I've never had sympathy for the bored. Maybe because I grew up knowing that uttering the words, "We're bored" would sentence me and my sister to never ending yardwork or cleaning, I learned to amuse myself, or at least not let my parents know how dull things really were around the house.
This attitude carried over through high school. While other kids were complaining that the lack of teen dance clubs made our city as boring as a doctor's waiting room, I was amusing myself by skating, fishing, hanging out in the woods, driving to Tampa, and all sorts of other stuff. And who really wants to hang out at a teen dance club anyway?
Once we got older, my friends and I still managed to amuse ourselves, even in the old folk's home that is Bradenton. As punk rockers, we knew that nobody was going to provide a teen club we'd be comfortable in; it was up to us to create, to entertain ourselves, to make the most out of our surroundings. Plus, we just really liked playing pranks.
One Christmas break my friend Curt brought down a styrofoam head he found somewhere in Tallahassee. We took it to my parent's garage and went to work - my dad had this spray that advertised how it would eat through a styrofoam cup (that's how you knew it was working). We used that to make realistic looking eye sockets and a nose hole. We sprayed the head a couple different shades of whatever spray paint we could find, giving it a somewhat realistic decayed flesh tone. For the final touch, Curt had saved some hair from a recent haircut which we glued on the head in different places.
The final result looked better than we anticipated. Hell, it creeped me out, and I helped make the thing. We hid it in the garage and forgot about it until my sister went out to get some ice cream, saw it, and let out a scream that shattered glass throughout the neighborhood. If we could pass the crucial 15 year old girl test, we had it made.
Now that we had this grotesque head, the only problem was what to do with it. Where would our artwork get the attention it so richly deserved?
Why not Wal Mart?
The next morning we mixed up a gallon of fake blood. We also found some weird plaster and chicken wire cylinder in the garage which we decided to hide under a tarp as a fake leg, sort of a bonus horror. The plaster "leg" was about 4 feet long, so it didn't really work, unless you thought Manute Bol got dismembered in a Bradenton parking lot, but hey, this was an extra, so it was good enough.
We drove to Wal-Mart and set up the leg behind the store, pouring fake blood liberally around our crime scene. Since the leg was our lesser artwork, we gave it a less prominent billing, figuring the head would be found first.
The head went into a plastic bag soaked with fake blood which was placed into a shopping cart. Then like cops on a stakeout, we waited.
Hey, how long was it gonna take for someone to notice a blood-dripping plastic bag in a parking lot, anyway? These unobservant people were totally messing up our opening.
After a while we figured we should make our own publicity and call the cops on ourselves.
In the days of payphones this was easy. I called the non-emergency number and tried to disguise my voice.
"Uh...yes, officer? I'm here at the Wal-Mart on Cortez and there's this...this thing. It looks like it's bleeding."
"Yeah, it's in a shopping cart and it looks like there's a lot of blood around it. I mean, it's probably nothing and all, butmaybeyoushouldtakealookatitOKbye."
Then we settled back to wait.
We didn't have to wait too long. Actually, let me quote the Bradenton Herald from the article titled "Prankster Hits Bradenton Store:"
...When an officer opened the bag, Watkins said, "He turned his head and said, "I think it's real."
It wasn't. The head, it turned out, was made of plastic foam.
"They did a pretty good job as far as making it look like a decapitated head," Watkins said.
The practical joker apparently took a mannequin head, painted and molded it so that it would appear to be decomposed and put a wig on it, Watkins said.
So there you have it, our first review. The leg was found later, and just as we expected it was sort of anticlimactic.
Who says artists aren't appreciated in their own hometown? As a bonus, since Curt was in art school at FSU, he could count our juvenile prank as actual school work, so it was a win-win for everyone involved.