Eat it.

I was meandering through a Kurt Andersen piece in New York magazine — “The Age of Apoplexy,” fyi — when Brian dumped another link in the previous post’s comments, about some free-floating apoplexy in Indiana, that seemed to underline Kurt’s point.

When you’re looking for a topic that can be dashed off quickly, sometimes the Lord provides. Also, “Free-Floating Apoplexy in Indiana” would be a great name for a band.

Andersen’s point is, the world has grown too touchy, about practically everything:

For a while now, I’ve fretted that we’re turning into a nation of weenies and permanently enraged censors, that too many of us are afraid of letting disagreeable or uncomfortable ideas into the limelight. If it’s not the p.c. overreach of campus “speech codes” or the attempts to criminalize “hate speech,” it’s the FCC’s crackdown on cussing in PBS documentaries and the Secret Service’s keeping protesters fenced off in “free speech zones.” But during the last month, this impulse to squelch—indulged by the left and the right and the milquetoast middle—seems to have reached some kind of tipping point, as if we’ve entered a permanent state of hysterical overreaction.

…During a single week at the end of September, everyone from the Daily News to the Democratic speaker of the New York City Council denounced Columbia for inviting Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to speak (and Hillary Clinton joined the mob in saying he should be turned away by police—at gunpoint?—if he tried to go near ground zero); Verizon refused to broadcast NARAL’s abortion-rights text messages; Bill O’Reilly’s goofy can’t-we-all-just-get-along attempt to sow racial harmony was called racist; and Congress, after wasting its time officially condemning for its stupid, over-the-top “General Betray Us” ad, was asked to waste its time condemning Rush Limbaugh’s stupid, over-the-top crack that only “phony soldiers” criticize the war in Iraq.

Not a bad summation of the case, but Andersen lives in New York, and probably is unaware of the naked mockery represented in Fort Wayne mayoral candidate Matt Kelty’s birthday cake. Feel free to examine this excellent photo of the offending foodstuff, described in the usual dead-serious newspaper prose:

The cake had a Wizard of Oz theme. It depicts an outhouse labeled “GOP HQ” sitting on top of a baseball field, believed to be reference to the $120 million Harrison Square project Kelty opposes. Resting atop the diamond and under the outhouse are legs resembling those of the Wicked Witch of the East.

The outhouse also refers to Allen County Republican Chairman Steve Shine and Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters, whom Kelty defeated in the mayoral primary.

From the outhouse is a yellow road leading to the Emerald City. Along the road are signs referring to City Councilman Sam Talarico, R-at large, who has been an outspoken supporter of Kelty’s opponent, Democrat Tom Henry.

Not that the story lacked humor. Nothing like a quote like this to get the giggles started:

“I don’t endorse the comments made on the cake,” (said Kelty).

You have to have been to a few birthday parties in Fort Wayne to fully appreciate the humor in this story, especially birthday parties for Republican Christian knobs like Kelty, parties where the most exciting thing that could happen is someone getting a little frosting in their mustache. Always remember, though, a candidate should have plausible deniability:

Kelty said his 43d birthday party – which served as a fundraiser charging $43 per person – was a hectic event and he did not know about the cake until it was already cut and served.

Well, there you go.

Friends, I got a front-loaded morning. Might be back this afternoon. In the meantime, tell any offensive-cake stories you have.

Posted at 8:18 am in Current events |

11 responses to “Eat it.”

  1. brian stouder said on October 9, 2007 at 9:10 am

    I once was at a party which featured a naked lady cake (essentially a sheet cake with topography).

    People were hesitant to munch upon her breasts, and so I asked if it would be ok (you never know about these things – maybe an event or a picture would be fouled if you prematurely altered that region of the cake) – and got the green light, taking a modest amount from the closest breast…whereupon the next person after me skipped carefully selecting what she would eat, and went face-first for one of the cherries at the summits! I thought that was a definite breach of etiquette…but no one complained. (come to think of it, there was probably beer involved in this story, somewhere)

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  2. nancy said on October 9, 2007 at 9:20 am

    Fort Wayne may be the only city in America where cake and beer go together so often.

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  3. Cathy D. said on October 9, 2007 at 9:33 am

    This story is so delicious on so many levels it’s hard to know where to dig in first. Go, Matt go! Away.

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  4. brian stouder said on October 9, 2007 at 11:23 am

    That was indeed an interesting article on the ‘age of apoplexy’; especially the historical perspective that Andersen injects. Herbert Marcuse’s idea of “Repressive Tolerance” (the idea that “acceptance of free expression of every sort of idea lulls us into accepting a larger oppression”) seems to be the modern – and MUCH TAMER! – equivalent of 18th century mobocracy. (Back in those days, if your newspaper was unabashedly abolitionist for example, the townfolk might literally pitch your printing press into the river)

    I’ll take 21st century apoplectic huffing and puffing, via (as likely as not) a cable tv show being watched by a sprinkling of people across the country – and (likely as not) rejected out of hand! [the apoplectic Olbermann ‘special comments’ rank right up there with Rush’s best huffing, for example]

    btw – speaking of New York magazine, I read a fascinating article in there a few months back about New York City’s AIR laws. An AIR is an artist in residence, and even if you can afford a few million dollars for a loft in Soho or Noho, if you (or your room-mate) is not an Artist (as officially defined by New York), then you are violating their zoning ordinance, and you will be evicted!!!

