This Town Built a Memorial to the Wrong Guy

Oh, Canada! Capital city of Ottawa makes major gaffe

This could happen only in Canada.

We repeat. This could happen only in Canada.

Officials in Ottawa — the national capital — recently bankrolled a public art project intended to celebrate the late Jack Purcell, a local man who mended broken hockey sticks and gave them away to neighborhood children.

Jack Purcell, the guy known for giving hockey sticks to needy kids and (Right) Jack Purcell, the badminton star.

But bureaucrats in the country’s capital somehow blew the installation. Big time.

Instead of a tribute to their beloved community member, who already has a park named after him, Ottawans received a baffling memorial dedicated to an entirely different Jack Purcell.

Sure, this guy was also Canadian and a legend in his own right—a world badminton champion from Guelph, Ontario, who left this world in 1991 (his name is on countless Converse tennis shoes). But only some dimwitted design consultant would confuse that Jack Purcell with the man dubbed “The Stick Doctor,” who died in 1966.

And he did.

“I think [the consultant] just Googled ‘Jack Purcell,’ and the only thing that comes up is the badminton player,” fumed Ward Councillor Diane Holmes in the Ottawa Citizen. “The Ottawa-hockey-stick-helper-out-of-kids doesn’t come up on Google.”


The cringe-worthy case of mistaken identity has already caused a lot of embarrassment for the city—and cost them $50,000. But what’s worse is that the civic blunder has created some truly hideous public sculptures. Eleven towering steel curls now rise from the ground at Jack Purcell Park in Ottawa. The stands of twisted metal are mind-boggling for just about everyone.

The badminton rackets that should have been hockey sticks but kind of look like question marks at Jack Purcell Park.

CTV News

“I’m sure people are wondering what in heaven’s names are these things,” Holmes continued.

Ottawans have offered up a few guesses. Some say the art looks like a bunch of giant question marks. Others believe they could somehow be Olympic-themed. Others still have wagered that they could be goal posts for quidditch, the fictional game that Harry Potter plays.

Obviously, the sculptures are badminton rackets without the strings. But to save face, the city is now trying to claim that they are—wait for it—futuristic trees.

Ottawa’s epic gaffe marks yet another coup for Guelph, which not only lays claim to the badminton Jack Purcell, but is also quickly becoming our favorite city in Canada. In case you’ve already forgotten, Guelph is the happiest place on the Internet, as well as the home of that weird family that donned mullets and spent a year pretending to live in 1986.

Humiliated, Ottawans are already trying to figure out what the hell they should do with their new unsightly sculptures. “Maybe we could ship them to Guelph and say, ‘Hey, we’ll trade you something,’” suggested Eric Olmstead, an Ottawan who was interviewed by the local paper.

That’s never going to happen.

Respond Now
  • Drag out the quaffles and the brooms…we have a Quiddich Pitch

  • Put a hockey stick in each ring….  problem solved!   I accept PayPal.

  • I thot it was a quiddich stadium. :)

  • This is why libraries use authority control to add qualifiers (dates) to names to prevent such conflicts.  Long live authority control!

  • They could be used for really short games of Frisbee golf. XD lol! 

  • how about amending the giant circles by sculpting smaller forms of hockey sticks and suspending them in the middle of each circle?  Voila! Tribute to the proper Purcell! :)

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  • melt them down,face up to your mistake, apologize for it, and do it right this time….

  • As in the U.S., that CAD$50,000 you won’t be getting back.  As in the District of Columbia, put a good spin on it!

  • The sticks are not a blunder. They are a modern, minimalist, expansive, representational, iconoclastic, depiction of the unmended hockey sticks that Jack Purcell’s spirit will mend. Or, total bullshit. 

  • Cut and rebend them to look like hockey sticks!

  • Oh come on! This is not the consultant’s fault. Any project worth spending money on is worth tracking with periodic reports. A simple slide show from the consultant on what was planned would have alerted the city before any significant monmey was spent. And including a simple biography of the Purcell that was intended would have probably headed off the issue in the first place. So, two opportunities to get it right, both by the city, both blown. Who is surprised by that?

