Sunday, March 1, 2009

Desecration Decoration, or: The Carlton Hotel is despicable.

In the hallowed, insular state-of-being of Australian Rules Football, there are immutable precepts and sacrosanct laws. One of them is that everyone hates the Collingwood Magpies. In return, Collingwood's mortal enemies are the Essendon Bombers and the Carlton Blues. As a one-eyed 'Pie, I am bound by blood, duty and honour to loathe mine enemies and smite them (this causes some real problems with Buzz, as we are in fact a mixed marriage. Whilst I am a mongrel magpie, he is a bloody blue and I can't repeat the epithets I delivered to him when Carlton beat Collingwood twice last season).

And I now have another Carlton to loathe and despise. Last night we went to the Carlton Hotel and the contempt I hold for their decorating preferences outstrips by a millionfold even my antipathy towards the Blues.

The Carlton Hotel is festooned with the stuffed bodies of animals - peacocks, parrots, butterflies, an ostrich and the neck and head of a giraffe. A rhino head is a copy in flocking, but in the midst of the other 'exhibits' provides little relief.

I just can't fathom the decision to pay for the corpses of deliberately killed animals to adorn your walls. They are positioned, observing, around the bar; dumbly witnessing the evening and the subject of both pointing fingers and bland stares from eyes that slide over them as they would any other object.

Perhaps I am an animal sizeist, but it was the head, neck and part of the chest of the giraffe that made me the saddest. So large, so quartered, so anomalous in her journey from wherever she was killed to an upstairs bar on scummy Bourke Street on a drunken Saturday night. She raised her head over the goings-on, like a spire, with the body of a tiny bird perched on her ear in a parody of life.

Somehow no matter where I tried to stand, I was always facing her.

As the night wore on I noticed more, and what became apparent after closer observation of the animals made me angry, contemptuous and despairing.

The ostrich had pearls wrapped around her neck like a choker; the giraffe had been prettied up with glittery eyelashes and golden eyeliner.

It was meant to be amusing, quirky, perhaps a reflection of the clientele; but it was the ultimate assault on the dignity of death. Such a fate - slaughtered to become a still and silent 3D mannequin, only to be gussied up for decoration and display. It's not enough that a living, breathing, sentient animal's dead body is presented for decoration, but it must be made a mockery of, dressed up and dolled up like a grand dame.

I can't think that the Carlton Hotel is bringing itself any good karma. I can only despise a decision to display what they have. You should bury those bodies with the dignity they deserve.

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