Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Batting a 1,000

While riding my bike this weekend, two of our city's most embarrassing civic projects presented themselves.  One being a pile of shiny steel balls and the other is a large metal baseball bat.

The steel balls are supposed to represent the pile of rocks and debris found at the base of a mountain -  something called a Talus Field.  The nearest mountains to our city are four hours away and this "art" might just as well have been installed at our city's baseball stadium called Telus Field.
A real talus field
The pile of balls sits next to a freeway bridge and as you zip by in your car, you can catch only the briefest of views.  Riding a bike past the installation offers a better option although there is nowhere to rest and or lock up your bike while you admire the sprayed - on happy faces adorning some of the shiny globes. 
The artist's conception
Employed at a television station, I once asked one of our reporters what story she was working on that day and she replied that she was doing a story on the world's largest bat.  I pictured a monstrous winged animal in someone's attic and that once the news got out, our city would be flooded with the tabloid press wanting to make the most of this bizarre story.

What I discovered weeks later while in the north end of the city was that the reporter was doing a story on a baseball bat.  Not an animal in the least.  Over my left shoulder as I rode through a busy intersection, I was astounded to discover that our city fathers had paid good money to have installed the world's largest baseball bat.  Surrounded by a busy intersection, the bat sits alone without any context - is it near the baseball stadium?

The bat does serve a purpose - albeit one that was never envisioned by city council.  Many is a time you'll pass the baseball bat and see someone sitting with their bum on the knob, hugging the shaft while a friend swivels the bat around and around the base of the structure.  An ear-splitting screech as the non lubricated parts grind against each other combines with hoots and hollers of the usually inebriated revellers who have disregarded the civic notice posted nearby: "THIS IS NOT AN AMUSEMENT RIDE.  IT IS A PIECE OF ART AND SHOULD BE RESPECTED AS SUCH". 
Home for both pieces of "art"?


  1. It would seem obvious to put the giant pile o' balls next to the giant bat. The balls are kind of neat, but I suspect the artist of pulling a fast one by claiming they represent a natural phenomenon when they look clearly industrial: ball bearings. I think that's the real statement being made about Edmonton. Actually, as ball bearings they'd be be pretty cool outside Bikeworks (giant bearings that don't disappear when you drop them on the shop floor) but think of the size of the bike!

    The bat was part of the "branding" of 118th ave as the avenue of champions, as were all those terrible sports themed stencils attached to the light poles. This is my neighbourhood and I've never been a fan of that idea.

  2. It certainly is a great area to live in and perhaps the "Bat" could be moved to an easier-to-get-to spot!