June 6, 2002
9:09 PM   Subscribe

They are the silent sentinels of America's roads. If you travel at all (or if you read Zippy), you have seen them. They may wear giant hats, or look like Alfred E. Neuman, but they are everywhere. But what you may not know is that one guy made them all.
posted by yhbc (27 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
i've lived in tucson my entire life, and for as long as i can remember one of these 'muffler men' (a paul bunyon version) has been standing watch near the center of town.

every grade school party at the roller rink nearby saw me gaping at paul from the minivan window, and now that i'm older i've always wondered where the heck the thing came from and who takes care of it.

another of the burning mysteries in my life cleared up. thanks, yhbc!
posted by carsonb at 9:28 PM on June 6, 2002

hey, there's one of these right near my house! and it even gets the lingo right -- "located in what area residents call 'the war zone,'" quite right.

thanks yhbc, this was really interesting
posted by sugarfish at 9:29 PM on June 6, 2002

Haven't seen one yet but I see there's some near here. I'll check them out when I can. What a cool post, yhbc.
posted by y2karl at 9:32 PM on June 6, 2002

It was always cool when they'd decorate the one in Tucson up as Santa Claus for Christmas.
posted by rushmc at 9:33 PM on June 6, 2002

Good god, that clown is scary. I love posts like this.
posted by iconomy at 9:42 PM on June 6, 2002

This must be what the muffler men eat.
posted by iconomy at 9:48 PM on June 6, 2002

posted by howa2396 at 10:07 PM on June 6, 2002

Thanks for the interesting article. I wonder if this is the same person who made the gigantic cow a few miles from my house. During the NBA finals, the owners always paint the thing with Pacers' colors. It doesn't matter if the Pacers are actually *in* the finals, that poor cow is always blue and yellow for a month or two out of the year.
posted by pheideaux at 10:08 PM on June 6, 2002

Empire, Minnesota: It was only viewed from a distance since it appears to be on private land. He appears to be beige (nude?) with brown hair and is laying on his back on what looks like a green trailer.

*wiping tears of laughter*
This alone was what made the link for me.

Any word on where the mother of all muffler men resides? Like where is the tallest/largest one? I always thought my Paul Bunyan in Bemidji was freaking huge but then I was a kid.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:19 PM on June 6, 2002

sugarfish.....did you know that we have not one, but two in our fair city?? the second one is merely a bust and a head with a cowboy hat....but its huge. somewhere on north I-25 i believe.
posted by protocool at 10:38 PM on June 6, 2002

Love the fact that they have Oral Robert's Prayer Tower up there. Oklahoma represent! The crowning glory to what I'm convinced is the absolute ugliest campus in the world.
posted by Ufez Jones at 10:54 PM on June 6, 2002

I'm pretty sure I've seen at least one of these in Canada, on the highway between Vancouver and Prince George.

Great find, yhbc. Resonant.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:37 PM on June 6, 2002

Wow. Thank you all for all the nice comments. * blush * Too bad I forgot to change the Zippy link to an actual muffler man strip.
posted by yhbc at 4:57 AM on June 7, 2002

> Too bad I forgot to ...

That one also doesn't work. Some sort of King Features anti-link tomfoolery, no doubt.
posted by pracowity at 5:41 AM on June 7, 2002

By the way, I want one of these made for everyone when they die. Put the body (or ashes) in it and erect it in the desert. Or if not for everyone, maybe just for me. Look on my undercarriage, ye Mighty Muffler men, and despair.
posted by pracowity at 6:14 AM on June 7, 2002

Ah... it's a chance for me to self-post on a comment page!

Moving to the Midwest I was struck by all of the truely weird things found here, and so I started a set of pages called “Strange Indiana.” Here is one of those pages, with a big muffler guy found near Speedway (yes... where they have that big race every year...).
posted by jpburns at 6:46 AM on June 7, 2002

Some sort of King Features anti-link tomfoolery, no doubt.

Indeed. Here is an illicit copy.

Aside: Just think a crappy comic, and King Features syndicates it. Family Circus? Check. The Lockhorns? Check. Marvin? Check. Mallard Fillmore? Check. Sally Forth (a.k.a. The Mother Of All Crappy Comics)? Checkaroony.
posted by delapohl at 7:10 AM on June 7, 2002

My favorite is the spaceman featured on The Secret Plot page. He's been standing in front of The Launching Pad (another great slice of Americana) on Route 66 in my mom's hometown of Wilmington, IL, since god knows when. My siblings and I just called him "The Big Man."
posted by delapohl at 7:21 AM on June 7, 2002

Look on my undercarriage, ye Mighty Muffler men, and despair.

Two trunkless legs of fibreglass....
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:25 AM on June 7, 2002

Fascinating post, I was completely unaware of any of these. Makes me want to jump in the car and drive off to explore this country, someday, someday...
posted by bittennails at 7:29 AM on June 7, 2002

Don't forget Chicken Boy.
posted by MrBaliHai at 8:00 AM on June 7, 2002

Man this was a great post. Biggest disappointment #1: I can't afford to bid against the likes of Diane Von Furstenburg (!) for one of these babies. BD #2: They broke the mold.
posted by luser at 8:12 AM on June 7, 2002

What I find particularly disturbing are the small "Fuelman" signs that hang at some gas stations (though this one looks quite large), featuring a happy robot made from a fuel tank.

No-one ever says anything about Fuelman, but he's always there, the silent watcher, waiting for a moment of weakness to spray us with hi-test.

On further investingation, I think Fuelman might have something to do with Unocal 76's pumps, but maybe that's just what Fuelman WANTS us to think!
posted by Kafkaesque at 8:15 AM on June 7, 2002

....now Fes will have to move KILLERBOT H.Q. geesh, the control sans nerve center was placed in the Jolly Green Giant in Minnesota, then moved to Babes blue buttocks (location still unknown) and now the secret control botbox will have to be shiftted once again...Michelin man? perhaps a Big Boy in Boise?
posted by clavdivs at 8:36 AM on June 7, 2002

Stravos: I'm pretty sure not. There is, however, the "Mr. P.G." as you enter Prince George.

I've seen the Uniroyal gal, out in Alberta. Plained freaked me out, it did. After all that flat prairie, then, wham!, this absolutely inexplicable giantess leers up out of the ground. Just had to take her picture, I did.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:17 AM on June 7, 2002

now this was meant for today. amazing link, thanks. I remember seeing statues like these all the time when I was a kid, heck I remember the big M used to have all the character statues, now it's just pimping the ol'klown...
posted by jkaczor at 1:07 PM on June 7, 2002

I've seen the Rodeo Clown in Wendover, UT and can verify that it's the most frightening thing in the city, and that's saying a lot.

It's in front of a convenience store / gas station. I think the clown "make-up" is a relatively recent addition but I could be wrong.
posted by mmoncur at 12:37 AM on June 8, 2002

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