Scandal! Forced Child Labor Uncovered
June 07, 2011
Child slaves forced to build moose buggies in Alaska's moose hunting subculture.
Warning: Explicit language.
I recently wrote about Alaska's moose buggy subculture. I felt I covered this rare and dedicated breed thoroughly. I thought I helped inform the world about Mike Lavin's passion in a way that educated and celebrated moose buggies and their makers.
Imagine my shock when soon after posting the blog this text came in from Samantha Lavin, Official Dirty Lens Gymnast and daughter of Mike Lavin: "My sister and I would like to take credit for the paint job on the moose machine, since we are the ones that painted it. Also, we feel that we spent a lot more than three weeks on that mother f*****, riveting, bleeding brakes, holding wrenches, cutting tube steel and aluminum panels, 'hold this so I can weld it, climb up there and silicone all those rivets''¦and so on."
The length of the text alone is an indication of the rage this former child slave endured over the years. She asked me if Mr. Lavin mentioned his daughter's contributions. I admitted he did not. Mr. Lavin took a page from Kathy Lee Gifford's playbook and tried to cover it up. Shameful? Yes. Bad press? Yes.
I told Ms. Lavin I would give her equal time to tell her story of child slavery in exchange for the above photo of the moose buggy covered by college gymnasts. Below are a few excerpts from her manifesto. The emphasis is mine. Grammar, style and spelling errors are hers. I forwarded this troubling document to Amnesty International.
"We concur that it was built in 1994, but the 3 weeks seems very short to us. Being that my dad had no sons to enlist we were roped into helping him grease cars and snowmachines, holding wrenches on the inside of cars while he made a lot of bad noise with a torque gun, holding various things while he welded them together and running back and forth to get tools while he rolled around under a car or truck cursing the engineers at GM for "finding the worst possible spot to put this $@#&*-ing thing!'"
"When it came time for Moose Machine to be built, I was 13 and Julie was 18. Once again, we were placed into the service of the greater good. We feel like we spent a fair portion of our summer helping our dad build it, and not one mention of this in the blog! I know for certain I learned how to cut steel tubing, use a rivet gun, do some basic arc welding, silicone the crap out of everything and cut aluminum panels and plexi-glass that summer. And that was the basic stuff. I spent a couple hours in the air ride seat bleeding the breaks and other more detailed fine-tuning. And the 8 billion gallons of gear fluid that was ever so slowly put into the differentials smells terrible and if you get it on your clothes, you might as well throw them out."
"One more thing: that custom paint job was done by yours truly and her sister. Our names are painted on the roof of the cab.'¨Being the age I was when it was built, I entered high school and my dad wanted me to drive it to school. Never mind that it would have taken about an hour and a half to go a couple of miles since the tires aren't exactly made for paved roads. If I got a ride home from school, everyone knew 'the house with the monster truck.'"
"My dad forgot to mention that the Moose Machine has an on-board welder and air compressor in the event that one is needed. It is really quite a vehicle he envisioned, but Julie and I deserve some credit as associate moose machine builders."
After a couple readings, I took a few things away from this document. My observations may exonerate Mr. Lavin in the court of public opinion.
Firstly, the man has "no sons". As a father with no sons myself I'm often troubled at the dinner table by this question: "Why am I feeding this creature?" But, at least my girl can shoot and loves cars. A son would have been grateful for the knowledge and the bonding time. Mr. Lavin found a way to get a return on his investment in gymnastics lessons, food and Barbie Dolls. My hat is off to him on that front.
"Bad noise" ?!? A son would never say this. That is the sound of shit getting done!
"into the service of the greater good" ??? Rhetoric designed to portray this man as a moose buggy Mao. Unacceptable.
Finally, had the Lavin sisters possessed a certain basic ambition they would have jotted down the constructive criticism Mr. Lavin offered the engineers at General Motors and forwarded it on to the interested parties. I'm certain when GM was designing their one-ton chassis the moose buggy was one of the most common outcomes they envisioned. As it is, GM lost the benefit of Mr. Lavin's insight. Way to fail humanity Sisters Lavin.
Happy Father's Day Mr. Lavin. I'm sorry you'll get no card from a son.