Occupy Water Tower: The Revel’s in the Details

Water Tower Stand-Off; photo via napa.patch.com

News overload! We’re all scanning the headlines. Hundreds of them, sometimes, in a single day. And only a few select, tantalizing, provocative links ultimately earn our coveted click-through.

What a shame. Because if you scanned right by this item, well… you missed some amazing details.

Man ends water tower occupation after six hours

You can read the whole story now if you like, but how about I make it really easy and clip just the best funny, sad and ironic details?

The broad scenario: In Napa Valley, California, Adrain Madrigal, a mentally disturbed hispanic man, “occupied” the top of an old tannery water tower for 6.5 hours before being taken into custody.

Six stunningly incredible details:

  1. Throughout the day, Madrigal could be seen climbing in and out of the water tank through a hatch. Why it’s amazing: Cartoons as reality–the old “escape hatch” move, a classic Looney Toonie setup!
  2. A helmeted, rifle-bearing SWAT agent made efforts to reach the man, but he repeatedly evaded them by moving to the other side of the water tank, using a pivoting ladder that is attached to the very top of the tower.
    Why it’s amazing: More Looney Tunes fun–a modern-day Bugs Bunny evading the shotgun-toting Elmer Fudd via swinging ladder!
  3. Threw a heavy metal can filled with rocks at officers on watch below. Why it’s amazing: Premeditation! He must have actually prepared by carrying rock-filled cans to the top of the tower.
  4. Authorities initially tried to persuade Madrigal to come down, offering him cigarettes and tacos. Why it’s amazing: Don’t know exactly why. It just is.
  5. Six hours into the standoff, with the sun going down, he began shouting for “agua.” Why it’s amazing: He’s on a water tower! The irony! Not to mention the fact that he took canned stones to the top, but forgot to bring along water, tacos and cigs.
  6. Madrigal came down from the tower around 5:50 p.m. after repeatedly asking authorities at the scene for water. Why it’s amazing: Could this be the start of the oft-predicted water-centered conflict and conquest? Yes, it is obvious that political authorities with access to water are using it to oppress those without! Right now, right in California!
  7. Madrigal may be the same person a manager found on the property Tuesday, who said he was looking for a job. He was told to return early the next day. Why it’s amazing: Occupy Water Tower. Wake up people, it’s not about tacos and cigs. It’s about jobs and water. And that’s a fact. 

Nothing Says Wedding Like Water Tower

wedding at louisville kentucky water tower Attention brides: We know it is challenging, this never-ending   quest for unique, memorable settings in which to tie the knot. (Me? I copped out with the utterly predictable church affair.) If I were getting hitched now, I think I’d one-up my peers with a creative Water Tower event, Read more

Having a Ball in Tipton, Missouri

I spotted this peculiar water tower on a road trip last weekend as we passed through tiny Tipton, Missouri (population 3,261 in 2000). The 8-ball design was painted in 1968 by Tipton’s own Fischer Manufacturing Co., a pool table company. The big ball disappeared when the company pulled up its Tipton stakes but the distinctive design has returned in recent years…so with or without the company, Tipton shows its playful side! (You can see more photos and tower trivia at tiptonmo.com. Also, view more water tower ball designs in this October 2009 post.)

We’re Crushed. Really, We Are.

If you think your work day was a little wonky, just be grateful you weren’t in any way involved in this water tower meets residence fiasco! (Despite some quick and not-very professional research, I’ve been unable to determine the location this video was taken.) Thanks to former Thirsty in Suburbia intern Virginia L. for spotting this!

Water Tower Graffiti: If you can’t beat ’em join ’em

Painting class numbers on Fallbrook CA water tower

Work begins to drop the zero and add the one. Photo by Tom Pfingsten for the North County Times

Why can’t we all just get along? Rather than stir up conflict with naturally-rambunctious teens, perhaps more authorities should take a cue from Fallbrook, California. There, for more than three decades, the Fallbrook water utility has avoided trouble with potential teen water-tower defacers in what has become an annual ritual, painting the numbers of the current high school graduating class on the Rattlesnake Water Tower. (Sidenote, the tower was supposedly named in honor of the hundreds of rattlesnakes discovered as it was built.)

The annual tradition is rooted in a bit of youth mayhem that began 1974, according to this Fallbrook Trivia page:

One night in June of 1974, members of the senior class snuck up to the water tower and painted a big “74” on it. Shortly thereafter it was painted over by water district. Not to be outdone, the class of ’75 took their turn at the water tank the following year. To the chagrin of the water district, it became a tradition for all graduating classes to paint the year of their class on the tank.

It was a hassle and I’m sure, more than a little expense for the water district to keep painting over the “Graffiti” every year. Eventually, they gave in and just began painting the number of the next graduating class themselves. A tradition that continues today.

Fallbrook Class of 2011, your time has come at last! From a story in nctimes.com, as this school year begins the zero has now been changed to a 1:

Compared to previous years, like the turn of the century in 2000, when two nines became two zeroes, Tuesday’s assignment was easy —- the district only had to convert the second digit, a zero, into a one.

In an interesting side story, the organizers of the Class of 1989 10th Reunion pulled off a spectacular nostaligia-fest for classmates by repainting the tower in their class numbers just for their reunion weekend. Now that’s a superb party decoration! Photos of the entire merry process can be viewed here.

Water Tower Before and After: Making the memories real for the Class of 1989 Ten Year Reunion

An Ode to the Glorious Flagler Water Orb

Stanley Drescher was a man with a dream and a vision. His vision was one in which Flagler Beach, Florida’s plain-Jane water tower proudly displayed the town’s moniker for townspeople and tourists alike. Through tireless fundraising, hard work, indifferent city leadership, red tape and poetry (yes, poetry!) Stanley’s dream is about to become reality. From msnbc.com,

Drescher — whose love of the tower has moved him to write poems about it — raised the money just five months after announcing his desire to see the oceanside structure bear the city’s name. Most of the funds came from selling commemorative plaques about the fund drive to businesses, which enlisted sponsors who paid $100 to have their names engraved on the plaques, too. The plaques state, in part: “The tower tanks you.”

