April 3, 2015

"We Love Lucy! Get Rid of this Statue."

A Facebook page devoted to ridding the Celoron, New York of the "frightening" statue of Lucille Ball.



We've talked about tearing down (or relocating) statues before, most recently in the context of communist propaganda, which might be good as sculpture per se but carries a message that the people of a particular place never wanted installed. Remember, you voted on it:



Now, the Lucy sculpture is different, because Lucy is not the symbol of a hated invader of Celoron, New York. She grew up there. They must love her. The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center is close by, and presumably they want Lucy lovers to make a pilgrimage. In that light, I think this statue is like the "Ecce Homo" painting in in the Sanctuary of Mercy church in Borja, Spain, the one no one came to see before it was rendered ludicrous by a well-meaning old lady:



It's a big tourist attraction these days, precisely because of its sublime badness. Perhaps this "We Love Lucy! Get Rid of this Statue" campaign is just a trick to get the hilarious image out there so the next time you're barreling across I-80, you'll take that little detour and get that Instagram selfie you know you'll want. You'll look much better than that aging American couple who, subjects of a half-assed NYT travel article, posed happily with statues of Lenin and Stalin in Lithuania.

I know what you're thinking: But wasn't Lucille Ball a communist?
As she had in her sworn testimony before the [House Un-American Activities Committee in 1953], Lucy insisted she knew nothing of politics in 1936 and registered as a Communist only to please her grandfather, Fred Hunt, who was a zealous Socialist....

[Lucy's mother] Mrs. Desiree E. Ball and [Lucy's brother] Fred H. Ball... both testified they had registered to vote communist in 1936 as the actress did to please “Grandpa.”...

“We’re lucky this happened to us in America, where newspapermen ask the questions,” Desi said. “In other countries they shoot first and ask the questions later.”

67 comments:

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Lucy, you got some splaining to do.

traditionalguy said...

Wow! The people in her hometown must really hate her. That is the ugliest statue ever made, but Lucy was beautiful inside and outside.

tim in vermont said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

Chautauqua, Lucille Ball, and Concord grapes.

tim in vermont said...

Typo, BTW, it's I 86, which when I lived around there, was called the Southern Tier Expressway and stopped at the Indian reservation and started up again right after. I see they detoured around it.

Ann Althouse said...

"Typo, BTW, it's I 86..."

Not a typo. I'm picturing more of a detour.

lemondog said...

Man in drag?

Well, I never could do faces....

YoungHegelian said...

“We’re lucky this happened to us in America, where newspapermen ask the questions,” Desi said. “In other countries they shoot first and ask the questions later.”

Boy, did that Desi Arnaz know how to work a crowd or did he know how to work a crowd?

Bob Boyd said...

Looks more like Lou Ferrigno than Lucille Ball.

Scott said...

Weird statue of Louis Riel in Winnipeg, Manitoba is conceptually ugly, and not just ugly because of the artist's apparent lack of skill, as the Lucille Ball statue obviously is.

tim in vermont said...

Not a typo. I'm picturing more of a detour

You win again. It is would be a pretty detour if you were into forested emptiness east of the Mississippi.

Chris N said...

'Hey, Terry, what if we reimagined her face...in a Harry Crumb-esque zombie greaser kind of way?

'You're gettin too meta, man. Stay on task.

Besides I don't think you have the balls or the talent...'

tim in vermont said...

There is a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery in Salem, Mass. I grabbed it's hand and got a little thrill. She was a childhood TV crush.

MadisonMan said...

That's not a good testament to the sculptor's "skill", is it?

J Lee said...

It looks more like an angry Roddy McDowell than it does Lucy. But I-86 is a nice detour from I-80, if you have the time, and it's not snowing or zero-visibility foggy in the Catskill section.

MadisonMan said...

I'm driving from the Northeast (Hi Titus!) to the midwest next week, but the trip across I-86 adds an hour vs. I-80, a trip I can do (and have done, almost) in my sleep.

I don't think I'll stop in Jamestown.

Chuck said...

Bless you, Ann Althouse.

What happened to modern sculpture and real-life figures? You would think that with modern digital technology, the cast-metal imaging of famous people could be done with great accuracy. It seems to be the opposite.

Think of all of the great statuary figures, from ancient Rome up to the time of American civil war figures at the turn of the last century. They were brilliant, attractive and moving.

