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As I said on the opening page of this convention set, one of the features of
any convention is the locale. Let's face it though, Wichita is by far not
the bastion of civilization with a lot of culture and diversity - honestly
the convention was probably the most interesting thing going on in the town
that weekend. There was certainly no way this place was competing with the
likes of Hollywood and Vegas, and heck, even Orlando or Tucson, that were
hosts to recent conventions as well. I tried to make the best of it, and
here is my personal take on the city...
A makeshift panorama from my hotel room window
The parking garage on the left belonged to the hotel, and was pretty much
indicative of a downtown area that at one time probably thrived enough to
justify its building/existence, but now, even with the convention, they
pretty much didn't even fill the ground floor. That large octagon shaped
building behind the garage is, I believe, the tallest building in Wichita
(and about the same height as the suburban apartment building next door to
where is used to live in the Chicago area).
I'm not exactly sure what was going on here. I think I heard a lot of
yelling and took these pictures thinking they were convention people showing
up to the hotel (they turned out not to be). It was probably some type of
Wichita style drug deal
One of the "Dealer's" cars. I have no idea what it says...
The view down the street from the hotel. Unfortunately, I never went in this
direction the whole weekend, so this is the best view I have of the bridge
and the metal flame type sculptures on it
The "Old Town" (from what I hear, the big deal in downtown Wichita)... and
the Gas Station / Sandwich Shop place we had lunch in - an experience that
was pretty much surreal...
A couple of building shots that I liked...
I took a picture of this because of the tiny, and only, window on the side
of this building. I'm sure there was some significance to its size and
placement, but I never figured it out.
The Creepy Metal
Essays by jefF
This was definitely the enigma of Wichita for me, and I'm about to write
more about this than the rest of the convention combined because of it. I'm
obviously an out of towner, so the possible cultural significance of these
Creepy Metal Sculptures, if any, was completely lost on me...
Perhaps in some effort to make the near barren downtown Wichita area seem
more populated, or maybe in a tribute to the trials and tribulations of the
people of Wichita and even Kansas proper, or maybe just some son or daughter
of some higher government official found a way to be paid for their artistic
venture. Anyway, I bring you the epic that is the Wichita Creepy Metal
The Cow on the
Sidewalk Goes Moo
(and prepares to eat fowl for dinner)
This was the first one of these I ran across. At this point I wasn't aware
of the number of these Creepy Metal Sculptures that populated the downtown
area. I thought it was simply a sculpture tribute to Midwest/Kansas cattle
country. It did seem unusual, the calf looking at the birds on the ground
(as anyone that's watched a cow for any length of time will tell you, they
are mostly indifferent to just about anything in the world around them) -
but I figured there had to be a hook here to sell this sculpture, like the
cows on parade thing a few years ago they did in Chicago (and some other
cities across the world) where they painted the cows with themes. I guess
this here made the cow scene more "touching" and less like two metal lumps
in the middle of the sidewalk, that otherwise looked like 100,000 more
livelier lumps scattered in the fields around said town in said state.
This was the second one I ran across. At first glance, I didn't realize it
was a Creepy Metal Sculpture, but I eventually figured it out. The
approaching couple saw me
taking pictures and the guy decided to ham it up for my camera. I thought
the sidewalk stone inlay hopscotch layout was interesting, though the cat
seems more than interested in something that a real life cat wouldn't even
give a second of attention to - unless the girl was holding a can of cat
Briefcase to Pee in the Street
At this point I figured out there was a series of these Creepy Metal
Sculptures. This one, of a guy reading his paper, is interesting because he
has chosen to walk away from his briefcase next to the bench - much like
they do in most major cities while waiting for a bus to come.
However, this one had a bit more thrown in. In between the man and his
briefcase are several low pressure fountains in the sidewalk, eternally
separating the perpetually inanimate barefoot man from his briefcase like the river
Styx. The man will never get his bus, will always have a puddle at his bare feet
as though he wet himself, and will always be separated from his briefcase.
Maybe it's symbolism, a message to separate yourself from your work every now and then
by using some makeshift moat in your life - I don't know... art is sometimes
lost on me. All I know is he'll be reading page 7 of that paper forever.
The Boy Chases Down A
(and the turtle surprises him and he wets
Coming upon this one, I saw a small child pushing something in the street.
