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Cast down from Mt. Olympus, to live in Birmingham
September 2, 2006 8:45 AM   Subscribe

He is the world's tallest cast iron statue. He has a long and sometimes troubled history. His enormous bare buttocks have offended local prudes and religious leaders for decades. He was disassembled in 1999 for refurbishing, but now once again, from atop his lofty mountain perch, this pagan colossus reigns over Birmingham, Alabama, the virtual buckle of the Bible Belt. Behold, Vulcan!
posted by flapjax at midnite (26 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
And an article on Giuseppe Moretti, creator of Vulcan.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:47 AM on September 2, 2006


Behold, Lenin!
posted by cillit bang at 9:00 AM on September 2, 2006


You've been mooned.
posted by caddis at 9:00 AM on September 2, 2006


Wow! i didnt know about the Motherland statue.
posted by vacapinta at 9:02 AM on September 2, 2006


Also known as the "Full Moon Over Homewood". The torch he bears glows a different color (red, yellow, or green), supposedly indicating whether traffic-related injuries (yellow) or fatalities (red) have occurred that day.
posted by owhydididoit at 9:11 AM on September 2, 2006


I like colossi!
posted by Tullius at 9:35 AM on September 2, 2006


Cool! And this gives me something to do if I'm ever in Birmingham. I'm a sucker for paying a few bucks to go up a tower.
posted by carter at 9:45 AM on September 2, 2006


As far as Pagan statues in Birmingham go, the Five Points Fountain has Vulcan beat.
posted by kimdog at 9:46 AM on September 2, 2006


I use to live in homewood and could walk to the vulcan. He's actually been back up for a couple of years now.

The torch he bears glows a different color (red, yellow, or green), supposedly indicating whether traffic-related injuries (yellow) or fatalities (red) have occurred that day.

He doesn't bear a torch any longer. He's been refurbished back to his original state. You can go inside to the museum where they have the light behind glass and push a button to activate it.

Looks like they've added free wifi, which is a nice touch.
posted by justgary at 9:51 AM on September 2, 2006


If I remember my mythology correctly, Vulcan was also the god of cuckolds and cripples. Not that that has anything to do with anything.

They stopped with the red-light/yellow-light thing, I think, when the Jaycees ceded control of Vulcan Park to whoever's brother-in-law's cousin's nephew is in charge of it now.

During times of slow news, the local talking heads can always count on fifteen seconds of controversy by sticking a camera in some beefy self-righteous pinhead's face and asking, "what do you think about a statue of a pagan god looking over our-oh-so-Christian city?"

Fun invariably ensues, as everyone tries to out-Christian each other.

Sometimes I hate living here.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:51 AM on September 2, 2006


If it wasn't for all the christians Birmingham would be a very nice place to live. But now I have two places to visit the next time I'm up there. Thanks flapjax and kimdog!
posted by djeo at 9:53 AM on September 2, 2006


hmmm. i'm guessing that to beat this guy, you'll need to gallop around on agro and have him try to hit you with his hammer. when he misses, he'll go to pick up the hammer, and then you can climb up his arm and stab the weak point on his back.
posted by lord_wolf at 10:08 AM on September 2, 2006


Oh mighty Hephastes how you and your now aluminium buttocks have delighted me and my brother for oh so many years. Our friends in Texas laughed at us and and said things like "ohhh Scary Vulcan ohh ohh ohh" etc..until we brought a minuture one back enclosed in plastic. Our Yearly trip to northern Al. was always exciting as we rolled trough Brirmingham trying to discern whether the red or green light would appear. Although it seemed exciting what with the traffic death angle and all, still quite a letdown when we finaly saw it through the wires and billboards of the 1-20 165 exchange.
posted by svenvog at 10:14 AM on September 2, 2006


Or you could get him to bend over and then jump on his beard and climb around to his back shoulder blade
posted by svenvog at 10:15 AM on September 2, 2006


Highly illogical.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:38 AM on September 2, 2006


Extremely Logical.
posted by HyperBlue at 11:02 AM on September 2, 2006


As we drove through B-ham on one of annual family vacations to Florida as a child, my big sister convinced me that the statue was actually a real giant who had gotten loose, and the FBI and Army was sending planes to attack him. In the meantime, he was looking for children to eat.
For years I had nightmares about that damned thing. And I still get the creeps when I see him in the distance.
posted by stacyhall1 at 2:22 PM on September 2, 2006


I went up the tower. Nice view. OF HIS BUTT. The thing he is holding now (instead of a torch) looks a little like a pie serving wedge.
posted by damehex at 3:05 PM on September 2, 2006


Heh keswick, not as much as you'd think. I grew up in a fundamentalist household and don't bear near as much antipathy towards evangelicals as the average mefier.

I evacuated to Birmingham last year and I have never run into so many self-righteous assholes in small area in my entire life. Now maybe it was my misfortune, but I don't think so. The buckle of the Bible Belt needs reforging.
posted by djeo at 3:52 PM on September 2, 2006


I can't t decide whether the primitive folk-art proportions are endearing or grating.
posted by dhartung at 4:16 PM on September 2, 2006


The fountain sculpture that kimdog linked to is by B'ham artist Frank Fleming. His stuff is great.

I can't t decide whether the primitive folk-art proportions are endearing or grating.

Yeah, I know what you mean: I think it's both. But I'm guessing that the oversized head and overproportionate upper body were conciously designed that way by Moretti so that the proportions would look about right from below, which of course is the direction from which it would be most often seen.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:51 PM on September 2, 2006


I'll be giving Vulcan a wave at the end of the month while I'm attending the Sidewalk Moving Picture Festival in B'ham and visiting my family.

I love Vulcan. It's easily my favorite part of B'ham. I'd love B'ham more if it weren't for djeo's aforementioned self-righteous infestation by the religiously psychotic.
posted by smallerdemon at 5:28 PM on September 2, 2006


Vulcan Butt

I was just there in January. It is weird how you go up to the base of the statue (it's not far but the lady at the doorway was amazed that I'd climb the stairs] and really you can ONLY see his ass, you can't walk around to the front. There's a nifty little museum there that has some cool history-of-Birmingham stuff in it as well.
posted by jessamyn at 7:31 PM on September 2, 2006


Hey, jessamyn, I was just there in January too, visiting my family. We went to Vulcan, and at least on the day we went you could walk all around the base of the statue. I mean, the walkway wasn't closed off or anything. Thing is, you can't really see the front of Vulcan from the front part of the walkway anyway, because of the placement of the statue: maybe that's what you meant? Or, hmmm, maybe they had it closed off for repairs... Anyway, that's a nice shot of the godly buttocks: I like it better than the one I linked to in my post. Thanks!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:35 AM on September 3, 2006


This is a good post, and I must commend you for adding "virtual" to the front of the phrase "buckle of the Bible Belt", since that buckle is damn near everywhere.
posted by gramschmidt at 1:24 PM on September 3, 2006


Did you all notice that Bush's foreign policy advisory group, headed by Condoleeza 'Tanker' Rice, a native, named themselves 'Vulcans' after this statue?

Unexpectedly interesting post. Thanks!
posted by jamjam at 2:38 PM on September 4, 2006


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