Saturday, July 26, 2008

"Man shoots lawn mower for not starting," a cultural observation

Milwaukee, Wisconsin--How does one write an ode to a lawnmower? In these tortured times, it's not hard to believe someone would snap and do this. What with the high price of gas, and the fact that most lawnmowers won't start if they aren't Briggs & Stratton, let's face it--and I'm not even being paid to write this.

But what gives: he's being charged with shooting the mower. But the majority of Lawn Boys out there have Briggs & Stratton motors! Outsourcing, that must be it.

Sometimes, I forget that I'm in the American Midwest, but stories like this remind me in their own very special way. Of course, this could have happened in Austria, Canada, Germany, and hell, even in the UK. Well, OK, he's not technically charged with shooting the mower, but the possession of the shotgun and his disorderly firing of it:
Keith Walendowski [Ed.-He's 56-years-old.] was charged with felony possession of a short-barreled shotgun or rifle and misdemeanor disorderly conduct while armed.According to the criminal complaint, Walendowski said he was angry because his Lawn Boy wouldn't start Wednesday morning. He told police quote, "I can do that, it's my lawn mower and my yard so I can shoot it if I want." ("Man shoots lawn mower, AP, 07.25.2008)
If the late Frank Zappa were alive today, he'd be writing a song about this man and the incident. Maybe it's not the most obvious social indicator, but Walendowski's comments that it was his mower and his property are uniquely American. We think we can do whatever we want on our land, regardless of existing statutes.

Here then, are the dying-remnants of the frontier and the Old West, acted out by a Polish-American while attempting to cut his lawn, possibly drunk. If you want a more obvious image of the Old West, think of a penniless drunken desperado wallowing in a manure-laden mud-puddle of the main strip of a corrupt mining town.

That's the frontier--and along with shooting the defenseless in the back after running them off of their land for the railroads and other developers-- that's the Old West. Cooler heads have prevailed over what exactly Walendowski's in trouble for:
Witnesses told police Walendowski was drinking before the incident. The criminal complaint indicates police observed him to be intoxicated.Neighbors in the 3500 block of S. Austin Street heard the gunfire. "Well it seems strange - but he's a strange guy with his drinking," said Donna Kadow who lives next-door.Walendowski is 56-years-old. Court records show he does not have a criminal record. ("Milwaukee Man Shoots Lawn Mower," AP, 07.26.2008)
And so, in addition to exercising his American birthright of discharging a high-powered firearm, Mr. Walendowski was drinking. The problem is, there is no more frontier, and he was living within the city limits of that peculiar place known as Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Spirits have a way of making one forget. It's hoped that Mr. Walendowski is treated lightly in the whole affair, he's never shown a tendency towards violence and crime before. We can all be assured that the lawn mowers of Milwaukee can sleep safely tonight.

Human beings tend to anthropomorphize everything! Granted, the land must be tamed, and drinking beforehand while brandishing a sawed-off shotgun isn't necessary anymore. The art of satire is officially dead, and so is conservative and libertarian ideology. Time to bury the walking dead.

The other shot heard around the world, AP, 07.25.2008:

"Milwaukee Man Shoots Lawn Mower," AP, 07.26.2008:


  1. There already was a song written about this very incident - strangely, it was written around 20 years earlier. It was by the Dead Kennedys, called "A Child and His Lawnmower."

    Some clown in Sacramento was dragged into court!
    He shot his lawnmower
    it disobeyed, it wouldn't start!
    Might makes right, it's the American Way!
    They fined him sixty dollars, sent him on his way!

    You know, some people don't take no shit!
    Maybe if they did if they'd have half a brain left!

    You know, some people don't take no shit!
    Maybe if they did if they'd have half a brain left!

  2. Thanks Mike! You know, might means right isn't just for Americans anymore! Well, we didn't invent it either, but never mind that: we've excelled at it since the end of the Second World War. The Cold War was WWIII, so the next one's coming (already here).