Missing the Point

NOW THAT YOU'RE sick of the Statue of Liberty, here are a few parting thoughts straight from a ship in New York Harbor on the Fourth of July:

Did anyone actually see the 200 Elvis Presley impersonators? I mean live, not a la ABC. And what do 200 Elvis impersonators have to do with the Statue, or Independence Day?

It was a shame that everyone was more concerned with getting photos of every ship and firework than really watching and enjoying them. The fireworks, shot off 40 barges, were incredible--but everyone around me was glued to their viewfinders.

I wonder how many millions of dollars of camera equipment descended upon New York this weekend. There are only about four known photos remaining of the original dedication of the statue; there will be many millions of pictures of this ceremony.

Did you know that it cost $4.26 million to have four policemen every 250 yards around New York Harbor?

About the immigrants who were naturalized on national television, complete with commercial interruptions--I wonder if they felt excited that their ceremony took place at such a historic moment, or was their experience cheapened by the commercialism surrounding it?

How much was the "High Heel Coordinator" paid? She was the person in charge of keeping plenty of spiked shoes on hand at Governor's Island in case a starlet or two, or even Nancy Reagan, broke a heel.

Do you think there was a "false fingernail coordinator," in case someone broke a nail?

I had to squeeze by multitudes of people lining up on the Brooklyn Bridge at 11 a.m. to reserve a seat for the fireworks. I wonder what time the first person staked out a spot.

HOW MANY of those people were from Red Hook? That's the run-down section of Brooklyn where the inhabitants had an almost perfect view of the celebration. That is, they had a perfect view until the head honchos decided to erect high walls along the waterfront so that people waiting to be ferried to their $5000 seats wouldn't have to view one of Brooklyn's poorest neighborhoods.

I wonder how long we'll have to watch television commercials featuring Miss Liberty. I guess it'll be a long while. After all, Lee Iaccoca sold the rights to commercials that feature the Statue for $1 million to $5 million each. Funny thing, though, Iaccoca doesn't own the rights to the Statue.

He found out that he didn't own them when he tried to sue Anheuser--Busch for using a shot of the Statue in an advertisement. The judge got a kick out of the case, but Iaccoca lost it.

It will be interesting to see if Ronald Reagan uses the successful fundraising efforts of Iaccoca's corporation as an example of how private donations can pay for national projects. I can just see Ronny raving about the wonderful charity of America and its businesses.

The only problem is that because those companies "donated" money in return for the rights to use the Statue in their advertisements, little charity was involved. Rather, an elaborate marketing scheme financed the restoration of the Statue.

Wasn't the Statue supposed to be a gift for all Americans? It was supposed to symbolize the freedom fought for by the Thirteen Colonies, with the help of France. Somehow the symbol seems tarnished because it was sold only to those with a million or more dollars to spend.

Smaller businesses, like a little Pennsylvanian florist shop, were reprimanded and threatened with fines for donating smaller amounts to the restoration. Iaccoca claimed that the smaller businesses that were trying to raise funds were damaging his fundraising efforts by using the same logo that he was charging other companies millions of dollars to use.

ONE FINAL THOUGHT--I wonder if anyone sitting on a boat in the harbor was thinking of the significance of the statue, or Independence Day, or the struggles of immigrants. Or were they gazing, as I am, at the Statue of Liberty and pondering Iaccoca, the High Heel Coordinator, and 200 Elvis Presley impersonators.