Saturday, October 17, 2009
Blitz, Boo-yah, Spartacus and The Statue Man
Most of high school is a swirling watercourse of sometimes toxic events, including lesbian bitch-slap fights, nut job tazings, jocks and cheerleaders, atomic wedgies for all (both literally and figuratively) and tangy smoke filled restrooms. But once in a while, in the meandering flow, an odd eddy forms and the world just arranges itself around it. That would be The Statue Man.
An unassuming shaggy-haired white kid, he arrives at Boone football games trailed by a cadre of fans who know what he’s going to do. He is always accompanied by his cohort/cameraman. He strolls to a good spot, like the grassy knoll (that’s what they call it) near the bleachers and a crowd forms.
He freezes in place.
The scene unfolds under the disconcertingly constant gaze of the camera, and the intimidating stares of Mr. Blitz and Dr. Boo-yah, as he adopts whatever statue position is imposed upon him by passersby. Anyone who walks by is allowed to physically move The Statue Man's arms, legs, head, facial expression or clothes to suit their whims. They sometimes add or subtract clothing or props decorating him with found items. He transforms in just minutes, depending upon the mob energy surrounding him, from triumphant Poseidon, with arms and gaze flung heavenward, to abject slave kneeling with his shirt pulled up over his face. Until someone else decides to change his scene. He's a life-size Gumby but without the green slanty head, and his monkey-cam co-conspirator is not Pokey.
The Statue Man maintains this act of supernaturally-disciplined all-consuming performance art throughout the length of an entire football game. Some brave ones, unconcerned with whether it's cool or not, actually join him and stand still for short blocks of time just for fun. One such pioneer dork says that he strikes poses gleaned from his Art History Class. Rodin’s The Thinker, for instance. Or Tutankhamen. Or the Sistine God. Or Dr. Evil. Whatever.
Think long on this: Post adolescents standing still. Contemplating art and society and metaphors and funny movies. Miraculous. Awe inspiring.
And yet The Statue Man goes against everything Public High School in the United States of America has adopted as appropriate behavior. No, a student cannot deviate from the norm by adopting disruptive behaviors or by promoting physical contact. What if someone touched him in a “bad way?” What if one of his actions offended someone’s religious/cultural/racial beliefs? What if he “shot a bird?” What if the kids got over stimulated and a fight broke out? Or a riot? Or, god help us, a LAWSUIT?
“Young man if you stand still one more time, you will be escorted from the premises.”
This was the decree issued by Blitz and Boo-yah at the conclusion of the game before Homecoming. It was all over Boone High that Blitz and Boo-yah had suppressed The Statue Man. That they didn’t want Homecoming to be spoiled in any way by an “incident” so they nipped it hard. This was the pivotal event this year to cement their dominance. Or so they thought.
But a funny thing happened.
The Statue Man suddenly had a buddy. A kid froze right next to him and submitted to the manipulations of anyone passing by just as The Statue Man had. Then another joined. And another. Then 10. Then 20. A silent I AM SPARTACUS littered the grassy knoll with Statue Men and Women. They were not kids just pushing back at “The Man” from some anarchist-esque rebellious place. They had stepped over the line to assume the positions of grown-ups; men and women with opinions, causes, and, yes, passions.
Blitz and Boo-yah were at a crossroads. Blitz, with strict authority, swiftly and commandingly took the lead. Scowling, he approached The Statue Man closely, invaded his personal space for just one intimidating moment. He brought his hands up, dug his heels into the ground for stability…and froze.
Blitz struck a pose.
"Let's see if they can keep us from standing still!"