  • They look like bubble wands or those things you put easter eggs in to dip them in dye

  • Only in Canada? That is bloody insulting. How many f*%k ups does the American government make on a daily basis? Or how about your American corporations financially and mentally raping your population. You are delusional. Stop patting yourself on the back you pompous ass.

  • So like Ottawa isn’t a ‘town’, it’s the national capital and a sizable city.And if you’re going to steal quotes from another paper at least give them credit.

  • I have a great idea! Stop pretending wasting money on ‘art’ installations instead of healthcare, education, or mental advocacy actually does something. All that money, could have bought food… medicine.. grain, seeds…

  • Nice balme-shifting attempt by the counsellor… but somebody approved the winning and/or final design. Most liekly a committee of people. No designer installs a public work without it passing through layers of the politics police. A ton of people involved at teh city must have missed this. 

  • I have a great idea!  Cut out the face of the real Purcell who mended the hockey sticks and place it in the head of each racket sculpture.

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    • that idea has great merit IF they’re going to keep them up and pretend nothing happened.

  • Actually, he is right, this could only happen in Canada. In Canada, we do not have elected city bureaucrats – they are appointed by the mayor and council, and are therefore not directly accountable to the citizens.  Watson has stated there will be no firings or layoffs ‘under his watch’, so no accountability with Kirkpatrick or anyone else for this humiliating, expensive act of negligence.

  • So cut or bend or paint a few of them to the shape of hockey sticks – and call it a tribute to both men.Also – it may help if the council consults more with the community in future so that efforts like these, while laudable, are a little more inclusive.

  • Romper, bomper, stomper do

  • A major fail. But let’s face it–the majority of public art in the last fifty years looks entirely idiotic and leaves anyone who stops to contemplate it scratching their heads. Let’s just think of those badminton rackets as hockey sticks curled up to celebrate the circle of life. And leave the poor public art to its standard racket.

  • Sculpt some birds on a swing (full color) and hang them in the middle. That would at least make them nicer to look at.

  • You would think somebody would have talked to the artist to make sure he knew a little about the guy he was going to honour rather than leave him to do his won research and honour the wrong Jack.  We love paying taxes in Ottawa to support the morons on City Council.

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    • You elected them,,it is time to study candidates a little harder 

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      • they do not elect them. That is the point, it is not the USA. They were appointed. I suggest Canadians have some govt reforms… petition your elected leaders for an ammendment to have more control over city councils by holding elections, so they are more accountable.

  • Perhaps what we’ve learned here is that one or two in-progress reviews (IPRs) would have been in order…

    • I refuse to read the “article” after reading “this could only happen in Canada” which is idiotic, not to mention not even close to being true.  This is what passes for good writing these days.  Nicely done.

    • +
    • what about your fat crackhead?

    • No, it’s right. It could only happen in Canada. No place else in the world cares about badminton enough to make this mistake.

  • I say drill holes in them, attach some hoses and make them into a water sculpture. 

  • I thought it was a Quidich Court when I first saw it.

  • Add giant beer bottles under them?

  • “This could happen only in Canada.” What an asinine thing to say.  What mediocre mind produces so childish a lede?  What the hell are you even talking about?

  • What the hell? “This Could happen only in Canada” Are you kidding!? I find that a bit offensive..

  • What does “this could happen only in Canada” referring to and isn’t the phrase supposed to be this could only happen in Canada?

  • The bureaucrats who commissioned the “art” — didn’t they at least look at the concept the “artist” was planning before authorizing him to go ahead with it? Who would pay $50,000 for a mystery sculpture? There’s “Oops.” and there’s “OOOPS!” When a newspaper printed a story about a Lutheran church having an individual presenting a lecture on Martin Luther (a white German from the 15th century) and printed a photograph of Martin Luther King Junior (a black American of the 20th century)along side the article, that was “Oops. Your inattention to detail is showing.” When an American insurance company had a building designed for them and the sout side of the building came out looking like a bottle of Absolut, that was “Ooooppps. Let’s just laugh about it, and refer to it as the “Vodka Bottle Building.” Then there is the sculpture. “OOOPS! What are we going to do with that awful looking thing?” Suggestion: send it to Des Moines, Iowa. We have a sculpture park where this would fit right in. It is a few blocks west of the Vodka Bottle Building. (The most “normal” looking sculpture in the park is “Nomade”)

  • Guelph is lovely actually.

