Bouquets and Brickbats

Lady Gaga gave plenty in exchange for Hearst Castle pool time

letters@thetribunenews.comFebruary 21, 2014 

Pop star Lady Gaga was filming a project at Hearst Castle's Roman Pool on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

DAVID MIDDLECAMP — dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com Buy Photo

Can we all stop carping about whether or not refilling Hearst Castle’s leaky Neptune Pool for Lady Gaga’s video shoot was a waste of water and/or the most outrageous act of decadence since Marie Antoinette‘s alleged invitation to let them eat cake?

The water wasn’t really wasted: It was pumped from the Castle’s irrigation storage facility to the Neptune Pool, and was to be returned to irrigation storage after filming finished.

As for the “message“ that was conveyed, we agree that by filming at the bottom of a drained Neptune Pool, Gaga would have let the entire world know that California is in the midst of a drought (if it doesn’t know already). But that would have meant less work for the synchronized swimmers who were part of the elaborate music video production. And do we really want to give Gaga fans from, say, Ireland or Iceland or Illinois the impression that California is no longer the land of swimming pools and movie stars, but rather, a shriveled-up wasteland not worth visiting?

So, good for Gaga. She got her pool of water and in return for that, here’s what she’s providing:

• A $250,000 donation to the Hearst Castle Preservation Foundation, some of which will reportedly be used to repair cracks in the Neptune Pool.

• A $22,100 special events fee to State Parks, plus reimbursement for any expenses relating to production.

• $25,000 for a study evaluating the feasibility of connecting two wells in the San Simeon Campground to Cambria’s water system.

• Who knows how much revenue and publicity for local businesses, including the Cambria Ale House, where Gaga visited with her entourage.

• A short video about the Castle, to be donated to the Hearst Castle Foundation.

• A public service announcement urging water conservation that earned a gushing thank you letter from Gov. Jerry Brown, who praised Gaga for helping “Hearst Castle, the communities surrounding San Simeon and the state as a whole.”

• Great exposure for Hearst Castle, especially with the 35-and-younger crowd — the very demographic State Parks needs to court if it wants to keep Castle attendance healthy.

If that’s not enough for the Water Conservation Police, here’s an idea: To make up for any water inadvertently lost during the transfers to and from the Neptune Pool, we propose a Give It Up For Gaga Campaign.

Over the next few weeks, make a concerted effort to go above-and-beyond your usual conservation practices. Some ideas: Skip a shower (or at least take a shorter one); let your car get really, really dirty before you wash it; and try to eke another wearing or two out of you favorite jeans and T-shirts before you toss them in the laundry.

In exchange, we’ll give you a round “applauseplause” and a bouquet of plastic roses guaranteed to never need water.

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