In choosing a topic for this week’s column, I found several noteworthy events, all revolving around a common theme.
• On Feb. 7, it was revealed that the powers that be at Mt. Lebanon Public Library had decided that a picture of a painting showing an exposed female breast was a no-no. Seems they figured that the photo, part of an exhibit by photographer John Flatz, might cause small children to snicker, grown men to leer and grown women to have a sudden attack of the vapors. So they asked Flatz to replace the photo. He declined, choosing instead to equip said photograph with a picture of a bra and an arrow pointing to it saying “Censored by the Mt. Lebanon Public Library.”
I can’t help but wonder if the good folks who determine the course of Lebo’s library have been spending too much time watching the PBS series “Downton Abbey” and have made the mistake of thinking it is a documentary rather than a work of fiction. They obviously believe we are living in the demure world of the 1920s British upper crust. What next, sir? Exposed female ankles? My word! Library spokesmen say the ban is not censorship. That’s good, because the Bible contains not only nudity, but also mass murder. And there’s all that begatting. Once started, where do we stop? At best, banning that photo is simply making a dirty breast of things.
• Feb. 9 marked the 49th anniversary of The Beatles’ first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Say what you like about The Beatles, but they undeniably rewrote the script for success for millions. Maybe they need to play The Beatles at Mt. Lebanon Public Library. After all, music hath charms to soothe the savage breast. NOTE: Avoid The Beatles’ “Girl,” in which Paul McCartney and George Harrison sing background using a common euphemism for the female breast.
• Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a holiday usually involving the giving of flowers and candy to a loved one or, perhaps, an intimate, candlelit dinner centered around something other than a footlong and curly fries at Sonic. But how many know the origins of St. Valentine’s Day?
Like many Christian holy days, St. Valentine’s Day initially was an effort by the church to move its members away from celebrating pagan festivals. The festival in this case was Lupercalia, celebrated around Feb. 15. The Roman historian Plutarch described Lupercalia thusly: “At this time many of the noble youths and some of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy.”
If you’re thinking this sounds a lot like Beyonce’s Feb. 3 Super Bowl show, you’re not alone.
The modern-day Plutarch – Wikipedia – adds that Lupercalia was celebrated “partly in honor of Lupa, the she-wolf who suckled the infant orphans, Romulus and Remus,” who founded Rome.
Could it be that Mt. Lebanon Public Library had planned a display on the history of St. Valentine’s Day, but backed out after being unable find a multi-cupped bra to cover the picture of Lupa suckling her adopted sons?
I guess that will remain one of Victoria’s secrets.