|By GERRY NICHOLLS|
(Remember as you read this, Americans are toying with the idea of government run health care.
“Look up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane … no wait, it’s a giant banana … from Canada!”
Some befuddled Texan may actually have uttered those words had Montreal artist Cesar Saez been able to turn his dream into reality.
What was Saez’s dream?
Well, he wanted to build a 300-metre yellow banana and float it in geostationary orbit above Texas.
Think that’s funny?
Well here’s something even funnier — you, the Canadian taxpayer, helped to fund this fruity project.
Yes that’s right.
Saez received a cool $55,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts, a government agency which has a mandate to support the arts apparently by wasting tax dollars in the most outrageous manner possible
Mind you, the Canada Council grant wasn’t nearly enough money to finance the banana project; Seaz, in fact, needed more than $1 million.
Who knew creating a flying banana would be so expensive?
Anyway, to help raise the rest of the cash, Saez turned to private investors.
Unfortunately for him, however, private investors don’t share the same sophisticated artistic tastes as the Canada Council; he fell short of his goal by about $1 million.
And so a disappointed Saez recently announced that due to the shortage of suckers … oops I mean investors, his banana project will probably never get off the ground.
You are probably thinking to yourself, “Well at least now that his project is scrapped, Saez will return the $55,000 to the Canada Council.”
Ha. Clearly you don’t know very much about art.
When it comes to Canada Council grants there are no refunds.
Flying banana or no flying banana, Saez gets to keep the government money.
When asked about this failed banana investment, Carole Breton, of the Canada Council, explained, “We understand that sometimes, for all sorts of reasons, there is no creation at the end . . . this is money for research, not for results.”
Isn’t it good to know the people responsible for handing out our tax dollars don’t expect results?
Still, maybe Breton has a point about the importance of funding this sort of “research.”
Just imagine all the practical applications that could arise through using tax dollars to research giant flying bananas.
Perhaps, for example, the Canadian Air Force could use such information to assemble an elite squadron of “Airborne Attack Bananas.”
We could then deploy them above Afghanistan to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies:
Taliban No. 1: Oh no, the Canadians are sending gigantic flying bananas against us. All is lost. We must surrender.
Taliban No. 2: Curses to the Canada Council for providing the necessary funds for flying banana research.
To be fair, not all the grants the Canada Council dishes out are goofy. Some are downright insane.
For instance, the council once awarded $15,000 to “shock artist” Istvan Kantor, whose chief claim to fame was that he liked to walk into museums and splatter blood on priceless pieces of art.
It gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “blood money.”
Of course, maybe we need the Canada Council to subsidize artists such as Kantor and Saez with our tax dollars.
And maybe the majority of Canadians support these subsidies because they ensure our artistic community remains vibrant and creative.
Yeah, sure and maybe bananas can fly.