MLK tribute should only be beginning

Some say it’s too late to make fun of the Martin Luther King Jr. sculpture. Let it die, they say, it’s in place and everything possible has been said.

However, the weather is getting warmer and we’re going to have to live with it for decades. Although vehemently opposed to it earlier, I’ve changed my mind about the whole thing. We were wrong from the beginning.

I discovered this several nights ago when I met Louis, an old acquaintance, in the student center. Louis is one of a dying breed of individuals at NIU. Rumor has it he came to NIU sometime in the early 70s and for some reason lost his mind.

Now an art student, he tugged on my arm frantically, insisting he had something to show me. I followed him into the tower elevator all the way to the 14th floor. My spirits sank, however, as he raced up the flight of stairs and unlocked the door to the outside roof.

In his job as a redcoat, Louis had built a large collection of keys, maybe even those to the plundered SA Art collection. I had been through this before, watching him teeter and do backflips near the edge of the roof, and was not emotionally prepared to handle it this time.

I persuaded him to go back to the skyroom, where he had one of his peyote-like revelations. “Look to the West. Black is white, night is day, hideous is chic,” he screamed. Louis was raving, and maybe dangerous, but there was also a hint of genius. The solutions to AIDS, world hunger and cold fusion might be flying around in his head, if only we could understand his babbling.

After an hour of slow explanation using some convoluted alien logic, I saw his point. The campus west of Normal Road, with its complete lack of architecture is an artistic statement, and the sculpture is a vital part of the canvas.

In light of this, I propose that we add to the work. Here are some possibilities:

‘A bronze of former NIU President Clyde Wingfield crucified upside down like St. Peter.

‘A retake of “Iwo Jima” to commemorate all those poor hungover souls who braved add/drop and didn’t make it.

‘At least a small bronze plaque thanking all of those people who didn’t end their career at NIU on the student center roof with a fifth of Johnnie Walker and high power rifle.

There are those truly deserving of serious honors as well. This category includes:

‘Jimi Hendrix.

‘Fred Heuschel, a poet.

‘A local band, The Renfields. Those of us who have been around NIU just a little too long remember with great fondness the early days at Monticello.

There are also possibilities for performance art and uses for “sculptures” already here. The giant iron picnic table rusting by the West Lagoon could be used for Arab-Israeli talks. After several hours of negotiating in the sweltering July sun, both sides would either compromise or blow each other off the map. We could also get four disgruntled faculty members to reshoot the cover of Who’s Next at Lowden Hall. Enough said.