There are so many examples of terrible modern sculpture; this Lucille Ball example might just be the worst, but look at the Joe Paterno and Nick Saban statues as other bad ones. Other readers; nominate your own losers; I'd like to see them as well. We seem to be going backward on the art of statuary.

Ann Althouse said...

"Wow! The people in her hometown must really hate her. That is the ugliest statue ever made, but Lucy was beautiful inside and outside."

Lucille Ball was not that beautiful. She was pretty enough and she used styling and expression to become a great TV star.

A monochromatic bronze sculpture offends that subjective image you have. Without the light skin with the dark lips and the big dark eyelashes, all you have is the shape of the features, and you're shocked at the absence of Lucy-osity.

Ann Althouse said...

Without a different medium, if they replace the statue, they will be disappointed again.

Virgil Hilts said...

Boy Scout Memorial in D.C. Still my favorite inappropriate statute.

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/52846260

lemondog said...

Working in bronze is haaaard.......

Wince said...

Ann Althouse said...
Lucille Ball was not that beautiful. She was pretty enough and she used styling and expression to become a great TV star.

Lucy in the Sky with Stooges

Lucy was cast as a moll in the Three Stooges 1934 classic "The Three Little Pigskins".

rhhardin said...

They should do a statue to the laugh track, which is what I remember.

David said...

Lucy was a glamor girl, and rightfully so, during part of her career. A very good looking and talented woman.

Tibore said...

Wow, that is a horrid likeness. It's so bad it's practically a dislikeness.

And re: Communism - That she registered in 1936 is undeniable. That she claims she did it just to please "Grandpa" is not confirmable but still totally believable. But as far as her actual stance was... well, if Desi told her anything about his early life - as he almost certainly would have - then I'd find it hard to believe she was one in the 50's. All the evidence suggests mere flirtation with the edges of it, not deep involvement.

Ann Althouse said...

"You win again. It is would be a pretty detour if you were into forested emptiness east of the Mississippi."

I've driven across that part of 80 a few times, and the detour that has seemed most obvious to me is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Some less glitzy roadside attractions would be welcome.

Ann Althouse said...

"Lucy was a glamor girl, and rightfully so, during part of her career. A very good looking and talented woman."

I believe she was considered insufficiently beautiful to be a leading lady in film. Look at the competition from her era. Try to picture her without makeup. Look at Ingrid Bergman, etc.

Ann Althouse said...

As for Desi Arnaz:

"Arnaz was born Desiderio Alberto Arnaz y de Acha, III, in Santiago de Cuba to Desiderio Alberto Arnaz II (March 8, 1894 – May 31, 1973) and his wife Dolores de Acha (April 2, 1896 – October 24, 1988).[3] His father was Santiago's youngest mayor and also served in the Cuban House of Representatives. His maternal grandfather was Alberto de Acha, an executive at Bacardi Rum.[4] According to Arnaz, in his autobiography A Book (1976), the family owned three ranches, a palatial home, and a vacation mansion on a private island in Santiago Bay, Cuba. Following the 1933 Cuban Revolution, led by Fulgencio Batista, which overthrew President Gerardo Machado, Alberto Arnaz was jailed and all of his property was confiscated. He was released after six months when his brother-in-law Alberto de Acha intervened on his behalf.[4] The family then fled to Miami, where Desi attended St. Patrick Catholic High School. In the summer of 1934 he attended Saint Leo Prep[5] (near Tampa) to help improve his English."

Unknown said...

"There is a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery in Salem, Mass."

Which was not well executed either.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g60954-d3680287-Reviews-Bewitched_Statue_of_Elizabeth_Montgomery-Salem_Massachusetts.html

Anonymous said...

In the next revolution pizza shops will be confiscated--to some it will be the obviously right thing to do.

Original Mike said...

"There is a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery in Salem, Mass."

"Which was not well executed either."

At least you can recognize her. Poor Lucy!

Original Mike said...

Looks more like James Dean than Lucille Ball.

Titus said...

The real witches were seriously pissed in Salem with the Bewitched sculpture.

They constantly were bitching in Salem.

Salem is kind of fab btw...great restaurants.

tim in vermont said...

Some less glitzy roadside attractions would be welcome.

Their is the little study that Mark Twain had built to look like a riverboat pilot's house on the campus of Elmira College. He wrote some of his best popular fiction there. If you are really a fan, you can visit his grave. A better Mark Twain related trip is the little Norman Rockwell museum where all of his illustrations for Huckleberry Finn are on display in a little building in Hannibal, Mo.

