Sunday, July 22, 2007

Spectacular stolen items of interest

Jim Banholzer

I read in a religion news blog that The Holy Bible is the most shoplifted book. Heavens to Murgatroid! -what’s up with that? Does this statistic include Gideon providers? Do thieves who steal Bibles consider this act by hook or crook to be above the Ten Commandments? Whose lead are they following for this unseemly act to be manifesting itself in our country? Are they romanticizing that if they are caught pocketing hallowed verses the original owner will instantaneously absolve them? Has anybody ever gone to jail for copping a Bible? Apparently so. In addition, the Dead Sea scrolls were reportedly stolen at some point from a Jewish Synagogue. I wonder if this statistic somehow stacks up differently for blessed books of the Koran.

Soonafter I speculated over these underlying thievery causes, Slate published an article proclaiming that meat is the most purloined supermarket item in America. This drove me to get to the beef of the matter. I pursued a line of questioning, wondering what other spectacular items of interest have been stolen over the ages? First, I discovered Mary’s Little Lamb. That’s right; in 1990 a Sterling, Massachusetts statue of Mary’s lamb, commemorating Sarah J. Hale’s nursery rhyme was fleeced at night from the center of town. After seeing news reports of children bawling over the incident, the bandits must have rediscovered their own hearts and tiptoed back into the town manger to return poor Mary’s innocent lamb.

Both our first and last Presidents have been involved in petty larcenies. George Washington’s old wallet was pinched in 1990 from an unlocked cabinet in Trenton New Jersey’s Old Barracks Museum. This too was later returned. Even our current Commandeer-in-Chief was detained for stealing a Christmas wreath when he was the leader of a boisterous Yale frat house. The next year George embarked on a (unaccomplished) mission to try to steal a crossbar from Princeton after a football game.

Another popular harmless prank involves the mysterious “borrowing” of somebody’s precious trinket or doll and then taking it for a trip around the world on adventures it would never otherwise had, by glumly stagnating in an unused toy box. This has happened several times. The protocol is for the traveler to take as many photographs as possible from faraway exotic lands with the doll placed in front of recognizable landmarks. After a spell, the doll is returned in the wee hours one morning, holding a satchel stuffed abundantly full of photographs, showing off its masterful adventures.

Then the perpetrator fesses up after forty years or so.

Huck Finn’s pap once said it was okay to borrow a watermelon –as long you intended to pay it back. Onliest thing is that Huck 'disremembers' ever recompensating any farmers. I suppose we are all borrowing these days with technology stolen from the Mythos, with the miracle of Google, instant messaging from Hermes, laser beams to heal or destroy, MRI’s and nanotechnology, ships of the sky and magic sticks which thrust open doors for us of various sorts.

Let me make it perfectly clear that I am not advocating that anybody actually steal anything. Far from it. In fact, a friend recently had his entire CD music collection swiped out his house. Most of the tunes were from twenty-five years ago –an era when more songs were written about peace, love and understanding –before the popularity of cop-killing and gangbanging songs stole much of that away. I sometimes wonder, does the person who stole my friend’s collection enjoy listening to Carol King, Steve Miller and Arlo Guthrie, knowing that every rocking rhythm was robbed? I pray that one of those pilfered bibles out there freely circulating will serendipitously appear in the crook's cache to reveal a new dimension of thievery, so that they may rediscover their unmitigated hearts and tiptoe back onto his porch to return my friend's peacenik C.D.s.

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Review of hyperlinks used: Thieves go for Bible, but ignore Ten Commandments

Why Americans love to shoplift meat. - By Brendan I. Koerner - Slate Magazine

AlterNet: How Bush Breaks the Ten Commandments

George W. Bush's Journey: Ally of an Older Generation amid the Tumult of the 60's


Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

So this is the piece that ended your run as a paid columnist, eh? My theory (along the lines of "too contrarian" as you suggested) is obviously political in nature. If the paper was run by die-hard republicans, perhaps the jab at Dubya angered someone? And then there's the religion aspect, which always seems to touch off certain types.

Blowing Shit Up With Gas said...

BTW, I hadn't read the next paragraph of your "backwards-treading men" story before making the above comment. Guess I was at least partly right with the Dubya theory.