Friday, April 16, 2010

Internet: "Up yours, Mark Easton"



Andy Warhol once said that a time would arrive where each of us would be famous for 15 minutes. In a way that has happened with the Internet. People who are quite ordinary, who are living quiet lives, unknown and having no reason to become famous, can suddenly find themselves globally famous  via emails and YouTube because of something they have done or an image in which they are featured. There is the fat Asian kid whose face was superimposed on every image photoshoppers could think of, and the other kid using a stick as a light sabre (both kids ended up in therapy).

The spread of ideas and cultural phenomena is known as memetics, the cultural items themselves being referred to as memes. Then there are "internet memes".  Wikipedia says:
The term "Internet meme" refers to a catchphrase or concept that spreads rapidly from person to person via the Internet, largely through Internet-based email, blogs, forums, social networking sites and instant messaging. The term derives from the original concept of memes, although it has come to refer to a much more narrowly-defined category of cultural information.
Advertising agencies have exploited this phenomenon by creating campaigns based on people sending clips etc to others. Imagine one person emails it to 10 persons. Those ten each send it to another ten. Some of them are at the next desk, some are in another suburb and some are overseas. It spreads faster than Oprah on a baked ham.  The name of such advertising is "viral marketing".

And why am I rabbiting on about all of this. Because a chap named Mark Easton has become famous on the internet simply because of what his neighbour has done.  One moment you're an unknown, the next you're famous. Or infamous,

The item dealing with the above story was sent to me by a Bytes reader and friend who has had his battles with authorities, qangos and committees over the years. I would imagine that the symbolism in the decorative design has resonated with his inner being, causing him a feeling of admiration and satisfaction and his sending it to me for a wider sharing.

I will point out at this stage that the following story has been authenticated by Snopes.com, the website that is highly respected and authoritative in determining the truth of urban myths etc. The story is at:

The story goes like this...

A chap by the name of Darren Wood was building his house at Riverton in Salt Lake Valley, USA. Now the burghers of Riverton are quite protective of their views of the mountains and are eternally vigilant against any breaches of building codes that may deprive them of any part of that view. Mr Wood's neighbour was a particularly earnest chap by the name of Mark Easton, who also happened to be a Councilman on the City Council. Mr Easton had raised some things with the Council previously over Mr Wood's construction, which had not resulted in anything but which had cost Wood $$$ in dealing with. Another neighbour, Mr Torgersen, was a co-complainant with Mr Easton but his name has not been immortalised in the way that Mr Easton's has.

One day as Citizen Eastman (I think we should have one form of address for everybody, Citizen, as in the days of the French Revolution.  I know it sounds a bit like "Comrade" but what an advance in non-discriminatory, and non-gender specific, forms of address.  Anyway back to the story) was looking at the mountains from his upper deck, he cam to the conclusion that the ridge cap of Citizen Wood's house was higher than allowed by the building code. Citizens Eastman and Torgensen called in the city officials who then approached Citizen Wood. The latter agreed that the house was about a foot (30cm) above the building code but he also made the quite valid points that:
- it wasn't a great departure (in NSW this can be cured by an application to the Council under a State Environmental Planning Policy - "SEPP");
- once the house was completed and landscaping was in place, it would comply; and
- he was building according to plans already approved.

Easton and the city officials were unsympathetic.  By the time the dispute was over, Wood's building had been delayed and it has cost him $25,000.

There is an old Klingon saying, quoted in Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and in Kill Bill: "Revenge is a dish best served cold."

One morning Citizen  Easton awoke, strolled out on to his balcony and saw...


  

Wood had added to the gable end, the one facing Easton's premises and the one highly visible when  Easton (pictured above) liked to gaze at the mountains, what he called a decorative piece of abstract art symbolisng the cactii of the desert. Wood pointed out that the house needed vents and that the vents were in the shape of the cactii, with a decorative trim around them.

The city officials were called again.

Ultimately Wood said that he would take down his abstract art work if he received an apology from  Easton and his other neighbours.

Citizen Easton humbled himself and conveyed the following:
I am sorry for any discomfort that I have caused his family or him, and that I had no intent to do any harm to him when I called the city with my concern about safety.
Citizen Wood felt satisfied and took down the cactii.

To all those who feel that Wood should have left the cactus art there or that the revenge was insufficient, bear this in mind: a search of Google under "Mark Easton" brings up the story and Easton's ultimate humiliation, plus the story and pics under the title "Up yours, Mark Easton" have been sent world wide.

To use a couple of clichés: Mr Easton is cactus and Mr Woods has had, and is having, the last laugh.

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