The Continuing Saga of Our Very Own Freak Flag

*I’ve observed with some chagrin (and some amusement) the up-and-down (literally) saga of Keith Haring’s Statue of Liberty Mural and its problematic relationship with the towns in which Keith was born (Reading, PA) and where he grew up (Kutztown, PA).This is the sort of thing that Keith and I would have discussed for hours and laughed about even longer, until we would have it overanalyzed and all talked out. In his absence, I do feel compelled to type out my imagined version of the drift of these conversations and initiate the dialog with my readers instead of with my deceased friend.The direction of our conversations would begin with simple restatements of the situation(s) that have been (and still are) occurring here in this county that is so special to both of us. Smiles would begin appearing on our faces simply as a result of the humor inherent in the situations themselves. The first newsworthy event was the Berks County Commissioners voting against hanging the mural on the Berks County Services Center, downtown. The second irony has just occurred – as the mural had to be taken down from the water tower in Kutztown because of the installation’s inability to withstand the totally predictable prevailing winds.The ironies abound simply in the recounting of the facts. I can see us both smiling as we discuss them. Keith would have said something like, “I’m used to being rejected in Berks County – nothing new about that.” And I would have pointed out the irony in the fact that even though his hometown of Kutztown was willing to display the gigantic painting, it proved to be too much for the sleepy burg to handle – quite literally. We’d continue, piling metaphor upon metaphor until we’d reach some ridiculous level, shake our heads in disbelief, and wipe tears of mirth from our eyes.Truth be told, we’d end up laughing most of the time we were together. Things are just funny if looked at from some perspectives. And in relation to the loftier thoughts of life and art, politics, sociology, and the foibles of human behavior are often the stuff of real comedic amusement. It will be great if Keith’s 90-foot mural, executed collaboratively with more than a thousand “City Kids,” – a NYC-based youth organization – can be exhibited and experienced in an excellent location. But considering how the relationship between this piece and our area has turned into somewhat of a fiasco, it’s one of those “truth is stranger than fiction” situations already.As it is, we’re staying tuned for the next entertaining installment of this already comedic tale…

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