  • Their out $50,000, eh? If it happened in the U.S., the city would have been out $500,000 and it would still $1.25 million on the project.

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    • …it would still owe…

  • Obama’s fault.

  • I thought Rob Ford was mayor of Toronto.

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    • He is.  But this is in Ottawa, capital of the country.  Toronto is the capital of Ontario, but not Canada.

  • Easily fixed. Just go back to the same place that did the hoops and order 10 metal Hockey Sticks to fit ten of the eleven hoops. With the last one, have it strung as a Racket with a small metal memorial to the other Jack “who inspired this memorial”. Problem solved, everyone off the hook, it starts to make sense and it should be a cheap fix with a better solution.

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    • I was thinking something similar, flat plate steel hockey sticks or wooden ones to fit within the hoop with the proper Purcel etched on the flat of the stick….

  • Hey ….all our broken hockey sticks are being used as security bars for our patio doors and windows!

  • Just add some hockey sticks/skates/nets whatever almost as like charms coming down from them?? It would look fine

  • Could only happen in Canada? The guy who did it was probably American. 

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    • Ikr?

    • No, and a GOOGLE search shows who the artist was. Address and name of art group if you want to complain:CONTACT INFORMATION  Jerrold Corush Martha Lush corush@csw.ca lush@csw.ca CSW Landscape Architects Limited Suite 200, 1960 Scott Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1Z 8L8 Canada Tel: (613) 729-4536 Fax: (613) 729-3018″ The architect behind the design, Jerry Corush of CSW Landscape Architects Ltd., said that he altered his initial concept once he discovered the mixed-up identities. “We just didn’t stick our heads in the sands and say, ‘Well, we had a design and we’re going with it no matter what,’” Corush told the Ottawa Citizen. The rackets now no longer include strings.”So, they had strings on them once! LOLOL

  • Wait why could this ONLY happen in Canada?

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    • Ya…That’s what I want to know too…

  • They could play Quidditch

  • There’s actually an easy solution to this. Just cut the poles in the right spot and they’ll look like hockey sticks.

  • Town?It’s has over 1 million people in it, and it’s the nation’s capital.There is no “humiliation” either. In fact, we find it quite amusing.”This could only happen in Canada?”Ridiculous.

  • $50K for some glorified metal posts? Even if it had been for the right guy, that is questionable.

  • gGood tchaleng for a new artist; using what had bin bild! :D

  • Bet you didn’t know that the original town planner of the city of Guelph was named John Galt. Another reason to love Guelph!

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    • God, I love Guelph. 

  • Giant bubble wands! Just add soapy water and bring in some really big fans.

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    • ha ha

  • I thought it was for Harry Potter darnit, I wanted to play Quidditch! 

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    • Me too!  I saw the picture and thought, “They put up a Quidditch pitch!”

  • At least they don’t murder innocent people in Canada due to an outdated gun law

  • Honestly, I thopught it to be a quidditch pitch

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    • If I lived there that is what I would do with those sculptures play quiddich muggle style.

  • One would have to wonder why it would cost that much for this display of art in the first place,, politicians just keep wasting canadians hard earned money on nonesense..

  • Tell em it’s a frizbee golf course! Problem solved and more believable than – “futuristic trees”?

  • The Jack that mended hockey stocks would probably prefer the money to have been spent on hockey for the kids who can’t afford the equipment.

  • I still can’t believe that someone didn’t sign off on the final drawings for this project before it got built? What is wrong with our city employees/ officials? Not to forget, McNabb Community Centre has been torn up for ages now. They manage to get all the WRONG stuff done – no problem it seems. So sad watching my tax dollars be wasted by the City of Ottawa. 


  • The thing that bothers me most about this article is that the headline says Ottawa is a ‘town’… Just like Washington D.C. is just a town…?

