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Wholesomeness becomes horror

September 18, 2011

I've been following the Glendale float fracas because in a former life I designed/built/sculpted 45 Rose Parade floats.

All float designs seem to represent middle tastes of wholesomeness by Tournament of Roses decree and tradition, and by committee-think of the city sponsors. This is written in stone.

The changing times can shift the measure of wholesomeness a bit, and this becomes a squirrelly zone, in this case an elephant-sized squirrel.

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My, my, we find one's wholesomeness is another one's horror somewhere, be it religion, dress code or float design. Here in one corner of this fight we have thinking, sensitive and caring people who feel circuses and zoos are like touring a lock-down mental ward looking at broken and dysfunctional freaks.

In the other corner of this fight we have the circus coming to town being announced by the shrill steam calliope a mile away and pulled by elephants.

Presently in my profession as conceptual designer for theatrical shows, film, TV and advertising, we deal with the gist of design: the perceived meaning by a target audience, be it overt, subtle, intended, unintended and otherwise. Billions of dollars rest on this “triviality” every minute of every day the world over.

So here's my announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen! In the ring of perception we have a fight to the finish; both sides right, both sides wrong! Who will win?”

My hope is that everyone wins, especially the public. I'd like to see both perceptions, old entertainment ways of the circus coming to town, and the growing sensitivities to animal rights, melded together.

Voila! In a grand gesture of unity of spirit suggested by builder/city/and the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals alike, unhook the elephant from the calliope (hitch down), with PETA and Glendale volunteers happily together on the float waving to the public down Colorado Boulevard.

Let's show a forward America, let’s go for the positive future for Glendale, the Tournament of Roses, the elephants and all creatures, and all the stakeholders.

More than a float, this becomes a fresh and huge triumph for the core values of inclusion and good neighborliness — values Glendale was founded on, and as practically written in stone by Tournament decree.

Ted Baumgart

La Crescenta

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