Tag Archives: pretty awful giraffes

Senator Tammy Baldwin Awful Giraffe

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (WI-D)

Senator Tammy Baldwin (Web|Twitter) is the junior U.S. Senator for the cheesy state of Wisconsin. Prior to her 2012 election, she served seven terms in Congress representing Wisconsin’s 2nd district. A progressive champion, she is also the first openly-gay U.S. senator in history, which is pretty cool. I guess.

On April 20, 2013, Senator Baldwin was the keynote speaker at the Second Annual Humphrey-Mondale Dinner in Minneapolis, MN. Following her speech, I squeezed through the crowd where I nervously made the holy ask. To my surprise, without any hesitation or question whatsoever — BOOM!

Seriously, she was completely unfazed.

(Eh, but then again I’m sure she’s seen it all — she’s from Wisconsin, let’s not forget).

Senator Baldwin’s press team did not respond to my requests for comment.

An Awful Giraffe Drawing by Leonardo da Vinci

Polymath and “Painter” Leonardo da Vinci,

On this Friday the 13th I thought it would be appropriate to post a particularly awful giraffe, and as I began searching my files I received an email. Innocently enough, I unsuspectingly opened it to find the most … I can’t even find the words. How does one describe the failed efforts of the most gifted polymath that has ever lived, Leonardo da Vinci? Do I posthumously congratulate him for the effort? Do I lie down and hope the nausea goes away? Do I try and mobilize Pretty Awful Giraffe-ites to contact the Louvreand have this mockery removed?

“Painter”? Yeah, and I’m Queen Latifah (I’m not Queen Latifah)

I think I’ll go with the second option and let Mr. Lucas Rayala take the wheel from here:

This well-known painting by LDV, while beloved by many in the world, is in fact a very horrible attempt to draw a giraffe.  Perhaps the worst ever.  While the neck length approaches believability, the snout is completely wrong, utterly failing to incorporate the mouth and nose in a cohesive semblance of an ungulate mammals jaw structure.  Intended to be a picture of a giraffe standing on its hind legs and eyeing a leafy branch somewhere behind the viewer, the front hooves have been mangled and forced into a crossed pattern to amateurishly fit inside the canvas space.  Also, proper giraffes are two-toed, not four (or five?!) as LDV depicts.  This beast’s habitat has been purposefully blurred in the background because LDV, despite his much-flaunted intellect, was obviously uncertain of its native environment.

I think I’m going to be sick.

Minnesota Orchestra Trumpeter Manny Laureano's Pretty Awful Giraffe

Minnesota Orchestra Trumpeter Manny Laureano (No Osmo Vänskä)

Today’s post comes from another friend of mine, Sean Jacobson, who is a student at St. John’s University. Having known him for several years now, I can say that he is serious when he writes that “there is very little in this world that I enjoy more than classical music.” In fact, I would even add that such enjoyment rests on a fine precipice that, with one stumble, could send him careening into obsession and thus a life spent locked away with as many cats as there would likely be pianos. But I’ve digressed.

Sean had the great fortune of seeing the Minnesota Orchestra perform at his campus a few weeks ago and (as you will learn) thought it would be a good idea to solicit a drawing from famed conductor and notorious sourpuss OsmoVänskä. Unfortunately that cold April evening only saw Mr. Vänskä carve his name into the Wall of Shame as the orchestra’s Principal Trumpet Manny Laureano made history [Clarification Needed].

Without further introduction, I now present to you what will likely be the best-written post you find on this website for a while:

A (Somewhat Artfully Embellished) Tale of Classical Giraffes

As those who know me will tell you, there is very little in this world that I enjoy more than classical music. One of those things, though, one of those rare interests that can contend with Mahler, Beethoven, or Shostakovich for my love and adoration is the noble giraffe. As a child, when people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would proudly answer “a giraffe!” no doubt hoping to capitalize on my then-disproportionately long neck. Naturally, then, a giraffe drawn by a professional classical musician…well that would just be the bee’s knees.

Manny Laureano

Such were the thoughts going through my head recently when the Minnesota Orchestra performed on campus. As I sat entranced watching the concert from the second balcony the thought, nay, the revelation, nay, the divine mission struck me: I had to get a giraffe drawn by the conductor, Osmo Vänskä. As the first half of the concert closed with a brilliant tuba feature, I set off to seek out the maestro. As I wound my way around the back of the hall and into the rear lobby I noticed a group of musicians huddled in a circle intent upon something in the middle. My mission temporarily on hold due to curiosity, I decided to examine the situation more closely.

