Annals of public art

(Mostly about art, of sorts, rather than language, though there are two puns.)

Yesterday’s Zippy took us to Tuscaloosa AL, home of Goldie:


From Roadside America:

Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Collapsed and half-buried on Woods Quad, “Goldie 1971” was built by University of Alabama alumnus Joe McCreary. The rusted humanoid was meant to symbolize the collapse of Alabama’s steel industry, particularly the shutdown of the Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham in 1972.

In fact, the 23-foot-long robot is made from scrap iron cast at the Furnaces by McCreary in 2009. The robot’s name was supposedly taken from graffiti left by a welder and discovered by McCreary while he was making the sculpture.

To us, Goldie looks a lot like the old Marx Toy “Big Loo” robot, which squirted water from its belly-button. But much more artistic, of course.

Insofsar as a Zippy can have a point, the point of this one is the familiar (but insubstantial) idea that male creativity is compensation for men’s inability to have babies — especially poignant in the case of men creating robots, which are (after all) simulacra of human beings.

The Fallen Robot of Tuscaloosa:


For comparison, Big Loo:


From Wikipedia:

Big Loo was a toy robot manufactured by Louis Marx and Company for the 1963 Christmas holiday season. It retailed for $9.99. The toy, primarily made of injection molded hi-impact polystyrene parts, stood three-feet tall (37-inches), a foot wide, and nine inches deep.

Its key features included a sight scope with cross-hairs, two flashing battery-powered red eyes with an on-off switch, a hand-cranked mechanical voice box that played ten messages, two rubber-tipped darts that were fired from triggers on the back, a left arm that held four red balls which were fired from a spring in the left elbow, and a right arm that had a metal ring in the shoulder and rotated 360 degrees. One foot was equipped with a spring-powered rocket. It could also squirt water from its navel and was equipped with a compass, whistle, bell, a Morse code clicker with chart, and could bend over and pick up objects.

How could I have missed this? (Well, I was in grad school at the time, so my attention was focussed elsewhere.) In any case, Big Loo combined the attractions of a multi-purpose robot and a squirt gun. But talk about displacement: squirting from its navel?

Also for comparison, RoboCop (alluded to in the punning title of #1, “Robo-Flop”, alluding to Goldie being flopped on the ground):


RoboCop is a 1987 American cyberpunk action film directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner. The film stars Peter Weller, Nancy Allen, Dan O’Herlihy, Kurtwood Smith, Miguel Ferrer, and Ronny Cox. Set in a crime-ridden Detroit, Michigan, in the near future, RoboCop centers on police officer Alex Murphy (Weller) who is brutally murdered by a gang of criminals and subsequently revived by the megacorporation Omni Consumer Products (OCP) as a superhuman cyborg law enforcer known as “RoboCop”. (Wikipedia link)

Ah, the other pun: “let me rust in peace” in the first panel: rust in peace for rest in peace, with rust entirely appropriate in the context.

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