And 16 Giraffes

Santa Fe, February 19, 1995 -- photo by Mark Weber

Santa Fe, February 19, 1995 — photo by Mark Weber

AND 16 GIRAFFES

I’d rather not have to think about someone like Teddy Roosevelt.

Teddy Roosevelt must have been the biggest egomaniac of the 20th century, in a century chuck-full of egomaniacs.

(The Ken Burns documentary on the Roosevelts is on TV this week.)

He had no problem with going to Africa and killing 492 zebra, 39 elephants, 63 lions, shotgunning thousands of birds, wildebeests, baboons, chimpanzees, his ego over-rode any sense of respect for other life, sure, he set aside several national parks, but those were there for his ego to stride upon and puff up his fat chest with pride of domination: a thoroughly despicable human beast.

Says he ate a dozen eggs every morning and had a designated servant bringing him coffee in large tankards all day.

He thought nothing of knocking off five or six buffalo before breakfast, to get the blood flowing, breathe the invigorating stench of victory by sneaking up on the unsuspecting animal kingdom. The taking of the lives of other creatures was as easy as breathing air. Trophies for his evil ego. Mount the taxidermy’d heads in the dining hall of the White House. A nightmare.

In fact, I had nightmares last night, bad dreams of carnage, heaps of buffalo flesh on the Great Plains —
That never happen’d did it?
Alexander didn’t slaughter and burn Persepolis, did he?
The Battle of Somme didn’t happen, did it?
The gas chambers of Auschwitz never existed, right?
I didn’t have a sausage last night for dinner, did I?
What’s wrong with us?
Where does this aggression come from?
Where does this gluttony end?

One wonders what percentage of the world is like Teddy Roosevelt?
Hemingway, certainly. The guy at the post office who decided he didn’t have to wait in line like the rest of us? Yeh, him. We pray kindness prevails for the most part. Remindful of a story in the late Victor Maymudes memoir of traveling with Bob Dylan —- driving the bus through the Okefenokee when suddenly there were thousands of turtles migrating across the road and the tour manager determined that the importance of getting to the next gig took precedence over the lives of these swamp turtles and when Dylan emerged from his private quarters and saw what was happening, in horror, removed himself to his room and didn’t speak to anyone for 30 hours (The bus could have stopped and waited even if it took 3 hours or 3 weeks — the turtles are certainly more important than yet another gig.)

Now, I know why a friend of mine is so appalled by the statue of Teddy Roosevelt outside the Museum of Natural History (79th & Central Park West) —- TR on a horse with a black man on one side and a Native American on the other, walking beside him, being escorted into the future and toward prosperity: Ah, noblesse oblige at its most fat-bellied arrogant. Blah.

Like I said: I’d rather not think about people like this.

Mark Weber 16sept14

4 p.m. Pennsylvania Avenue -- March 19, 1995 -- Washington DC -- photo by Mark Weber

4 p.m. Pennsylvania Avenue — March 19, 1995 — Washington DC — photo by Mark Weber

9 Comments

  1. TR’s stump speeches are laughable: We’re going to win this fight because we’re right and we’re on the side of what’s right and we’re going to wrestle these guys to the ground if we have to and we’re going to fight fight fight and roll up our sleeves and fight some more because God is on our side because we’re right——- geezus, what a weirdo, you can imagine how much he hated Woodrow Wilson, an intellectual, during his campaign for a return to the Presidency (he lost, thank God), he called Wilson a “yellow belly” of course, because he wouldn’t fight fight fight drink another gallon of coffee and fight, put up your dukes and . . . .
    As if winning a punch-out proves who is right?

  2. Not sure which is more astounding – watching Episode 3 of Ken Burn’s documentary or your commentary on it. Arrested development is powerful places makes for some reckless behavior ( most agreed he was about 6 years old and still trying to please his dad….). and we are all full of contradictions. Out of our compensations, comes genius, if we’re ( and other’s ) are lucky.
    Great piece~ as ever, thanks for sharing.
    Sup

  3. read, “arrested development in powerful places…” and “out of our compensations, SOMETIMES, comes genius”…..

  4. Great writing, as always, and telling it like it is, a reminder of how disgusting the teddy bear man was, is greatly appreciated. I personally had forgotten.

  5. Came and read, Mark, thanks for the heads-up.
    Glad you are calling attention to the slaughter by a man who got away with it big time.

  6. I think you should quit holding back, and tell me how you REALLY feel about it all.

  7. Great writing, as always, and telling it like it is, a reminder of how disgusting the teddy bear man was, is greatly appreciated. I personally had forgotten. About Hemingway, don’t get me started!

  8. Who is being aggressive?

  9. (from your friend who is so appalled by the statue of Teddy Roosevelt outside of the Museum of Natural History) This nation was built on genocide and slavery, free land and free labor. Although that can hardly be the intent of the sculptor, it is the meaning of the statue. On one side is a subservient Original Nations man, on the other side is a subservient black man. Both, of course, are of smaller stature than Teddy and on foot, while he, magisterially, rides his steed onto his next egomaniacal deed.

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