Mar 6, 2013

Roadside Beefcake

Every year during Dad's vacation, we spent a week in a cabin on a lake somewhere in the northwoods, usually Minnesota, occasionally Wisconsin or Michigan, once Manitoba.  It was awful -- no tv, no movies, no museums or art galleries, just a lot of swimming, boating, and fishing (though once we visited Alexandria, Minnesota, site of the Kensington Runestone).  I might as well have stayed in the cub scouts.

But if you knew where to look, you could find beefcake anywhere, and not just in the shirtless man-mountains wandering the country roads, who could sometimes be persuaded to flex for you.












Many of the small towns we passed featured statues honoring local Native Americans, like Big Chief Germain in St. Germain, Wisconsin. There actually wasn't such a person; the bulging biceps came from the sculptor's imagination.




The descendants of Scandinavian immigrants have erected many statues that celebrate their Viking heritage (or to promote the theory that Vikings explored the region during the 13th century).  This one in Gimli, Manitoba, near Winnipeg, was constructed by George Barone in 1967. At the time I thought the Viking was bare-chested, but maybe he's just really, really muscular.













State and provincial capitol buildings were always good for beefcake based on Greek or Roman mythology.  When I was a kid, the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul was capped with this statue, "The Progress of the State," by Daniel Chester French and Edward Clark Potter.  The muscleman represents prosperity.  In 1995 it was moved to the southern entrance.












But the Holy Grail of Roadside Beefcake was the Golden Boy (real name: Eternal Youth), sculpted by Georges Gardet and perched atop the Manitoba Legislative Building in Winnipeg: amazingly muscular, golden, and naked.

I couldn't get close enough to see him this clearly, but as a symbol of Manitoba, his image adorned decorative plates, spoons, key chains, pin-backs, postcards, and toys.  When I spent my allowance on a few, Mom and Dad seemed happy that I was taking such an interest in my Canadian heritage.

See also: The Top 10 Public Penises of Minnesota; the Big Men of American Tall Tales.