On the right

Yesterday’s Zippy, with an unusual Muffler Man figure and some language play on senses of right and senses of arms and bare vs. bear:

Mr. Bendo. This figure is, I think, the one  outside Ralph’s Muffler Shop, 1250 W. 16th St., Indianapolis IN. The label on the pocket is Mr. Bendo, hence the figure’s customary name.

The Nazi salute/greeting (Hitlergruß) has a straight hand, arm extended out. The “raised hand” asking for attention has a straight hand, extended up in the air. The raised/clenched fist salute, a sign of solidarity and support, unity, strength, defiance, resistance, or protest (the “power fist” or “protest fist”), usually has the arm extended up rather than out, but out is possible. Mr. Bendo has his right arm out, as in the Nazi salute, rather than up, but with an open hand (neither straight nor clenched); so it looks as if he’s about to drop something.

The Roadside America page for the Indianapolis Mr. Bendo says, verb briefly:

Big fiberglass man with an unusual arm and hand configuration that could perhaps merit a name change to Mr. Drop-o.

More information on the 12/26/12 page, “American Giants – Muffler Men: A journal of my Muffler Men travels and findings”:

This is a version of muffler men called Mr Bendo, I have yet to learn about where the name came from and why International Fiberglass started making them but there are a few across the country and they all look the same. They have the hand positions of the Indiana version and they typically have a red shirt, white pants and “Mr Bendo” written on their shirt. This one stands at Ralph’s mufflers in Indianapolis and has since the late 60’s. Other versions of Mr Bendo stand in Sioux Falls SD, Wilson NC as well as Chicago IL among other places.

The language play. The third panel culminates in Mr. Bendo’s asserting a right to bare right arms, a phrase that has

(a) the noun right ‘legal entitlement’ (vs. the adjective right ‘politically conservative’ that appears in the first panel, in the right wing)

(b) either the adjective bare ‘uncovered, exposed’ or the verb bare ‘uncover, expose’ (Mr. Bendo has bare forearms, or, alternatively, has bared his forearms) — vs. the verb bear ‘carry’ in usual wieldings of the constitutional language the right to bear arms

(c) the adjective right referring to direction or physical position (Mr.Bendo has extended his right arm)

(d) the noun arms referring to body parts (vs. the arms ‘armaments’ in the constitutional language)

Cute. Of course there’s yet another use of right — as an adjective meaning ‘correct’ — that hasn’t been worked into the play in the strip, though it has figured prominently in American political history, in Barry Goldwater’s ad in the 1964 campaign for President: “In your heart you know he’s right” (intended to convey both ‘correct’ and ‘politically conservative’).

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: