Sometimes it's hard to see the good in teenagers. I mean, they get more shiftless and sullen all the time. You try to have even the simplest exchange with them, and you come to the swift, inescapable conclusion that they're rock-stupid and perfectly content to stay that way. They clog up the mall with their bad attitudes and their ludicrous yo-boy uniforms, making witless wisecracks about your fashion sense when all you're trying to do is get a set of TV trays to the car without suffering a hiatal hernia. Truculent little bastards.
But then one of them goes and does something that gives you hope -- not just for teens in particular, but for the entire future of the race. That's the kind of faith-restoring epiphany we experienced last week, when we learned that an unidentified 15-year-old in Prosser, Wash., had been questioned by the Secret Service over some sketches he produced in his high-school art class. Apparently, the content of these drawings was disturbing enough to raise an "Emergency" sign over the head of his art teacher -- who alerted the principal, who alerted the police, who alerted the secret service. Carnation's cream doesn't rise to the top as fast as this kid went up the ladder of panic.
And just what was the content of these sketches, which were capable of throwing the adult world's authority figures into such a tizzy? Well, one showed President Bush's disembodied head on a stick. Another, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, depicted the Commander-in-Thief as the devil and hurling rockets. There were some lesser-sounding, more generic images of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution in flames. One of the pictures was reportedly captioned, "End the war -- on errorism."
The American Civil Liberties Union rushed to the boy's defense. "Simply expressing controversial viewpoints in writing or in art shouldn't be enough for the student to face disciplinary action, unless there's actual disruption in the educational process," spokesman Doug Honig told the Seattle P-I.
Orlando Weekly's response, though, couldn't be simpler or more concise:
UNIDENTIFIED 15-YEAR-OLD, YOU'RE GOING TO WALT DISNEY WORLD!
And Universal Studios! And the RDV Sportsplex! And the dressing room at Dancers Royale! And anywhere else you could possibly want us to take you. Just because we've had our differences with your kind in the past doesn't mean that we can't recognize an anarchist savant when we see one. Screw the "educational process" -- you're already a genius! And a politically incendiary genius with an inborn gift for satire is what our town really, really needs. (Read this page regularly for proof.)
That's why we're invoking Orlando Weekly's little-known scholarship program, Leave No Art-Room Terrorist Behind. Our corporate masters have allowed us the latitude to award $13,000 per year in cash stipends and in-kind services to any young talent who shows superior potential in the field of illustrated commentary that tests the "fighting words" proviso of U.S. law. And that, Mr. Dubya's-Head-On-a-Stick, is you.
Just look at what you'll get:
- A six-month mentorship working side by side with one of Central Florida's leading artists. Trust us, we know just about every one of these guys. What's more, we've got incredible dirt on about 67 percent of them. So with just a word from us, they'll be happy to put their regular careers on hold for half a year to tutor you in the subtle techniques of visual protest. In no time, you'll be turning out woodcuts of Dick Cheney with a flaming arrow up his ass that even his mother couldn't tell from the real thing.
- A United Arts grant that matches our gift 100 percent. Yep, there's another $13,000 coming your way, to help you pay for life's little essentials during your stay in Orlando. Stuff like rent, Ramen noodles, M-80s ... all the staples. The only thing is, we haven't completely cleared it with UA. Oh, we've talked about it, especially if your definition of "talking" includes a lot of late-night drunk-dialing. In other words, we just haven't dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's yet. So you might have to write a proposal or something. A better idea: Draw one.
- An automatic materials upgrade. Pencils are fine when you're just starting out, but if you want to be remembered as an immortal political commentator like Herblock or Squeaky Fromme, you're going to have to graduate to more sophisticated tools sooner or later. We'll take you shopping at one of our area's finest art emporiums, filling up your shopping cart with the highest quality watercolors, brushes, charcoals and just the right shade of red oils to show Scooter Libby getting sliced in two by a speeding Lamborghini.
- A head model. We see promise in this decapitation motif, we really do. Given some time and TLC, it could end up being your claim to fame. To goose the process, we're going to provide you with an authentic human head to sketch from. Since it's governmental figures that fire your muse, we'll be taking that head from one of our own elected officials. Based on past evidence, we feel confident that we can do this with no appreciable loss to our city's infrastructure or quality of life.
- An internship at Orlando Weekly. This one's the real prize, of course. When you're not studying at the feet of your assigned mentor, you'll be honing your skills in our art department, where your proven combination of hand-eye coordination and deep-seated hostility will get you welcomed like a long-lost cousin.
There it is, you bright but anonymous lad: your professional future, all wrapped up in a bright, shiny bow. And all you have to do to make it happen is set foot on the next plane bound for Orlando. No, we're not providing airfare. Reread the above list of amenities again and see if you notice the name "Continental" anywhere. Whaddaya think, we're made of stipends? If you sincerely want to make this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a reality, you'll have to show some initiative and scare up the money through some other means -- like, oh, say, I don't know ... suing your school. Just a thought.
See you soon.