobbing uncontrollably.