Maine’s Governor Fixes Public Art and Labor Issues
Gov. Paul LePage has made the national news again, this time by ordering the Maine Department of Labor to remove a huge mural in its offices that depicted him frolicking nude with nymphs who looked suspiciously like members of the Maine Women’s Lobby.
Oops, sorry. That mural has already come down. The one LePage told his minions to get rid of this week shows the history of the labor movement in the state.
This prompted a predictable round of outrage from unions, Democrats, artists, and the poor workers who’ll have to cart the thirty-six-foot-long painting to its new home high atop Mount Katahdin.
“It’ll be visible for miles and miles,” said LePage. “If you have really good binoculars.”
In some ways, I can sympathize with the governor. The mural’s eleven depressing panels, created by a Maine painter in 2008, seem to evoke the grand era of Soviet artwork, showing wooden-looking common folk engaged in strikes, demonstrations, and organizing efforts. This stuff couldn’t have been much fun for bureaucrats to look at while they were processing forms denying people unemployment benefits.
LePage said he wanted the artwork shifted to a more appropriate setting – he briefly considered placing it in the median strip along accident-prone portions of Interstate 295 – to demonstrate that the labor department was an open and welcoming place not only for downtrodden workers, but for their overbearing bosses. He promised to replace the mural with a more balanced display that includes depictions of union thugs beating up scabs, major stockholders enjoying caviar while viewing huddled masses from their penthouse suite, and portraits of Donald Trump firing people.
“I got them all cheap,” LePage said, “at Marden’s.”
Speaking of Trump, he’s in line to have a conference room at the department named after him. LePage felt that some of the names given to those rooms were also anti-management, such as “The Great Hall of the People,” “The Stalin Chamber of Horrors” and “The Pol Pot Outhouse.” A contest is being held among department staff to pick new names. The winner gets to keep his or her job.
Under the LePage directive, the Frances Perkins Room – named for the Maine native who was the first woman to hold a cabinet post, as Franklin Roosevelt’s secretary of labor – will become the Sarah Palin Room – named for the last woman anyone wants to be president. The Cesar Chavez Room will become the Caesar Salad Room and will feature lettuce picked by non-union laborers. And the Charles Scontras Room, which honors a University of Maine professor who wrote a history of the Maine labor movement, will become the Dean Scontras Room, honoring a conservative Republican who lost two races for Congress and moved away to Virginia.
Amidst all the uproar over these changes, one positive note has been overlooked. If the governor has the power to get rid of public art that offends businesspeople, he could use that authority to speed up the removal of the hideous “Tracing the Fore” sculpture in Portland’s Boothby Square.
While the Portland City Council and various committees keep voting to call in NATO air strikes to bomb what is clearly a terrorist attempt to frighten away tourists, nothing happens. But LePage, with nothing more than his signature, could compel state highway workers to dig the thing up and transport it to a location where it might be appreciated.
I’m thinking a scrap yard.
The governor didn’t waste the entire week dealing with interior decoration issues at the Department of Labor. He also debuted his new TV show, “Any Idiot Can Do This Job.”
In the first episode, LePage and his little friends Cartman, Kyle, Stan, and Kenny beat up Butters, who they suspect is a Communist agent attempting to unionize artists, after which they’ll force management to accept a contract that will prevent any of their works from ever being removed or relocated. It’s pretty funny, although the jokes can be difficult to follow sometimes, because the governor keeps getting bleeped out whenever he swears.
Speaking of children engaged in inappropriate activities, thousands of school kids went to a Portland Pirates game on March 22, as part of a team promotion called “Blood Splatters And Brain Goop On The Ice.” It featured several fights, including one that involved a gang of angry artists. When parent and school officials complained about the graphic violence, they were assured by the Pirates that “it was only red paint and gray modeling clay.”
There are conflicting reports as to whether the AHL hockey team promised the participating schools they’d show restraint during the game, which normally involves burly men on skates trying to mutilate each other. But several superintendents have indicated that regardless of what was said beforehand, they won’t be back for a Pirates game next year.
“We’ll expose these young impressionable minds to something more appropriate,” one super said. “I’m thinking mixed martial arts.”
But back to the governor. Sources inform me that the LePage administration is being kept informed by the U.S. Coast Guard and the state Department of Marine Resources about reports that as many as forty harp seals from Canada have been found along the Maine coast. According to experts in seal behavior, the creatures are migrating south in unusual numbers to take advantage of Maine’s generous welfare benefits.
“This is why we must pass my welfare-reform plan,” said LePage. “Foreign seals should be required to wait five years before qualifying for free fish.”
The governor also ordered all state agencies to remove any artwork that depicted seals from Canada or other socialist countries – such as Russia, Finland and California – in a positive light.
“I’m the governor of Maine seals, like Andre,” LePage said. “I’m not the governor of any alien seals.”
Offended artists, hockey players, school superintendents, LePage supporters and Canadian harp seals can e-mail complaints to the author at email@example.com.