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    • Excuse me . Seems to me a town as large as Ottawa could get a dedication right. whoever is responsible should step up and claim responsibility. Ha this is Ottawa, government, so no one is responsible.

  • Get a giant fan and lots of bubble mix and make giant bubbles

  • Stick happens.

  • Who approved this is what I want to know. There’s surely someone who is responsible for vetting the sculptures before they are placed inside the park…

  • Add a smily face to the middle of each hoop, weld on some little arms holding hockey sticks, and voila – a garden full of happy hockey stick wielding stick figure kids

    2 Replies - Reply Now
    • That is an awesome idea Gretchen!!!

    • brilliant!

  • 50 grand for those?  My hubby could have welded them bad boys up for about 200 bucks and a truck to haul them there. Cheer up at least your not in Toronto and have to deal with Rob Ford !

  • Thats okay. Ottawa wastes our taxpayers dollars all the time!

  • They Could open Giant Sardine Cans!

  • Have kids put some art thing inside each “tree”. Like dream catchers, but kids imagination at work. That could be cool to look at.

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    • Haha that’s what I thouthought, too. Just tweak it a bit, and make a mini quidditch pitch of it.

  • Looks like Quidditch Hoops to me!

  • Don’t be so hard on yourself my friends. Canada is still a really great place with the nicest people on earth. Here in the US we do momumentally stupid things all the time, you get used to it. The badmitten rackets would make really nice Dream Catchers though. Maybe all is not lost.

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    • Well being in canada they could be “Ice Dream Catchers”

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      • See what I mean? You Canadian’s are so resilient. 

  • They look like enormous versions of the bubble blowers we played with as kids.

  • The could take the tops off and make it a Festivus pole orchard. 

  • They’re wands for blowing bubbles!

  • How does liability work in Canada? Shouldn’t the producer of said work be responsible for the damages, not the city?

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    • The City is at fault for not reviewing and approving the design before giving the go ahead for production and installation. And why on earth wouldn’t they have given the designer some information about the guy? Sounds like the city was being careless with $50,000 and wants to blame someone else.

  • Or make them into wind chimes and spread them around the city like chicago’s cows.

  • I’m surprised the author of this article blamed the designer for this ‘gaffe’.  Obviously the designer had to have worked for the city officials who also had to approve all concepts prior to installation.  In my opinion, the designer is not at fault (other than for the bad design)…  blame should go to City officials.  How could THEY get this wrong.

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    • Yes. These had to be approved through beurocratic measures. Knowing how design approval usually goes down, there’s probably a million emails commenting on design issues from city officials as they get to play artist for a change. The artist cannot install them without proper sign off from the city. And if the designer had to rely on google, then shame on the officials for not supplying a proper briefing with a bio.

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  • Time to make lemonade.Simply get a bucket, fill it with water and some soap liquids. Then take a large spongy mop and coat each of these statues with soapy water. In no time the entire park with all it’s patrons will be filled with the joy of bubbles.

  • Most modern city sculptures are cringe-worthy.

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    • You make an undisputable point. 

  • Clearly kids’ bubble wands.

  • I think they could flow with the “modern tree theme”. They could do this by growing some Ivy, or a different vine all around it and through the middle on wires. 

  • My vote – Any time coucil comes to a bonehead decision, string the 11 most responsible for the gaffe from the “Future Trees” and provide free rotten tomatoes to all taxpayers to whip at them.

  • The “Design Consultant” came up with the idea but SOMEONE had to approve it! He didn’t just design it and start building without approval! Anyway, to me they look like thos metal things kids use to dip Easter Eggs in dye.

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    • Ha. I can see that, too. 

    • I thought the same thing

  • They’re obviously egg-holders for dyeing jumbo Easter eggs!

  • Why don’t they spread them out a bit and create a frisbee golf course?

