Wednesday, May 21, 2003

So I will warn you that this story may ramble with not much payoff, but then again regular Beallsvonian readers (both of you) have come to expect that by now.

As background, you need to know these things:

  1. Eat 'n' Park is a local Pittsburgh restaurant chain that I've previously described as "Like Denny's, except more Pittsburgh-y".
  2. Eat 'n' Park's bakery specialty is the smiley-face cookie, which is a fairly generic iced cookie whose icing is, of course, a smiley face.
  3. An Eat 'n' Park smiley-face cookie, used as a bouncing ball to help you follow the words to a song on a Jumbotron, has been accurately compared to Evil Otto.

...and these things:
  1. The dinosaur commonly misknown as the brontosaurus is actually the Diplodocus carnegii, the "carnegii" part being particularly relevant here.
  2. It is known as such because Andrew Carnegie took an extensive personal and financial interest in early dinosaur digs, including the one where the first full-sized Diplodocus was unearthed.
  3. In fact that Utah location, today's Dinosaur National Monument, was previously known as Carnegie Quarry.
  4. Many of the finds from that site are today stored at the Carnegie Natural History Museum here in Pittsburgh, which is not surpassed and is arguably unrivaled when it comes to featuring dinosaur and related artifacts.

...and finally these things:
  1. PPG Plaza, the big scary glass fortress looking building featured in Inspector Gadget (for those of you who have had the misfortune), is located in the heart of Downtown Pittsburgh, a two-minute walk from where I work.
  2. Pittsburgh tends to have a level of civic pride that borders on unhealthy when it comes to local institutions.
  3. Such as Eat 'N' Park, Andrew Carnegie and his museum, and PPG Plaza.

So where is this all going? Not much of anywhere, as you were warned above, except that I was walking through PPG Plaza today on a work errand, when I noticed an unusual new public art display in the big open section of the plaza. As I approached, I realized that the statues were actually shaped like different dinosaurs, and they were all decorated differently. They had been given to different local artists and local schools, and the artists or groups of students had painted (or silkscreened or whatever) them in the style of their choosing. I thought it was a nice display, and there was some minimal, unobtrusive signage about how this was being done to promote both art and science education among elementary schools--which I thought was a really good idea--in addition to arousing the local pride that is supposed to well up inside all of us when we think about our glorious dinosaur museum. Or something.
But the last statue I saw made me do a triple-take, and moved the whole idea from good idea to bad idea on my scorecard. Like several others, this last statue had a corporate sponsor listed. While other sponsors limited their involvement to funding and a mention
on the placard, this last one decided to take things about 100 steps too far.
It was a Diplodicus (carnegii).
Eating an Eat 'n' Park smiley-face cookie.

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