- One is a statue of Henry Flurg, proudly on display in the public square in the heart of downtown. Henry was a middle-aged St. Louisan who spent most of his time masturbating. He had no social life and contributed nothing to society, but, "He led the way in something we should all be ashamed of," noted Earl Glurp, President of the Pride for Self-Indulgence, which was awarded a Federal Grant to fund the statue.
- Shirleen Smink worked for the Department of Motor Vehicles and made customers' lives miserable. She saw to it that some folks stood in line for several hours before being told in a rude and dismissive way that they didn't have the right paperwork. In her personal life, she was selfish and nasty to her closest friends. She has been honored with a plaque on St. Louis' Walk of Fame.
- Thad Schlub managed to father three children whose mothers he abandoned, in spite of the fact that he did literally nothing but play video games, collect disability, and smoke an "unbelievable" amount of "weed" while listening to loud and annoying music. Four local streets and a fountain will be named after him.
Well, not so much.
Cakeway to the West is an arts program that is celebrating the 250th Anniversary of the founding of the city of St. Louis by Pierre Laclede and Auguste Chouteau in 1764. 250 fiberglass cakes have been placed around the metro area, each decorated by a local artist. My wife Karen and I are having fun traveling about and photographing every cake.
Now, there are the typical inanities that come with something like this. Most of the cakes are pretty ugly. Some of them have been placed in locations of commercial rather than historical or cultural significance (an abandoned pizza parlor? a motorcycle dealership?). About half of the cakes are positioned so that it's impossible to photograph them and the landmark where they've been placed in one aesthetic shot.
And the whole project, fun as it is, reminds me of what you find at Gettysburg. There are very few activities or tours at Gettysburg that capture the solemnity of the place, or that even touch upon the sacrifices made in land "consecrated" by the blood shed upon it. What do you have instead at Gettysburg? What do you have a lot of? Ghost Tours.
Our culture always tends toward pop culture, and so Cakeway to the West misses most of the grandeur and dignity of our city's past, but manages all the same to capture a lot of its quirkiness and charm. This is to be expected.
We can't seem to do much more these days.
What's surprising, however, and extremely disappointing, is how the organizers of this celebration have manged to politicize it - and politicize it in the worst possible way.
There are at least two cakes dedicated to the so-called LGBT Community (I thought LGBT stood for my favorite authors - Lewis-Gilbert-Belloc-Tolkien - but I guess I was wrong). And one of these cakes proudly displayed an ad for our nation's premier abortion mill, Planned Parenthood.
Ask yourself this - would the organizers of this public event have allowed cakes to be placed at the headquarters of the Respect Life Apostolate of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, or at Birthright? On the flip side of that, would the organizers have allowed ads on cakes from the KKK, or even the NRA? Would cakes have been set up at sites valued by the Republican Party but not the Democratic party?
But it goes deeper than all of that.
Here's one of the few cakes whose placement makes any attempt to acknowledge the complexities and tragedies of our city's history.
It stands to the right of a monument to Union General Nathaniel Lyon, who saved the Federal Arsenal in the city, and who gave his life at age 43 at the Battle of Wilson Creek near Springfield to keep Missouri from joining the Confederacy.
And of course our city is named after the great saint, King Louis IX of France, crusader and lover of the poor. This photo shows our city's official statue of St. Louis the King, holding aloft the cross at the end of his sword. To the right of the statue is a gaudy cake (blue white and orange), impossible to photograph with the statue itself, as the cake is placed next to a large retaining wall - but at least this cake gives a nod to the depth of history that has shaped our community.
And yet what is really being celebrated when a cake promotes homosexuality and abortion?
The same thing that would be celebrated by a statue to a man who masturbates, or a woman who serves as a mean and small-minded bureaucrat, or a man who smokes dope and lives off welfare.
What is being celebrated may be things that are common enough, but they are not things that add to our culture.
They are things that are sterile, self-serving, self-indulgent and filled with darkness and regret.
They are the landmarks of the Culture of Death.
Pope St. John Paul II, pray for us.