James Howard Kunstler (yeah! I got his name right!) has a feature on his website called “Eyesores.” He’s a little too harsh on the vintage kitsch, but this particular entry took me aback. Here’s the official description of the Paragon Prairie Tower:
“Located in the Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area, the Paragon Prairie Tower was designed to represent the Midwestern work ethic of saving and harnessing our abundant natural resources. It will combine state-of-the- art technology with old world materials and craftsmanship. A colorful shimmering scene will be created on top of panels of pre-cast concrete using hundreds of thousands of individual fragments of glass. The glass mosaic will depict the Iowa prairie with a field of wildflowers, including Coneflowers, Black-Eyed Susans, Daisies and Clover amidst bluestem grass. When complete, the scene on Paragon Prairie Tower will be approximately 5,000 square feet, which to date will be the largest known mosaic glass tile mural in the U.S.”
Say, wait a minute… saving and harnessing our abundant natural resources is our unique Central New York ethic! What about our Jolly Green Hotel? But I guess we’re not even the first ones to enshrine that ethic by constructing a huge phallic totem made of colored glass. So how many other depressed regions around the country are telling themselves the exact same things? It’s like we’ve all been visited in turn by the same Elmer Gantry.
And… Silos and Smokestacks National Heritage Area? (“No other region shares our rich agricultural legacy…”) Hey, whatever you need to tell yourselves, folks. At least we have the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor… although on Onondaga Road, it’s now called the Erie Analway National Heritage Corridor, thanks to Beavis and Butthead and some brown spray paint. (Yeah, the same kids we’re desperate to keep here in CNY.)