Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A Gull(ible) Feast


Dear readers, I have just returned from a journey to Salt Lake City in Utah.  In case you are unaware, Salt Lake City is the Home of the Mormon Church and Not Much Else.  As a result, while my fiancĂ© was off doing important work-related things, I spent a lot of time staring into the mountains and pondering the meaninglessness of existence.  But when I wasn’t doing that, I wandered over to look at the LDS temple, the grounds of which were massive, well-groomed, and full of cringe-worthy statues.  The statue that caught my eye the most, however, was the Seagull Monument. 


This is the monument.

 

If you do an image search for “Mormon seagulls” (and who wouldn’t?), you’ll find pictures like this:






Golden seagulls!  So majestic!  They’re practically eagles, but with a greater penchant for eating out of a dumpster!



The problem is that when you first approach this monument from the main walkway in the middle of the temple square as I did, this is the view you get:




Basically it looks like one of the seagulls is taking a massive dump on its majestic sphere perch.



The images on the bottom of the monument show the Mormon pioneers looking forlornly at fields with their oxen.  So as an uninformed outsider, my actual thought on looking at this monument was that the pioneers must have arrived at this horrible place with like 90% salt content in the soil and had been unable to grow anything until these seagulls arrived and fertilized everything with their guano.



It turns out the story is actually even better than this



Indeed, the pioneers were having trouble with their crops.  Then these crickets came along and were eating what little they had managed to farm.  But all of a sudden, a flock of seagulls miraculously appeared, and everyone started rocking really weird new-wave hairstyles. 





Wait, sorry.  This flock of seagulls appeared and started eating the crickets.  Then, the gulls went to the stream, vomited, and went back to eat more crickets, and continued this cycle until all the crickets were gone.  So basically the Mormon pioneers were saved by bulimic seagulls.  And the water supply was never the same again.  Inspirational!



I will leave you with this painting I found in looking for info on this story, attributed to the “International Society Daughters of Utah Pioneers.”  It appears to depict an alternate history in which the pioneers are about to be devoured in an invasion of giant man-eating gulls.



17 comments:

  1. Lordy, the things I didn't know ... So now the next time someone mentions Mormons I just go "Pfft. Seagulls. WhatEVER."

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    1. That's my usual response to anyone who comes to my door trying to sell something.

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  2. I spent a week in Salt Lake City a couple years ago ... on vacation ... and I chose the location (and I am not Mormon!). When I first saw that you were doing a post about SLC, I wondered what the focus was. Most of the art there was pretty vanilla. I laughed at the seagull statue. I had approached it from the front.

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    1. We actually spent most of the time in the mountains outside of the city, which were very pretty! The little bit of art I saw was fairly standard, but I was seriously confused when I came to the seagull behinds.

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  3. So a Flock of Seagulls saved the Mormons from starving. Got it. They are a very underrated band. I mean bird.

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    1. "Binge Cricket-Eating Saviors" was one of their lesser known albums.

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  4. I really liked that thing you said about the "Not Much Else." It did dampen my enthusiasm for reading further but that soon dissipated (the dampness). I became engrossed in the story and soon was feeding like hungry piranhas. Oh I should have used sea gulls there, shouldn't I? Anyway I found your story fascinating. In addition I'm wondering why the Mormons continued to serve their old god? I would think they should have latched on to their new savior. One thing you can say about them though - they aren't fickle!

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    1. Only their old god would think to send seagulls to take care of a cricket problem. Most other gods deal with problems using either lightning or volcanoes. Or just not sending their followers the problem in the first place.

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  5. Aren't seagulls supposed to live near the sea? I don't know what attracted them to Salt Lake City but I wouldn't be surprised if polygamy had something to do with it. Getting married to a bearded man is every seagull's dream.

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    1. And polygamy is all about being able to have a lot of birds to yourself, so really it seems like a good match.

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  6. That's perfect because I look at seagulls a lot like I look at Mormons, creatures of impulse without much deep thought who crap on everyone's good time. I'm just kidding Mormons! I'm totally kidding! Part of me isn't, but mostly I'm just kidding! I've actually eaten crickets before (in a foreign land where they were cooked and salted) where's my statue!?!

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    1. I think to get your statue you have to register your miraculous deed at the temple and tithe 10% of your money for a few years. Alternatively you can dig up some ancient tablets no one can read but you that then mysteriously disappear after you translate them. Monuments ahoy!

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  7. My interest in Mormons faded after they built a ridiculous 'Temple' near my childhood Surrey UK home, then blocked our drive with several big cars as they tried to recruit my father for 10% of his annual earnings. My father literally had to leave his own home to escape them; they simply refused to go!

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    1. Now that is some serious missionary work. Usually I just get a copy of the Book of Mormon and an invitation to come to a meeting to talk more. Building a temple next door is a whole other level! I guess your father must have been a prime target for entry to the fold.

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  8. As a Mormon, I found this post highly offensive. Wait, I am a Catholic. No, I lost my Catholic in San Francisco two years ago.

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    1. Here at SARFT we engage in equal opportunity offensive discourse on artwork and culture.

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  9. The meaninglessness of existence.... that's the spirit! You're right, it's a dump. A majestic dump. You're so perceptive I sometimes wonder what you'd have to say about my art. (My what?) ;)

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