It was then that I noticed that one of the three musicians was none other than Manny Laureano, principal trumpet of the orchestra. Let me put this in perspective for a moment: I’m a music major. The Minnesota Orchestra is one of the world’s best ensembles and one which I have idolized since I first saw them live in ninth grade. I play trumpet. Manny is an artist of the highest caliber. Put it all together and you have me hyperventilating like a pre-teen girl meeting a varsity quarterback. I cautiously approached Manny and the other two no-doubt virtuosic players (who, I am embarrassed to admit, I have completely forgotten the names of). One of them was playing a game of chess against Manny who promptly put her in check. I couldn’t help but think that either he was a pretty awful chess player or was making an extremely bold gambit. Certainly, he had put his opponent in check, but in doing so he left his queen wide open to attack. As I meekly intruded, introducing myself as a trumpeter and giving the pitch asking for a giraffe from any of the three, I watched Manny’s gamble pay off as his opponent, no doubt focusing on her king, missed the opportunity and blocked attack rather than going on the offensive. Manny made his next move and proceeded to begin drawing a giraffe while the other bystander and I made small-talk about giraffe fight videos on YouTube. I was impressed by Mr. Laureano’s ability to multi-task as he sketched the giraffe while still continuing to dominate the chess board.

Clearly impressed as well, the bystanding musician commented “Oh yeah, that’s pretty.”

“Mmhm. She’s gonna have some eyelashes too,” was the trumpeter’s response.

Breaking for a moment from the game as he began to draw the horns, Manny asked “They have some kind of unit on their head too, don’t they? Like big-ass goats, right?” Mr. Laureano proceeded to finish the drawing, promptly declare checkmate, and play a Rachmaninoff symphony. Cause that’s just how he rolls.

Now, a giraffe from the principal trumpet is a beautiful victory in itself, but it still left the big fish to be fried. As I watched Osmo conduct the second half I was almost certain I saw his baton trace the outline of a giraffe in mid-air. Determined to acquire a giraffe from the director, a squad of friends and I surrounded the backstage area and loading dock to intercept him. Musicians and instruments flooded out the doors one after another, but the maestro was nowhere to be seen. Figuring that he had already snuck out the door, the team and I gave up the chase and headed for home.

Just as hope was dwindling, though, I caught sight of the back of a particular curly white-haired head as I passed the backstage doors one last time. I reversed direction and walked in. Sure enough, it was Osmo Vänskä himself. I waited for a lull in the conversation he was having with another musician and interjected.

“Er…excuse me, Mr. Vänskä, I was wondering if I could make a somewhat strange request.” He slowly turned around and gave me a look unlike any I’ve encountered before. It was a look of mixed surprise, unease, and impatience, a look I can only describe as one most people might give if they were ordering a meal at Taco John’s only to find they were out of Potato Olés. Every eye in a twenty foot radius turned and stared at us. After a break of silence that seemed to last an eternity he spoke:

“Well, that depends.”

I gave the pitch and watched as the spectators’ faces broke into smiles and laughs, as if to say “Why what a brilliant idea! Please, Osmo, give this eager, doe-eyed young lad a giraffe!” The look stayed on the conductor’s face with a coldness as harsh as the desolate Finnish wasteland from whence he came. “I’m very busy.”

I was stunned. The possibility of a rejection hadn’t even crossed my radar. “Sir, it’ll only take 30 seconds of your time, you can do it right now.”

Osmo was unmoved. “I’m going to be out of the country next week, I’m very busy.”

“30 seconds, sir. It doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. In fact it’s best if it’s not.”

Cold. So cold.

After a while of trying to convince the maestro (a while, I should mention, that almost certainly would have been long enough for him to draw a freaking giraffe) I gave up, and walked away empty-handed.

I bet Vänskä’s giraffe wouldn’t have had such pretty eyelashes anyway.

Minnesota Twin Gene Larkin's Pretty Awful Giraffe (4-16-11)

World Series-Winning Minnesota Twin Gene Larkin

The following comes from a good friend of mine, Andie Whitaker (twitter), who besides being active in the Twin Cities political scene also runs a blog called Goodbye Disposable Hello Cloth. After running into Gene Larkin at a hardware store in Blaine, MN, as he was there promoting the store and signing autographs, Andie was kind enough to wait around and get what I can only describe as the best damn submarine-giraffe I have ever seen. For those unfamiliar with Larkin, he is a former switch-hitting first baseman and right fielder for the Minnesota Twins. One of only seven Twins to play at both the 1987 and 1991 World Series, Larkin is perhaps best known for hitting a game-winning single during the latter championship game.

