Sunday, December 30, 2012

Layered Cultural Reference, Temporary Mural

When I'm working crosswords and there are lots of names of sports figures and rap stars it makes me feel lost in cultural references that I never got and don't want to beyond which of the 26 letters they'll serve in the boxes.

This mural is one of a changing line up on the side of Frank's Hot Dogs Cold Beer. They don't keep the WEB site up to date but they do keep letting artists redo the mural space.  Walking by one day this month I saw this one.

Does this make any sense to you? Blow it up to read dialog bubbles.

OK, it's a movie still from the 1956 movie "Giant." James Dean's last movie, I think. He plays Jett Rink, a poor ranch hand who makes it big when oil wells sprout on the range. There is a classic movie still with him in one of the rich rancher's cars with the huge house in the background. In this still, taken in a similar place apparently, there is some minimalist sculpture in place of the house and he is talking to another rancher (Chill Wills' character Uncle Bawley?). The dialog bubbles says:  Jett: "Donald Judd." Other man: "Never heard of 'em."

You have to know the following: Donald Judd is a minimalist artist famous for simple light boxes and stuff. He has an outpost in the super trendy town of Marfa, a once forgotten piece of Texas adopted by posing hipsters (kidding). The film "Giant" was filmed in Marfa. If you know all that and the fame of the doctored still then this is hilarious! But it's temporary because Frank keeps changing the mural if not the WEB site.


  1. One could wonder how James Dean would have developed as a movie star or even personally had he survived that car wreck.

  2. Indeed. The other stars: Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson went on to do many things. Rock died in 1985 of complications of AIDS. Liz died in 2011. Dennis Hopper (who played the Benedict son to Liz and Rock's parents) died in 2010. Mercedes McCambridge (her character died in the movie) died in 2004. Sal Mineo (whose character also died in the movie, in combat in WWII) was murdered in 1976. Sorry...just watched that wrap-up on CBS Sunday Morning of prominent people who died in 2012.