Casey, Illinois, the Big Things Capital of the World

Casey has been at the top of my bucket list for a several years. This is the holy land for Worlds Largest Objects. Several years ago, on tour with the band I sometimes tour manage we were routed to play a show in Indiapolis followed by a show in Saint Louis. This route takes you on I-70 directly by Casey. My opportunity had come! I told a small white lie about the amount of time it takes to drive between the two cities and added a couple hours onto our drive time to conveniently ensure that we would have enough time to stop in Casey.

Street sign in Casey

On that fateful day in September, the van got a flat tire. As it turned out our jack was stuck and not fully extending and we had to call AAA to change it. Amazingly, after all of that, we still easily made it to Saint Louis in time for load in. Everyone was surprised we had still made it in time except, of course, for me, because the extra hours has been secretly planned for Casey. I was heart broken.

I figured that since Indianapolis to Saint Louis or vice versa was such a common touring route, my chance to stop in Casey would come along again in no time at all. Of course, as we all know better than ever, best laid plans don’t always work out. The band broke up. The singer began a new solo project and his label put the album release and touring on hold for a year waiting for the right opening in the market. In January we were given the exciting news that we would be on the Stadium Tour over the summer with Motley Crue, Joan Jett, Def Leppard, and Poison and the plan was made to release the record in July. The tour would take us once again through Casey.

Giant birdcage to look at the giant mailbox from

Of course, we all know what happened next. In February we learned of covid-19. By March we knew that a global pandemic was coming and things began to lock down. The tour was officially cancelled in May. What started as a few weeks of lockdown stretched into months of a new reality. Traveling seemed like a faraway dream.

In September I decided to take a trip to Casey. As a caveat, yes, I traveled during the pandemic. No, going to see oversized objects is not essential. I attempted to be as safe as possible, drove alone, was going to see outdoor attractions, stayed in entire air b&bs, brought my own cooler full of food to avoid having to go to restaurants. (there are other reasons for this for me in the midwest LOL) I took a covid test before leaving and scheduled one for when I returned before going back to work.

This tiny town has a population of about 2,700 people. Other than the railroad line running (literally) through it it doesn’t have much of an economic niche. But this tiny Midwestern town boasts 12 official World’s Largest Objects. The first attempt at a world record was the worlds largest windchime. It was built in 2011. It stands proudly downtown across the street from the Worlds Largest rocking chair

The World’s Largest Windchime

In 2015 Jim Brolin founded the big things in a small town workshop. He runs Bolin enterprises which is a local contracting company which had the contract to remove and replace many of the large wooden telephone poles along I-70 and other construction projects. With the salvaged wood and metal from construction projects he began constructing oversized objects. His large wooden clogs took the world record in 2015. The shoes are, by the way, inside an old fashioned candy store if there are any other licorice lovers out there. Every year since he has added more and more large objects to Casey’s collection.

World’s Largest Wooden Shoes

The second was the Worlds Largest Golf Tee which is located on the local golf course- don’t worry you can walk into the gift shop and just tell them that you want to go visit the tee and its not a bad walk from the downtown super concentrated area of big things

World’s Largest Golf Tee

The worlds Largest pitchfork is in front of Richards Farm Restaurant. If you don’t know much about Guinness world records, perhaps you haven’t read as much as about the battle for worlds largest chair as I have, but without a previous record holder to beat in dimensions, the worlds largest must be at least 10 times larger than the normal sized object. The largest pitchfork which is ten times larger than a regular pitchfork, received it’s world record in 2015

World’s largest pitchfork

The Worlds Largest rocking chair, arguably Casey’s most famous big thing, dominates its intersection in downtown. It received its title in 2015, taking the crown from another rocker in neighboring Indiana. My only gripe with the big beautiful rocker is that you can’t sit in it for photo ops. I can only assume this would be a huge liability thing if someone fell off. Sigh. We can’t have anything nice.

