Department Of You Say, Po-tay-to, I say Po-tah-to;
You Say Collection, I Say Exploitation


A. repositories of culture

B. an empire’s trophy cases

C. institutions for fencing stolen goods

D. guardians of history

My opinion of museums has gradually changed over the years, beginning way-back-when, while wandering through the Portland Art Museum.  Moiself  and a friend were viewing the museum’s current collections as well as travelling exhibitions of Northwest tribal masks and centuries-old Japanese tapestries.  The only information available regarding the respective collections were small signs posted on the walls and notations in the museum’s brochure, which attributed the artifacts as  “from the collection of _____” (insert wealthy person name).  I wondered aloud, “Is collection a code word for pirate booty?

I’ve been reminded of this during the past several weeks, listening to the Freakonomics podcast’s three-part series on art and museums: Stealing Art is Easy. Giving It Back Is Hard,  which I can summarize thusly:

If a work of art – from paintings, weavings, masks, pottery, to household artifacts – is in a British museum but was not crafted by contemporary or ancient inhabitants of England, it was likely plundered from its area of origin.   [1]

There seems to be little disagreement – from museum curators to art and cultural historians – on that statistic.  The catch is, should such works be repatriated, and if so, when and how and to whom?



How do you return an artifact to its country of origin when the origin may be disputed and/or the country no longer exists (e.g., the Benin Bronzes)?  Some museum curators, while acknowledging the sometimes bloody and brutal acquisition of such art, make the argument that to return so-called precious artifacts to countries that do not have the infrastructure to house them safely in museums is somehow a waste to all humanity – which can be interpreted as a dog whistle for the racist and colonialist justification for stealing acquiring the artifacts in the first place (“These people aren’t sophisticated enough to care for their own art”).

The three episodes of this series (The Case of the $4 Million Gold Coffin; Is a Museum Just a Trophy Case?; How To Return Stolen Art) address the complexities of these logistically and ethically thorny dilemmas, whether the art in question was obtained from centuries-old European colonial raids or via the present stolen antiquities markets in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.  I highly recommend that anyone who has ever visited any museum listen, and consider the issues.


“You call that art? My five-year-old could have looted that.”

*    *    *

Department Of Right-Wing RCers Don’t Hear Themselves When They Talk, Do They?

LA Pride   [2] and other organizations invited to the tenth annual LA Dodgers Pride Night are boycotting or reconsidering their participation in the event, after one of their sister organizations was disinvited from the festivities.

“The Los Angeles chapter of The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence—a charity that raises money for LGBTQ causes and performs in in drag dressed as nuns—were initially set to receive the Community Hero Award in honor of their community service and promotion of human rights.

The Dodgers announced it would remove the Sisters from its honorees on Wednesday, citing the ‘strong feelings of people who have been offended by the Sisters’ inclusion.’
( excerpts from “L.A. Dodgers’ Pride Night Controversy Explained: Why LGBTQ Groups, Politicians And Certain Catholics Are Slamming Team,”
Forbes, 5-19-23 )



Until this ruckus came to light, I didn’t know there was a Los Angeles chapter of the SPI.

If you are or have been a SF and/or Bay Area resident, a frequent visitor to San Francisco, or just a fan of the city,     [3]   you may be familiar with the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.  The Sisters were founded in San Francisco by several gay men over 40 years ago.  What began as street theater –

(Sister members include “Sister Tilda Nextime,” “Sister Viscous Power Hungry Bitch,” “Sister Missionary Position,” “Sister Adora Penthouse View,” “Sister Bambi Dextrous,” and moiself’s  favorite, “Sister Shalita Corndog”) –

soon became a nonprofit charitable organization.


 Their mission statement, as per their website:

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence® are a leading-edge Order of queer and trans nuns. We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty.
Since our first appearance in San Francisco on Easter Sunday, 1979, the Sisters have devoted ourselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment.
We use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.

So: the SPI were invited to this years LA Dodgers Pride Night, and some conservative RC defenders got their papal panties in a knot.

“…outcry over the ‘drag nuns’ began in the Midwest, with a call-in campaign led by the conservative advocacy organization CatholicVote. At the urging of the organization’s president, Brian Burch, followers flooded the ball club with outraged messages over plans to honor the Los Angeles Sisters with the Community Heroes Award at the team’s 10th annual Pride Night on June 16.
‘The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are an anti-Catholic hate group which exists to desecrate and degrade the Catholic faith,’ Burch wrote in an open letter to the baseball commissioner….”
(excerpts from “The Dodgers booted the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence…”
LA Times, 5-19-23)



The nerve.  The absolute, unmitigated gall.

No one has desecrated – and nothing can desecrate and degrade –
the Catholic Church
more than its own history and behavior.

The church, from its highest representatives to its obtusely loyal parishioners, has no authority to speak on matters of “desecration.” The church itself has been a Brotherhood of Perpetual Indulgence for decades (if not centuries) of indulging rapists, abusers, and pedophiles within their ranks, turning a blind eye to the depredations and reassigning/transferring the criminals within their ranks, while ignoring, and/or shaming and attempting to silence those who sought justice. In the Los Angeles Diocese alone, the Catholic church has paid $660 million to settle 508 sexual abuse cases.