As for the "forested emptiness" that is mostly in PA , as you can see by your map, there is the "Grand Canyon of the East" at Pine Creek, PA, which is more delusions of grandeur, but it is still nice. That would be along US Rt 6.

There is the Corning Glass museum, where they built the lens for the Mt Palomar telescope and where they invented the gorilla glass for all of our smartphones. If you happened to be into the history of glass in the United States.

You have the #1 and #3 state parks in the country by some accounts.

IDK, I guess all of my choices are affected by nostalgia and loca pride.

David said...

Lucy in the Sky with Demons.

tim in vermont said...

How could I forget, you could book a glider ride at Harris Hill

Ron said...

Back in her RKO days, Lucy was an "escort" for various studio bigwigs...Over at Fox, there were what they called "Five O'Clock Girls"...who might get cameos/minor parts in films if they were, as they said, casting couch friendly.

Lucy is in two Fred and Ginger movies, Top Hat and Follow The Fleet.

David said...

" Desi attended St. Patrick Catholic High School. In the summer of 1934 he attended Saint Leo Prep[5] (near Tampa) to help improve his English."

He improved it just right. Think how much less charming Desi would have been with perfect unaccented English.

Unknown said...

"Salem is kind of fab btw...great restaurants."

I've been there twice. Once back in the early 80s when I was in the Army. We went on Halloween. What a party. The second time was two or so years ago. It seemed to be much more developed and much more upscale.

Roger Sweeny said...

tim in vermont,

I-86 is now complete and does go into the reservation, now officially the Seneca Nation.

Right off the highway, and very visible from it, is that symbol of Native American sovereignty: a hotel and casino.

Roger Sweeny said...

"There is a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery in Salem, Mass."

"Which was not well executed either."

Perhaps a poor choice of words.

WestVirginiaRebel said...

By today's Hollywood standards, Lucy might not be attractive. But part of her appeal was that she looked and acted like a real person. My favorite moment was when she tried to dress up as Superman and met the real thing out on the ledge: "You mean to say you've been married to her for fifteen years? And they call ME Superman!"

This version looks like she wants brains...

Mitch H. said...

No, professor, that statue doesn't rob us of the Lucy-ness through the bronze flatness of the coloring. The lips and mouth bear no resemblance to the structure of her lips and mouth, the hairstyle isn't even a female style, and in general the sculpture looks more like Jack Kirby than Lucille Ball.

richard mcenroe said...

Dear God, that statue looks more like Martin Sheen emoting that Lucille Ball. WTF'nH?

And that portrait of Jesus looks like an artist tried to salvage a partially finished canvas or a commission the original customer refused to take delivery on. That head is clearly added on to the body like a bad photoshop

richard mcenroe said...

Hey! I met Jack Kirby! He was a cool dude.

Ann Althouse said...

I agree that the hair is wrong. It's like the wig Little Steven wore in "The Sopranos."

richard mcenroe said...

My favorite Desi story was when the patronizing Saturday Night Live director condescended to explain to the old man how the three-camera stusio system worked.

Hint for the yoot: Who INVENTED the three-camera system...?

tim in vermont said...

Right off the highway, and very visible from it, is that symbol of Native American sovereignty: a hotel and casino.

Good for them, I remember driving through in the seventies and seeing people living in tar-paper shacks on that reservation.

I hope they get richer than Crousus fracking there too.

tim in vermont said...

Baseball Hall of Fame too, they built it, you should come.

OK, I'm done.

David said...

"I believe she was considered insufficiently beautiful to be a leading lady in film. Look at the competition from her era. Try to picture her without makeup. Look at Ingrid Bergman, etc."

All true. The A List in that era was A+++. But Lucy was beautiful nevertheless. Moved to New York at age 17. Successful model. Chorus girl. She had a very slow rise in show biz, but her persistence and talent eventually paid off. Though apparently her career made us happier as an audience than she was as a star.

David said...

"Lucy is in two Fred and Ginger movies, Top Hat and Follow The Fleet."

According to Wiki, Lucy and Ginger were cousins. Not first cousins but cousin enough to be aware of it.

Ann Althouse said...

Don't misread me. I said: "Lucille Ball was not that beautiful. She was pretty enough and she used styling and expression to become a great TV star. A monochromatic bronze sculpture offends that subjective image you have. Without the light skin with the dark lips and the big dark eyelashes, all you have is the shape of the features, and you're shocked at the absence of Lucy-osity."

