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The arsonists who stare at goats
December 3, 2012 7:20 PM   Subscribe

The festive season is approaching, so it's time for everyone's favorite giant Swedish straw caprid to suffer from repeated attacks. Already ("The front hoof smells of petrol") this year's goat at Gävle has been attacked. Of the 76 goats to date, 33 have been burnt (includes goats burnt down more than once and goats only partially burnt), 7 vandalised (includes goats thrown in the river), 1 run over and 1 stolen, giving a survival rate of 45%. The goat attracts international attention and attacks; in 2001 a tourist from Cleveland, Ohio was jailed for 18 days [Swedish] [English] for igniting the goat. Last year's goat survived to December 2nd (traumatic video). Gävlebocken is 13 metres tall and consists of 3.6 tonnes of straw. While intact it tweets, and blogs in Swedish and English.

The town is also famous this year for someone discovering that the church tower hatch has been left open for three decades, with undesirable consequences.

Previously on MetaFilter, in 2011 and 2009.
posted by Wordshore (30 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
And this is where I'm forced to link to The Refreshment's song "The Billy Goat".

You're welcome.
posted by hippybear at 7:28 PM on December 3, 2012


The town is also famous this year for someone discovering that the church tower hatch has been left open for three decades, with undesirable consequences.

Man. That would be an awful mess to clean up. I wonder if it would have been good fertiliser?
posted by Mezentian at 7:34 PM on December 3, 2012


That kind of shit would not happen on the playa
posted by Flashman at 7:37 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


That kind of shit would not happen on the playa

Except in 2007, of course. (RIP Paul Addis)
posted by mykescipark at 7:49 PM on December 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


Perhaps flaming arrows?
posted by R. Mutt at 8:03 PM on December 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Perhaps flaming arrows?

Meh. Quadcopters and thermite.
posted by sourcequench at 9:03 PM on December 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I understand that there is now an iPhone App for this.

Meh. Quadcopters and thermite.

Previous attempts to sabotage it have included the bribing of security guards and a foiled helicopter heist.

"1966 The goat stood until midnight of New Year’s Eve, when it went up in flames.
1968 …it is said that one night a couple made love inside the goat.
1969 The goat was burnt down on New Year’s Eve.
1970 The goat burnt down only six hours after it was assembled.
1972 The goat collapsed because of sabotage.
1974 Burnt.
1976 Ran over by a car.
1978 Again, the goat was kicked to pieces.
1979 The goat was burnt even before it was erected.
1980 Burnt down on Christmas Eve.
1982 Burnt down on Lucia (December 13).
1983 The legs were destroyed.
1984 Burnt down on December 12, the night before Lucia.
1985 Even though the goat was enclosed by a 2 metres (6.6 ft) high metal fence, guarded by Securitas and even soldiers from the Gävle I 14 Infantry Regiment, it was burnt down in January.
1986 The big goat burnt down the night before Christmas Eve.[1]
1987 A heavily fireproofed goat was built. It got burnt down a week before Christmas.[17]
1989 Again, the goat burnt down before it was assembled.
1991 On the morning of Christmas Eve the goat was burnt down.
1992 The goat was burnt down eight days after it was built.
1995 Burnt down on the morning of Christmas Day.
1997 Damaged by fireworks.
1998 Burnt down on 11 December, even though there was a major blizzard.
1999 Burnt down only a couple of hours after it was erected.
2000 Burnt down a couple of days before New Year’s Eve.
2001 Goat set on fire on 23 December by Lawrence Jones, a 51-year-old visitor from Cleveland, Ohio, who spent 18 days in jail and was subsequently convicted and ordered to pay 100,000 Swedish kronor in damages.
2002 The goat received only minor damage.
2003 Burnt down on 12 December.
2004 Burnt on December 21.
2005 Burnt by unknown vandals reportedly dressed as Santa and a gingerbread man by shooting a flaming arrow at the goat at 21:00 on 3 December.
2008 The goat finally succumbed to the flames ignited by an unknown assailant.
2009 An unsuccessful attempt was made to throw the goat into the river the weekend of December 11. On the night of December 23 before 04:00 the goat was set on fire and was burned to the frame, even though it had a thick layer of snow on its back.The goat had two online webcams which were put out of service by a DoS attack, instigated by computer hackers just before the attack.
2010 Both goats survived this year and were dismantled and returned to storage.
2011 Fire-fighters sprayed the goat with water to create a coating of ice in hopes of protecting it from arson. The goat burned down in the early morning of 2 December."
posted by three blind mice at 9:32 PM on December 3, 2012 [7 favorites]


So what happened in 1973, 1975, 1977, 1981, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996, 2006, and 2007? Did it survive?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 10:06 PM on December 3, 2012


I enjoy how they've tried to make it fireproof several times, just to have it burned.

They need to employ reverse psychology. I suggest making it out of very flammable materials such as nitrocellulose, and stuff it with dynamite and nails. You'll find the remains of whoever was setting it on fire, and no one would dare try it again.

/sociopath
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:28 PM on December 3, 2012 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: It is said that one night a couple made love inside the goat.

