Our Lenin is the fierce one. According to Wikipedia, the sculptor “intended to portray Lenin as a bringer of revolution, in contrast to the traditional portrayals of Lenin as a philosopher.” But that’s not what the freedom-loving people in Czechoslovakia wanted. Erected in 1988, they pulled it down as soon as they had the opportunity in the Velvet Revolution of 1989. How it got to Seattle is of little interest. Why it stays is another matter. This lump of unwanted scrap metal has been oppressing my neighborhood since 1995.
Somewhere in his autobiography, W.B. Yeats says he learned that it’s not really necessary to speak up in public meetings; if you wait, someone else will make the same point—which you thought was so burningly original. For years, I daydreamed about sneaking out at night and painting Lenin’s hands red, representing the 4 million deaths attributed to his regime. Then one day, I drove by and saw that someone else had done it. Happy May Day.