Painting Venice’s pigeons—cruel art?

Three weird stories from the global press

Jack Rodolico By Jack Rodolico

If you’re looking for breaking news, you navigated to the wrong story. This is the Mishmash, Latitude News’ weekly round-up of the three weirdest tales from the global press. We’re skipping over Clint Eastwood’s wacko stand-up routine at the Republican Convention—in the Mishmash, we look beyond our borders in the hopes of reassuring ourselves that “they” are just as strange as “us.” Let us know if you find a story you’d like to see here next week.

They’re still rats with wings, but now they’re kind of pretty

If someone went around painting tigers pink, we’d probably all agree it was wrong-headed, if not cruel. But pigeons? Rats with wings? Honestly, shouldn’t people be able to do whatever they want to a pigeon?

A blue-colored pigeon perches on the hand of a tourist at St. Mark’s Square in Venice, August 28, 2012. (Reuters/Tony Gentile)

Swiss artist Julian Charrière and German photographer Julius von Bismark are raising these questions in the minds of perambulators in St. Mark’s Square in Venice.

Among the flocks of drab, gray birds, tourists are stopping to marvel at tropical-looking pigeons painted bright yellow, red, green and blue.

The artists designed a kind of pigeon trap in Copenhagen, plopping the birds onto a conveyor belt and airbrushing them varying colors. Apparently, they then carted the birds to Venice and released them in the square.

The artistic stunt marked the opening of the architecture portion of Venice’s Biennale, the world’s premier art expo.

Charrière believes the makeover will lead the birds to be “better regarded” by the public.

“Arbitrary” graffiti artist behind bars

Meanwhile in the UK, an under-appreciated artist is finally getting some acclaim. After tagging up the neighborhood, a British graffiti artist is behind bars, the Irish Independent reports.

Here’s the weird thing: the culprit wasn’t an angst-riddled teen, but a university professor—although he may indeed have been riddled with angst.

Residents of Northumberland Gardens, a wealthy suburb of Newcastle, have been waking up miffed and befuddled, finding graffiti scratched into their cars with a screwdriver. The offended cars included BMWs, Mercedes and Land Rovers.

Stranger, still, than the criminal and the neighborhood he haunted were the messages he scribbled onto the cars: “arbitrary,” “really wrong” and “very silly.”

Professor Stephen Graham, of Newcastle University’s School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape, damaged 24 cars before being arrested. The total damage is just north of $30,000 (U.S.).

Psychologist Marry Barrett discovered the word “arbitrary” etched into her Mercedes. “I felt sick when I saw it, I was close to tears,” Barrett says. “You work your whole life and you think you will treat yourself to something nice and then something like this happens. I’d only had the car for two months.”

Man finds 16th century relic under his couch

Stepping away from the arts: everyone needs a good retirement project. Colin Steer of Plymouth, England found one beneath his couch, according to The Telegraph.

After wondering for 24 years why the living room sofa slouched on one side, Steer decided to solve the little mystery. He ripped up the carpet and floorboards, dug through three feet of dirt, then discovered a well that dates from the 16th century.

As Steer tells The Telegraph, “I always wanted to dig it out to see if I could find a pot of gold at the bottom, so when I retired at the end of last year that’s what I started to do.”

Digging down into the 30-inch-wide well, Steer found a roughly 500-year-old sword, which he postulates is an “old peasant’s fighting weapon” because its made of “bits of metal all knocked together.”

“I love the well and think it’s fascinating,” Steer says. His wife feels a little different.

“I hate the well,” she says. “But I suppose it is quite a feature. When we come to sell the house I just hope it’s not a white elephant in the room.”