Forgive me giant flaming goat, I have sinned again.

Mad props to the "Again, the goat burnt down before it was assembled" crowd. That's dedication.
Thumbs down to the "Burnt down on the morning of Christmas Day" crew.
Firefighters have families too.
posted by Mezentian at 10:44 PM on December 3, 2012


The town is also famous this year for someone discovering that the church tower hatch has been left open for three decades, with undesirable consequences.

It all went to guano.
posted by Skeptic at 11:16 PM on December 3, 2012


now that's a real Bock. /pun
posted by xcasex at 12:21 AM on December 4, 2012


In Gavle (as in the whole of Sweden) it's very difficult to buy alcohol, which is sold only in a few state sponsored shops. There may be a connection between that and the need to burn goats.
posted by Major Tom at 12:54 AM on December 4, 2012


I'd be interested to know whether Gävle has considered making the burning of the goat an event itself, on Epiphany or Hilarymas. A partial concession to what has become a tradition, but one where the goatburning is able to be done safely, and everyone who wants gets to watch.

Not that I'm biased toward being able to tune in on the goatcams and watch the goat burn to signal the official end of the holidays, or anything. Let alone to morbidly reading the goat's last tweets and posts.
posted by frimble at 1:24 AM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some men just want to watch the goat burn.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:30 AM on December 4, 2012 [9 favorites]


The guys who burnt it on Christmas Day weren't as jerkish as you think, the swedes celebrate everything on the eve, so it was the day after Christmas for them.
posted by Iteki at 1:32 AM on December 4, 2012


The webcam
posted by lakersfan1222 at 5:39 AM on December 4, 2012


Iceland has brought this tradition over as well, with similar consequences. Last weekend, the goat in front of the IKEA in a small, upscale suburb of the capital was burned down, and security footage of the act was released.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:52 AM on December 4, 2012


Just a whole lot of acting the goat going on here.
posted by Shoggoth at 8:48 AM on December 4, 2012


The town is also famous this year for someone discovering that the church tower hatch has been left open for three decades, with undesirable consequences.

If only the church were on an island, then you'd just have to sit back and wait for the Americans to show up.
posted by Jilder at 9:31 AM on December 4, 2012


From the wikipedia article:
The design of the first goat was assigned to the then chief of the Gävle fire department, Gavlén's brother Jörgen Gavlén. The construction of the goat was carried out by the fire department, and they erected the goat each year from 1966 to 1970 and from 1986 to 2002.
Wait, they had the fire department design and build it? Suddenly, everything makes sense. Do you have ANY idea how big of pyromaniacs firefighters are?!
posted by SpecialK at 9:44 AM on December 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Wikipedia History:
2006: 1976 Local hillbillies ran the goat over with a car.
2009: 1976 Local raggare ran the goat over with a car.
2012: 1976 Hit by a car.
posted by ovvl at 3:31 PM on December 4, 2012


2005 Burnt by unknown vandals reportedly dressed as Santa and a gingerbread man by shooting a flaming arrow at the goat at 21:00 on 3 December.

Not that I advocate arson, or think its funny or anything... but that's hilarious.
posted by fshgrl at 5:02 PM on December 4, 2012


2005 Burnt by unknown vandals reportedly dressed as Santa and a gingerbread man by shooting a flaming arrow at the goat at 21:00 on 3 December.

And you know there's some grizzled cop somewhere in Sweden who gets this case a day before retirement, pouring over still photos of the goat-burning long into the night, staring pensively out the window from time to time, knowing that the presence of a gingerbread man was meant to send a message, but what ... and to who?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:10 PM on December 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


And you know there's some grizzled cop somewhere in Sweden who gets this case a day before retirement, pouring over still photos of the goat-burning long into the night, staring pensively out the window from time to time, knowing that the presence of a gingerbread man was meant to send a message, but what ... and to who?

Maybe he needs a hard-arse, slightly gothy, take-no-prisoners hacker to help him.
posted by Mezentian at 5:30 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Or maybe a couple of hot chicks, say a blonde and a brunette/redhead, who sing in a pop band and who can bring along their clever songwriting bandmate boyfriends. They all travel in a converted school bus and find they end up entangled in some of the strangest crimes all across Europe.

That's right folks, it's the ABBA Gang Mystery Show! With this week's special guest....
posted by hippybear at 5:35 PM on December 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


That would be less hilarious, but last night I had an encounter with Hart To Hart, and I am well down with this show if it can be a period drama set in the 1970s.
posted by Mezentian at 6:40 PM on December 4, 2012


I was actually envisioning an animated saturday morning cartoon show a la Scooby Doo, but a period drama works for me too.
posted by hippybear at 6:57 PM on December 4, 2012


And, it would appear that the goat has burned. I got an IM at 03:00, saying "I see smoke" and now, at 06:00, there is little but a blackened wooden skeleton.
posted by frimble at 8:57 PM on December 12, 2012


VICTORY!!!!!1 SUCK IT GOAT!!
posted by Meatbomb at 9:04 PM on December 12, 2012


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