I grew up in Absecon, NJ, in the shadow of the Atlantic City casinos. Now, there’s another structure that casts a shadow over the area: A statute of Lenin. Absecon resident Al Garrett is disgusted. The Atlantic City Press reports on his protest against the commie statue and the mass brutality and evil it represents (hat tip – Lawhawk):
Al Garrett, who has spent more than three years fighting a statue, thinks he has finally hit on a way to win his cold war.
The statue is of Vladimir Ilich Lenin, the communist founder of the Soviet Union. Lenin stands outside the front door of Red Square, the hipper-than-thou, Russian-themed restaurant and bar in The Quarter, the highly capitalistic dining and retail section of Atlantic City’s Tropicana Casino and Resort.
And Garrett has objected to the architect of one of history’s brutal dictatorships being part of a restaurant’s theme statement ever since Lenin’s likeness went up early in 2005. Garrett has written letters to the editor. He has made calls to radio talk shows. And he has circulated public petitions demanding that Red Square tear that statue down – or at least move it inside the restaurant, away from where thousands of people walk by it every day.
He doesn’t like the idea of Lenin getting a place of honor – or at least high visibility – anywhere in the United States. But it really bugs him that it happened in Atlantic City, just down the White Horse Pike from his Absecon home.
So Garrett, 65, has come up with the ultimate Atlantic City argument as a trump card in his symbolic siege of the statue: Lenin, he says, is bad luck.
The owner of the Red Square restaurant sneers at Garrett’s concerns:
“Thanks for the advertising,” Joseph Massari told the two statue protesters outside the restaurant.
“The only symbol I’m concerned about is four stars – that’s the rating of my restaurant,” the executive told a reporter a few minutes later, suggesting that Garrett should find more important causes to worry about.
But Garrett is not deterred.
Good for him.
When I worked in Seattle, I lived a stone’s throw from another Lenin statute that gets lit up every Christmas with a bright red star. Seriously.
I concur with this artist:
The statue sparked outrage when it first went up in 1995. Local artist Frederick Edelblut said at the time, “It’s not a piece of art. It’s a disgrace, a symbol of denigration, and a symbol of millions of people who have died in Eastern Europe from Communist domination.” His feelings haven’t cooled. Yesterday, Edelblut, who skipped the Lenin lighting, said, “It’s hideous in the dark and the more light you shine on it, the more hideous it gets.”