Words By Shelton Hull
One of the weirder phenomena to emerge in 2022 is the organized vandalism of classic paintings by rogue environmentalists, using assorted foodstuffs. Incidents were documented in this column earlier this year, a couple of times, so let’s begin this edition with two more.
Mashed potatoes were the weapon of choice in Potsdam, Germany, with “Les Meules” by Claude Monet as the protesters’ target. This came just days after tomato soup was deployed against Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,” one of the most important works of art ever created, at the National Museum in London. In both cases, the vandals then immediately glued their hands to the wall, which is really more of a problem for their hands than it is for the wall.
Next up: A pair of incredibly brave Cuban migrants were picked up by the U.S. Border Patrol while attempting to reach the Florida Keys by water. Two things stand out about this: 1) they were apparently close to landing, which meant the difficult part was already over; and 2) their vessels of choice were windsurfing boards. Now, we have heard many incredible stories of the extreme risks people have taken to make it across the ocean to America, but this is exceptional. By all means, give them asylum, and a movie deal. The script basically writes itself.
Speaking of travel, a bird called the bar-tailed godwit just set a record last month for the longest continuous flight ever documented by a bird. Birds have no hands, as you know, so it was hard to obtain accurate data for much of the trip, but scientists were able to attach a 5G tag to the bird to chart its progress with better reception than any of us have. It flew for 11 days straight, from Alaska, going southwest across the Pacific Ocean to Australia, for a total distance of 8,436 miles. Apparently when bar-tailed godwit migrate, the adults of the species depart a few days ahead, basically clearing a path to chaperone the juveniles, who remain on shore, fattening up for an exhausting journey. They have done this for many generations. Meanwhile, people literally put kids in the mail until 1915.
Nassau County gets busy, as Floridians know. And so do their counterparts in Nassau County, NY, where a woman (who we just naturally assume looks like Lisa Kudrow) was hustled to the pokey after being caught with roughly $40 million in counterfeit luxury goods. Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada, as well as 22 printing press machines and, according to one report, thousands of synthetic, heat-sealed counterfeit labels. This is the kind of operation you’d expect on Canal Street or Trump Tower. No names, but I’ll tag them later.
Freshwater West Beach in Pembrokeshire, Wales is where the death of Dobby in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was filmed, and it’s currently where a kerfuffle is ongoing, related to a makeshift memorial building amidst the rocks out of socks (IYKYK). The National Trust has strongly discouraged the practice, citing obvious environmental concerns, but it remains a stalemate. Dobby was a real one, though, and his sacrifice will never be forgotten.
Weird wild stuff, indeed, but once again, #Florida man comes through with the finery to retain the crown. We’ll actually name him this time: Matthew Concepcion, 19, who beat more than 1,000 competitors from 32 states in a 10-day Burmese python hunting contest sponsored by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. It’s an invasive species that, much like conservatism, has flourished in South Florida since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. The longest one caught was 11 feet, but they can get to almost double that size. Out of 231 total pythons caught, 28 were Concepcion’s, and that earned him a $10,000 grand prize. When asked what he would spend the money on, he said his first purchase would be better lights for his python hunting truck.