So I say, not only invite everybody to the party, let every night be Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence Night ® at Dodger Stadium.


Batter up!


And, in breaking news, it appears the LA Dodgers agree:

Column:  The Dodgers faltered by disinviting the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence but came to their senses (LA Times 5-23)

*   *   *

Department Of A Recommendation To Do Something
You Probably Haven’t Done
In A Long Time

That would be, moiself  recommends y’all rewatch   [4]  the 1970 disaster movie classic, Airport. I’d seen it decades ago, and forgotten most about it except to know that it was the primary inspiration for the Zucker-Abrams-Zucker (ZAZ) parody movie, Airplane, after which it took a long time for anyone – from movie producers to the ticket-buying public – to take any disaster movie seriously.    [5]   

Dateline: Monday circa 7 am;  warming up on my elliptical machine before my yoga class, trying to find something to watch (sans commercial interruption) to pass the time.  There it was, featured in the “For You”    [6]   section of my Netflix feed.  The opening segments of the movie…oh, my.  In the so-bad-it’s-good category, I found the movie’s deadpan solemnity to be sidesplitting, and almost missed my yoga class.

I had totally forgotten how many establishing shots of Airport, scene by scene, are almost indistinguishable from the spoof.  The ZAZ team must’ve had that movie running simultaneously as they were storyboarding their version. 



*   *   *

Department Of Podcast Gardening

As regular readers of this blog know, I often write about podcasts I’ve listened to. I have at least thirty in my phone’s podcast feed app, and the process of weeding out some and adding others is a never-ending project.

I don’t listen to every episode of every podcast, but if I find moiself  skipping several episodes of a podcast I reconsider its inclusion in my listening library.  The episodes I tend to skip are most often those hosted by celebrities (read: actors and/or stand-up comics), who offer enough interesting material to tempt me from the first listen or two, but which then and far too often spend too much time with what I call the “gush fest.”     [7]

“My guest is the renowned, the amazing and unbelievably talented, Emma Stagehamm. Emma, I *love* your work!!!! ”

“And I love *your* work!!!! “

“And I especially loved your work in the revival of the all-French mime production of Chekov’s ‘The Seagull’ !!!! ”

“And I thought your work was brilliant in the off-Broadway, Star Wars-inspired
 political thriller, ‘The Mandalorian Candidate’ !!!!!!!!!!!!! “

Ad repeatum nauseum.

Yeah, yeah, you’ve done work; he’s done work; she’s done work; most of Hollywood has had work done;    [8]   they’ve done work – all gawd’s chilluns done work.  Please, spare me the seemingly obligatory, opening-an-interview-with-a-fellow-celebrity-butt-snogging, and say something interesting.



*   *   *

Freethinkers’ Thought Of The Week    [9]

  “Convent: a place of retirement for women who wish for leisure
to meditate upon the sin of idleness.”

( Ambrose Bierce, American writer and satirist, The Devil’s Dictionary )



*   *   *

May you not be disinvited to an event at which you were to be honored;
May you consider museum collections with a fresh eye and an open heart;
May you surely enjoy old classics like Airport;     [10]

…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] And not necessarily by the usual suspects: European colonialists.  Locals often plundered “their own” artifacts, removing and hiding them, and later selling them to the highest bidders (e.g. the Egyptians who, during the Arab Spring uprising, who broke into museums and looted ).

[2] An LGBTQ+ organization sponsoring or support community events in and around Los Angeles.

[3] Excuse me, The City.

[4] Or watch, as some of you may never have seen it.

[5] A disaster movie is “….a film genre that has an impending or ongoing disaster as its subject and primary plot device. …. these films usually feature some degree of build-up, the disaster itself, and sometimes the aftermath, usually from the point of view of specific individual characters or their families or portraying the survival tactics of different people.  These films often feature large casts of actors and multiple plot lines, focusing on the characters’ attempts to avert, escape or cope with the disaster and its aftermath. The genre came to particular prominence during the 1970s with the release of high-profile films such as Airport (1970), followed in quick succession by The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Earthquake (1974) and The Towering Inferno (1974).”  (excerpts from Wikipedia’s, disaster film entry )

[6] How did Netflix know?!?!?

[7] I’m talkin’ *you* Gates McFadden  and Tig Notaro.

[8] Did you catch the snarky plastic surgery reference? Didja, didja, didja, huh huh huh?

[9] “free-think-er n. A person who forms opinions about religion on the basis of reason, independently of tradition, authority, or established belief. Freethinkers include atheists, agnostics and rationalists.   No one can be a freethinker who demands conformity to a bible, creed, or messiah. To the freethinker, revelation and faith are invalid, and orthodoxy is no guarantee of truth.”  Definition courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation,

[10] “And don’t call me Shirley.”