Oh, it’s big. The World’s Largest Rocking Chair

There are some big things you definitely can get your photo op with. The worlds largest Mailbox is the big thing photo op I’ve personally been lusting for for years… yes, these are apparently the types of things I would describe myself as lusting after at this point in my life. Another caveat of holding a world record is that the item has to be functional. To use a rather specific example this means you can’t paint a grain silo to look like a nutcracker and then claim the title of worlds largest nutcracker, you must make a functioning mouthpiece that could theoretically crush an extremely large nut.

I am so happy in this picture

This is why Casey’s mailbox is fully functional. not only does the door on the front open and close, but its also a designated usps pick up point so you can, in fact, mail a letter from the mailbox. You can climb the stairs from the bottom and stand fully inside and if you’re me, pray that your bluetooth shutter can reach your tripod sitting in the middle of the street below to get the best photo op ever. Don’t worry though, this is small down middle America and Id imagine your iPhone is quite safe far below you on the street.

The World’s Largest Mailbox

Another functioning worlds largest object in Casey is the Worlds Largest barber pole in front of, you guessed it, the small town barber. Many of the town’s large objects are meant to lead the visitor to the business they sit in front of, and it seems many businesses in Casey are in on the fun.

The World’s Largest Barber Pole

The nearby worlds largest teeter totter is also funtional in order to hold its title, but I sadly did not get to ride as its only rideable on Saturdays during the tourist season.

World’s Largest Teeter Totter

One of the newest record holders in town is the Worlds Largest Key located in front of a vintage car dealer. It is apparently an exact replica of big things creator Josh Brolins work truck key.

World’s Largest Key

The swizzle spoon and worlds largest 9 iron were not on display when I was there, so one could theoretically see more big things every time they returned. Casey also holds lots of large objects which don’t hold any records. This seems to mainly be because apparently they didn’t learn any of the lessons that they rest of us have about creating unrealistic expectations by constantly outdoing yourself. These include a large mousetrap, large dreidel, a giant pencil, and a yard stick. An absolutely massive pair of antlers sit in front of a car parts business on the edge of town, apparently used as a prop for something and then gifted to Casey on account of their reputation for oversized objects. Inside the store is a huge and wonderful rocking horse which is apparently so drowned out by its giant competition that no one even mentioned it to me.

WHAT WHERE THESE A PROP FOR?!?

One thing I hadn’t realized before coming was the that big things in Casey are actually… Jesus-y. Each one is emblazoned with a tenuously related bible verse. For example, the giant pencil says down one side “let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3) Look, I’m just going to say it: this is kinda lame. Like I don’t want a dose of Christianity with my big things, I’m sorry. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with belonging to any religion, and I guess if Worship inspires the creation of kitschy large objects I shouldn’t complain. It’s certainly inspired some of the most incredible art in western history, I don’t think there’s anything lame about botocelli painting religious subject matter so what’s my problem you may ask? I guess I can’t fully explain it. I have spent time thinking about it. At the end of the day building a big thing to hype up god and put a bible quote on is just not the eccentric weirdo vibe you get from imagining a small town weirdo making large objects because he’s a weirdo. Mark Cline, Josh Brolin is not

Giant pencil. Bible verse on reverse side.

The worlds former largest knitting needles, which were inside a closed yarn business when I visited were simply dethroned by another larger pair. Apparently in order to prove the functionality of a pair of huge knitting needles you have to cast on and actually knit a few rows for the Guiness World Record people. This feat was apparently repeated by a UK woman and her larger needles in 2018. No word on if Casey will retaliate with a still larger pair. On the one hand I’m personally on team petty and hope they do. On the other (also petty) hand, maybe this is their just desserts for dethroning old “Big John” from his rocking chair throne. Someone apparently never told the folks in Casey the big chair etiquette where you simply build another type of chair.

