Friday, September 18, 2009

Fourth Avenue Update

Last Saturday Steve and I had a Guatemalan dinner at Maya Queztal on Fourth Avenue. Then we walked south to check out Papa Moai at The Hut. Elsewhere in this blog (October 28, 2007), I have a photo of Papa Moai, a giant Easter Island head, when he was at Magic Carpet Golf. Sadly, Magic Carpet is another pathetic case of pave paradise and put up a parking lot.

Papa Moai (as Tucson's famous cartoonist Max Cannon calls him in his strip) has found a glorious new home at The Hut, where we have enjoyed many a concert by incredible local bands. The Hut really spiffed up their front patio to make a suitable new home for this magnificent work of folk art. Gone is the nasty asphalt parking lot with the painted parking spaces. After walking through a door in Papa Moai's chest and admiring the tee shirts for sale there, you are transported to a funky beach town. Key West and Tamarindo are some of the suggestions on the M*A*S*H-style directional post. The ground is covered with sand. Palm trees wave in the breeze.

Our bud Bob Lanning of Lanning Architecture reports that he designed the new base for Papa Moai. He says,"The 43,000 pound head was moved in one piece. We all (owners, engineers, builders, architects) analyzed the head as it stood over at Magic Carpet Golf and decided, for a number of reasons, that the best approach would be to move the head, without the shoulders, over to The Hut and then install it on a new structurally sound base (the base is essentially the part from the neck down). So the construction crews severed the head at the neck (which took 3 days; it was a process), used two cranes to lay it down in one piece on a cradle on a flat bed trailer, and hauled it across town to The Hut (that was a site, to see the Head rolling down Speedway!). Then much later another crane hoisted it up and placed it on its new base. Then all of the finish work, like the new plaster, paint, etc. was completed. I think they still have a few ideas that haven't been completed yet, like they want to install a smoke machine so smoke, at times, comes out of his nose!"

Then we continued south to check out the long-awaited Fourth Avenue underpass. I don't care what its detractors say, I like it. The walls are panelled with tile that look like rusted metal. Gone are the old Doric columns of the original underpass, replaced with larger, round columns with three incised rings. It's wider, brighter, and cooler than before. We regret we didn't know about the opportunity to have our faces immortalized on one of the tiles at the entrance. Besides interesting-looking Tucsonans, many pets and a chicken made the cut. We look forward to the first All Soul's Procession in the new tunnel this November.

The experience was enhanced by some wonderful buskers playing on the sidewalk in the middle of the underpass. A violin and a steel guitar filled the cavernous space with exciting gypsy music. The sign in the musicians' guitar case said they were going to Seattle early the next morning. I hope some other musicians fill the space with delight this weekend.

Emerging from the underpass, we checked out some of the galleries on Congress. Who could ask for more than to enjoy the auditory, visual and gustatory pleasures of downtown Tucson on a clear summer night?

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