Last week, the mayor of Columbus, Ohio announced that the city would be removing a statue of Christopher Columbus from outside its City Hall, and it would be shoved into a storage unit "as soon as possible."
"For many people in our community, the statue represents patriarchy, oppression and divisiveness. That does not represent our great city, and we will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past,” Andrew Ginther said in a statement. "Now is the right time to replace this statue with artwork that demonstrates our enduring fight to end racism and celebrate the themes of diversity and inclusion.”
The Columbus Art Commission has been tasked with finding a replacement statue or large-scale artwork to sit on that soon-to-be-vacant plinth, one that “that better reflects the people of Columbus and offers a shared vision for the future. The Columbus Dispatch reports that the city has two other statues of Columbus that could come down too, one near the entrance of Columbus State Community College, and one that is outside the Statehouse.
After that, what, if anything, will Columbus do about its actual name? The city has spent more than 100 years paying homage to the problematic explorer, despite the fact that he never actually set foot anywhere what became central Ohio.
But one resident recently made an inspired suggestion, proposing that Columbus should be renamed "Flavortown," in honor of the Patron Saint of Donkey Sauce, Guy Fieri.
"The new name is twofold. For one, it honors Central Ohio's proud heritage as a culinary crossroads and one of the nation's largest test markets for the food industry," Tyler Woodbridge wrote in his now-viral Change.org petition. "Secondly, cheflebrity Guy Fieri was born in Columbus, so naming the city in honor of him would be superior to its current nomenclature." (Woodbridge notes that actual Columbus is "in The Bad Place because of all his raping, slave trading, and genocide." He's not wrong.)
Yes, Fieri was born at Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus (he was Guy Ferry then), but his family moved to northern California when he was a baby. He has been back to his birth city "at least twice" according to the Dispatch, although he forgot about those visits during an interview with the paper in 2017. "I’ve been to Cincinnati. I’ve been to Cleveland millions of times. My mom went to [Ohio State University], my dad went to OSU," he said. "Of course, we’re the West Coast representation and fans of Ohio State." (He also featured six Columbus restaurants during the 27th and 28th seasons of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.)
As of this writing, more than 32,000 people have signed the petition in favor of Flavor(town), because honestly, the only super-questionable thing about Fieri is his commitment to cargo shorts and frosted tips.
It's a longshot, but Fieri's heritage—he changed his name in honor of his Italian immigrant grandfather—might even satisfy the Columbus Piave Club, who have responded to Mayor Ginther's decision by basically asking " Che cazzo è?” The club, which promotes Italian heritage and culture in the city, actually acquired the Columbus statue in 1955 from the mayor of Genoa, Italy—Columbus' sister city. They also launched the city's once-annual Columbus Day celebration and host the Italian Festival Parade. A spokesperson for the club said that Columbus has been "misrepresented."
"The worst possible translations have always been used for political purposes,” Joseph Contino said. “Columbus was a mover and shaker who traveled with conquistadors […] that found a continent that no one knew existed.” With respect to the Pieve Club, "a mover and a shaker" is a weird way of saying "genocidal rapist.
Regardless, ABC6 reports that the Columbus City Council cannot change the city's name on its own; it actually requires an archaic-sounding process that involves "12 freeholders of the municipal corporation" and an official published notice of the change. It also takes an explanation of "why such change is desirable," which could basically be a list of all of the t-shirts that are currently available on Fieri's website, starting with the one that just says "Knuckle Sandwich."
VICE has reached out to Fieri's representatives for comment. According to a Facebook post from the Moorhead (Minn.) Police Department, he spent Monday filming in the city.