The former Worlds largest knitting needles

I’ve really struggled writing this blog, and whether or not even to address my… impression of Casey. Ultimately I decided that this blog isn’t really meant to be strictly educational. It’s not meant to be a tourist travel brochure for the places I talk about. It can be those things of course. But what I really want this to also be is stories. Stories of these strange places and things and my impressions and experiences of them. Otherwise you could just read Wikipedia articles, right? And the story of Casey, Illinois for me, isn’t really the whole story unless I tell the rest of it.

I happened to travel to Casey at a very specific and very unique moment in history. The pandemic lock downs which were supposed to last a few weeks had stretched across the summer and beginning to loom over the fall. Future plans were replaced by monotonous despair. Businesses failed, goals and dreams were indefinitely put on hold, people got sick and people died. Meanwhile a chasm opened up between the people of the country over covid. You might say “over politics” but you’d likely give away which side you fell on if you did. The presidential election which felt like a lit fuse, was only a few months away.

Eh, only a slightly large rocking horse

A portion of the country, fueled by distrust, objected to lock downs, masks, and other mitigation methods. Some believed it to be an overreaction, some believed the virus and reaction to it to be an elaborate hoax, some simply valued personal freedom to abstain from participating in the measures we were told would help mitigate the spread. The situation was entirely unprecedented, and the disease previously completely unknown, so everyone found themselves in uncharted waters and everyone seemed to have different ideas on the correct way to navigate them.

I don’t want to spiral out into a political discourse here if I can possibly avoid it, but it’s no secret that the division brought into stark contrast by Covid had been building for the last several years. I felt it more keenly in Casey than I had anywhere before or since.

Large yardstick

You may have guessed from the extensive foreshadowing I just did that the citizens of Casey and I found ourselves on two different sides of the great American chasm. Nobody in Casey wore masks. All my interactions with maskless people were polite enough, but tense in a way that it’s hard to put into words. Every house I passed sported huge make America great again signage. Many yards had signs reading simply “Pritzger sucks” apparently a backlash against the Illinois governors mask mandates and lock downs. The entire effect was a feeling of unease. Everyone I interacted with treated me what I can only call strangely, like an alien, which only heightened my feeling of suspicion that these people might not like me. Cars slowed down passing me. The owner of the hotel asked me awkward questions like if I was sure nobody else was coming out of my room, as though me being alone was simply a non possibility.

Because I have such a hard time describing any specific examples of why Casey felt so alienating and hostile to me, some people I have described it to have said I imagined it. Asked what I expected from a small town in the Midwest. This gaslighting almost convinced me not to write about this experience because I believed I might have imagined it. But I remember why it was so confusing to be treated so weirdly. Because why on earth would you build more than a dozen of the worlds largest objects and then act like someone was a weirdo for coming to see them??? Plenty of people put strange stuff on private property and do I bother them? No! There’s a lot of weird things in small towns in the Midwest, and I never slid my pepper spray in my pocket in any of those places. The day after I left Casey I went to the worlds largest ball of paint which may as well be in a town called cornfield in Indiana and the sweetest, most wonderful people greeted me there and showed me their strange pride and joy ball of paint. I didn’t imagine that being different than the place I had just left less than 24 hours before. It was different. Casey was an America I suddenly felt alien in.

Ended up feeling pretty ironic

Roadside attractions are actually maybe literally more American than apple pie. I write this and I go to these places because you can only do this here in America. I actively resist the narrative thats been sold to me my entire life that only world travel makes you cultured, and there is something inherently less valuable or less sophisticated about things you can see right here. I love this America with and it’s hugeness and it’s optimism and it’s quirky weirdness. It IS great. But this other America, the one I glimpsed in Casey, left a bad taste in my mouth. And more than that it left me with a profound feeling of fear that we were so far apart, these two Americas, that we couldn’t reach each other again.

I also felt a deep resentment against COVID-19 as I left Casey, knowing I would never be back to see the big things I missed or the new ones they build. The pandemic took extremely profound things from many people- their livelihoods, loved ones, health, and I was so lucky it didn’t take those things from me. But it took much smaller things from everyone. And from me, Covid, and the division it contributed to, took the magic out of The worlds biggest collection of big things.