I did not say the statue looks like her. It doesn't. That's in part because of the lack of contrast, the lips and the eyes. (And as I've read but won't look up the study, increased contrast reads as more feminine.) But the features and hairstyle are also wrong... and wrong is such a hideous way that I laughed a lot. That's why I posted it. It's so funny.

Ann Althouse said...

"In the photo, "Illusion of Sex," two faces are perceived as male and female. However, both faces are actually versions of the same androgynous face. One face was created by increasing the contrast of the androgynous face, while the other face was created by decreasing the contrast."

Titus said...

Salem is much more upscale now. Some of my fave restaurants are in Salem and 30 minutes from Cambridge.

Salem is known for many restaurants that allow dogs-not as many as Ptown, natch, but quite a few.

Titus said...

I could easily live in Salem because it has lots going on but it's just to far from the city-30 minutes is like 2 hours in rush hour.

I would also live on Plum's Island, Rockport, Newburyport, Portsmouth, NH, Gloucester.

I am totally North Shore. The only time I go South Shore is on my way to Ptown. Although Plymouth, Scituate, Hull, and Cohasset are delightful

Even the name of cities are fab out here.

There are a decent amount of somebodies living in Salem.

Humperdink said...

I live 20 minutes from the statue in question and have never seen it.

When my brother's family visited from Florida a few years ago, we visited the Lucy/Desi museum in nearby Jamestown, NY. As it happened, it was weekend of the Lucille Ball festival. Lucy and Desi impersonators were there. It was a great time.

averagejoe said...

Piss Lucy.

Wilbur said...

The statue is astonishingly bad.

It looks more like Sterling Holloway than LB.

Fernandinande said...

She made a pretty good "gangster moll", too.

(IIRC, Fred MacMurray was the gangster. Or it was "The Dark Corner", 1946).

lgv said...

I wish you had posted a picture of the statue and had us guess who it was. The percentages of correct answers would have been very interesting.

Wilbur said...

A local cable channel shows 2 episodes of "Here's Lucy" weeknights at 6:00. A truly execrable series, circa 1968, watchable only in the mindset of appreciating how bad it is. Like watching "Plan Nine from Outer Space" or "The Babe Ruth Story". Great guest stars, one each episode, like Milton Berle, Liberace, Lawrence Welk, Shelley Winters, et al.

The channel does graciously program two episodes of "The Dick Van Dyke Show" before "Here's Lucy".

I loved "I Love Lucy", but my least favorite character on the show was Lucy. As a child I couldn't understand how those three pretty cool people - Ricky, Fred and Ethel - would want to be around someone I saw negatively: Lucy, a liar, an immature and devious schemer.

CStanley said...

It looks more like Eleanor Roosevelt.

Lydia said...

Without a different medium, if they replace the statue, they will be disappointed again.

It's hard, but it can be done. This sculpture of her in Palm Springs comes much, much closer to capturing her. The hair and face are better and her general buoyancy and gracefulness comes across. None of that chunky, hovering menace like in the goofy statue in New York. And there's another good one of her in Hollywood at the Television Hall of Fame.

Lydia said...

Bad Palm Springs link. Try this instead.

Roger Sweeny said...

"Right off the highway, and very visible from it, is that symbol of Native American sovereignty: a hotel and casino."

Good for them, I remember driving through in the seventies and seeing people living in tar-paper shacks on that reservation.

I hope they get richer than Crousus fracking there too.


Last summer we had to detour off I-86 and that part of the Seneca Nation looked a lot like every other part of upstate NY. You can also buy Native American cigarettes, which I assume are exempt from some taxes.

The Baseball Hall of Fame is way up, off I-88. Actually, a nice route from Boston to the west is I-90 to Albany, then I-88 to Binghamton, then I-86 to Erie, PA and I-90 again.

NorthOfTheOneOhOne said...

Love the headline at the Onion's AV Club:

"Statue of Lucille Ball terrorizes small town"

http://www.avclub.com/article/statue-lucille-ball-terrorizes-small-town-217506

William said...

Make a large bronze statue of a television. On the screen show Lucy shows in an endless digital loop with occasional snow and loose vertical hold screwing up the telecast. Make it kid friendly with adjustableI rabbit ears that the kids can play with. In that way, the children of today could see both Lucy's talent and the harrowing conditions that their forefathers endured to enjoy her talent and make her a star.