Danniie’s August 10, 2105 Bishop’s Corner was the usual mishmash of syrupy sanctimony; and sandwiched in-between were the usual furtive reminders to donate (”Please do remember Abraham’s Burse, and Father’s many needs”) and to attend “the show” (”surprise yourself and others – but not God – by showing up for something”; or, “Would you make a sacrifice and show up for the Rosary Procession Thursday evening after supper?”; or, “Now, come, let us bless Our Lord in return”).* But more and more, it seems, Dannie’s pet cats are taking center stage, for -- in this issue -- several paragraphs were dedicated to his feral felines. It seems like not even a week goes by without Dannie making some reference to them.
We wonder why. We also wonder why he gave them the names that he did: Vivaldi, Puccini, and [gag me with a spoon!] Caravaggio. Was Dannie just trying to be “cute,” or was there some “significance” to those names? We wondered, so we did a “web search” of those three characters for which the cats were named. It turns out that all three were “imperfect” in some way, with Vivaldi perhaps being the least “controversial” of the three. Antonio Lucio Vivaldi, born March 4, 1678, was an Italian Baroque composer and virtuoso violinist, whose best-known work was a series of violin concertos known as The Four Seasons. He was also, believe it or not, an ordained priest – but one who, reportedly because of his fragile health, was dispensed from practicing his vocation. That’s kind of ironic: on the one hand, there’s Vivaldi, the non-practicing priest; and then on the other, there’s Dannie, the practicing non-priest!! Maybe that was the "attraction" for Dannie!
At any rate, the next cat was named for Giacomo Puccini, also a composer, but a bit more of a rascal than Vivaldi. Puccini wrote perhaps some of the most beautiful opera music ever composed, but his personal life was anything but that. A notorious womanizer, he had affairs with at least a half dozen women; and one woman, with whom he was accused of having an affair (but actually didn’t), was so mortified about it that she committed suicide. (Later documents revealed that he actually had an affair with her cousin.) So, one wonders why, out of all the famous personages who have ever lived, Dannie would pick such an unsavory character as Puccini for a pet cat's name.
But, as unsavory as Puccini might be, he was -- compared to Caravaggio -- a cherub. Michaelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, born in 1571, was a painter. A Wikipedia article describes him as having “led a tumultuous life. He was notorious for brawling, even in a time and place when such behavior was commonplace, and the transcripts of his police records and trial proceedings fill several pages.” It goes on to report that he committed a possible murder, and that he consorted promiscuously with both women and men – and even young boys. Also, several of his religious paintings were rejected for being too “sensuous” (and even erotic); and a disproportionate number of them dealt with such grisly themes as beheadings, or with depicting young boys in “carnally suggestive” ways. For these and other reasons, most historians agree that he was in fact homosexual. By any measure, Caravaggio was a scoundrel.
So, again, one wonders why Dannie named his pets after such characters. Well, okay, Vivaldi was innocuous enough – a bit odd, but innocuous. And Puccini? Although that one’s a bit of a stretch, one can make “allowances” for him. But Caravaggio? Granted, Dannie has a penchant for choosing odd names; but Dannie, couldn’t you have picked someone else? After all, what if one of your culties “googled” Caravaggio, and found all that “dirt”? Wouldn’t he be scandalized? There are plenty of other names that are just as deliciously ridiculous as Caravaggio, but without the sordid “baggage.” How about Tintoretto, Botticelli, or even Rembrandt? Perhaps you could hold a “name the cat” contest (and charge admission – another fund-raiser!), and judge on the basis of how outrageous it is -- or, better still, perhaps name them for some outrageous person. (Our personal favorite is Oscar.)
But, regardless of what names Dannie gives his cats, the real issue here isn’t that, but this: why someone who calls himself a “bishop” would fill up his column in a church bulletin week after week with brainless blather about his pet cats (not to mention, spell out all the gruesome details of their “exploits” with baby bunnies). Doesn’t he have anything better to do than that? At best, it’s bizarre. At worst, it’s sick. Perhaps Dannie thinks that he’s being “cute” by musing about cats dismembering, devouring, and regurgitating these little critters; but if you ask us, it’s a sign of not being “cute” but of being “twisted.” Dannie’s “bunny fetish” shows a mind that is – if not “Dahmeresque” -- a bit disturbing.**
We wish that Dannie would simply dispense altogether with his banal banter about his cats. He’s not being “cute” or “humorous”; this drivel is actually tiresome as well as boorish. That, along with his syrupy sanctimony, may work on the brain-dead; but for the rest of us, it’s just so much “window dressing.” It’s artificial, it’s insincere, it’s pretentious, and it’s disgusting. Dannie, we wish that you’d dispense with it all. Actually, we wish you would simply dispense with yourself (and Tony too) – and take Vivaldi, Puccini, and Caravaggio with you. The bunnies (and we) will thank you for it!
* Since we’ve been “getting on Dannie’s case” lately about how he’s always either begging for money or scolding parishioners for not coming to “the show” often enough, we notice that his reminders about them are a little more subdued these days – but they’re still there.
** But, then again, so also is the mind of a “bishop” who – while enjoying himself down in warm, sunny Mexico during Lent – can, in one breath, say to his freezing parishioners back home, “Still the weather [in Mexico] was beautiful.” And then in the next breath, ask them, “Did you have more snow?” (and, oh yes, ask them to pay his “excessive heating bills” while he’s down there “doing Mexico.”) If that is not “disturbing,” then it is certainly insensitive. But what else could one expect from someone who takes his cats to a “kitty spa” for their pedicure, while he’s justifying the starving and dehydrating to death of Terri Schiavo?
The “Dahmeresque” adjective, by the way, is a reference to Jeffrey Dahmer, the convicted serial killer who sometimes ate his victims, and who, by the way, got his “start” by watching videos of torturing animals. He quickly graduated from that to torturing them himself, then doing the same thing to humans – and ultimately to cannibalism. We wonder why Dannie would use a church bulletin to recount the grisly details of his feral cats’ “exploits” – and we also wonder if Dannie would like to reconsider his “boys will be boys” comment about the SGG principal’s boys watching the same sort of videos.