Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Stuffed Wonders of the World Tour

by Pa Rock
The Intentional Tourists

On a recent trip to Vietnam one of my most memorable encounters was with Ho Chi Minh, the leader of North Vietnam who worked tirelessly over many years to expel the French and later the Americans from his homeland.  Never mind that Uncle Ho died in 1969, a full six years before the last of the American forces finally left Vietnam.  He's still there - I saw him!

The reason, of course, that I was able to see Ho Chi Minh is that his body was handed over to some skilled taxidermists shortly after his death, and the stuffed result is now enshrined in a glass casket and on display in a special mausoleum in Hanoi.  There is no fee to see Uncle Ho, but a souvenir shop is close by where tourists can spend their money on books and posters and other paraphernalia having to do with the peasant who grew into an international political force.

And twelve years ago I saw another famous dead political leader.  Vladimir Lenin who died in 1924 has been stuffed and is on display underneath the reviewing stand on Red Square.  A souvenir shop is also close by.

Today on the front page of the Stars and Stripes is an interesting article entitled "Rest in Public" which says, in part, that the recently dead President Kim Jong Il of North Korea has also been turned over to the taxidermists so that he can be prepared for eventual public display.  According to that article, that Kim's  father, and former North Korean dictator, Kim Il Sung, is also on public display.  Apparently the North Koreans feel that if the new Kim's father and grandfather are both available for public viewing, it will add legitimacy and continuity to Junior's new regime.

According to the Stars and Stripes:

"Political experts say leaders' bodies are sometimes preserved to validate the godlike status they received - or bestowed upon themselves - while they were alive, and/or to justify the succession of power in places without elections."
Other bodies waiting around for more public adoration besides Ho Chi Minh, Valdimir Lenin, and the father and son circus act from North Korea include Chairman Mao Tse-Tung of China, and former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos.  (Apparently there is also a gift shop available for those who stand in line to see Chairman Mao.)

A woman who used to work for the Marcos family as a fashion model said that she had viewed old Ferdie's body and decided that he looked better dead than he did alive.  She speculated that Botox had been used to make him more attractive than he had been when he was still sucking air.

While it might seem a bit macabre to view stuffed dead people, the two that I have been up close and personal with so far have had very long lines of tourists waiting for a brief glimpse of someone of actual historical relevance.

So I'm thinking, isn't this something we could be doing in America - maybe not with Presidents (though Hillary might not object!), but how about stuffed athletes, movie and music stars, and even criminals?  I mean, who wouldn't want to see the actual Ted Bundy while on their Florida vacation?   Or Marilyn, or Elvis, or Mickey Mantle - or even Ted Williams' head?  Heirs who didn't inherit as much as they felt they were due, could put the dead family celebrities on display and charge for the viewing - because we are, after all, a capitalist society - and they could still end the line in a souvenir shop.  States could charge to see their most nefarious dead criminals as a way of recouping court and incarceration costs - or even as a way to compensate victims.

"Our next stop will be the John Wayne Gacy room.  Please don't block the kiddies' view because everybody loves a clown!"

Of course the Botox bills for Mick Jagger and Steven Tyler would be astronomical, but Joan Rivers ought to be ready for display fairly quickly after her demise.

Just thinking out loud here.

1 comment:

Xobekim said...

All of the dead political leaders I have seen were alive when I saw them.

Get back to Arizona. The Civilized People, a/k/a/ the Navajo, will arrange a sweat lodge for you. In the wisdom of their spiritual traditions you have been exposed to the chindi, or ghosts, of these dead communists. According to them if you do not take the cure you will become a skinwalker.

I have heard it said that Joe Arpaio is a skinwalker, a yee naaldlooshii, which is a very bad witch!