Atlanta Local Big Things Roundup (Except the Falcons’ Falcon)

Unfortunately I don’t have the luxury of constantly traveling for kitch large objects, so often I have to make do with what’s locally available. (UNLESS OF COUSE SOMEONE OUT THERE WOULD LIKE TO SPONSOR ME OR GIVE ME A SHOW JUST AN IDEA NOT SAYING I WISH THAT WOULD HAPPEN OR ANYTHING) Luckily for me that’s actually quite a bit in and around Atlanta.

There one quite famous large object in Atlanta. It’s a ferocious metal sculpture depicting the World’s Largest Bird built to be a mascot for the Atlanta Falcons. In spite of my devotion to the World’s Largest Almost Anything, it’s not going on this list. Not as any sort of statement really, I just happen to hate it. Art is wonderful and all artists have a right to follow their own artistic vision of course, but I happen to think that bird is ugly, and I’m not going to take a picture of it, even if it IS our only Worlds Largest Claim to fame inside city limits.

not pictured: World’s Largest Bird, downtown Atlanta, Georgia

There are several large birds in the area that I do like though, and being that I’m in charge of the content around here, I pick what birds I want to include. They happen to be mostly chickens. Again, this isn’t really a statement about anything, I don’t particularly like chickens better than other birds, I just prefer my large objects more gaudy than ferocious.

The first of the chickens is the closest to where I live. I pass it so often that it has now faded into the landscape. This is the big chicken of Moreland Avenue in East Atlanta. It used to stand proudly in front of chicken restaurant which has now morphed into a Jamaican restaurant which kept the chicken and changed it’s paint job, which I know is supposed to denote the ethnicity of the food but instinctively looks to me like a chicken dressed up for Saint Patrick’s Day. It’s a hard place to keep a business going, surrounded by lower cost fast food options, so I’m not sure what will become of the chicken if and when the Jamaican restaurant shuts it’s doors. Maybe it will be an Irish Pub and the chicken won’t have to change clothes.

upon reflection I have decided that it’s the belt that makes the chicken have a pilgrim/ Batman vibe regardless of color scheme

But wait, there is another…. large chicken in town. That’s not a saying.

If you’ve got any hardware needs locally I highly recommend bypassing anything closer to you to go to the Ace Hardware Store in Decatur on Scott Boulevard. I’ve never been inside of it so I have no idea if they have superior selection or service. I do know that they have a big chicken. Coincidentally this chicken too has a strange color scheme and accessories.

what’s up with chickens wearing neck scarves around here?

The chicken isn’t all they have. In order to promote their presumably great selection of lawn furniture and plants to decorate it they also have a patio set of Adirondack chairs and a table and plants. Truth be told the world, and by the world I mostly mean beach towns but other places too, is practically brimming with oversized Adirondack chairs meant for a novelty photo op. I suspect this might be mainly because of physics. No matter how large you make a Adirondack chair it’s back slope makes it possible to still get on top of. That’s pure conjecture though, I actually have no idea. As a result of their popularity I often turn my nose up at them, because I am apparently on a higher tier of photo op standards.

That being said, this little patio set up is large and includes more than one object and gives the very clear impression that whoever is sitting in the chair has been shrunk slightly, like Honey I Shrunk the Kids Style, and so it asserts its superiority over the average oversized chair.

I’m told that for some people being able to dangle your feet off the edge of a chair is a novelty

There’s yet another large bird on this list, this one the most gaudy of all. You may or may not know that Adult Swim has it’s Williams Street headquarters in Atlanta (on Williams Street, even creatives go the easy route on naming things sometimes) . The band I tour manage and regularly torture into seeing large objects they don’t care about were asked to play on a late night Adult Swim show once and as a result we were allowed to park in a staff only parking lot not visible from the street where I was thrilled to discover a huge golden owl.

the better metallic bird in Atlanta

Also in the heart of downtown only blocks from Williams Street Studios is a Trader Vic’s on the street level of the downtown Hilton. Trader Vic’s is credited with being the home of the original Mai Thai and they have lots of quirky decor items and occasionally good cover bands.