Stan Drescher and the soon-to-be-awesome Flagler Beach water tower (Photo: David Massey via The Daytona Beach News-Journal)

Why would this goal be so difficult to achieve? How did a sense of public duty turn into taking a load of public doody?

Drumming up support for a project so close to his heart wasn’t easy, Drescher said. “It was very, very difficult,” he said. “It didn’t happen overnight.”

Community organizations weren’t interested in hearing his pitch for the tower on the city’s south side, he said. And an attempt to raise the money through the sales of vanity license plates failed.

City Commissioners wouldn’t accept the money unless donations were tax-deductible and came from a nonprofit group. They wouldn’t match the money Drescher raised. The reaction from city commissioners was a surprise, Drescher said. “I never dreamed they would turn me down,” he said. “They put a lot of restrictions on me.”

Drescher’s love of poetry came into play in the campaign as he authored a number of poems about his trials, even reading some of them in the public comment portions of city and county meetings. From his composition, “The Beginning of a Quest”

“I had my work cut out for me/I saw every person/But no matter what I did/Effort seemed to worsen

We walked in all directions/’Til we got swollen feet/And all the while determined/Not to accept defeat.”

With victory at hand, Mr. Drescher notes “I have to find another project. Maybe I’ll form a poet’s society.”

Super! Can I join? Here’s my first contribution: I think that I shall never see/A tower with the town’s marquee…

Flagler Beach via armisteadbooker on Flickr

Save Ferris, But Trash the Tower

Yes, it is time to mourn yet another iconic Eighties reference point. The Northbrook, Illinois water tower made famous in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is under threat of replacement . As reported in triblocal.com,

Bids being accepted to replace ‘Ferris Bueller’ water tower
Hoping to solve longstanding water pressure issues, Northbrook is seeking bids to build a new 1 million-gallon spheroid-shaped tower — doubling the village’s water supply — even though it might spell the end of the tower made famous in a 1986 movie…[snip]…Hovering overhead for six decades, the blue golf-ball-shaped tank even had a supporting role in the 1986 John Hughes film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” when the words “Save Ferris” were emblazoned on it for several months during shooting.

Corbin, Kentucky’s Water Tower Sure is High!

How high is Corbin’s water tower? Literally or figuratively? It seems that some of the town’s drug-crazed youth found that the town’s tower was a great place to cook up a little methamphetamine! Yessir, I’m talkin’ ICE, and not the frozen kind!

Not litter but evidence. Photo: thenewsjournal.net

Not litter but evidence. Photo: thenewsjournal.net

The Corbin, Kentucky police have nabbed a 17-year-old boy on numerous felony charges after a portable meth lab was found tucked in a backpack right by the city’s landmark water tower. (When authorities arrived, the teen was carrying a generator out to the water tower “lab.”)

From thenewsjournal.net,

(Police Sgt. Glenn)…”Taylor said he believes the boy was a methamphetamine addict who has been making it for himself and some other friends. He said police searched a home last week, where the boy was allegedly staying, in an attempt to find evidence of drug activity, but found none.

“My informant said this backpack was there. They knew we were coming and started hiding it up here,” Taylor said. “They don’t keep it at their house because they are afraid I am coming.”

So what was found at the tower?

Police discovered nearly all the ingredients for making meth: tubing, salt, drain line cleaner, fertilizer, anhydrous ammonia, a funnel, a propane torch, etc. Also discovered was a large Mason jar that contained a “pill soak.” Taylor said it appears that the “meth oil” most recently produced had already been poured off the mixture. He believes the juvenile was returning to the site to make another batch. He said there was enough pseudoephedrine present to make anywhere from 2.8 to 4 grams of meth.

And in case you’re wondering, “Authorities say if the meth lab had caused an explosion it probably wouldn’t have been bad enough to put the water tower at risk – but certainly the person making the meth.”

If this weren’t such a tragic state of affairs, I suppose I could have a field day creating fake-funny slogans to be painted on the tower. (Like, “CORBIN: THE CRYSTAL CITY!”) But somehow, I just can’t get in the mood to make light of the national misery that is meth. It’s just too sad.

Barcelona Water Tower Brings On The Bling

Attention civic boosters, if your town’s pride-and-joy water tower is decorated with a flat, plain-Jane painted logo or mascot, imagine how something like this could help you hit the big time! Your town’s tower could display a sparkling digital media extravaganza worthy of a glamorous international destination like Barcelona in Spain!

(Don’t fret over funding…a couple of bogus studies by “experts” will easily project millions in expected new development and tourism bucks. Taxpayers LOVE this stuff!)

Just observe the awesomeness of the new media facade on Barcelona’s water tower built by the Cologne-based company ag4 Media Facade GmbH and completed at the end of November 2009. All kidding aside, I really DO believe in the power of art to communicate and this creative display links water infrastructure and media architecture to produce a stunning visual reminder of vital water issues.

From www.dexigner.com,

The “Fontsanta Balance Tower” is part of the newly constructed pumping station built by the Spanish water supply company ATLL and conceals a water reservoir that ensures a constant water pressure balance in Barcelona.

ag4 has created a media skin for the water reservoir. Dynamic visual media blend with the impressive architecture of the building. The light choreography, created by ag4 in close collaboration the architects ruisánchez arquitectes and ATLL, explores the various themes concerning the sustainable management and use of water reserves while simultaneously emphasizing the form and function of the building.