Thank you so much for your kind birthday wishes this weekend, friends. I have to say that it was one of the best birthdays I've had in years, and given that there was absolutely no preparation for the day, I'm feeling pretty pleased about the whole thing.
On Saturday morning, after bringing me a cup of tea to me before I even get out of bed (score!), Marcus asked, "So, what do you want to do for your birthday?"
I thought about it. "I have no idea," I said, "but I think I want to photograph something."
"Ookay..." he responded slowly. "Have something in mind?"
"No," I whined. "I feel like I've photographed everything in this city. There's nothing left."
"Well, think about it," he said, smiling. "If you think of something, we'll do it." And then he left me alone to go make Alex breakfast.
I sat there in silence, sipping my tea. All of a sudden, I remembered about 17 years ago, when I first got my camera, my friend Josef took me around Houston, and we accidentally stumbled upon the weirdest sight I'd ever seen in the city. I called Marcus back into the room.
"Marcus! I know what I want to do!"
"I want to see the giant President heads."
He looked at me -- not unreasonably -- like I was addled in my advanced age.
"I want to see the giant President heads. Somewhere in this city, there are 4 or 5 giant President heads. Heads of United States presidents." I grabbed my laptop. "And I'm going to find them."
A quick Google search, and we were on our way. I was a little worried that we wouldn't be able to find them easily, but they weren't that hard to spot ...
... also? There are a few more than 4 or 5 now.
Unfortunately, most of them were in a large, asphalt lot behind a padlocked chain link fence, so it was hard to get any unobstructed close-ups. But I suppose it didn't really matter, since I'm not sure I could've identified most of them anyway.
Not all of them were behind the chain link fence -- some incomplete ones were right there in the parking lot, like Lincoln, for example (and God bless him for his identifiable beard). The guy next to him (the one that isn't Marcus, I mean) is, I think, Andrew Jackson. I originally would've guessed Thomas Jefferson (because I imagined him to be a looker), but apparently President Jackson had the jaunty hair.
Also, just to mix things up a bit, the Beatles were there. And they were huge.
And of course, the current president, Barack Obama.
I didn't count them, but I think all 44 presidents are there and accounted for. And as weird as these images look, they do not even begin to do justice to how completely surreal it is to come across giant president heads in an industrial, rather dodgy part of Houston, on a supremely hot summer day. It was so incredibly awesome, and it totally made my birthday to photograph them. I'm so glad Marcus humoured me.
And yet, believe it or not, this wasn't even the weirdest installation we saw on Saturday. But I'll save that bit for tomorrow.
(Incidentally, if you're in Houston and you'd like to see the giant president heads for yourself, they're located at Adickes SculpturWorx Studio, at 2500 Summer Street. They're really worth the trip.)
Images: Photographed with my Nikon D300, and Tamron 17-50mm lens. aperture 2.8, shutter speed 1/8000, ISO 500