Unethical Quote Of The Week: An Ice Cream-Licking, Fame-Seeking Moron

“All I wanted to do was be famous.”

—Accused ice-cream carton-licker, Lenise Lloyd Martin III, a 36-year-old unemployed man who has been arrested in Louisianan for making a video of himself licking a carton of ice cream in the Big B’s Supermarket in  Belle Rose.

“It’s a shame,” commented Matt Walters, who works at the store. “A grown man doing something like that.” Yes, that’s a shame, but a greater shame is a grown man thinking like that, and a culture that raises its children to believe that fame itself is an accomplishment, regardless of what one is famous for.

The internet and social media have spread this disease of ethics and the mind, but it began long before the web took over our lives. Andy Warhol’s prescient quote, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”, first appeared in the program for a 1968 exhibition of his work at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden. We saw the hints of the cultural malady with the advent of television, as we saw ordinary Americans getting a thrill from acting like giddy fools behind announcers and TV journalists when they saw a TV camera.

This compulsion spawned such pop culture freaks as “Rocken Rollen” also known as Rainbow Man, who somehow managed to get himself and his rainbow-hued Afro on camera at dozens of live sporting events. At least he stayed in the stands; another example of the phenomenon was fans who ran out on the field mid-game hoping that a TV camera would capture their moment of “fame.”

Clearly, the culture is sending a toxic message to our youth. The movie and subsequent TV series “Fame,” following the travails of aspiring teenage performers, both pushed the false concept that being famous itself is an achievement:

Baby, look at me
And tell me what you see
You ain’t seen the best of me yet
Give me time
I’ll make you forget the rest

Don’t you know who I am
Remember my name!
Fame!
I’m gonna live forever
I’m gonna learn how to fly, high
I feel it comin’ together
People will see me and cry,
Fame!
I’m gonna make it to heaven
Light up the sky like a flame,
Fame!
I’m gonna live forever
Baby, remember my name
Remember, remember, remember, remember
Remember, remember, remember, remember…

Part of the fallacy here is that people don’t remember, and never have, even when the fame was deserved and based on something significant. That was the theme of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s once-famous poem (“Shelley? Who’s that?”), “Ozmandias”:

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

A similar sentiment is conveyed in the poem “Mortality,” by the somewhat more prosaic (but once famous!) poet William Knox. A sample..

O why should the spirit of mortal be proud?
Like a fast-flitting meteor, a fast-flying cloud,
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave,
He passes from life to his rest in the grave….

The hand of the king that the scepter hath borne,
The brow of the priest that the miter hath worn,
The eye of the sage, and the heart of the brave,
Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave.

The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap,
The herdsman who climbed with his goats to the steep,
The beggar that wandered in search of his bread,
Have faded away like the grass that we tread.

The saint that enjoyed the communion of heaven,
The sinner that dared to remain unforgiven,
The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just,
Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust….

The key word here is quietly. Accomplishments last; contributions to society and culture last. Fame is random and ephemeral, and often has no connection with societal worth. Mel Brooks managed to briefly rescue the evaporated fame of a long-dead and slightly disgusting vaudeville performer, Joseph Pujol ( 1857 – 1945), by using Pujol’s stage name Le Pétomane (“the farter”) as the monicker of the corrupt territorial governor (Played by Brooks, with his eyes crossed) in “Blazing Saddles.” Le Pétomane could whistle tunes out of his sphincter, and made a good living doing it. More people know his name now than can name  most of the Apollo program astronauts, or any of the “famous” Eight Wonders of the World other than the Great Pyramid.

The cretinous search for hollow fame has inspired fools like Martin to be mass shooters or Presidential assassins, to try to survive going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, to audition for ” American Idol” despite being unable to sing a note, and more. Ice cream carton-licking is just the latest impetus for the  desperate to seek fame as a substitute for having a life.

A video of a teenage girl licking a carton of Blue Bell ice cream in a store and then putting it back on the shelf “went viral” under the hashtag #icecreamchallenge.  Now the authorities and store owners across the country are trying to stop a wave of copycat videos and gallons of tainted ice cream. Making an example of sad, stupid Mt. Martin is part of that effort.

