Friday, April 25, 2008

Muffler Man? Is That You?


A bit of a shock to the eyes after yesterday's photo, but I was going to have to deal with this 20 foot high colossus of kitsch sooner or later. Some internet research reveals that fiberglass figures from the very same mold dot the landscape of America in many guises - lumberjack, astronaut, pirate, hippie, and Indian among them - but are called Muffler Men due to their original design for gas stations. This one stands at the entrance to the bleachers of the Frontier Days Rodeo arena, officially named the Jack Tharp Arena, and sports a Seabiscuit-emblazoned belt buckle and a Willits "W" branding iron instead of a muffler. So now we've talked about "the elephant in the room", and we can move on. That wasn't so hard, was it?

9 comments:

Kym said...

I'm not a huge kitsch fan but this guy has a certain grin factor.

USelaine said...

Whenever I see him, the shark music from Jaws comes to mind.

Benjamin Madison said...

I have two questions: why are the teenage boys of Willits not vandalizing this? Second, why have you not yet shown us the statue of Seabiscuit?

USelaine said...

Benjamin - 1) it could be they like it as it is. 2) The recreated statue of Seabiscuit is at Ridgewood Ranch, and the ranch is outside of Little Lake Valley - the maximum geographic scope of this blog. On this side of Ridgewood Summit, we are in the Eel River watershed. The other side is the Russian River watershed. I had to draw the line somewhere.

Belgrade Daily Photo said...

That is awesome! That kind of thing is so American, it's great.

Petrea said...

Classic! Yes, I've seen a couple of them. I might have seen this very one.

bitingmidge said...

Benjamin, You are correct! My BIG COW is terrified of that branding iron!

P
Sunshine Coast Daily - Australia

Palm Axis said...

After my partner completed his sculpting degree at C.S.S.F., he went to work for a company in Santa Monica called International Fiberglass. The same company responsible for all the variations of muffler man, along with cows, horses and private commissions. The giant strawberry in front of the Strawberry Point Iowa library was a private commission that my partner designed and built. Eventually he lost his job for trying to form a union.
The brand your muffler man is carrying looks like suspiciously like the McDonalds logo. I hear they are non-union too.

Melissa said...

I grew up in Willits, and always remember "Willie Willits" with fondness!!! I guess I just don't think of him as the elephant in the room. . . .