15 April 2007
YOU CAN'T STOP PROGRESS: THE SEQUEL
A couple posts back I wrote about the Cow on the Roof, one of several kitschy things you see along Route 66 as it runs through Albuquerque. Now comes word from the Albuquerque Journal that after 35 years: it's coming down!! I've posted the story below:
Thursday, April 12th, 2007
KITSCH, CATTLE AND THE CITY
from the Albuquerque Journal
If you're toylike, outdated, about the size of a parade float and reside permanently outside a commercial building, you're being talked about.
For instance, this will be the second time in as many weeks that the heavy-duty plastic heifer atop the Town House restaurant has made news. And she is soon to be joined by some of her overgrown signage friends around the city— Paul Bunyan above the May Cafe at Central and Menaul, the half-man John Wayne at Cabinets & More on the Interstate 25 frontage road, north of Montgomery, the bowling pin/ball at the Staples on 6001 Menaul NE, the arrow at Wild Oats on Indian School and Carlisle. The heifer has already received word she'll be leaving her 35-year-old roof post at 3911 Central NE by month's end, when the restaurant closes. What she likely has not been told is that she may be headed for a new museum for signs (though her owner, George Argyres, is all for it). This is where, in pitying tones, all the other aged signs start talking about her fate but soon realize, horrified, that the same could be in store for them. Eeek! And they'd be right. They're ugly. But they're landmarks. They're hated. Yet strangely admired. Killing them off could cause rioting— or at least some angry e-mails. "The thought is to find an area that people could go see them and maybe combine it with some other sources— maybe not just a static museum but an interactive kind of museum," said city planning director Richard Dineen. "At this point, it's just an idea the administration has talked about considerably." The discussion began after Mayor Martin Chávez proposed stringent new regulations designed to make retail signs more aesthetic. The ordinance has languished since last summer in the Environmental Planning Commission office but is up for review May 17, after 10 months of EPC "deferrals." Among other things, the original language would have required signs to be no taller than 5 feet and housed in a brick and mortar structure, as opposed to being placed on a pole. Of course, the proposal had its critics. Businesses said the changes would cost a lot and make their storefronts more difficult for customers to locate. Others were upset because it would wipe out historic signs and landmarks. Loss of the neon signs along Route 66 were of greatest concern, and that's how the "neon museum" idea came about. But it would house other sacred signs, too. The Town House heifer would certainly be included in that, the mayor says. But "we want to take a look at each one of them. I've never been a particular fan of that Paul Bunyan statue but I bet there are some who are." Others, like the arrow and the bowling pin/ball, will probably stay put, particularly since the ordinance has been revised. For example, the proposal now allows for 13-foot signs and includes exceptions for some landmarks. "They've got a kitschiness that is unique, and I don't think they hurt anything in terms of the visual landscape," Chávez says. "We have to have some humor about it." Word has it the heifer remains unamused