Happy Easter

If you venture out from downtown Atlanta to midtown you’ll find the High Museum of Art. On their rotunda you can find a pile of large pears and peaches made by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen who you might remember are sort of the dudes in the world of large sculpture and responsible for the large safety pin in New Orleans and several other of the world’s largest objects. The duo will, I hope, (someone give me some money to visit all of their sculptures!!) eventually get their own post.

did you know peaches are actually native to China? Neither did I, but I just googled it.

Also in the midtown area is a less likely place than an art museum to find a larger than life sculpted object: a high school. A larger than life pencil, of the stubby variety that has been sharpened down several times already, stands on the grounds of Grady High School.

I think wooden pencils and manual sharpers will be one of those things that kids no longer recognize in 20 years or so.

These objects are extremely hard to relate to each other in any sort of cohesive way, so if this seems like a list in no particular order to you, that’s only because it is. Now though, this list is moving away from Atlanta proper towards the suburbs and surrounding towns, which is the closest thing to a pattern that’s going on here.

If you head west from the center of city, you’ll find a small cluster of large objects off of Fulton Industrial Blvd. Here is where Sony keeps a distribution center and warehouse guarded by a large Hulk made in what I can only think to describe as folk art style from scrap metal.

wait. Is this actually life sized for the Hulk?

Also on this cul-de-sac are the headquarters for pizza chain Mellow Mushroom, which means there are several of their small gnome/ fairy whatever they are mascots and mushrooms around the area and a very large seashell

I don’t know what this has to do with Pizza.

If you head East on I-20 instead you’ll reach Convington ,Georgia. A local donut shop there uses a larger than life pink sprinkles donut as their mobile food cart for catering and parties.

I’d describe this donut’s style as Art Deco meets the Simpson’s

If you head north of the city on 400 until it turns into 19 you’ll find my personal favorite large objects on this list. A glorious Pink Panther Couple in peeling paint fiberglass glory. These two are squarely up my alley. They’re lounging in the grass in front of a flooring business which used to be an arcade supplies business which makes slightly more sense, but still not a lot.

I bet they kept that F for Flooring from the arcade business too

duh dun duh dun da dun da dun da dun da dunnnnnnnnnnn

The pink panther himself is, in a way, one of the first modern memes in the form of a nearly society wide inside joke. He began as an animation in the credit sequences of the French Pink Panther films following the adventures and misadventures of a French (human) detective. He took his form from a fictional diamond that’s stolen in two of the films and mentioned in others called the pink panther. Eventually he had his own series of short films and animated series as a sort of detective himself.

according to Wikipedia the panthers also had two kids

If you head Northeast instead you’ll find a huge safety sawhorse in Tucker, Georgia. Bo Phillips Company, which manufactures safety sawhorses, built a giant one outside as a mascot. Though recently built, this old school advertising method warms my nostalgic heart.

what are the pros and cons of safety sawhorse vs regular cones? Anyone know?

If you continue to the northeast out 85 like you’re headed to Asheville you reach this round ups Grande Finale. A discount furniture store in the tiny town of Jefferson, Georgia

The piéce de résistance is the Guinness Record holding World’s Largest Mattress. Located inside of what was formerly Real Deals Furniture, which is now rebranded as Cotton Mill Interiors this mattress is the size of a skating rink and probably holds nearly as many children sometimes.

ta dah

I’m not entirely sure what qualifies something as a mattress after visiting this thing. I might have thought the answer would have something to do with construction technique, but air mattresses and foam mattresses are also mattresses. I never really thought about this question at all before visiting this place and setting foot on the mattress and realizing it was essentially a very large gym mat. More eager to catch Guinness Records in misstep than discredit the furniture store I did look up the definition of mattress. Dictionary.com defines it as

a fabric case filled with deformable or resilient material, used for sleeping on.