    It was one of those articles that you read, laugh out loud about, and then tell everyone about for the next few days….or, become apoplectic about, if you’re in the market for a condo in Soho

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  5. del said on October 9, 2007 at 1:17 pm

    I’ve been thinkin’ about why Limbaugh’s huffing style of political speech offends but Olbermann’s ‘special comments’ do not (content is quite another matter). I’ve settled on the notion that its about relative power. I’m sympathetic to the little guy. So if apoplectic speech endorses a majoritarian view it strikes me as bullying and ‘piling-on.’ But when it endorses a clearly minority view it seems brave. (So as Olbermann’s views gain traction and a left-wing echo chamber develops his contentious style may wear thin.)

    Whenever people overreact by seeking to prevent speeches by controversial speakers (unconstitutional prior restraints?) my sympathy goes out to the person who wants to talk. That speaker instantly becomes a minority because of the “mobocracy” and I listen to him more intently than I would otherwise. His views get amplified.

    Yeah, I thought Lee Bollinger’s harsh introduction of the Iranian President was self-serving and weinerish. And it undercut the favorable impression of him I gained when, in 1997, he described U. of M’s football coach Lloyd Carr as “Lincolnesque” after his team won the national championship. (I’m no historian, but Carr does seem to have jowls like Lincoln . . . )

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  6. Julie Robinson said on October 9, 2007 at 1:29 pm

    And how many Iranian audiences laugh when their President speaks? Bringing him here for a dose of reality was the best way to show what a ridiculous bully he is.

    And printing the Kelty bd cake photo was the best way to show what a ridiculous candidate he is. Can we really believe he isn’t aware of what his team is up to? If he isn’t, what does this say about his level of engagement?

    An online search of the News-Sentinel did not find the photo or story. Anyone else see it?

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  7. alex said on October 9, 2007 at 3:52 pm

    Let them eat cake. On November 6 they’ll be eating crow.

    I must say that this year’s mayoral race has really restored my faith in the citizenry. People evidently hate partisanship as much as I do and it’s heartening to see leading Republicans crossing over to support the right candidate for the office.

    Blessings from the fanatic fringe are the kiss of death. Hey, Kelty — those are the kind of lovers you need to keep on the downlow.

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  8. Judith said on October 9, 2007 at 5:20 pm

    Note the signs on the outhouse on the Matt Kelty cake–the top one refers to the Republican County Chair, Steve Shine, and the bottom one taunts Nelson Peters. Kelty insists he did not see his birthday cake–it was cut and eaten before he could see it. (Yeh, right.) And according to Peters, when he called Kelty to discuss the cake, “Kelty responded that he didn’t know what Peters was talking about”. But a second picture accompanies the article that is continued on Page 2. In the picture Kelty is holding the afore mentioned outhouse with the top sign towards him. The bottom of the outhouse is not in the picture. But it is only another of Kelty’s questions:

    Cake, what cake?
    Loan, what loan?
    Law, what law?
    Sign, what sign?
    Poll, what poll?
    Indictment, all lies! (“Local Republican officials confirmed the witch /on the cake/ was intended to be Allen County Prosecutor, Karen Richards”. She, in order to avoid the appearance of bias, appointed another prosecutor to investigate campaign law infractions.)
    Radio ad, only the truth! (Kelty said Democratic Election Board member Andy Down has been a chief strategist for Kelty’s opponent, Tom Henry.)

    And on and on… CAKE, WHAT CAKE?

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  9. basset said on October 9, 2007 at 11:26 pm

    Anyone here interested in old-time music? Clawhammer banjos, fiddlin’ without vibrato, that kind of thing? If you are, this’ll make sense…

    “Hot corn, cold corn, Mahmoud Ahmadenijad…”

    great mnemonic device for remembering his name, anyway.

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  10. LA mary said on October 10, 2007 at 10:21 am

    My son calls him Mahmoud I’m a Dinner Jacket.

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  11. Dave K. said on October 10, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    I read this Birthday Cake story yesterday. I chuckled and shook my head. After a long day today; (Largest customer, Chrysler, struck by UAW, plan for layoffs in the midst of first new hiring at Ft. Wayne Dana in 10 years, strike settled, 200 person layoff averted…), I read “…Republican Christian knobs like Kelty…”, caused a gut-laugh!

    Thank you, Nancy.

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