Monday, May 23, 2005

Cherubim Gang

Cherubim Gang

Cherubim Gang (2000)


[Cherubim are] winged creatures who support the Throne of God, or act as guardian spirits. They appear in the Bible (the book of Ezekiel) as bearing the throne and chariot of God, and hence later conceived as a type of angels. They are also mentioned in Genesis 3:24 as guardians (or protectors) of the Garden of Eden. They were placed at the gates of the Garden to prevent humans from re-entering and thus gaining access to the Tree of Life. They also formed the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:18-20).

In Jewish and Christian religion they are second in the order of angels, directly after the seraphim. They were usually depicted as angels with four wings and four faces (human, lion, bull and eagle). Artists in later times made them appear as the chubby, rosy-faced, winged infants of which they are known today. They are usually clothed in blue, while the seraphim are clothed in red. They originated from the winged and human-headed bulls of Babylon (also named cherubim), a lesser order of deities, which guarded the gates of the royal palace.
Notwithstanding the present common opinion of advanced Protestant scholars, that cherubim are only symbolic representations of abstract ideas, the Catholic Church undoubtedly holds that there are actually existing spiritual beings corresponding to the name. That Old Testament writers used the word cherubim to designate angels, not merely to express ideas, can be best gathered from Gen., iii, 24, where God sets cherubim at the entrance of Paradise.
Understandably, Christians in their art desired to portray cherubim. Not knowing their form, as noted by Josephus, they settled upon a form very familiar to the Roman world, winged Victories, called Nikes in Greek art. These were women with wings, frequently shown holding a victor's wreath or a shield on which they inscribed a victory over the enemy. In Roman art they appeared frequently partially clad, in long flowing robes, the torso being exposed to reveal breasts. Christian modesty required a fully clothed body, so cherubim as a species of angel, were fully clothed.

And from Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels -- A Strange and Terrible Saga:

"We're the one percenters, man -- the one percent that don't fit and don't care. So don't talk to me about your doctor bills and your traffic warrants -- I mean you get your woman and your bike and your banjo and I mean you're on your way. We've punched our way out of a hundred rumbles, stayed alive with our boots and our fists. We're royalty among motorcycle outlaws, baby."
—A Hell's Angel speaking for the permanent record


This compact description of rancid, criminal sleaziness is substantially correct except for the hocus-pocus about the one percenters. All Angels wear this patch, as do most other outlaws, and all it means is that they are proud to be part of the alleged one percent of bike riders whom the American Motorcycle Association refuses to claim. The AMA is the sporting arm of the Motorcycle, Scooter and Allied Trades Association, a fast-growing motorcycle lobby that is seeking desperately to establish a respectable image -- an image the Hell's Angels have consistently queered. "We condemn them," says an AMA director. "They'd be condemned if they rode horses, mules, surfboards, bicycles or skateboards. Regretfully, they picked motorcycles."

I got to thinking about the fate of cherubim once they no longer had to stand watch over the gated community of Paradise. Like outsourced night watchmen, perhaps they'd fall on tough times, turn sour, go seedy. Maybe they'd fall in with the one percenters and hop on a hog and rumble. After all, the most interesting angels are always the fallen ones. Both John Milton and Josh Wheedon understood the dramatic possibilities of a dark choice or fate.

The unemployed cherubim now seem prone to wardrobe malfunctions where their breasts unexpectedly jiggle free from the constraints of denim robes. Or, maybe, the functionless angels just loiter-- smoking cigarettes at strip malls and skimming down the metal railings of stairwells on their skateboards. Or, given their public depiction as happy/chubby children, they've become jaded and sullen -- forced into a humiliating, public servitude -- a has-been living like Hervé Villechaize whoring himself out on Circus of the Stars.

And, after the big fall, and before you know it -- swoosh. You're a footnote. Or a logo.

Yeah, post-Paradise life can be rough -- especially when your legacy and namesake have sunk to a stamped-out-in-a-sweatshop, "glorified" sneaker.

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