Now I am humbled as an oversized gym mat fits inside this definition with room to spare. You win this time Guinness.

Anyway the novelty is great all though I recommend coming during off peak hours to avoid screaming children.

not very comfortable honestly.

This concludes my roundup of local large objects. In addition to having no real organizational pattern to objects themselves, I also don’t really have any parting thoughts on them as whole. Perhaps if I had a CORPORATE SPONSOR to finance a brain healthy diet while traveling I’d be better able to organize my thoughts.

Do you know of more large objects or roadside attractions in the Atlanta area? Comment or contact me!!

A Small Collection of Some of the World’s Largest Random Objects

I’ve recently discovered that the Guinness Book of records doesn’t care about the same things I do. These days, they’re more focused on natural occurrences like biggest waterfall or crazy stuff animals do. They like human activities and feats of endurance and strength rather than the objects they build. There’s an entire separate book of records for gaming related records now. I’m not judging, but who buys that? At any rate, relatively few things claiming to be the World’s Largest are independently verified by Guinness except when people are actually trying to one up a previous example, so all you really have to do most of the time is just call yourself The World’s Largest Whatever and if no one challenges you, you are.

The Worlds Largest Bobbing Head, found at Wild Bill’s Nostalgia Center, Middletown, CT. Bill petitioned to have this declared the Worlds Largest Bobbing Head Doll by Guinness, but apparently they weren’t buying the doll part and don’t have a category for just Bobbing Head, which is pretty downright unamerican

All that is to say that this list is not scientific in any way. The closest I came to verifying these claims was to check them against Wikipedia’s woefully incomplete list of Worlds Largest Objects.

The World’s Largest Bug, who is a termite evidently named Nibbles Woodaway, sitting on top of Big Blue Bug Solutions (formerly New England Pest Control) in Providence, Rhode Island. Also seen in the classic masterpiece of cinema Dumb and Dumber

The reasons for building a Large Object vary I suppose. Most of the time they’re promotion in some way or another. A company headquarters, a roof of a business, a mascot. To be fair, if someone else had a bigger Mr Potatohead than Hasbro that would be pretty awkward.

World’s Largest Mr Potatohead, unchallenged and undefeated, outside of Hasbro headquarters, Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Sometimes they celebrate a hometown hero. Warren, Ohio has an alley devoted to Foo Fighters drummer Dave Grohl where they display the worlds largest pair of drumsticks

I feel like making these from telephone poles was kind of… phoning it it. (Get it!?) but work smarter not harder as they say

A lot of the time they celebrate a crop the area is famous for. I can’t be the only one who thinks South Carolina deserves to be the peach state more than Georgia does, but more on how our license plates misrepresent our true strengths at a later time. (Spoiler alert: it’s going to be about peanuts)

Full disclosure someone sent me this. I have approximately 20 blurry photos of the Gaffney Peach taken from a moving car on the drive between my home state of Virginia and my current state of Georgia. World’s Largest Peach, Gaffney, South Carolina

Very often Worlds Largest objects fall into the category of public art. Upon reflection for the purpose of writing this post, the primary difference between a “public art work” and a roadside oddity is where you put it and who pays for it. If it’s paid for with tax dollars it’s art.

The World’s Largest Fire Hydrant or ‘Busted Plug Plaza’ by artist Blue Sky in Columbia, SC. I’ve never heard someone refer to a fire hydrant as a plug in real life so if you have please record it and send it to me

If it’s displayed at a museum or on museum grounds it’s probably art.

This World’s Largest Safety Pin in City Park in New Orleans, LA is tied for the title with an identical pin at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. Both made by artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

If if it’s marked with the name of the artist or it’s easy to find the Artists name, it’s art.

