Jennifer McKay, organizer of this year's Bank United Art Car Parade Powered by Pennzoil, was right on the money when she cautioned the Press last week that macho art cars are often more about potential than reality ["Art Car Macho," April 16]. Only one of the four art cars Mike Scranton planned to run in this year's parade actually made it to the lineup on Allen Parkway Saturday morning. The Anthromac was back at the warehouse, the Border Patrol car stalled out on Dowling and the Caveman Car car died on Dallas. By the end of the parade, even Scranton's Ford truck, which he lent to the San Francisco Seemen to tow their sculptural machines through the parade, refused to start. "Everything I own is dead by the side of the road," he lamented after Saturday's festivities.
Everything, that is, except the Third World War Machine, otherwise known as the Saddam Sedan. With a harem of Arabian-costumed women and a live (and gagged) female hood ornament mounted on the front bumper, the Sedan faltered, raced, broke ranks, came close to ramming a youth float in front of it and eventually made it to the end of the parade route. Scranton, dressed in yellow rain slickers and a hard hat, rode on top, mouthing "I love you" to women in the crowd. At the award ceremony site, people clamored to have their picture taken with the Sedan. Later that night, art car revelers would gather at Scranton's warehouse for a party that included a live band on a trailer in the street, indoor pyrotechnics and an industrial drum circle that banged pieces of metal on Scranton's welding table.
By the end of the day, the macho art car builders could boast wounds from the battlefield: Scranton sported six stitches on his head from a run-in with a concrete beam, crew member Stefan Stout was on one crutch from a collision with the Saddam Sedan and Dennis Clay, maker of a macho car called Mirror Image, rolled up his sleeves to show off the blood and burns from a last-minute attempt to fix his clutch.
As for the glory: The Sedan tied with Paul Kittelson and Noah Edmundson's Bad Taste BBQ for first place in the performance category. Scranton, who due to his appearance on the cover of the Press last week had already been dubbed with the feminized nickname "media whore," walked up on stage well in advance of receiving his trophy, took an unauthorized seat next to the judges and donned the white wig belonging to judge and art car artist David Best.
The audience chanted "media whore" over and over again, but Scranton shamelesly remained on stage throughout the ceremony, while he failed to win one of 12 trophies presented in the art car category, was overlooked in the people's choice voting (won by the Venus Flytrap, built by Alan Krathaus's sculpture class at the University of Houston) and the participants' choice voting (David Crow's The Red Stiletto). Only when the most coveted prize, the judges' choice, was announced, did Scranton get out of his seat and go to the edge of the stage to congratulate winner Larry Fuente for his Rex the Rabbit. Before doing so, he reached his hand out and, for an instant, grasped a column of Fuente's tall trophy, looked out at the audience and smiled with gumption.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.