Tag: characters

Stanley Marsh 3, the eccentric millionaire, artist and prankster of Amarillo, Texas, has passed away.

Although he was best known for his commissioning of the world-famous roadside attraction Cadillac Ranch, Marsh was responsible for multiple unusual projects around Amarillo, including "Floating Mesa" — a landform painted to look as though its top were suspended in midair — and a series of fake road signs bearing phrases like "Road Does Not End" and "Steal This Sign."

Marsh died yesterday at the age of 76. This Saturday marks the 40th anniversary of Cadillac Ranch.

Here at the Roadside Resort, I generally stick to oddities within the United States. On occasion, though, if something strikes my fancy, I'll ignore the borders and give a creator their due attention.

This time, it's Blair Somerville of Papatowai, New Zealand. For more than a decade, he's filled his Lost Gypsy Gallery with hand-created automata both large and small that are, as filmmaker Joey Bania describes them, "ingenious, interactive, and often hilariously impractical."

I've admittedly been neglecting the Roadside Resort for several weeks now, as I'm attempting to tie up Weird Oklahoma, but I had to at least post about the news that Austin, Texas's beloved homeless cross-dresser, Leslie Cochran, has recently been hospitalized.

Cochran was discovered on Oct. 3 by a taxi driver, who found him lying unconscious on a sidewalk downtown. He appeared to have suffered a serious head injury and was reportedly found to be in a semi-vegetative state after he was transported to University Medical Center Brackenridge. Rumors state that he had been seen acting erratically and may have suffered a stroke, but this has not been confirmed.

Cochran, who is known simply as Leslie to Austinites, is a local celebrity and folk hero, famous for wearing thongs, high heels and other women's wear as he wanders the streets of Texas's capital city. He's been outspoken about the plight of the homeless and the treatment by police officers of those in his situation. In 2000, he garnered even more attention when he ran for mayor, a feat he repeated in 2001 and again in 2003, receiving as much as 7.75% of the vote. ... Continued

Your room may be equipped with Edison electric light, but those new-fangled bulbs wouldn't be good for much more than pepper shakers if it weren't for a man named Nikola Tesla.

Before the turn of the century, Thomas Edison and Tesla were engaged in a battle known as the War of Currents. Edison was a staunch proponent of direct-current electricity, while Tesla was an advocate of alternating current. Tesla was confident that AC was the way of the future, but Edison had already sunk a great deal of time, energy and money into DC.

The problem was that DC required expensive, high-maintenance converters to transform between voltages. AC, on the other hand, could do the same thing with less expensive and more efficient equipment, making it more effective in overcoming current loss over great distances. Tesla knew this and continued to promote AC for wide distribution. ... Continued

Despite the increasing popularity of CFLs and LEDs, I still love the warm glow and aesthetic design of a traditional incandescent. After all, I can't imagine lighting up a good, old-fashioned roadside arrow with fluorescent light.

That's why I had to admire this vintage sign I discovered at Gizmodo this morning. That and the reassuring disclaimer that this strange alternative to gas "is in no way harmful to health, nor does it affect the soundness of sleep." Reportedly, they still display these at the historic National Hotel in Jamestown, California.

I've recreated the sign in two versions you can print yourself and display at home.

The GIF is optimized for a typical letter-size sheet and the PDF is vectorized for lossless resizing.

I recommend printing on a nice antique-style paper stock.

A large part of me wishes I could finish this book already. I'm currently 6 weeks behind schedule and I have two chapters left to complete. I've been working on this thing for a year and a half and it feels like it will never end. The traveling is one thing, but this sitting in a chair and writing several months straight takes its toll.

But another part of me wishes I could keep working on it. I'm still discovering attractions I didn't know about and I feel bad that I can't add them to the outline at this point. Not long ago, I found out about a race of lizard people that allegedly lives beneath the Superstition Mountains. I also recently learned of Charles Schmid Jr., "the Pied Piper of Tucson," an Eddie Munster-looking seducer of women who killed three girls, including his sister, and garnered a teen following by bragging about it.

And, just today, I found out about a guy named Richard Wizardry, master of "pyrophonics." He's built a collection of junk sculptures that shoot fire from their genitals as he pounds out chords on his flame organ. (There's a joke about flame organs here somewhere, but I just can't seem to find it right now.) ... Continued