This is a re-posting of one of my most popular posts to date, from Valentine’s Day last year; enjoy!

In all likelihood, a national poll would identify Osama Bin Laden as the most wanted criminal alive today.  A similar global poll just might even identify President George W. Bush as the holder of such a title.  Even still, if asked to identify the most devious criminal mind known to man, the more “reality-challenged” among us may give Lex Luthor the distinction.  But here in Vermont’s Capitol City, evil knows a different name: the Valentine’s Day Bandit.  While many prefer to think of this monster as a miraculous, wonderful gift of kindness and caring benevolence bestowed upon the people of Montpelier by an anonymous angel, I think it’s high time to shine some daylight onto the truly nefarious and shadowy reality of the person who asks to be known as the “Valentine’s Day Phantom”.

For those who don’t know, since the early 1990’s a person (or group of people) has mysteriously rushed through Vermont’s Capitol City in the pre-dawn hours of February 14th, taping 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of white paper with a singular, large red heart onto buildings, shop windows, street signs, homes, and the like.  The result is that, come Valentine’s Day morning, hundreds, if not thousands of these paper images over-take the visual landscape of Montpelier in what is surely as near to a miraculous sight as many of us will ever experience.

But it’s come time we stop reveling in this mystery, and get about to the truth of the matter: the self-described Valentine’s Day Phantom is without argument a social deviant.  While in and of themselves, the facts may be small and capable of being ignored, taken together, the picture we can paint of the Bandit/Phantom is not that of an earthly angel, but instead of no less than the Greatest Criminal Mind of Our Times:

-Environment destruction.  In this Age of Global Warming, we can little afford the excess of carbon released into our atmosphere by the lengthy and inefficient industrial process of paper production and distribution.  Is the further destruction of our planet really an exceptable “blowback” from an annual act of “random kindness”?  Further, though out of vogue for about 15 years, once upon a time us environmentalists rallied around cries of “saving the rainforest” (yeah, remember the rainforests? they’re still being destroyed, and at a faster rate, with no help from the Phantom’s wayward usage of paper products).  In addition, it would be presumptuous of us to assume that each and every one of these pieces of paper make their way to be properly recycled, which although is a process that is far from carbon neutrality in it’s own right, nonetheless keeps mass out of our landfills and avoids even further de-forestation.  And lets not even get into the environmental costs of the ink used to print the Phantom’s little “gifts”: from production to the moment it is discarded, that is not a pleasant cycle.

-Plagiarism.  Surely one of the most despicable of crimes: intellectual crime.  The Montpelier Phantom has struck our community since the early 1990’s.  However, since at least 1976 a “Valentine’s Day Phantom” has committed the identical terror throughout the city of Portland, ME.  Come on, Phantom, couldn’t you have at least become the “St Patrick’s Day Phantom” or the “Easter Phantom” (hell, I don’t care if you’re the “Memorial Day Phantom”!); originality is what makes for true magic-your copy-cat ways make you a criminal fit for the original Batman TV serious, not our modern, sophisticated world.

-The image that we commonly refer to as a “heart” (the image of choice for this particular sociopath) is, frankly, un-American.  We all know (now, thanks to the efforts of Pat Robertson, Fox News, and many others) that our nation is a Christian nation; “under God”, and with good, Christian values.  Well let me let you in on something here folks: that heart image is widely believed to derived from either Pagan or Hindu imagery, and in both instances likely not in away associated with monogamy, prudence, or chastity.  The leading theory of the origins of what we refer to as a heart- hape: the ancient Greeks (well-known for their Dionysian orgies and intoxication) arrived at the shape out of their worship of the goddess of beauty, Aphrodite.  According to Dr Pranzarone of Roanoke College in Virginia, she “was beautiful all over, but was unique in that her buttocks were especially beautiful.  Her shapely, rounded hemispheres were so appreciated by the Greeks that they built a special temple to Aphrodite Kallipygos, which literally meant Goddess with the Beautiful Buttocks.  This was probably the only religious building in the world that was dedicated to buttock worship.”  As well, long before any European records of this symbol, the heart-shape (or  shapes quite similar) have often been found within Hindu art associated with the practice of Tantric sex.  Whichever of these are the true origin of the image, it is certainly something you’d want to put your parental controls on for if there were a television special about it.

-As with all truly terroristic crimes, it is not just the crime itself that we must fear: there is ample evidence that the Valentine’s Day Phantom is a gathering menace who seeks not contentment, but in fact will inevitably expand upon his/her hellbent agenda.  Put more straightforward, the Phantom represents the growing possibility of future attacks on our American way.  For instance, in 2007, the Phantom not only took the bold step of demonstrating his/her ability to operate regardless of the most extreme weather conditions (a fact that anonymous sources in the intelligence community confirmed to me were beyond what was previously believed to be the Phantom’s technological limitations), but as well, the Phantom clearly violated the PATRIOT ACT’s definition of a terrorist, when he/she sought to influence the government in a manner that was any other than casting a ballot (see horrific photo of the Statehouse bellow).

Just imagine- is it really possible to send a message of strength, dominance, and Manifest Destiny across the globe when our governmental centers are decorated like this?  Can we really persevere in our friendly neighborhood feuds with New York and Quebec, or our not so friendly one with New Hampshire, with an image like this likely to fall into their hands at any moment?

Even more troubling, in 2008 the Phantom (or members of his/her decentralized cell) for the first time expanded their reign of terror beyond the City limits of Montpelier, into Calais, East Montpelier, and according to a source I spoke with early that morning, throughout the inside of a home in Plainfield!  As Kissinger warned us: one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch, and since we failed to put an end to this menace at it’s onset, we now find ourselves faced with the expansion, the spread, of this maniacal worldview which has infested our mid-winter slumber and threatens to destroy all that we stand for.