Even though Martin produced a receipt to back his claim that he purchased the pre-licked ice cream on his video (the store had to throw out all of its supply anyway, since it couldn’t be sure that he bought the same carton he licked),  he’s been  charged with criminal mischief for tampering with a product before he had purchased it, and with “unlawful posting of criminal activity for notoriety and publicity,” an obscure Louisiana law that makes distributing a video of oneself breaking a law punishable as aseparate crime. That sounds like a First Amendment violation to me, so maybe Martin will achieve fame by having his name on a landmark Supreme Court Case. You know, like Buck v. Bell.

Quick now: who were Buck and Bell?

________________________

Sources: New York Times, CNN

28 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Week: An Ice Cream-Licking, Fame-Seeking Moron

  1. I do not remember which party was Buck and which was Bell, but the case is notorious as it was OW Holmes writing that compulsory sterilization is A-ok. I would be surprised if anyone who has attended law school on the last 50 years is unfamiliar with the case, at least on a superficial level.

    • First thing to come to mind was “three generations of imbeciles is enough.”

      (But I did have to google it just to make sure I had the right case. )

      -Jut

  2. A modest proposal.

    I’ll exchange one person like this for one illegal immigrant with actual dependent family members. Full amnesty.

    Since this extremely anti-social conduct is going viral and including, now, more products than just ice cream, I think we can really relieve a lot of pressure at the border.

  3. The popular culture, with its continued emphasis on “me, me, me” continues to reap what it has sown. How long before we have to slide our credit card into a slot to buy individual products, turning stores into giant vending machines, just to avoid “casual” tampering or adulteration of our food?
    Even as I shake my head in wonder at the abounding ignorance unfathomable dumb-assery of the populace, I was cheered by the reference to “Ozymandias,” which was the first poem I learned in my freshman English Lit class. Also, I had heard my late father quote the last stanza of the Knox poem many times but did not recall the source.

  4. Rainbow Man was sitting down in front of Mrs. OB and myself at a late ’70s Orange Bowl. Nebraska against Oklahoma. Tom Osborne. Option offense. Super fast. Fun to watch from the east end zone of the old OB. Lots of red and white. I walked down to him at half time and tried to engage him in a little friendly banter, stuff like, “So how do you get your tickets? How do you get around the country? Are you rich? Independently wealthy?” It didn’t go well. He refused to engage in a fairly surly manner. I think he was essentially a nut case. Pretty crazy eyes. A little too intense and detached, all at the same time.

    • Rainbow Man is currently doing three consecutive life sentences, ironically in the “The Land Of Fruit-n-Nuts” ​hoosegow.

      You were at the Orange Bowl because it was in MiaMUH, am I right.

      I’m a closet Husker fan; a pal used to own a sports bar in Lincoln, so myself & others traveled to watch games at Memorial Stadium (the 3rd largest city in NE on game Saturdays) from 1992 to 2000.

      The N on their helmets stands for Knowledge…

      • Au contraire, mon frere. Grew up in Miamuh, two miles directly west of the Orange Bowl. It was at about 15th Avenue and our house was at 30th Avenue. Standing in the middle of N.W. 5th Street, in front of our house, we could look east down the street and see the lights standards and upper deck on the north side of the stadium. My dad would drive my brother and me to games (Miami High, U of M, dolphins), and we’d walk home. It was almost quicker to just walk rather than fight the traffic.

        We went to that Orange Bowl game while in Miamuh visiting my parents from South Bend when I was in law school. It was funny, for many years there, the Orange Bowl was completely enamored of the Big Eight, or at least Nebraska. There may have been some formal arrangement. But I think it was the fact that every farmer in Nebraska packed up the family in the red and white RV with the N on the spare tire cover and headed to Miami to see the ‘Huskers.

