The 9 Most Baffling Monuments to Great People
The great monuments tend to also be simple -- Abe Lincoln's is just him sitting in a chair, Mount Rushmore is just a bunch of giant heads. But some sculptors decide to get creative, to create a memorial that will really blow people's minds. The results are often the stuff of nightmares. Like ...
Martin Luther King Jr. -- Toledo, Ohio
Martin Luther King Jr. has been memorialized everywhere from Milwaukee to Westminster Abbey. But this depiction, by Constancia Gaffeney and Wil Clay in Toledo, Ohio, is the one that has really stuck with us the most (by earning itself a rightful place in our nightmares, that is).
Stop for a minute and take in everything that's wrong with it: the dark, vacant eyes, the dead expression, the four dismembered Martin Luther King Jr. heads super-glued around a globe. And let's not ignore the uncanny resemblance to the Necromongers from The Chronicles of Riddick:
From the Pitch Black sequel that went all off the rails.
We're thinking everything will suddenly make perfect sense when the statue powers up and Martin Luther King Jr.'s faces start spinning around, twin death rays wreaking destruction from each set of eyes.
Walter Johnson -- Washington, D.C.
AHHH! HOLY SHIT! Was Walter Johnson ... the end boss of a Resident Evil game? A victim of the Thing? What's going on with his arm?
Actually, Walter "Big Train" Johnson has been ranked by The Sporting News as the greatest pitcher in baseball history, and from 1907 to 1927 he and his 91-mph fastball established a shitload of pitching records, some of which remain unbroken to this day. So when sculptor Omri Amrany was commissioned to create a Johnson statue for the center field plaza at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., he decided to honor the great pitcher with a statue featuring the "repetitive motion" effect, also known as the "holy shit run he's coming straight at us with his mutated murder-arm" effect.
Really, it's groundbreaking work in the field of Shithouse Crazology.
Turns out Walter Johnson's grandson isn't too happy about the memorial, either:
"It just doesn't work. Those big pieces of matter coming out of Walter's shoulder look like driftwood. But I don't like any part of the statue. I really object to it. It's ridiculous, not even close . He looks awkward. His delivery point is all wrong. His legs are too stiff. The 'W' on his uniform is too big. And the inscription is on the back . It doesn't even face the plaza."
Oh, hell no. We maybe could have gotten past the flailing-arm-of-death thing, but the "W" is too big. God help us, the "W" is too big.
From this angle, it's less "I'm going to make you crap your pants" and more "I just crapped my own pants."
Pat Tillman -- Phoenix, Arizona
He bears a startling resemblance to Jim Carrey.
You may remember Pat Tillman as the football player who, after the 9/11 attacks, walked away from a $3.6 million contract to serve in the U.S. Army. After going through Ranger training, he was deployed to Afghanistan in 2003 and was tragically killed by friendly fire in April of 2004. So how do you honor this great man who so succinctly embodied the ideals of selflessness and sacrificing oneself for one's country? You put up this statue of him at the University of Phoenix, entitled Pat Tillman, Running and Screaming With Head Aflame.
"Stop, drop and roll, Pat! STOP, DROP AND ROLL!"
If you're wondering how they came up with such an odd pose, it's based on a photograph of Tillman taken during his days with the Arizona Cardinals:
His great-grandfather was a lion.
But someone forgot to tap sculptors Gary Tillery and Omri Amrany on the shoulders and remind them that what makes a great photo doesn't necessarily make a great statue. For one, wind-blown hair is really hard to convey in a sculpture. Also, with a statue, you've got all those pesky "other viewing angles" to worry about.
Alternate title: Pat Tillman, Running into an Invisible Wall
Oscar Wilde -- London, England
He's either rising out of a poorly made coffin or a seriously ill penis.
To memorialize the brilliant novelist, poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, sculptor Maggi Hambling came up with that monstrosity you see above, entitled A Conversation With Oscar Wilde. But perhaps we're being a bit harsh here -- sure, it's a disembodied head and hand sticking up out of a stone sarcophagus, but we suppose we could look past all that if it meant we could sit and have a spiritual one-on-one with the guy who could deliver witty and devastating one-liners like they were $5 pizzas.
OK, let's get a little closer:
Gah! Is he made of worms? Or is that just what tattered zombie-flesh looks like when rendered in bronze? And why does he have a putrefied stoat growing out of the side of his neck?
"A conversation With Oscar Wilde," huh? Yeah, any conversation with that thing would begin with it beckoning our souls down into whatever pit of hell it slithered up from and end with us dousing it with holy water and sticking it with the pointiest crucifix we could find. Anything to ensure that no one ever had to endure that conversation, ever again.
"Learned conversation is either the affectation of the ignorant or the profession of the mentally unemployed."
St. Bartholomew -- Milan, Italy
St. Bartholomew is perhaps the only saint who has the dual distinction of being skinned alive and having a massacre named after him. So when memorializing the patron saint of the Saw movies in stone, how does one do him justice? Well, Marco d'Agrate certainly gave it the old college try way back in 1562 when he created his statue of St. Bartholomew, seen above at its home in Milan Cathedral. Go ahead, stare at it for a while -- we'll wait.
