PLACES IN A FOGOTTEN LAND
The following text was found sealed in wax, locked in a rusty iron strongbox washed ashore after the recent storms here in the Los Angeles area. The brittle, stained pages within documented a dangerous, mystical journey across an ancient land. Many of the pages were torn, or at best indecipherible but our crack Ooze cryptographers were able to piece together these notes as translated from a previously unknown toungue. They are worthy of serious scholarly study.
This fine journalistic masterpiece comes with a Quicktime slide show. In order to view it you must have Quicktime installed for the mac, or windows. Scroll through the photos one at a time. It is in millions of colors so you can truley experience the wonder of the world, vividly. Hit here for slide show!
World's Largest K-Mart - near Oberlin, Ohio off I-80
Imagine a regular large sized K-Mart. Now add a food court, a pharmacy, a beauty salon, video store and full-sized grocery, and you may only begin to comprehend the scope of this shopping Mecca. Where else can you go to pick up a cantelope, some rollerblades and a rifle all in the same store?
A great way to annoy the employees is to pick up one of the many store phones that line the walls and use the PA to broadcast your very own made-up sales to the whole store. The instructions are right on the wall next to the phone. My brother made the announcement, "This is God. You will Buy Coca-Cola Products. I Command It," to the whole store one busy Saturday. Some employees strarted to chase him, but he easily got away by ducking into the housewares department. The soda is only 25 cents.
Mr. T's House - Lake Forest, Illinois
If you're heading north from Chicago, stop by friendly Lake Forest. Go to their charming town square and ask the first person you see, young or old, where Mr. T's House is. They will happily point you towards the area's most infamous citizen. Residents of this mostly white, up-scale community were up in arms a few years ago when T chopped down a whole bunch of trees in front of his country estate. Ask them how hurt they felt at the sight of muddy stumps littering his once sylvan lawn.
The house itself isn't that exciting, except perhaps for the red warning signs posted on the fence, and the two savage dogs who run out and bark at you. Neither of the dogs however wear gold chains, nor has a mohawk haircut. We shouted towards the house that we too, still pitied the fool, hoping maybe Herr T heard our message of peace.
Mars Cheese Castle - Racine, Wisconsin
From the interstate, the Cheese Castle beckons all who enter America's Land Of Milkfat. How could anyone resist the chance to stop in and snarf handfuls of free samples? Who could pass up foam hats in the shape of a cheddar wedge? Not me. A nearby sign pointing the way to Wisconsin's Bong Recreation area makes a great photo-op to show off your new cheddary hats. These hats proved very versitile in the harsh cross-country trip. Their giant foam forms sucked up airborne moisture in the desert keeping us well stocked with fluids in an otherwise harsh environment. The lead picture shows us merrily trekking across the Wyoming waste nourished by our glorious cheese providers.
House On The Rock - Wisconsin Dells
How can anyone accurately describe House on the Rock? My architecure professor sure didn't, and he showed slides. In the middle of nowhere, a twisted prophet assembled a shrine to the assorted junk of an industrial world, and the people came. Part tourist trap, hallucinagenic architectual vision, museum, and garage sale, House On The Rock (HOTR) is simply the absolute last word in bizare attractions. Like Mecca, every person should make a pilgrimidge here at least once in their otherwise ordinary lives to witness the possible effects of long-term exposure of heavy metals on the brain.
The tour begins in the actual house itself; a twisted, shag-rug encrusted maze of rooms. Most notable is the infinity room, a hall in forced perspective suspended over the ground by an overhead steel beam. Jumping up and down at the far end of the room makes tourists run in sheer panic. The rest of the "museum" is a collection of twisted folk-art, "self-playing" musical pneumatic instrument ensembles and other assorted collectible crap. A giant 50ft. high whale battles a giant squid while a bunch of proto-animatronic sea creatures blurt out twiney strands of "Octpuses' Garden". Another room has the World's largest Carosel... and not one animal on it is a horse. It is surrounded by "angels" (actually maniquens with wings) hung from the ceiling. Of course, you can't ride the thing. When we tried, steam-driven robots came out of hidden compartments and chased us away.
