Though I have never witnessed an Idiotarod, I do feel a certain connection to the event. That’s because of what happened at the Madagascar Institute on the afternoon of January 25, 2004.
We used to live just up the block from the Institute, which we knew was something arty but which had remained mostly a mystery to us. On the fateful afternoon, Jenny heard a huge bang while she was in the shower, and she came running out to make sure I was okay, thinking that maybe some of our furniture had come crashing down or something. For whatever reason, I hadn’t heard the noise.
Maybe an hour later, a friend of ours who was coming to visit phoned us from the corner. “I can’t get on your block,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“There are cops everywhere, and they won’t let me on your block.”
I went outside to see what was going on, and there were indeed cops everywhere, along with news vans and a large RV that I later learned belonged to New York City’s anti-terrorism squad. The bang had been an explosion at the Madagascar Institute just up the block. We were later to learn that its founder, one Christopher Hackett, nearly had his face blown off, and suffered severe injuries, as he was putting the final touches on a confetti gun with which to launch that year’s Idiotarod.
Hackett’s brush with death and the law didn’t stop him from pulling an even stupider stunt last summer: preparing a cellphone-triggered suitcase bomb for display in an art gallery (only Hackett would know the phone number).
Now, I know art is freedom and blah blah blah, but I gotta say to the people at SF Mad, who threw a benefit for Hackett: art is not permitted everywhere. Like, for example, I am glad that artful explosions are not permitted in my living room. It’s all well and good to defend Hackett against the evil government goons, except that he happened to be playing with explosives on the block where I lived. That’s so not cool.