A very Lenin vacation


Emil Vlenkov, Vladimir Lenin (decked out for Hannukah and Christmas, with my sister Becca)

I’m sitting in my dad’s co-worker’s car right now, and we’re lurching through Seattle on our way to the tow truck lot. Yes, dear readers. I have once again done something very foolish in Seattle involving my dad’s car.

Last time, I was conned out of my parking money and then ticketed for not paying. This time, I didn’t see a little sign that said, “No parking between 4 and 6.” 4 and 6?? Really!?

Of course, neither of these things would have happened if I had read the art omens right. My sister and I have been receiving messages all day.


Steve Badanes, Will Martin, Donna Walter, and Ross Whitehead; Fremont Troll 

First, we searched out the famous Fremont Troll, which has a hubcap for an eye and a VW Beetle in its clutches. Look at this creeper eye and tell me it’s not some sort of crystal ball. “Watch your bumper,” it says. Why couldn’t I see my future in it?


The troll hides in the crook of a bridge that is currently under construction, which put it in an even more interesting context. It was as though the workers were building a giant cage around the fantastic beast.


My sister Becca being kidnapped by the Fremont Troll

After a stop at nearby Theo Chocolate Factory (Tip: DON’T take the tour, you can get all of the free samples in the gift shop anyway), we discovered the largest Lenin statue in the United States, which is also in Fremont.


Yes, you read that right. Not only is this the largest Lenin statue in the country, but there are apparently other ones too. I wonder where the second and third-largest Lenins reside. Possibly around the corner?

I should have realized that I had some dark hours ahead of me as Lenin pointed his massive finger at me, but I was too busy reading about how the copper hulk got there in the first place:

“Lewis Carpenter, an American veteran teaching in Poprad (Slovakia), found the sculpture lying face down after it was toppled in the 1989 Revolution. Carpenter recognized Venkov’s skill and craftsmanship and the boldness of his portrayal, and was determined that the statue be preserved. Carpenter mortgaged his house to acquire the scultpure…”

The inscription explains that this is possibly the “only representation of Lenin surrounded by guns and flames instead of holding a book or waving his hat.” In other words, artist Emil Vankov was injecting his own ideas into the commissioned work. Awesome.


My dad and I were starting a run when I realized that the car, parked near his office building, was missing. The moments after your car has been towed are full of frustration and denial. You hope yourself into believing that you parked in a different space, that you’re just incredibly absent-minded.

Then it turns out that you’re incredibly absent-minded, but not in the way you were hoping to be. We went back into the office building and my dad called the towing company. There was this abstract painting in the hall that modtastically represented my emotional state. You can see it behind my sister’s disapproving face. I was especially drawn to the pointless blue maze and painful red splotches.


And so we ended up at this lot, where my dad’s little Camry sits sadly in row number 64.

I’m realizing that maybe I need to pull my head a little ways out of the clouds sometimes…………….. but that spray-painted “64” sign is kind of sweet. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the towing guy was a street artist by night?

P.S. Check out my new STREETS OF EUG Tumblr, which will shortly be chock-full of street art pics from my Seattle field trip!


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