July 16, 2013
A Rocky Balboa statue sits near the foot of the staircase in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia. The City of Brotherly love is undoubtedly a place where underdogs can succeed against any odds, providing they punch hanging slabs of beef and can run “Rocky’s Steps.”
And the tourists love it, this place where Rocky’s Philly and the real Philly crossover. They love taking pictures with the statue, they love humming “Eye of the Tiger” while running the stairs despite the fact that the original scene was accompanied by a different song and they love raising their hands in triumph when they reach the top.
There are a few statues of Sherlock Holmes around the world, including one located at the base of Reichenbach Falls in Switzerland where the world’s premiere spokesman for deerstalker hats committed murder-suicide.
But the one that has its own Wikipedia page is located in London, England near his canonical address on Baker Street. Who wouldn’t like to think that their city has the potential to produce one of the greatest analytical minds of all time? Who wouldn’t like to claim a character that is so renowned that there are not-insignificant portions of the populace who are under the impression that he was a real person?
The pop culture hungry denizens of the Internet helped a group called Imagination Station Detroit kickstart a project to bring to the future Delta City their very own statue of Robocop. They just released pictures of the prototype a few weeks ago. The construction is on, but the placement is a trickier prospect.
Just remember: If you mess with a Detroiter they might just get turned into a cyborg and seek vengeance.The point is that sometimes a city has fun with its portrayal in popular culture and hosts some sort of monument to the fictional people who call it home. The Bronze Fonz makes his home in downtown Milwaukee; The Fargo Theater in Fargo, N.D. is home to a likeness of Police Chief Marge Gunderson made out of wood chips and next to the men’s bathroom; and Metropolis, Ill., has a statue of Superman himself even though the real life location of the Man of Steel’s protectorate is in dispute.
That’s why I’m proposing that we erect a giant bronze mushroom cloud being witnessed by that classic character called simply “Man from Leeton” with a plaque on the base that has his quote and nothing more: “There ain’t no Sedalia”.
All right, so you know that I’m writing this column about the local Trail’s End project. They essentially want to construct a 3-D mural monument to the idea that Sedalia was the destination for at least a couple of cattle drives.
Now there is some contention over whether or not any cattle drives actually, physically made it to Sedalia, but let’s pretend that perhaps Sedalia’s cattle town status remains due to the residual affects of TV’s “Rawhide” and a bunch of people taking each other at word of mouth.
Even so, Gil Favor and Rowdy Yates spent a lot of time talking about old Sedville and nearly 70 episodes in they finally manage to get there. Even if it’s not true, it is already part of the Sedalia mythos; part of the Sedalia mystique both inside and outside of the city itself.
When people think Sedalia they think about the state fair; about Scott Joplin, about the Wheel-Inn Drive In and, for better or for worse, they think of the show that launched Clint Eastwood’s career and dusty cowboys bringing in the herd and going to downtown Sedalia to have a celebratory drink with their newly acquired funds.
A monument isn’t really an admission that the portrayed scene is 100 percent historically accurate. But it is a reminder of a concept that is important to the city.
Maybe Robocop will never live in Detroit. Maybe Rocky wouldn’t have climbed those stairs in real life. Maybe Sherlock Holmes would find all this statue business a little gauche.
If nothing else, we can just correct people when they assume that some generic ramrod is, uh, ramrodding that stationary hard: No, that’s Rowdy Yates there, driving cattle. People will take pictures with it. Travel shows will feature it in B-Roll as their various roadtrip shows roll through Sedalia.
Mostly, don’t be so uptight.