Not wishing to be fooled again, I assumed this one to be a Creepy Metal
Sculpture from the start, and was not disappointed. I took the first
picture, then the second - then BAM, as I positioned myself to take the
third, I witnessed the epic struggle that was this scenario as well. My best
guess here is the boy was pushing his little peddle car down the street. Mayhaps to run the turtle over, or simply in the much more innocent search
of his lost turtle. However, the turtle here has turned the tables on the
boy and surprised his ass by hiding around the corner (heck, I didn't see
him until the third pic, why would the boy!).
To add perpetual insult to this scene, this too has another mysterious
sidewalk fountain involved in it, presumably to teach real life children a
lesson about animals and the dangers of them surprising you (as I learned
the hard way when I was about this boys age, with a dog that was determined
to nab the bowl of Cheerios I had with me... if only I had this Creepy Metal
Sculpture to teach me...). I didn't pee myself; either before IRL with the
dog, or now with the flashback caused by this Creepy Metal Sculpture
recollection - but this boy apparently has. I don't believe the wet paper
was a permanent part of the display.
It might not be obvious, but there isn't a single real live person in this
picture. Every human like figure here is a Creepy Metal Sculpture. I didn't
find most of these particularly interesting, at least not as interesting as
the picture as a whole, so there are no individual pictures of them
The Singin' Cowboy
Located to the left of the above picture, this one WAS interesting enough to
warrant his own picture. Apparently Wichita, unlike other major US cities
like New York and Chicago, has a lack of street performers. I know that I
was feeling lost and out of sorts not being able to throw a buck into the
hat or guitar case of some random guy using his year and a half of music
education to now pay his rent and student loans though the good graces of commuters. Though
this guy really needs to learn about street performing as neither his hat
nor his guitar case are open on the ground to accept donations.
This one did cause me to do a double take, in at first I thought it MIGHT be
real, but I concluded it wasn't when I realized that his guitar has no
strings, and hence no sound was coming from it. Who knows though, maybe
they're invisible strings that only the dog can hear - which is why we're
observing yet another intensely interested Creepy Metal Sculpture animal -
interest that a real life counterpart would never be able to muster unless
there was some type of food involved. I don't expect him to ever be able to
afford real guitar strings, or even dog food to keep even the animal's
attention, with no way to accept donations. But he IS better off than the
guy with the briefcase, as he does have his guitar case right next to him
and is not proverbially peeing himself - thereby proving that singing street
Creepy Metal Sculpture cowboys are happier than reading bus-waiting Creepy
Metal Sculpture businessmen. Though the cowboy does have a perpetual type of
torment in the form of the stool that he will never be able to sit down on -
it even torments the dog too, not being able to mark it either.
The Fox and His
This one was really interesting. As I came up on it, I was quite amused by
the fox (or is it a coyote - I'm calling it a fox here) as he looks up at
the bird sitting on the newspaper/garbage can kiosk, as if to taunt him -
and, as the theme of the Creepy Metal Sculptures goes, it is a perpetual
But wait! Upon further examination up the road we find a fox with a
successful capture and kill in its mouth! It's not really clear to me if
this is supposed to be a succession sculpture and the fox DID get the
taunting bird, or if this is an altogether different fox and not so lucky
Either way, the children in the third picture seem to be indifferent to the
lesson the latter bird is trying to teach them just 20 feet away. They would
do well to not torment the fox that doesn't have dinner yet...
"Look, Up In The Sky..."
I approached this one assuming it was a metal sculpture, as I pretty much
did anyone that I saw on the street in Wichita from this point on - as it
should be evident her that there were more Creepy Metal Sculptures on the
street in Downtown Wichita than real people, so that was the safe bet. I
took a couple of pictures while coming up on the woman and her child,
wondering just what the heck she could be pointing out. Up until this point,
the Creepy Metal Sculptures seemed indifferent of anything and anyone not
made of metal, so I assumed it was something most likely made of metal. Once
I got into the vantage point of the pair, I found that they were
patriotically pointing in the direction of the US flag atop the building
across the street. I'm not sure why... maybe the commie kid needed a
patriotic refresher course, or maybe they're not even pointing in the
direction of the flag - it's probably in the direction of an ICBM missile
that'll one day be headed for Russia and its course will take it right
through the sky path of this pointing mother...
This one has en epilogue though, in the form of the preying Creepy Metal
Sculpture attack squirrel that is no doubt going to run up the skirt of the
mother - must be a commie anti-patriotic squirrel. I tried to justify the
squirrel's motives as something else, maybe he was going to go for the
garbage can next to them... but I'm sure that you'll agree with me that the
squirrel has indeed targeted the mother and her child.
