Saturday, January 16, 2016

Wrestling With History

I think we all had a nice laugh this week following the absurd story of the small upstate New York village of Whitesboro and their vote over changing their probably racist, definitely ridiculous town seal; which depending on who you you ask depicts a friendly wrestling match between town founder Hugh White and a native Oneida Indian or a white guy strangling an Indian. 

Given the name of the town to go along with the seal, I kind of see it as good news that the town overwhelmingly voted to keep their controversial seal; lest we lose this real life version of Pawnee, Indiana (as a brief aside: I've been rewatching the final season of "Parks and Recreation" on Netflix recently and was reminded of just how frustratingly saccharine the show got by the end. By the last episode every character ends up falling in love, finds their true calling in life, and literally lives out all their dreams. It can be considered almost reactionary in their underlying theme that everyone has to get married to truly be happy. The only way it could have further driven home that point would have been for the finale to show the relationship wary outcast early series Mark Brendanawicz slowly dying destitute and alone in an alley because he never did marry is true love. I could write a whole other blog post about this, but I probably won't).

Anyhow, whenever I hear the phrase "white guy wrestling an Indian" of course my mind goes directly to the 1994 mid-card level feud between between proud native american wrestler Tatanka ("Buffalo!") and evil tax collector Irwin R Shyster aka IRS (get it?). In my memories this was a much bigger, longer, and far less petty feud than I later found out it was. 

As a kid I just thought IRS was going after Tatanka because he was a bad guy and bad guys arbitrarily go after good guys like Tatanka solely on the fact that they are good and not bad. However in reality the whole reason IRS was going after Tatanka was that he claimed Tatanka owed gift taxes on a ceremonial headdress that was given to him by Chief Jay Strongbow, an older retired Native American themed wrestler. This is why I love wrestling. 

As an adult who graduated from law school and technically passed a tax law class, I now notice that Tatanka received the gift in early 1994 and would have had until April of 1995 to pay the tax, not April of 1994 as IRS was demanding. Also, there might have been separate tax issues related to him being a Native American and whether he lives on a reservation or not. I'll have to check with my wrestling accountant. 

Spoiler alert, due to no one really caring, the feud fizzled out after a couple of months without even a proper blow-off match on TV.