Littering the Streets With Art
Who Loosed The Moose?
by Mad Dog
They have Mr. Potato Head dressed as a fisherman
wearing a rain slicker, one covered in sand with seaweed hair, and one wearing sunglasses
and a bikini. Yes, the state of Rhode Island thinks Mr. Potato Head is a cross dresser.
Rhode Island has
adopted a tourism mascot, and not surprisingly its Mr. Potato Head. Before you go
calling this a half-baked idea, think about it. What else would the countrys tiniest
state use to represent it, Mr. Magnifying Glass? Tiny Tim? Tater Tots?
Their plan is to scatter forty 6-foot statues of the anthropomorphic spud around
the state to greet tourists as they pull off I-95 to use the bathrooms at McDonalds.
They were originally going to use greeters from Wal-Mart but figured the statues will be
around longer. This is part of a tourism campaign theyre launching which will
include newspaper advertising based on the theme: Rhode IslandThe Birthplace
of Fun. If its successful it will probably be used on their license plates.
This would be a big improvement over their existing slogan, Rhode IslandIn
Between Connecticut and Massachusetts.
In case youre wondering why theyre using Mr. Potato Head, its
because they couldnt figure out a way to build correctly proportioned 6-foot- tall
Barbies that wouldnt tip over and fall flat on their faces. Just kidding. The real
reason is that Hasbro, which makes the popular tater toy, is based in Pawtucket. Its
a good thing the Big O Vibrator Company isnt headquartered in Providence.
The states tourism division commissioned local artists to create
individualized works of Potato Head art, each one having a different theme. So far they
have one dressed as a fisherman wearing a rain slicker, one covered in sand with seaweed
hair, and one wearing sunglasses and a bikini. Im not making this up. The state of
Rhode Island thinks Mr. Potato Head is a cross dresser.
Chicago did a very similar thing last summer except they used cows, claiming it brought 2
million tourists to the city who spent about $200 million, most of it on brushes to scrape
fiberglass cow pies from the soles of their shoes.
surprising that theyd tie in with a product rather than use something people
associate with the state, like, wellokay, maybe they didnt have a choice.
Besides, corporate sponsorship is such an 00s thing to do. Every sports stadium,
concert arena, bowl game and event has a companys name attached to it. This trend is
destined to continue until everything has a corporate sponsor, so dont be surprised
when you come across Depends Nursing Homes, the Bank of America Kiting Competition,
and the Sherwin Williams White House.
Rhode Island isnt the only one putting sculptures all over the place. Come
June, Toronto will be littered with 400 9-foot-tall fiberglass moose. The reason
theyre using the moose is that it symbolizes their national pastime, which is
drinking Moosehead Beer. That and no one knew what a Labatt is. One big difference,
though, is that theyre calling theirs an art exhibit rather than a desperate attempt
to call attention to themselves.
This mock moose invasion is a fundraiser for Olympic athletes and various
charities. Businesses in Toronto can buy a moose for $6,500 or pick up a four-pack for
$30,000. (NOTE: This is Canadian dollars, which at the current exchange rate is 72 degrees
Fahrenheit.) Theyll stand the moose outside their businesses, adorn them with
accoutrements like suits and cameras, then sit back and wait for hunters from Michigan to
show up so they can arrest them and levy fines
for hunting on a baited street, filling the citys coffers with great big piles of
Actually, they stole this idea from Chicago. Not arresting people who come from
Michigan, but rather putting faux fauna on the street. Chicago did a very similar thing
last summer except they used cows, claiming it brought 2 million tourists to the city who
spent about $200 million, most of it on brushes to scrape fiberglass cow pies from the
soles of their shoes.
Hopefully the citizens of Longyearbyen were all wearing sunscreen when their millennial
dawn happened because by that time they were probably whiter than Michael Bolton covering
a Tupac Shakur song.
The concept is spreading. Seattle is thinking about putting giant coffee cups on
their streets. Springfield, Massachusetts, home of the Basketball Home of Fame, is looking
into putting big basketballs around their city. If this continues we can look forward to
seeing more city streets filled with sculptures, including bare breasts in New Orleans,
pork barrels in Washington, D.C. and cops bullets hitting innocent black men in New
They should consider doing this in Longyearbyen, Norway, where it would be nice to
have big calendars in the streets. This isnt so much for arts sake but rather
so people can figure out what day it is. You see, Longyearbyen is located 620 miles north
of the Arctic Circle, which makes it nearly as remote and out of it as Des Moines.
Theyre so far north that while the rest of the world saw the Dawn Of The New
Millennium on January 1st, the 1,200 hardy souls who live in Longyearbyen
didnt see it until March 8th. And to think, people on the west coast of the United
States thought it was old news by the time it got to them.
Their delayed millennial dawn occurred because up there the sun sets in mid-October
and doesnt reappear for nearly five months. Even then it only shows up for a measly
10 minutes that first day. Hopefully they were all wearing sunscreen when it happened
because by that time they were probably whiter than Michael Bolton covering a Tupac Shakur
song. Of course come late April things change radically and theyll have 24-hours of
daylight for two months.
By that time they shouldnt have to worry about sunburn. Not if they get their
butts in gear, anyway. All theyll have to do is duck behind one of the 9-foot-tall
fiberglass calendars that will dot the city and theyll have all the shade they want.
You cant get that kind of SPF protection from a transvestite Mr. Potato Head or a
business-suited moose, now can you?
©2000 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read
them while seated on a fiberglas moose..