It occurred to me, in retrospect, that this may in fact be a
beaver in this picture - albeit, still an evil anti-patriotic beaver.
However, since beavers don't run up women's skirts, nor do they go through
garbage cans to the best of my beaver knowledge, I couldn't even begin to
think of a story that would put a beaver into this scenario and still have
it make sense - so, it IS a squirrel.
A Cat and Its Dinner
While more subtle than the fox, this is still pretty much just as
disturbing. Since we all know that Non Metal Based cats and birds just don't
hang out to shoot the shit, it is pretty clear that the cat has just nabbed
these birds and is just tormenting them by playing with them, waiting to eat them as they flop around never able
to get away... if for no other reason than they too are metal and cannot
fly. Though one of the smallest, I found this one of the most powerful of
the series in expressing eternal tormet.
The Girl Directs
Animal Porn Street Theater
Yeah, another one of those that looks innocent enough, but something just
isn't right and it really is easy to figure out what is going on here. If it
was JUST the girl and the pony, I could write this off as an innocent
tribute to the children of Kansas and their ponies, because, let's face it,
no more so anywhere else in the world outside the Kansas Heartland is a
child more likely to get a pony as a present.
However, they just HAD to throw the dog in here, and the dog has some of his ideas
about what's going to happen here, and we all know what they are - and it
isn't simple sniffin' butt, lemmie tell you Chester. No
non-veterinary personnel looks at a pony's nether regions like that without
it being anything other than curiously suspicious at the least, and
downright perverted and disgusting at the most.
I actually took the first picture earlier in the day, but HAD to return to
take the second picture that night. This one is a classic tribute to the age
old game of child tormenting child. Yeah, again, it tries to look innocent,
like a brother pouring cool beverage for his sibling in this hot Wichita
climate, but again, at this point we know what to look for as each edition
of the Creepy Metal Sculpture series has a lesson or message. Why is baby brother / neighbor
/ random child on his knees, veritably begging to simply get a drink?
Because he HAS to. And really, what the heck has that kid on his knees
got his hand out for? To get the drink? I think not. His intended stop for
those digits is no more respectable than the dog's eye for the pony guy in
the previous scenario. And we all know that drink is going nowhere but onto
the kneeling boy's head, whether the proper quid pro quo treatment that was
requested by the older boy is administered or not.
This wasn't part of the same series as the rest, it was commissioned by the
business it sits in front of (there was a plaque/sign stating as much). I
thought it was cool... kinda like RoboCop's horse - if he had one.
- - -
It was a plane and it was there in the middle of the sidewalk, so I took a
The first electric light intersection in Wichita. Thrilling, I know.
Some random Urban Decay
It looked like an abandoned building, but it sure wasn't. Only the doors on
this side of it were closed. When I rounded the corner I saw a (about) 94
year old woman sitting in the open business doorway. I almost snapped a
picture of her, but I didn't feel right about it because it somehow didn't
seem dignified. I still wish I would have though, it would have been a good
I found this interesting, with the missing keystone and all...
Decaying brick buildings were reasonably common
A Wichita Motorcycle gang...
I took this picture when I saw this guy loading up his flatbed trailer with
a lot of crap. I figured I was seeing a not so bright guy who was about to
spread a bunch of crap over the road a/o someone robbing the place and this
was the best he had to do it. Him and another guy loaded some big painting
into the back and drove off. Crap did not go all over the road as I
expected. No word on whether this place was actually robbed or not, as I
never cared enough to find out.
Some random overturned planters on the side of the road, except it wasn't
evident why or what for.
I don't remember exactly why I took this picture - probably because of the
Abandoned Downtown Businesses
Yet another one of the abandoned downtown stores.
I found this ironically entertaining. The article in the door of this
abandoned store was about the stellar window dressing decorating and
displays downtown, featuring the building... the building that's now
completely empty. I'll bet whether the workers that cleared out the store on
its final days knew the term irony or not, they sure knew the feeling of
irony and left it there based on that.
(picture by George)
One of the many Kansas ACOE
constructed reservoir lakes. They are, for the most part, creepy - since the
areas they flood to make the lakes aren't pre cleared, there are
thousands of submerged dead trees for miles. It's like driving through a
vast dead wasteland... then again that's like much of Kansas as a whole.
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