        And of course, that was the era of the thick-necked, steroided-up Nebraska players. Contrary to the myth spread by Nebraska and Keith Jackson, it wasn’t just corn and mowing the back forty that was producing those linemen and linebackers. The Nebraska trainers must have been East Germans. You’d think they would have kind of stood out walking around Lincoln. I think even the golf team was using steroids. Wasn’t Bill Glasson a Nebraska golfer? First guy on tour to bulk up.

        But yes, there being a Miami of Ohio (the cradle of coaches) confused me mightily growing up. Then, of course, there’s a Miami in Arizona as well. Mining town east of Phoenix.

        • There is also a Miami, Manitoba, which some radio station contest winners were disappointed to learn, since the prize was a trip to watch Super Bowl XXIX in Miami.

        • I knew that’s where you were from, but it was my late, Great Aunt Alice (born in Iron Mountain, MI) who relocated to FL with my Great Uncle Wink who taught me the pronunciation.

          They moved from Hialeah to lush Interlachen in the early 70’s due to the…um…change in demographics in Dade County.

          I visited them there summer of 1975 while working the central/northern part of the state for Northrup King’s Retail/Commercial Packet Seed Division; you may have seen their voluminous displays at Winn Dixie, Publix & sundry garden centers. Sheesh; you can grow ANYTHING there…twice a year!

          Good thing things didn’t go better with Rainbow Man; seems like the kinda guy that would’ve manufactured a “connection” and tracked you down to, AND PAST, the Gates of Hell.

          • He WAS creepy. Dodged a bullet, but we were not in a motel like the maid he kidnapped and held at gunpoint.

            As were your great aunt and uncle, I’m part of the South Florida Diaspora. There are evidently now so many Venezuelans in Dade County that the Cubans feel displaced.

            Winn Dixie, Publix. How about A&P? Grand Union? So many grocery store chains back before electricity. We shopped at the Grand Union only two blocks away, but the nearest Winn Dixie had White and Coloreds water fountains.

  5. I don’t care if he bought it or not he should get a minimum of 10 years for product tampering.

    The store should sue him for the costs of any direct losses and all costs associated with brand remediation.

    Make an example out of a few of them and this crap will stop.

    You really have to be stupid to want to be famous for being stupid.

    • So you are saying that anyone who consumes a product in a store prior to purchase (I have often seen people drink a beverage or eat some cookies while they shop, and then buy it at checkout) should get 10 years?

      If he can show that he in fact did not put it back on the shelf, but instead bought it then I am not so sure what the crime is here. It is trashy as all hell, and it is setting a terrible example for all of the idiots on the internet, but it is not like he actually put the tainted product back for someone else to buy (which was the case in some of the other videos).

  6. I want to say something derogatory about the idea of democracy, especially when divorced from cultural moral norms. Maybe something proscriptive along the lines of Plato’s Republic. It would’ve had soaring lines about the futility of Positivism to compensate for an absence of widespread individual virtue. It started to feel awkward as I composed it – like we might’ve crossed that threshold from the idea being a warning to it being a pedantic I-told-you-so.

    But I did! You’re all doomed!

  7. Half the people out there seeking fame are playing lawyer right now: “OH, so I have to buy the ice cream first, then I can go back to the cold case, plant the carton I bought and then start filming, and then I won’t be charged with a crime…perfect.”

    This is a perfect example of two points:
    1) Ethics > Law – we’re faced with people who will circumvent even the most cleverly crafted law. There is no substitute for ethics in this case.

    2) Anti-Tamper Packaging is important. Ben & Jerry’s does a plastic ring around their carton lids. Every Ice Cream manufacturer should be looking to add the same now.

  8. I might be confused about the news of the lick-and-run guy. I could swear I had heard about a lady in Texas who recently did basically the same thing, before L.L. Martin’s “fame.”

    At any rate, in Texas, the earlier story (might have been on Facebook; I have not been there much lately) spawned a joke that the famous Texas brand of ice cream, Blue Bell, was set to introduce a new flavor soon, “Lickety Split” (or something like that; I even mess up jokes!).

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