Current Essays

I'll Give You No Quarter On:2006-04-06 16:21:33

One of the most onerous duties of a parent, and one of the most constant and demanding, is the familiar one of dropped-project up-picking: you know the completion of tasks started, but willfully abandoned, by the child.
Ahh! I still remember, Oh! eighteen or more years ago, the pain, the exhaustion---and the frozen shock---after slaving away with intense concentration for an hour or so at the igloo in the back garden that then-little Raed and Ead had begged me----begged me to help them start building; when upon glancing up I noticed the little buggers watching me through the kitchen window, with hot chocolate steaming in their mugs: the horrid little deserters.

Anyway in that spirit I have of late inherited the task of completing Rowena's collection of State Quarters.
As part of this I have actually had to look at the damned things rather closely.
And all I can say is, ...well have you ever looked closely or at all critically at what can only be, since the common European currency blossomed so blossomly, and so completely zapped the dollar with its country-themed designs; America's answer to the Euro coinage--those weird State-specific quarters?
There is a strange, twisted world depicted on the backs of these pseuoEuros. Evil and malevolent, redolent with the most backward and abysmal of things.

It is hard to find out just who the perpetrators are, but there seem to have been many of them, and if this turns out to be true then I have uncovered the twisted web of a devilish plot far worse than anything my kids have ever plotted to leave me gathering the tattered ends of.

Here is a plot, indeed, to sap the very spirit of America!
I give you the evidence, in no particular order, and I leave it to you, the listener, to judge---and to convict.
Take New Hampshire's which must be the most pitiable thing ever dipicted on a coin---it claims to be some old mountain man and looks, as far as it looks like anything, for all the world like an evil genetic experiment gone wrong: the Elephant Man spliced with Mr Potatohead.

Then there's New York's which isn't too bad to look at really, a nice little map; however it's a map in which, in some vile desire to confuse and mislead, they seem to have misplaced the location of the Statue of Liberty into the middle of Pennsylvania! That state, to move right on, at least has its statue slap bang in its own middle. Though I did notice the hint of kickbacks, or at least of sponsorship, in that little ad for Heinz 57 Varieties in the corner.

There's Florida's which cruelly mocks NASA's occasional intellectual lapses (remember the time NASA had customary units confused with metric, with interesting results on a Mars probe?) Well the coiners do, they clearly show poor NASA trying to land a space shuttle on the totally inadequate flight deck of a sixteenth century galleon.
North Carolina shows the first aeroplane accident in graphic detail, some poor chap apparently having his head cut of by the first flight.

Worst of the lot, though, is Alabama's: poor Helen Keller, with all she had to put up with how could they depict her in the electric chair?

Then there's New Jersey which has a unique example of a coin made from a drawing (done from the life) of one of Lydia the Tattooed Lady's1 tattoos (that's of course Lydia of Groucho Marx fame), a tattoo in turn that's of a painting of an un-sea-or-river-worthy and overcrowded boat, with its passengers foolishly standing up and one, moreover, that's in immediate danger of Titannic-emulation.

Then there's that silly incitement to petty rivalry with North Dakota's quarter trying to outdo Kansas's by having twice as many Buffalo! Or do I mean Bison?
Then, then, in a final descent into puerile humour, the other Dakota shows Mt Rushmore, with a bird flying over it and presumably about to do what all birds do to all statues (and, incidentally, to my car every time I have it washed)
Everything is not dark though; and on that brighter side, the Texas quarter has a map of the state and, showing the unusually high regard in which we broadcasters are held in this state, has an enormous star marking the exact location of my house in Plano.

Cheerio for now
from Richard Howland-Bolton.


1Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
She has eyes that folks adore so,
And a torso even more so.
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclo-pidia.
Oh Lydia The Queen of Tattoo.
On her back is The Battle of Waterloo.
Beside it, The Wreck of the Hesperus too.
And proudly above waves the red, white, and blue.
You can learn a lot from Lydia!
When her robe is unfurled she will show you the world,
If you step up and tell her where.
For a dime you can see Kankakee or Paree,
Or Washington crossing The Delaware.
Oh Lydia, oh Lydia, say, have you met Lydia?
Lydia The Tattooed Lady.
When her muscles start relaxin',
Up the hill comes Andrew Jackson.
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclo-pidia.
Oh Lydia The Queen of them all.
For two bits she will do a mazurka in jazz,
with a view of Niagara that nobody has.
And on a clear day you can see Alcatraz.
You can learn a lot from Lydia!
Come along and see Buffalo Bill with his lasso.
Just a little classic by Mendel Picasso.
Here is Captain Spaulding exploring the Amazon.
Here's Godiva, but with her pajamas on.
Here is Grover Whelan unveilin' The Trilon.
Over on the west coast we have Treasure Isle-on.
Here's Nijinsky a-doin' the rhumba.
Here's her social security numba.
Lydia, oh Lydia, that encyclo-pidia.
Oh Lydia The Champ of them all.
She once swept an Admiral clear off his feet.
The ships on her hips made his heart skip a beat.
And now the old boy's in command of the fleet,
For he went and married Lydia!
I said Lydia...
(He said Lydia...)
They said Lydia...
We said Lydia, la, la!

Music by Harold Arlen. Lyrics by E.Y. Harburg

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