Photo Credit: John Iacono/Sports Illustrated

So, that’s pretty sweet, right?

I had the opportunity of meeting Gene Larkin at a hardware store in Blaine, MN. He was there as part of a promotion for the store. Many fans began lining up to meet the Twins legend at least an hour before he arrived. All of these fans were waiting patiently with their baseballs, bats and cards in hand with a great deal of excitement. There I stood in line with a blank sheet of paper and those surrounding me in line gave me a look as if I was lost.

When it was finally my turn to talk with Larkin and get his autograph, in a shy voice I asked: “I have a unique request for you and I hope you are willing to help me…” As I explained to him that I would like it if he drew a giraffe for me and why, he stares at me with the most confused look.

“You want me to draw a giraffe?” Larkin says, repeating the question likely with the hope that I was joking.

“Yes. A giraffe.”

He then told me that if I were willing to wait until everyone else in the line had received his autograph, then he would “look into this giraffe thing.”

I waited patiently and it seemed as though everyone within the hardware store was gawking at me, but I continued to wait, certain that my patience would result in a very special giraffe drawing.

And I was right. My perseverance did pay off.

Once the line has subsided, he called me over. He stared at the blank sheet of paper for a few seconds, pondering if this was something he really wanted to do; he then expressed concern in his ability to accurately draw a giraffe. So I began to quell his fears the best I could:

“Well, they have long necks.”

He scribbled the head of the giraffe very fast, so he could begin drawing a neck, followed by the body.

“They also tend to have a pattern, much like spots.”

He adds a few squiggly spots to the submarine-like giraffe.

“And they tend to have four legs.”

Larkin draws four box-like legs and declares that he is finished, baffled that this is what I had waited for.

I shook his hand and thanked him for his time and his “masterpiece.”

Minnesota Twin Gene Larkin's Pretty Awful Giraffe (4-16-11)

What the hell does one say?

Normally I would insert a really snarky comment down here regarding an individuals’ inability to draw giraffes, but all I can do is silently shake my head in shame.  I am disappointed, Mr. Larkin.

Eight Year Old Mikey's Pretty Awful Giraffe

Eight Year Old Mikey

A close friend of mine participates in the Big Friend-Little Friend program here at the University and thought it would be an interesting idea to have her little friend “Mikey” draw a giraffe. Given, I do believe children this age probably should be drawing giraffes because of the contribution imagination has on one’s cognitive development, but I am including this here for two reasons:

  1. It’s absolutely adorable, and
  2. It illustrates what we have known for a while: even an eight year old can draw a better giraffe than most of the other people on this website. (I’m talking to you, Bobby B. – you have no excuse).

(Aren’t the teeth just precious?)

RT Rybak - 2 11

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak

R.T. Rybak is the current mayor of Minneapolis, MN, (serving since 2002) and a former writer for the Minneapolis Tribune who has also contributed to MPR. More importantly, he’s been known to crowd surf at First Avenue concerts. Yeah, that’s Minnesota for you.

So I will start by saying that I have nothing less than the utmost respect for Mayor R.T. Rybak. The guy is kind, smart, passionate and is often the best speaker in the room regardless of the venue. With that said, it is with a heavy heart that I must report the following: when I invited the mayor to participate in GDBWSNBDG at a recent local foods banquet in Montevideo, MN, the first reply I got was “What does a giraffe look like?”

Needless to say I was speechless. Though I do not know the mayor on a personal level, I have spoken to him at enough political functions to know that this question must have been in jest. Or, at the very least, a question of metaphysics.  After all, I as an armchair philosopher I can sympathize: what does anything truly look like?

At least for both his sake and mine this is the story I’m sticking to.

“Well, they have long necks,” I said.

“Right!”

He then took the notebook from my hand and began to draw, clarifying that he would need to draw a rough draft. (One could say that he was drawing a rough gir-aft, but one should probably not say that because it would make them look like an asshole).

Figure 1: Mayor Rybak’s Rough Gir-aft.

Commenting on his work (“Hm, not bad!”) he then tore the draft from the notebook. Becoming serious, he took to his art like a bird to flight …

… If said bird was filled with helium, therefore making it a fowl-ish Hindenberg.

Normally the story would end here, but the moment he finished (taking the time to “touch up” the work with neck-arms and a pigtail) he then took the sketch and ran off. Not knowing what was going on (and hoping to get my notebook back), I followed only to see that he had sought out his wife with cries of “Honey, honey, look what I drew!”

The reply? “That’s very nice, Raymond.”

Yes, very nice indeed.