Intl. Notebook May 18 2021
WHATEVER MARILYN
Palm Springs residents thought they'd seen the last of mega Monroe. They were wrong.


At Pulp Intl. we report on all things Marilyn Monroe, from her life and loves to her alleged porno film, so of course we couldn't let this one slide by. A giant Marilyn Monroe statue inspired by her famous subway breeze scene in The Seven Year Itch is set to be installed in Palm Springs, California. The twenty-six-foot high statue, created by Seward Johnson and called “Forever Marilyn,” already resided in the city from 2012 to 2014, and when she left plenty were happy to see her parachute-sized panties leave town. Now she's scheduled to return to a site near the Palm Springs Art Museum and some locals have their knickers in a twist. There are two objections: that the statue is garish and lowbrow, and that it's sexist. Both complaints inarguably state the obvious—it's garish and sexist. Sort of like Pulp Intl.

In our case, we preserve historical art for discussion and learning. Since plenty of art and literature from the period we highlight is sexist, our website is sexist also—at least to some. We suggest they not visit. But the Monroe statue is a 2011 creation, and as such isn't a piece of history per se, so much as a tribute to it. It's also in a public place, which makes it a matter of public debate. We can't think of any recent item that ties more contemporary issues into a Gordian knot than this statue. Yes, it's garish. Yes, it's sexist. Yes, it's a little creepy in the #metoo era.Yes, in some amorphous way it's tangentially related to the denial of progress and rights for women. Conversely, yes, it's entertaining. Yes, it's a tribute to an icon (a sexualized tribute, as she was a sex symbol—something that barely exists today). Yes, it's a tribute to golden age Hollywood. Yes, it's inspired by a moment from a comedic film that made millions of people, both male and female, feel good. It's a thorny issue, for sure.

But there's a silver panty lining. Monroe has done something the greatest minds and most determined politicians have not been able to manage—unite right and left. When we were younger it was always conservatives who seemed to hate sex and anything that reminded people of it. Fast forward a couple of decades and now liberals are getting the same way. This isn't true of all conservatives and liberals, of course. But as groups, they both let reactionaries dominate discourse, which creates the impression of intolerance within the whole. The people who hate on the Monroe statue at the highest volume come from the sexual conservatism realm on one end of the spectrum, and the women's rights realm on the other. The discovery that they have common interests qualifies as good news.
 
We see this as a starting point for national healing. Don't get us wrong—in our opinion both conservatives and liberals should simply say, “Whatever,” to “Forever Marilyn,” and move on. But since they seem to be in agreement about blowing everything that hints at feminine sexuality way out of proportion, seems to us the sky's the limit in terms of other potential areas of agreement. We don't know about you, but we're heartened by that. We feel a little better about things. A nation torn nearly asunder has a chance to heal the rift starting with Monroe's granny panties. They're the most magical undergarments since Eva Braun's. Thanks, Marilyn. You may have saved us yet.
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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
June 12
1978—Son of Sam Goes to Prison
David Berkowitz, the New York City serial killer known as Son of Sam, is sentenced to 365 years in prison for six killings. Berkowitz had acquired his nickname from letters addressed to the NYPD and columnist Jimmy Breslin. He is eventually caught when a chain of events beginning with a parking ticket leads to his car being searched and police discovering ammunition and maps of crime scenes.
June 11
1963—Buddhist Monk Immolates Himself
In South Vietnam, Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc burns himself to death by dousing himself with gasoline and lighting a match. He does it to protest the persecution of Buddhists by Ngô Đình Diệm administration, choosing a busy Saigon intersection for his protest. An image of the monk being consumed by flames as he sits crosslegged on the pavement, shot by Malcolm Browne, wins a Pulitzer Prize and becomes one of the most shocking and recognizable photos ever published.
June 10
1935—AA Founded
In New York City, Dr. Robert Smith and William Griffith Wilson, who were both recovering alcoholics, establish the organization Alcoholics Anonymous, which pioneers a 12-step rehabilitation program that is so helpful and popular it eventually spreads to every corner of the globe.
1973—John Paul Getty III Is Kidnapped
John Paul Getty III, grandson of billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, is kidnapped in Rome, Italy. The elder Getty ignores a ransom demand for $17 million, thinking it is a joke. When John Paul's ear later arrives in the mail along with a note promising further mutilation, he negotiates the ransom down to $2.9 million, which he pays only on the condition that John Paul repay him at four percent interest. Getty's kidnappers are never caught.
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