Trickle-Down Theories A sculpture of the humpbacked flute player Kokopelli was removed from the front of Edge of the Cedars State Park Museum in Blanding, Utah, after complaints from a local group calling itself the “Values Committee.” Despite the fact that the sculpture is quite abstract and minimalist in its presentation of the male form, the townspeople thought they saw an offending appendage, on obscene branch of what amounts to an artistically reorganized tree. One is reminded of a similar incident reported in this column a few years ago, in which the people in a small American city were horrified to discover that the new parking meters on Main Street looked a bit like—yes, I see it now!—erect penises. It may be that Freud has finally trickled down to small-town America, so people are alert to sexual innuendo, whether real or imagined, that would have blown over their heads a generation or two ago. (Then it was possible for New York songwriters to include the line “A hot dog makes her lose control” in The Patty Duke Show theme song, and no one even noticed.) Doubtless the flute player’s phallus was real enough, its prominence exaggerated, if the truth be told—perhaps that was the problem—so off it went to an out-of-the-way location.
Published in: January-February 2009 issue.