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Shark!!!the shark at Jaws

Well, art is art, isn't it? Still, on the other hand, water is water! And east is east and west is west and if you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does. Now, uh... Now you tell me what you know.
--Groucho Marx (1895-1977)  

The topic of "what is art?" has been much on my mind lately -- brought to the forefront by all the recent published barbs cast at the giant shark sculpture over at Jaws T-shirt shop. It's hideous! It's gaudy! It's a graphic symbol of the completely wrong direction in which our community is heading! And it has our elected officials falling all over themselves designing new laws that will prohibit similar specimens from popping up along the boulevard in the future.

As an SPI resident who makes a living creating commercial art, I find this all very interesting. So exactly what is it about the big shark that so offends people? It can't be it's giant sea creature status; the whaling wall over at the convention centre is unanimously hailed as an asset to the community. Yes, it is huge -- but so is the sand castle and bucket over at Schlitterbahn -- and we don't see residents taking up arms against it.

I think it is the teeth. This is not a cuddly, friendly shark. It is a graphic depiction of unbridled malice and aggression and I think that is why it makes some people - (though not the ones who are getting their pictures taken in front of it pretty much every time I drive by) - queasy. The shop's owners might have been able to head off the posse by transforming those graceful curves into some other, less threatening, sea creature. But descending into the open maw of a dolphin's mouth to purchase souvenirs doesn't really pack the same punch, does it?

I will admit that, personally, I am no great fan of the Jaws shark. I saw the movie and its soundtrack thrums through my brain every time I venture out into the surf. But I will also admit that I am uncomfortable with the town's reaction to it; legislating good taste is a slippery road that could lead somewhere we don't really want to go...

While I may be in a minority in my defense of the shark, I was very happy indeed to get a letter from Mayor Bob informing me of the upcoming town forums (Dec. 2-4 at the Convention Centre - call 761-3000 for times and details) where home-owners such as myself will have an opportunity to express opinions on these types of issues. I think it very encouraging that our elected officials are actively seeking our input, and I for one will make a point of attending...

And so should you.

See you on the beach!

There are five (5) ways to submit your questions/comments for future Ask Sandy columns: In person; by phone (761-6222) or fax (761-8930); the US Postal System (box 2694,spi,78597) and E-mail: (sandyfeet@unlitter.com). Visit my web-site (http://spionline.com/) for tips on sandcastling, contest info, recent Ask Sandy columns, and my reviews of local businesses.

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