san francisco gets off on the wrong foot
San Francisco's controversial 18-foot-tall, stainless-steel sculpture of a foot, planned for the waterfront near the Ferry Building, will not materialize.
Amid a cascade of criticism, the Board of Supervisors voted to veto The Foot, putting the kabosh on the half-million dollars for the project. It had won the anonymous approval of the Art Commission.
It's a shame the foot was kicked out. It had engendered so many bad jokes and plays-on-words. It sparked debate, it engendered interest in the city's landscape. But it's politics that count in a pragmatic world and the supes feel, with elections coming next year, they must toe the line -- so to speak.
On the other side of town, there's a replica of Rodin's "The Thinker." Just think. We could have had a huge foot called "The Stinker."
It certainly would have been an incentive for podiatrists to bring their conventions here.
Donnybrooks over the creative process used to be part of San Francisco culture -- perhaps our favorite sport -- when the city had a culture that extended beyond Designer Showcase events or exorbitantly-priced tickets for the opera. Whether it was the court battle over designating Allen Ginsberg's famed poem, "Howl," as obscene -- or San Francisco police repeatedly busting Lenny Bruce at the hungry i for using four-letter words in his stand-up routines -- San Francisco had a rich tradition of artistic turbulence, playful anarchy and substantive disagreements that counted for something.
But, alas, The Foot will not join the club -- so to speak.
With Lenny Bruce, Ginsberg and other renegades, there was always a madly entertaining element, a notion of fun in it all -- a bit of humor.
The Foot might have provided some of that good-natured frivolity that San Francisco once enjoyed. But the denizens here have grown serious -- deadly serious -- like criminals about to pull off a heist.
Perhaps it would be more agreeable to city authorities to erect an 18-foot-tall dollar sign.
Wordsworth said it nearly 200 years ago: "The world is too much with us; late and soon/Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:/Little we see in nature that is ours;/We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!"
The Foot has been cut off and it leaves many of us limp.
So to speak.
Bootlicking by the Bay, Bellingham, April 20, 1999
Reproduction of material from posthoc is prohibited without written permission.
Copyright 1998 posthoc