Wow. Pretty eerie, right? But not exactly horrifying. At least he has some kind of sheet wrapped around him, so he's not a creepy bald guy who's also rocking it out, if you catch our drift. Wait, something's a little off about the texture of that fabric -- let's take a closer look:
We're ... not sure how PETA would feel about this.
What's that draped over his shoulder? Is that -- is that a face? And down near the bottom -- are those toes? What the hell kind of a sheet has a face and toes?
Oh, right. He's wearing his own flayed skin.
Well, that explains the baldness and the truly impressive muscle definition. No word on what that book is he's holding, but we have to assume he's researching how to solve the puzzle box from Hellraiser.
"These head nails don't help at all!"
Pope John Paul II -- Rome, Italy
Someone decided that the best way to honor Pope John Paul II, the man whose testicular fortitude helped take down communism, was to construct a statue that looks nothing like him. Or anybody else. Hell, some of you didn't even know that was a statue of a person until we told you. It looks like a chunk of fuselage fell off an airplane and landed there.
Sculptor Oliviero Rainaldi defended the design, saying it was meant to showcase the late pope's desire to welcome humanity. That's right -- with all the sex scandals that have mired the Catholic church in recent years, he thought it was a good idea to depict the pope welcoming humanity into his robe.
No way that'll get misinterpreted.
The good news is that the city of Rome is planning to refurbish the statue into something more presentable. Our advice? Don't go for abstract symbolism this time -- that always ends in disaster. Just see this next memorial to ...
9/11 Victims -- Bayonne, New Jersey
To the Struggle Against World Terrorism (also known as the Tear of Grief and the Tear Drop Memorial) was conceived by controversial artist Zurab Tsereteli as a gift from his country to the U.S. in honor of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It was originally supposed to go to Jersey City, but the city council took one look at it and punted it across the room like that sweater your grandma gave you last Christmas. When it got regifted to nearby Bayonne, they agreed to take it and stuck it at the end of a pier. Its reception has been less than enthusiastic -- one 9/11 survivor described it as "a cross between a scar and a female sexual organ."
And did we mention it continuously drips water?
From here it looks like a certain type of, uh, piercing.
So to summarize: In order to honor the victims of 9/11, another country gave us a giant, sopping vagina. Who might have done such a thing?
"I would cry for your country, were my face capable of anything but scowls."
Oh. It was a gift from the people of Russia and Vladimir Putin himself. Well, that explains it, then -- to Vladimir Putin, everything's a pussy.
Khalil Gibran -- Washington, D.C.
The vast majority of you are staring blankly at your screen right now, but the three poetry fans who read Cracked just peed a little at the mention of this guy's name. Khalil Gibran was a Lebanese-American poet who became a big deal in the '60s counterculture.
How big? Well, for starters, he was quoted by the freaking Beatles in the song "Julia" on the White Album. He also sold quite a few poems, so many that he's the third best-selling poet of all time, after Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu. He's about as close to a badass as you can get, for a poet. So, as one of history's most influential Arab-Americans, it's no surprise that he has a memorial in Washington, D.C.
So few memorials attempt to depict their subject projectile vomiting. Probably for a reason.
But in order to describe it, Gordon Kray, sculptor of the memorial, is about to force us to type a sentence that we've only previously typed once, in our strangest nightmare: The poet's dismembered head is coming out of a snake made of leaves, and there are birds feeding on it. Or maybe those aren't leaves, but the ragged remains of his torso after the man was eaten by the flock of ravenous birds. Wait, is that how the poet really died? Don't tell us, we don't want to know.
Mister Rogers -- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Having perhaps the most unfortunate middle name that someone who dedicated his life to interacting with children could possibly have, it's no surprise that Fred McFeely Rogers was known to all of us by his more formal title: Mister Rogers.
So how do you memorialize this childhood icon in his own hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania? If you're sculptor Robert Berks, the answer's easy -- you depict him as some kind of strange amalgam of the rock biter from The NeverEnding Story and a leprosy victim:
He smiles, but the eyes ... SO. EMPTY.
And since we've already done such a thorough job of destroying your mental image of this childhood hero with that one close-up, we're not even going to post this picture of the statue at night. Go there if you want, but for the sake of all the childhood memories you hold dear, we'd really prefer you didn't.
You looked, didn't you? Well, we can't just leave you with that unholy image burned into your corneas, so how about we try to make it up to you by telling you that this also exists in Pittsburgh (don't say we never gave you nothin'):
Now that's how Mister Rogers deserves to be remembered: as a puppet-wielding T. rex. Pittsburgh, you've redeemed yourselves. Almost.
Chris Zeigler blogs about superheroes and ethics here. He'd like to thank Dawn Morrow for connecting the MLK statue to the Necromongers and his brother Ben for editing.
For more disturbing ways to honor people, check out The 12 Most God Awful Tribute Albums Ever Recorded. Or learn about 5 Villains That Were Thinly Veiled Versions of Real People.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see Cody's unusual shrine to John Cheese.
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