|Garfield and Benjamin Harrison? Or two Garfields? I can't tell.|
When I first found out that I would be spending Christmas 2015 in Houston, Texas, I immediately knew that there was one must-see place I would be making a bee line toward: the lot somewhere north of downtown Houston with the giant presidential heads. Add 2401 Nance Street in Houston to the list of places that regardless of expectations larger than President Garfield's head (see above), lived up to the hype.
This is like a pilgrimage site to me, in a lot in an industrial area in the shadow of a freeway ramp just north of downtown Houston.
Giant presidential heads gathered from the four corners of the earth! (Actually, they were gathered from two abandoned theme parks -- or theme parks that changed themes away from presidential heads -- somwhere in the USA.)
There also is a giant 36 foot tall full-body Charlie Chaplin amongst the presidents. Why? Does there need to be a reason?
A row of heads here.
A row of heads there,
Rows of heads everywhere!
Not even I can figure out who everyone is. For example, go up two pictures. Parked next to the truck, I think that Mr. Keep Cool with Coolidge himself. With a most excellent Martin Van Buren beside him, and a Harry S Truman behind. But who's behind Harry? A stone cold sober Franklin Pierce, I presume. (Not a condition in which Pierce often was found in real life.)
Speaking of the excellent Martin Van Buren, let's take a close look. It's actually one of best likenesses there.
I think that's U.S. Grant behind him -- looks like his beard -- and a very easily recognizable Andrew Johnson third in line, Again, as with Pierce, stone cold sober not a condition in which he often was found during his life.
Let's look at this group. Gerald R. Ford on the left. Then Teddy Roosevelt with the worst case of vitiligo I've seen since the Michael Jackson trial. Then, in the foreground row, "Rutherfraud" B. Hays. (Who is absolutely worshipped in Paraguay. America? Not so much.) Then to the right of Hays, William Jefferson Clinton?
Some are easier to spot than others.
For example, here's the Man on the 20, Old Hickory Andrew Jackson, next to a Christmas tree from a Dr. Seuss planet. You can see Herbert Hoover to the far right -- a position progressive Hoover rarely occupied in real life -- and peeking out from behind the Seuss tree is the Father of Our Country, the Man on the One, the One: George Washington.
And here's another easily recognized presidential face.
Chester Alan Arthur. Recognizable from his distinctive facial hair.
And speaking of presidents accused of having actually been in a foreign country -- you know about the major scandal when it was argued in polite society that Arthur was actually born a few miles on the wrong side of the Vermont/Canada border -- here's ...
Barack Obama. The northeast corner of the lot is something of a gallery of presidential failure, as America's Worst President (to date) is just over Obama's shoulder. The Bachelor President. James Buchanan.
It is well-known that I am a fan of Mr. Arthur. So I grabbed a selfie.
Who else did I selfie with?
The great William McKinley.
I think that's His Accidency John Tyler behind McKinley's left ear (which would be your right). McKinley is one of the few for whom it is true that these are giant presidential "heads," as opposed to giant busts.
OK. That one is a simple head, too.
I think that is one of the many Lincolns behind that chain link fence.
The chain link fence adds an interesting element.
Doesn't it make Richard Nixon look like he's in a medium-security prison?
George W. Bush looks kind of abandoned there by himself, doesn't he?
I couldn't find all of my favorites. I couldn't find Ronald Reagan. I couldn't find Warren G. Harding. And, fan-boy that I am, even I would have had a tough time distinguishing Zachary Taylor from his number of near-lookalikes.
I'm not sure if this James Knox Polk.
The facial features look right. And so does the choice of neckwear. But the hair looks more "Polk-ian" on this head:
Mild case of vitiligo. But the dapper neckwear makes it look like he is going to burst out into a few verses of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman," rather than simultaneouly win a war with Mexico over Texas AND settle the Canadian border dispute along the 49th parallel.
Speaking of song. And speaking of "Here There and Everywhere," which I referenced several paragraphs up, are these supposed to be the Beatles?
I think they are supposed to have Beatles here. And that could be Ringo on the left. And that could be a stylized John Lennon second from the right. But is that George Harrison second from the left? Or Jesus? There was a period where George Harrison was looking a little Jesus-like But that can't be Paul McCartney on the right. It looks more like Lulu, ready to perform "To Sir with Love" with all the non-McCartney Beatles.
Part of the reason I'm thinking those are the Beatles is that there was this giant guitar there, too. And none of the presidents played the guitar.
I did take a selfie with the potential probable Polks.
And with Martin Van Buren. Not much of a president -- Andrew Jackson was a very tough act to follow -- but one of the best heads on the lot. Unlike, for example:
Pure evil. The man responsible for America's closest descent into fascism, racist civil liberties hating progressive Woodrow Wilson.
There was a hole on each side of Wilson's head. So I peered in.
Dark and empty. As I knew it would be.