In Rome, near Piazza Navona, stands a little beat up statue dubbed Pasquino. From the 16th century on, anonymous commoners would post satirical poems and diatribes on Pasquino (pasquinades) aimed at the Pope and the nobility. (As you can see from the picture, the tradition continues.) The postings were always attributed to the statue itself, and Pasquino became known as a talking statue. I’ve been thinking that DC needs its own talking statue, who would speak for the citizens of the city to the dysfunctional city government and to a Congress where we have no voice. If we can’t have voting rights, at least we can make satirical personal attacks!
I thought I’d try it out first in Coladams Circle so that the neighborhood denizens could air their grievances in an anonymous forum. However, I quickly learned that the limited population of Coladams Circle (exactly 2) made anonymous posts next to impossible, and it quickly devolved into childish name-calling. I gave up the idea.
Now I’m searching for a DC-wide Pasquino. It should be a statue of some stature, in a prominent public place where public officials and commoners alike often pass. The right “talking statue” could carry some weight in DC’s public discourse; who would NOT listen to the great figures of history? So far, here are the top contenders:
Albert Einstein, 23rd and Constitution, NW
Pro: He’s really, really smart.
Con: That doesn’t carry as much weight in politics as one might think.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Conn. Ave and M St. NW
Pro: Giant Figure in American Literature
Con: American Literature matters less in America than anywhere else in the world (including France)
Maine Lobster Man on the Southwest Waterfront
Pro: A common man with Yankee common sense.
Con: Members of Congress are terrified to leave the Capitol grounds and would never venture into SOUTHWEST!
Gandhi, Mass Ave. and 21st NW
Pro: People should listen to a non-violent idealist.
Con: People won’t listen to a non-violent idealist.
Sailor, 7th and Pennsylvania NW
Pro: I bet this guy’s got a LOT to say.
Con: Present administration doesn’t really seem to care.
Ethan Allen, U.S. Capitol Building
Pro: He carries a sword.
Con: He also hawks furniture.
I think good old Ethan Allen, due to his preferable situation inside the Capitol building, offers the most promise. I can see it now: Eleanor Holmes Norton’s staffers could sneak into the Capitol early each morning and post pasquinades received from constituents on the statue, where other members of congress would be forced to confront them!
That’s, of course, assuming the other members can read.