Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Pre-trial balloons

SOMETHING’S IN the air: In the last few weeks, protest of the policies of President* Trump has lately soared to, uh, new heights.

First, of course, there was the Trump baby balloon, which famously floated over London’s Parliament Square and its environs during his visit to the UK earlier this month. It was classic passive protest — a 20-foot-tall balloon whose cartoon aspect perfectly suited its subject: a bloated Trump in his orange glory, sporting a diaper, mouth in customarily unhappy position, the U.S. maximum leader clutching a cellphone in one short-fingered hand.

It captured the world’s fancy. There hadn’t been so much attention paid to a balloon over England since Pink Floyd sent an inflatable pig aloft in 1976, with that critter floating over Battersea Power Station while being photographed for the cover of the Floyd’s Animals album — a record that brilliantly invoked Orwell’s Animal Farm to make pointed commentary about social injustice and power in pre-Thatcherite England.

“It seemed like an appropriate symbol of someone of his temperament," said Matthew Bonner, the graphic artist who designed the Trump baby. Bonner, who works with activist groups, told Dezeen that he used “this language of mockery, because this is the language that he understands. So we're giving him a taste of his own medicine.”

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The Trump baby stunt was followed by another on this side of the Atlantic. In San Francisco on July 22, some inventive balloon aficionados re-launched another Trump balloon, this one depicting The Donald as a chicken in prison stripes. That balloon, 33 feet high, sailed serenely around San Francisco Bay, making appearances at Fisherman’s Wharf, the Ferry Building, and McCovey Cove, Curbed SF reported.

The Trump chicken, a fixture of protests in the area since April 2017, was last seen fittingly circling Alcatraz early this year.

More airborne antics are yet to come. There are plans afoot aloft to bring the UK Trump blimp to the United States. CNN reported on July 17 that a group of New Jersey activists plan to bring copies of the Baby Trump balloon to fly near the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., where Trump spends summer weekends, and elsewhere around the country.

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A GoFundMe page was launched to cover expenses. By July 17th, about $17,000 had been raised, more than three times the original funding target of $4,500, CNN reported. They’re no longer accepting donations, but at this writing, they’ve amassed about $23,700.

An alternate GoFundMe page, sponsored by Code Pink, hopes to bring Baby Trump to float over the military parade planned for Washington, D.C. on Nov. 10. They’ve raised $10,173 out of a $20,000 goal. (Check out the GFM page at this link to contribute.)

Image credits: Baby Trump: GoFundMe. Animals cover: © 1977 Columbia Records/Pink Floyd. Trump chicken: CDEL Family.

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