A tee hee activity for freshmen at my alma mater, St. Louis University, is to take a short ride down Grand Boulevard and confront Naked Truth in Reservoir Park. This is a statue with a story. The three names behind the figure are the editors of the German language St. Louis Westliche Post in the early 20th Century. The statue was bankrolled by Adolphus Busch, founder of the Anheuser-Busch dynasty. There was a big brouhaha about the statue's nudity. Prudes demanded that it be draped. The sculptor, Wilhelm Wandschneider of Berlin, refused. The compromise was to change the material from white marbel to bronze to - I don't know - de-emphasize her boobs or something. For details, click here and scroll down to the section about the statue.
The inescapable comparison is to the actions of Missouri's former attorney general, governor and U. S. Senator, and later United States Attorney General, John Ashcroft. Ashcroft, a noted religious and political conservative, objected to two semi-nude statues called the Spirit of Justice in the great hall of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington. News reports indicated that he didn't like being photographed in front of bare breasts - even aluminum ones - while making official pronouncements. He ordered the statues to be covered in fabric at a cost of $8,000 to US taxpayers. Ashcroft and the drapes are gone now. Instead, we have Alberto Gonzales. What fun.
By the way, in 2001 I sat behind Ashcroft on a long plane ride home from Portland, Oregon. He was running for president at the time. He was reading US News and World Report and I kept thinking: you say you are qualified to be president of the United States of America - don't you know this stuff already? Doesn't somebody give you a briefing once in a while? His wife was reading an article in Readers Digest called Why You Will Get Your Next Job On the Internet. I had just been to Portland's famous Saturday market, where I bought a bumper sticker that said Friends Don't Let Friends Vote Republican. Should I have gone up to his seat, introduced myself, shaken his hand and quickly placed the sticker on his back? Woulda coulda shoulda.
TOMORROW: The Ugliest Statue In St. Louis