The Sights of Downtown SarasotaEach morning and evening on my way to and from work, Im both blessed and cursed with a drive directly through downtown Sarasota on a stretch of US41 that also meets up with and curves around Sarasota Bay. Its not that large a town, so the traffic is never terrible, and the view is worthwhile. At one point, the road isnt more than ten feet from the water. The scene changes from the asphalt and foot traffic of a small downtown area to a scenic display of ocean and sky in an instant, before switching back just as spontaneously. People like to anchor their boats in random spots near the road, so its like driving through one of those cheesy paintings youll see for sale at every flea market in America, just with less pelicans per capita. Its actually a nice, relaxing thing to see both before and after a long day at the office.
Unfortunately, Sarasota considers itself to be a city of the arts, which I guess means they have a need to spoil the view by staggering dozens of strange sculptures around the area without really taking the time to think about what theyre doing there. Theres no apparent thought given to the sculptures relation to one another, as they represent dozens of different styles (none of which ever seem to agree with one another), let alone the effect they have on the scenery itself. Its like a dark government helicopter arrives late at night, heaves these things out the window and then flies away undetected. Every year or two, these sculptures are swapped out for a new set of eyesores, and the cycle begins anew. This year weve been blessed with a set of strange abstract pieces, some of which would be curious in a different setting, along with a gargantuan sculptural reproduction of the famous sailor kissing lady photo that signified the end of World War II. You know the one.
This thing must be twenty five or thirty feet tall, and is just hideous. Its featured prominently right on the corner of downtown, and is very obviously their token patriotic showpiece. When I first saw it, I mustve passed as they were still piecing it together. All that I could see was a giant, twelve foot tall pair of upright, free-standing slacks, and I thought it was absolutely hilarious. That evening, when I drove past and saw the finished piece, I just shook my head. Its still shaking now, really, every time I drive past it. Just a horrible way to kill a naturally cool view.
So Ive established my disdain for this sculpture. I drove by it a couple of days ago and someone had spray painted a big peace sign on the calf of the girl's uplifted leg. When I drove past this morning, another someone (presumably the authorities) had spray painted a big white box over it. Her leggings are pink, so it looks like she's wearing a giant nicotine patch while accepting a great big passionate kiss from this random sailor. Better yet, there was a guy standing next to it in this ridiculous Benny Hill-style Bobby uniform, complete with a crazy brown moustache and a billy club (which he was waving at oncoming traffic). He had a chair next to him, so it looked like he was planning to be there all day. That made my morning.
Last week, when I worked overtime each day to the point of exhaustion, I was driving home late one night along the same stretch on the opposite side of the road. There was this guy wearing a huge sandwich board-style cardboard cutout of a grey cloud and a sign that said "Honk if you're having a bad day!"
I wanted to honk, but I was having too bad a day.