Garrett Harris 10:11 p.m., May 23
City Orders Removal of Quetzalcoatl Mural from Balboa Park's Centro Cultural de la Raza
Office of Parks and Recreation Rules that Mural of Feathered Snake God and Fertility Goddess Violates California Constitution's No Preference Clause
"The jury's still out on the Egyptian gods on the side of the World Beat Center."
It started with the Surfing Madonna mosaic. After the San Diego office of state parks denied a request by the city of Encinitas to place the 10-foot-by-10-foot piece on state land at the entrance to Moonlight Beach, San Diego's own parks authority apparently began fretting about other religious displays on public land. And yesterday, Parks Commissioner Martin Measely's beady little gaze landed on a particular mural adorning the Centro Cultural de la Raza in Balboa Park.
"At first glance, all you notice are the woman's strangely nipple-free breasts," wheezed Measely in an extremely uncomfortable statement to the press yesterday afternoon. "But once you've studied the mural, it becomes clear that the woman's nether regions are encircled by a rattlesnake tail - a rattlesnake tail covered in feathers. This is a clear reference to the 'feathered serpent' Quetzalcoatl, worshipped for centuries in Central and South America. Indeed, analysis of Teotihuacan iconography shows that the Feathered Serpent was part of a triad of agricultural deities: the Goddess of the Cave symbolizing motherhood, reproduction and life; Tlaloc, god of rain, lightning and thunder; and the feathered serpent, god of vegetational renewal."
Measely nervously cleared his throat and continued. "Today, of course, the majority of Mexican types reverence the woman depicted on The Surfing Madonna mosaic. But 'No Preference' means 'No Preference,' and it would be wrong to give the Goddess of the Cave and her serpentine partner a pass just because they've fallen out of religious fashion. Remember the Winston's Poseidon?"