“Come and look at this,” says my husband, Mark. “Look at this statue.” I lean over his shoulder and looked at the photo on his laptop screen.
“Is that…Eleanor Roosevelt?” I guess. Mark knows I am a fan of Eleanor’s.
“Nope,” he says, grinning. “That’s LUCI.”
“Luci who?” I ask.
It doesn’t look like Lucille Ball. Fox News describes the statue as resembling “a drunken zombie.”
I can’t remember which one of the book blogs that I follow recommended Nick Hornby’s Funny Girl. Whoever it was (John Lauck?) made the book sound so good that I added it to my to-read list, and that made me remember that I’d picked up another Hornby up at a wonderful book sale. It was A Long Way Down, and I found it on the shelf and moved it to the bottom of my ‘next reads’ stack.
In the meantime, a dear darling gave me a Big Box Book Store gift card, and I ordered Funny Girl.
I worked my way through the next reads to A Long Way Down, and I found that book warm and funny and entertaining. So I looked forward to Funny Girl.
And in one of those funny twists, I started it to read it this week, just when the story of the Scary Lucy statue has gone viral.
Our older guy, Matt, and his family live in Jamestown, New York, which is where Lucille Ball went to high school. There’s a Luci museum there, and you can trace her life, her romance with Desi, and the birth of her children. You can see her beautiful clothes, her classy car, and all kinds of family photos. There are film clips and baby pictures. There are chronicles of her latter years. It’s great fun, and it reflects the pride this western New York community has in the ground-breaking comedian–a beautiful woman who dared to be side-splittingly funny.
Luci is an icon for the protagonist of Funny Girl, Barbara, who morphs into Sophie Straw, and into a 1960’s British TV star. Sophie is gorgeous, and her dear ones alternately want her to pursue a modeling career or a husband. But Sophie wants to be funny; one of the witty twists here is that Sophie’s beauty, actually, in this case, holds her back. Until, that is, she walks into the right room with the right writers who have the right problem–one that Sophie gladly helps to solve.
That’s where I am in the book. Sophie is about to step into the kind of triumphant success that no funny girl beyond Luci had yet achieved.
And so it just seems so ironic to pull up the Yahoo main page and see the top story is the ugly statue of Luci in a little town you could call a Jamestown, New York, ‘suburb’–Celeron, where there’s a park called Lucille Ball Memorial Park. (Celeron is where, I believe, Lucille McGillicuddy was born.)
Apparently, back in the early 2000’s, sculptor Dave Poulin offered to craft a statue for the Park. The result was unveiled in 2009.
The statue, according to http://www.foxnews.com, depicts Luci in her famous Vitameatavegamin episode. She’s holding the bottle and a spoon with which to sample the dangerous concoction. Her hair is in its signature upswept do. But.
That’s not Luci’s face.
I ponder this whole weird situation. Why is it the statue was erected in 2009, but the furor is just now hitting the electronic highway in such widespread earnest?
Part of the reason may be the Facebook group called, “We Love Luci! Get rid of this statue.” You might enjoy checking that out.
Unlike the scary statue, Nick Hornby’s character Sophie Straw is funny, appealing, vulnerable, and lovely. I look forward every night to my reading time; I am really enjoying the unfolding story.
And now, I look forward to that other unfolding story, the story of the scary Luci statue. A Buffalo, NY, area news station, http://www.wkbw, reports that Poulin donated the statue originally and has said he also was disappointed in the result.
Now Poulin is offering to donate a whole new statue; Celeron’s mayor is saying, “No thank you.” Apparently before the furor, Poulin wanted 10K to do a repair job.
Celeron’s folk are galvanized by the international attention; they are going to do SOMETHING about the drunken zombie statue.
I am going to read Funny Girl and enjoy Sophie’s trajectory. And I am going to watch the news avidly to see what happens to the statue. Next time we visit Matt, we’ll be sure to visit the park. I’ll post some photos.
I hope YOU have a wonderful week!