Ungit in her natural habitat

Los Angeles has long tried to be the trendsetter for progressive causes like environmentalism and green energy advocacy. Despite being derided by Americans for being a haven for Leftist thought, California stands out in bravely buffeting the jokes, and marking a path for the future.

Now witness the LACMA rock – it’s an enormous 340 ton boulder discovered in the Inland Empire, a region to the east of Los Angeles. Currently it’s on the last leg of a 106 mile trip out of a quarry, through the sprawling suburbs of LA, towards it’s final destination at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In order to accomplish this, private donors have given $10 million dollars, most of which goes towards the enormous 294 foot transporter custom-built for the trip, with 196 wheels, 22 axles, and weighing over 1.2 million pounds.

Think they used wind power for it? Looking at the pictures, it doesn’t seem like tying a sail to the rock would have done the job.

LACMA’s director Michael Govan explains the significance of the exhibit: “It’s ultramodern, because it’s self-referential and it’s about the viewer’s experience — it doesn’t represent some god, yet it has the timeless, ancient overtones of cultures that moved monoliths, like the Egyptians, Syrians and Olmecs.” All cultures, by the way, that created structures meant to represent or glorify their gods. They also didn’t just prop up unworked rocks and gawked at them like idiots – they mostly worked them into regular shapes with designs. We’re far more advanced now…

Landscape engineer Barry Lehrman calculated the carbon footprint of the project to be 125 tons of CO2 for the concrete structure and nearly 12 tons of CO2 for transporting the rock, which devours 10 gallons per mile (see his report here). Green Energy be damned!

Of course, Mayor Antonia Villaragoisa welcomes the project, while spending millions of state money on replacing fossil fuel use with solar energy. The left-leaning LA Times gushes all over it. Check the rock’s twitter account to see everyone from LA County Supervisor Don Knabe post videos of it, to LA Supervisor Eric Garcetti endorsing the effort to relocate power lines for the rock. Now that’s good governance!

Govan insists that no public money went to this project, but one wonders about the cost of taking down electricity and light poles, and having police escorts – it’s unclear if this comes out of the $10 million or if some of the cities are picking up the tab of the rock rolling through their town. Further, he tries to characterize the project as a job-producer and economical stimulus – in contrast to Obama’s failure to do either

design of final resting exhibit

To add insult to green industry, LACMA ordered the “Public Fruit Amphitheater” dismantled and moved in order to make way for the big boulder. The theater is a 100-ton structure made from reclaimed and re-purposed materials, with an orange tree in the middle. The removal seems to upset the theater’s creators, who write:

“…what is the long-term civic goal of an artwork such as Levitated Mass? Is it a theme park like spectacle to increase museum revenue? In that case, LACMA could have done a better job putting its weight behind sustainable, smart and innovative art, landscape architecture, and living earthworks, not the ecologically damaging altar of a massive boulder mined from a quarry. Levitated Mass symbolizes excess, consumption and ownership, which is the direct cause of our diminishing resources. This mindset feeds short term wants, but fails to conserve resources for future needs”

These bitter hippies almost convince me to like it.

So LACMA and the LA city officials swaddle their beloved crag with a “high-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets so it doesn’t get scratched,” while insulting an “ecologically responsible” project, and demanding commerce and industry ascribe to higher standards for the sake of a phony green scam.

Once again, California excels in self-parody. While it wades farther and farther into societal collapse and financial ruin, it celebrates it’s own ability to waste resources on “art” that doesn’t even reflect beauty, but brute, stupid enormity. The real “levitated mass” is the idiocy and disaster that hovers over the once Golden State like the sword of Damocles.

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