In a section of diaromas depicting fully armored knights battling each other and hairy elephants, we came across a mother who was lecturing her children on the exhibit ("Kings wore big crowns..") The kids, weren't paying attention to their mom, so she started smacking them around. "You kids are hear to learn!" she screamed. Learn what?, I asked myself. If you put enough crap together in a series of rooms, provided little or no explanation as to what it was or why it was even there, you can charge people $14 to look at it? I guess that's educational. After that we decided to run the last 1/2 mile to the exit.
When we left, I felt as if I was put through a sadistic tribal comming-of-age ceremony, and had emerged a man. A man who could survive any onslaught of cultural garbage.
World's Largest Ball of Twine (made by one man)- Darwin, Minnesota
Darwin (pop. 208) might be small enough to pass through on US route 12 before realizing you're even in it but its got a big heart, and a big ball of twine. Pieced together from bailing twine for over a thirty year period, the ball sits in a protective plexiglass cupola in the town square. It's forty feet in circumfrence, weighs 8.7 tons and is 100 percent American ingenuity.
Unlike most rural amercians Ed Whateverhisnamewas wasn't satisfied with the drinkin' and screwin' that usually passed for entertainment in rural areas before satillite TV. He sensed a higher calling beyond milking cows and thrushing wheat. He was going to do something no one else had ever attempted before, and in the process save his tiny town from certain economic extinction. He would singlehandedly create a twine monstrosity.
Every year, people from miles around come to Darwin for one weekend in mid-August to celebrate this brave and heroic act. The Twineball Days are said to fill the town with jubulant revelers to witness the twine parade, a dramitc re-creation of the unsettling car ride which brought the twineball from Ed's yard to its new pavillion showcase in the town square where it would be protected from the unkind weather, and even unkinder vandals. Everyone then bounces around while loudspeakers boom Weird Al's obscure ditty, "The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota", celebrating the very twine monument that rests in Darwin. Afterwards partiers grab a bite to eat at the Twine Inn, a down home country resturaunt featuring a sweeping vista of the ball itself. The fifteen-year-old waitresses bubble with enthusiasm as they serve up steaming hot $1.50 pancake breakfasts. One can also purchase one of many twine-related souveneers, like a twineball pencil, notebook or the ever-popular bumper sticker (the only one on my car).
Unfortunately, not all is well in stringville. It is whispered that an evil corporation in Kansas wanted to put its town on the map by setting a World's Record. They decided THEY had to have the Largest Ball of Twine, and set out to make a mockery of Ed and All He Stands For. Day and night, corporate drones toiled under harsh flourecent lighting in 12-hour shifts to complete the task. And they did. Now Kansas has the Largest Ball of Twine, but like the pyramids, it was built on the filthy backs of corporate slave-laborers for the glory of their "company". Sure, it might be the biggest, but it lacks the true pioneering spirit of Darwin's Twineball which, clearly labeled on the sign, is Made By One Man.
Mormon Tabernacle Choir - Salt Lake City, Utah
Mormon Square, the religous seat of power in downtown Salt Lake City, features bizare castle-like churches you can't go in, statues to celebrate weird "miracles" (like that of the saintly locust-eating gulls), and the old control room used to operate the entire Osmond family by remote-control. Perhaps the most familiar structure is the UFO-like Tabernacle Choir building.
If you witness a concert or practice by one of the many Mormon Choirs that performs here, the director begins by introducing the group to the audience. We met a choir of a hundred or so 18-24 year old swigin' singles. Everyone in the audience clapped for them. Then the director introduced the audience to the choir. He asked for all the people from North America to raise their hands. A majority of hands went up, and the choir clapped for them! Then South Americans raiser their hands, and the choir clapped for them too. When they finally got to Africa, although I am as red blooded an American as the next guy, I decided to raise my hand. I was the only one to do so, and the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir gave ME a hearty round of applause. I was flattered, and ready to start belting out a classic rendition of Hey Mr. Tambourine Man when they began singing themselves. So if you find yourself in Salt Lake City craving the attention of Mormons, then get on over to the Choir and raise your hand for either Africa or Austrailia. They'll clap for you.
After this last sentance, the pages became too faded and cracked with age to decipher. We might never know the ultimate fate of this expedition into an ancient land we know little about.
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