Friday, December 3, 2010

Police have no leads on who put the robot there, or why they did it

Stories like this one are at this point depressingly and hilariously common:
A robot met its end near Coors Field tonight when the Denver Police Department Bomb Squad detonated the "suspicious object," bringing to an end the hours-long standoff between police and the approximately eight-inch tall figurine.

Denver Police Spokesman Matt Murray said that a citizen called police at 3:27 p.m. to report the presence of the plastic white toy robot cemented to the base of a pillar supporting a footbridge near the intersection of 20th and Wazee streets. Police closed 20th Street between Blake Street and Chestnut Place, but did let a few people past the police tape to retreive cars parked in nearby lots. Nobody was allowed within about 100 yards of the robot.*
We all have laughed, and we all know that it happens in order to keep us used to following orders.

But let's laugh again!
[Denver Police Spokesman Matt] Murray said that the bomb squad couldn't be sure if the robot was safe or not, and so remotely detonated it at about 5:30 p.m. to "render it safe." The robot exploded into several chunks.
Because isn't blowin' shit up to "render it safe" such a perfect metaphor for, well, everything?

Something else I'm finding funny, reading over the comments, is a general sense I get, even from the many who find the whole thing ludicrous, that whoever put the robot toy there put it there as some sort of a "prank," like, ha ha, I'll deliberately make them overreact to an imagined terrorist threat! Which, what? I can imagine many reasons why a robot toy I had in my possession might end up abandoned in a public place (even "cemented in" as this one apparently was), but I simply cannot imagine doing it with that thought in mind. Am I weird?

*Incidentally, Denver Post, fuck you and your shitty crap you append to copy-and-pastes. I'm not going to include your link-with-tracker to your site, I'm going to use my non-monetized one; and I'm not going to fill my space with your shitty "read more" text, and I'm sure as hell not going to read your goddamn terms of use on your "content," because fair use is goddamn fair use. Go shit. I know how to backspace.


what the Tee Vee taught said...

Perfect, indeed.

And yes, by all accounts, you are weird. Consider. yourself. fortunate.

Richard said...

Great rant at the end, too.

Ethan said...

Thanks to you both!

Christopher said...

I don't know if the word "prank" is meant in that way, I think it's more that these kinds of things are usually called pranks.

I was just reading this little ad in Boing Boing and thinking that sticking leaves on a stop sign doesn't really constitute a "prank" but I guess that's the word people use for this kind of behavior.

Not surprisingly, Mark Jenkins' previous work has also attracted the bomb squad.

Anyway, I think the use of the term prank in situations like this is more about the recognition that even though you, as a member of the public, theoretically have some ownership of your city's public space, we all know that that doesn't actually mean you're allowed to actually make any decisions about its use or appearance.

When somebody glues a robot to a bridge, they're bringing up that contradiction in a cute way, so it's a "prank".

Ethan said...

Hmm, maybe...I still think a toy sitting under a bridge is more like litter, but I see what you're saying. And I love your second-to-last paragraph.

Salty Justice said...

Cement isn't exactly expensive, but I bet bomb-defusing robots are. If only the people around here were so paranoid...

David said...

I think the "let's see if we can make everyone react to a plastic robot as though it's loaded with Sarin Gas!" concept of a "prank" is that one that law enforcement uses after they've reacted to a plastic robot like it was loaded with Sarin gas. Obviously, because they reacted that way,creating a panic must have been the person's intention, and they're now terrorists!

As opposed the sensible version where someone stuck a robot in wet cement because the idea of the plastic robot being there forever is funny.

The fact that it's an 8" robot and noticeable should be a red flag that it's not a bomb. Terrorists are way too dour and serious to pull a playful, supervillainy move like using cute plastic robots as bombs.

Randal Graves said...

Now I've found a use for all those old action figures that no one would buy on Ebay.

Ethan said...

Salty: Give 'em a try, you might be pleasantly surprised!

David: Yeah, that's more what I was thinking, and your last paragraph is hilariously true. Remember the Aqua Teen Hunger Force lite-brite ads that shut down Boston a few years back? I remember engaging in an online discussion about that, and pointing out that if I was going to blow up Boston, I wouldn't announce the presence of my bombs by putting lights all over them, and people seriously responded with, "But what if terrorists start putting lights all over their bombs because they know we won't worry about things that call attention to themselves?" Like, seriously, your garden variety terrorist will just put a bomb in a trashcan or somewhere, where people noticing it or not is pretty much moot.

Randal, be sure to take pictures.