Day 439: Bock Cock

Laetitia’s already quirky mood became quirkier when she looked at the packet of coffee next to the grinder at the Emerald Victorian. It read, “The Bad Ass Company of Hawaii—100 percent Kona.” From the Internet, she learned that the “bad ass” term came from the ornery and noisy donkeys that the company used to haul coffee beans down the mountain on the big island. She walked into the library with a steaming cup of the rich dark brew in hand to plan a Minnesota tour for the day.

It is likely that Minnesota is seen by some as a quirky state, especially among Weird Al Yankovic fans that are familiar with his song, The Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota. The ball in question is located in Darwin, Minnesota and was the obsession of Francis A. Johnson, who spent about four hours a day for two years building it in the 1950s. The ball, 12 feet in diameter and weighing almost five tons, is Darwin’s major tourist attraction. Another kitschy Minnesota tourist stop is the giant turkey in Frazee. Turkey farming has been an important industry in Frazee for many years, so in 1984 a group of turkey growers commissioned an artist to put up a statue of a giant turkey (22 feet tall). The original statue was constructed of cement, fiberglass, cardboard, and insulation. In 1998, an errant cutting torch set it on fire and it went up in smoke. It was replaced shortly thereafter with a bird constructed of steel and fiberglass.

Laetitia found all this information when trying to decide where to go on today’s tour. Rather than visit the giant turkey, she chose to take her group hiking and wildlife viewing in Mille Lacs Kathio State Park. She would have nothing to do with tourist kitsch, or so she thought. Late that afternoon the group arrived at Bock, where they were spending the night. Bock is a community of 106 people whose claim to fame is that it is “seven meters closer to God than Milaca” (presumably the seven meters refers to altitude). Milaca is a community a short distance away from Bock that is large enough to have an airport. There is obviously a bit of rivalry between the two communities.

 After dropping her group at the motel with arrangements to meet later for dinner, Laetitia went to a bar for a drink and sat next to a poultry farmer who liked to talk about himself and his big plans. His dream was to erect a large statue of a rooster on his farm. He spoke enthusiastically about how it would attract tourism to Bock in the same way the turkey statue brought tourists to Frazee. His story provided the limerick of the day.

A young farmer who lives close to Bock
Brags he’ll soon have the state’s largest cock
Driving chicken hawks crazy
Like the turkey in Frazee
As it stands in the field on a block.

Day 148: Kitsch Glitch

Built in 1772, the Mission at San Luis Obispo was one of seven missions founded by Father Junipero Cerra. The missions are a day’s ride apart along the southern California coast. With a mild year-around climate and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, the town of San Luis Obispo is a mecca for tourists and those who wish to reside there. The local residents have worked hard to discourage the kind of overdevelopment that has plagued other California communities and maintain the town’s attractiveness as a place to live. It has a thriving arts community and is home to a number of artists and writers.

For some reason Laetitia couldn’t fathom, more and more aspiring writers began showing up on her tours and asking her to comment on their work. She never knew what the people in the central office at Mind’s Eye Limerick Tours were up to. Perhaps they were touting these as some sort of literary tours. In any case, a man named Wayne showed up on this day’s tour with his manuscript in hand and asked her to read it. Since she was an attractive young woman, she couldn’t be sure Wayne wasn’t just hitting on her, but she started reading the manuscript anyway. It read:

“The clenched fist pounded with staccato blows of savage intensity, pummeling relentlessly until the thick scarlet liquid spattered, oozed, and finally gushed forth in a torrent, drowning the macerated flesh beneath. Wilmer sighed, replaced the cap on the now-empty catsup bottle, called his waitress, and asked her to take away the catsup-inundated hamburger and bring him another.”

Laetitia handed it back to him, saying, “Nice bait and switch, but hamburger lovers will hate you for calling their favorite food macerated flesh.”

That evening Laetitia and her group stayed at the Madonna Inn, known worldwide for its rather garish décor. At dinner Laetitia overheard a conversation that gave her the limerick of the day.

When Jake and LaVonne went to sin
With a tryst at the Madonna Inn
He thought it was dandy
For kitsch made him randy
But she viewed the place with chagrin.