Logo Blindness: The Cow Says MOO, the Goat Says BAAH, the Cat Says ARF?

ARF, the Animal Rescue Fund in East Hampton unveiled a new logo this month. A picture of it accompanies this story. It replaces the old logo, which for the moment I do not recall, (and which is probably why they wanted a new one). The new logo is snappy, uplifting, and seen from certain angles, it bears a slight resemblance to the shape of the state of West Virginia. Look at it further though, and you see what it really is—a proud silhouette of a dog looking right and, in front of him, the silhouette of a proud cat looking the other way.

This is the first time ARF has made a logo that includes a cat. Indeed, you can adopt a cat there too. Truth is, though, ARF is best known as a kennel where stray dogs are brought in and kept healthy until someone adopts them. As many as 18,500 dogs and cats have brought joy to happy families during the 38 years of ARF’s existence.

I think, though, in thinking this through, the people at ARF have made a very basic, although understandable mistake with this new logo. And I think it’s a common mistake.

Think COCA COLA. You see the bottle, don’t you, you can treasure its rich dark color, love the flavor, hear it hiss when you open it, hear it fizz as it trickles over ice in your glass.

COCA COLA has been embedded in our minds as a really neat soft drink. It could even be the official soft drink of America. Certainly it is the most publicized drink in America.

What you don’t think about, however, is what COCA COLA really means. Coca is a bean about the size of a peanut that the drink is made from and which was used to make cocaine, but the drink no longer contains cocaine. It did maybe 100 years ago. Cola stands for the kola nut, from which caffeine comes from.

So what I’m imagining is the Board of Directors of ARF sitting around discussing what kind of new logo they should approve and not thinking for a minute what ARF exactly means. There are so many people involved with ARF, lots of supporters, lots of employees, lots of people on the Board of Directors. They say the word ARF all the time. Everybody knows what it means. ARF is to the Hamptons what COCA COLA is to the nation. It needs no explanation.

“We should put an image of a cat on the logo somewhere,” someone must have said. “ARF stands for cats too. We don’t want to forget our cats.”

“Hear, hear,” somebody with an English accent on the board says, stating his assent. “By Jove.” Well I’m making this comment up, actually, but I think you get the picture.

So here we are, with a dog and a cat logo and the word ARF. I dare say, (dare I) that many people are going to wonder how a cat got into something called ARF. Through a window perhaps. Or maybe in the dog door.

But no matter. ARF it is.

If I were at that meeting, which I was not because I am not on their board. (I am a serial adopter of ARF dogs these past 38 years. It’s not a crime. It is, however an addiction.) But if I HAD been at this meeting, I might have pointed out the error of their ways. I might have suggested that the organization look for words that would spell out MEOW. Or KITTY. Add them to ARF.

ARF and MEOW.

I suppose I would be briskly told that ARF stands for Animal Rescue Fund and cats are animals too. To which I would reply WOOF, and then leave the meeting.

WOOF as in Wizened Old Obstreperous Felines, I would mumble on my way up the aisle to the door.

Now this is not the first time that ARF has been in the headlines trying to secure its image. There is the matter of Linda Scott, a matter which I suspect they would rather have swept under the rug, or picked up in a baggie and thrown in the trash before I tell about it.

Well here goes.

ARF is on Daniel’s Hole Road, a road that begins on the Montauk Highway and winds its way through the woods past the entrance to ARF and then shortly thereafter to pass by the entrance to the East Hampton Airport.

One day, about 20 years ago, somebody at ARF, probably Sony Schotland who ran the place back then, got this idea that Linda Scott, a well known artist in these parts, should be commissioned to create a great archway sculpture that could straddle the private driveway of ARF where it meets up with Daniel’s Hole Road. People would drive their cars in and out through it.

Now I got this story not from ARF but from Linda Scott herself, when one day back then she called me asking me to help her find a new home for her giant sculpture Stargazer, which we all know and love at its present location now along the side of Manorville Road as you begin to enter the Hamptons.

Stargazer, she told me (and I had not seen it yet), was to be the sculpture that was supposed to straddle the driveway at ARF. She had designed it, she had spent her money building it, and now ARF didn’t want it.

Frankly, when she told me the size of this sculpture—30 feet high—it caused me to forget whether she either had already put it up and now they wanted it taken down or she was about to put it up and now they told her not to bring it, but in either case, she was now stuck with it.

I asked the obvious question. Why, after asking you to make this, are they telling you they don’t want it?

“It’s not them that object to it. It’s the East Hampton Town Board, which owns the airport next door. They told ARF they wouldn’t approve it. Their problem with it was that it was so tall it could possibly interfere with low flying planes. At the very least, it would distract pilots trying to land there. It was sorry, no go.

“What do I do?” she moaned.

The end result of all of this came about due to the generosity of the Manorville sod farmer who said he would welcome Stargazer on his property alongside where Manorville Road passes by. And so it is there. Maintenance of it, by the way, has been taken over for several years by the Hampton Jitney, whose coach busses pass by it about 20 times a day, their drivers and attendants ferrying passengers in safety and comfort between the Hamptons and New York City.

You drive by. “Well, we’re entering the Hamptons.”

Or you drive by the other way. “Bye bye, Hamptons.”

Is it a deer reaching to eat a yummy leaf high up on a tree? Is it a token animal staring at the stars? Well it’s Stargazer. And you can indeed gaze at a lot of stars in the Hamptons. Alec Baldwin, Christie Brinkley, Steven Spielberg, Madonna.

Hooray for all the people who come to rescue all the dogs and cats at the Animal Rescue Fund. And hooray for Stargazer and Linda Scott, whose sculpture—in faint outline in my mind—still straddles the entry driveway of ARF every time I drive up there.

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