My other job is making jewelry from human teeth so the World’s Largest Tooth is a special collision of worlds for me. Part of a rotating sculpture park where artist J. Seward Johnson stores his larger than life pieces waiting to lease them out to other cities for display. Trenton, NJ

Other times large objects are made for special occasions. Several of the largest cooking utensils were made to cook record breaking food, like the cherry pie pan in my first post. (Read it) A traveling exhibit about the history of toys, which I suspect was financed at least in part by Mattel, and stopped through the Virginia Historical Society last year boasted two of the World’s Largest objects, one which stood outside to attract visitors and the other made for the exhibit by an artist.

The World’s Largest Gumby, probably not much competition, Virginia Historical Society Richmond, VA

I actually expected this to be bigger. Where is the ambition people?

So there ya have it, a small handful of totally randomly selected objects which may or may not be the World’s Largest of their kind but nobody seems to be arguing and I couldn’t figure out how to thematically link.

If you want to see the aforementioned tooth jewelry you can find me at extollojewelry.com

If you want to know more about J. Seward Johnson here’s his website http://sewardjohnsonatelier.org/

And the website for Grounds for Sculpture groundsforsculpture.org

If you want to know more about anything else try google.com

Oh hey y’all

I’ve always loved the weird. My roommate says this is the fault of my birth chart which attracts people born under my combination of planets to things that other people may find strange or dark. I don’t know if that’s true, but I suppose it’s as good an explanation as any.

If you haven’t, I recommend pretty much everyone read the fantasy masterpiece American Gods by Neil Gaiman (along with basically everything else he’s ever written). In the story, the Gods of the old world meet up at Roadside Attractions because they are places of power. In it, as authors often do, Gaiman managed to get a hold of something I could never quite organize into thoughts about my attraction to weird roadside Americana, aside from the fact that I always felt I was only inches from being able to understand what would drive someone to abandon everything and instead move to nowhere and build a castle out of bottle caps or something.

“In other countries, over the years, people recognized the places of power. Sometimes it would be a natural formation, sometimes it would just be a place that was, somehow, special. They knew that something important was happening there, that there was some focusing point, some channel, some window to the Immanent. And so they would build temples or cathedrals, or erect stone circles, or…well, you get the idea.”

“There are churches all across the States, though,” said Shadow.

“In every town. Sometimes on every block. And about as significant, in this context, as dentists’ offices. No, in the USA, people still get the call, or some of them, and they feel themselves being called to from the transcendent void, and they respond to it by building a model out of beer bottles of somewhere they’ve never visited, or by erecting a gigantic bat house in some part of the country that bats have traditionally declined to visit. Roadside attractions: people feel themselves pulled to places where, in other parts of the world, they would recognize that part of themselves that is truly transcendent, and buy a hot dog, and walk around, feeling satisfied on a level they cannot truly describe, and profoundly dissatisfied on a level beneath that.

In reading the epilogue of American Gods I was excited and shocked to learn that the Roadside Attraction much of the book takes place in was a real place. The House on the Rock in Northern Wisconsin. A bucket list was born in my heart.

For several years, I have been working as a tour manager for a rock band called the Biters, which has given me an incredible opportunity to travel the country. I began to seek out off the beaten path attractions to visit while touring. Mostly Cemeteries (my first love) and more “traditional” roadside attractions and urban exploration. The so-called travel bug got it’s hooks into me. Deep.

On a tour of the Midwest I found myself in Traverse City, Michigan. I’ve always associated Michigan with manufacturing and that famous Kiss Concert at a high school, but it turns out it’s also quite famous for its cherries. Traverse City once made a record holding cherry pie and kept the pan. We climbed in it for a photo. I suddenly realized some of world’s largest random objects had become a pattern and Beena and the big things was born.

The World’s largest cherry pie pan which once held the world’s largest cherry pie. Traverse City, Michigan

Roadside Attractions are a dying breed, they are inherently nostalgic. If I ever have children they may never get to see an old school mini golf course, a roadside dinosaur, or a wax museum. Their transience makes seeing them feel more important, and maybe almost noble.

So here are my adventures across America. It’s not the temples or castles or monoliths of older parts of the world. It’s the sad and the strange and the kitschy and the larger than life, which is pretty darn American if you ask me.