  • Put signs in the circles

    1 Reply - Reply Now
    • Or put pictures of Jack Purcell in them.

  • As an artist who has done a number of public art pieces I am befuddled. One has to submit renderings of the proposed work along with an artist’ statement speaking to the work and how the work memorializes the person or event in question. This quite simply just doesn’t happen unless there is some kind of corruption at play. The city clearly never put out a call to artists, there was no selection process and a no bid contract was awarded to an artist whom I can only guess is a relative of someone who needs to be fired.

    3 Replies - Reply Now
    • I had the same thought. Sure, you can attach some blame to the consutant who made the initial error, but that’s no excuse for incompetence on the part of the person or commitee responsible for managing the project.

    • You’re spot on, this was clearly a case of corruption, because there doesn’t seem to be any mention of the artist responsible for these hideous things, all of which probably cost less than $50 each to make…I wonder where all that money went?

    • +
    • Now THERE is a man who knows what’s up! 

  • I vote for Quiddich goal posts

  • This is clearly honoring Harry Potter and Quidditch 

  • I know invent a game that uses hocky sticks with the posts

  • very expensive back racks or an game they come with is what they are going to turn into

  • They kinda look like the ends of shish kabob skewers….maybe just set up some barbques?  Its just a dirt lot anyhow…

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    • You’re making me hungry. 

  • Could have been done for probably $5,000 from melting down recycled steel and metal collected from the city. Someone really took them for a ride and a half!

  • Why not just melt them all down and make hockey sticks, O h no one ever thought of that, RIGHT!

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    • They actually found the mistake before the “sculptures” were installed, and went ahead with it anyways… This was totally on purpose.

  • For some reason it makes me want to play Quidditch 

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    • You’re not alone. 

  • In a recent statement, the mayor of Ottawa said, “Sorry, eh?”

  • Reminds me of that plaque someone did dedicated to James Earl Jones, but they put James Earl Ray on it.

  • Maybe we should stop giving the commisions to ‘artists’ and get people with actual talent.

  • was there no oversight at all?  Didn’t the design need to be approved first…or something?  Did they really just hand him $50,000 and say, “make us a park”?

  • So the city paid 50k to have someone run about 2k worth of steel pipe through a bender and stick it in the ground.

  • Use them as hangers for plant baskets

  • Oh Canada. You don’t even know who’s famous in your country. 

  • Just put crossed hockey sticks in the hoops, fixed!

  • I think they need to find a whole lot of Jack Purcells and put up little pieces of art all throughout the park to commemorate all of them, famous or not. That way it will be a park to honor all Jsck Purcells. LOL

  • They’re badminton raquettes.  Duh.No biggy.  It’s nothing but aluminum piping.  It couldn’t have cost the “sculptor” more than 40 bucks at Ace Hardware.

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    • except its Canada’s capital. no Ace hardware. and its really no worse than much other “art” that city counsellors and others pay for all across the country. check out Calgary’s blue hoolahoop with a light on top!

  • Why is the design consultants fault?  Who is the approver or project manager for the city and/or parks division?  Someone clearly ok’d this!

  • Just weld some iron hockey sticks in the middle of all the loops.

  • badraq.bandcamp.complease send them to Guelph, we could use them

  • I thought it was a poorly designed Quidditch Pitch…  

  • What a strange-looking Quidditch pitch.

  • What are you talking about? You’ve now got yourself a quality quidditch pitch.

  • I see Janet, and Paul, and Lisa, and David… #RomperRoom

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    • Love it!  Thats what those things are.

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      • oh look! Giant Bubble makers!

      • Yeah only in Canada!!!??? Like Americans don’t have way bigger f—up’s

  • The design consultant should be paying to remove and replace them with an appropriate design.

  • Looks like a monument to the international bubble blowing all time rcord holding champion. Only in Canada!

  • Um, first problem was that the council knew that there could be a confusion and didn’t specify at the beginning.  Secondly,  why would you let it go all the way to completion before looking at it. That is government for you. Theyes can’t even cop to their own mistakes.  Blame the firm. Lol 

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  • Only in Canada? Town of Ottawa?While the guy that made the memorial may have just used Google, seems like the author of this article didn’t even do that much. The US has had far worse gaffes than this and the metropolitan population of the CITY of Ottawa is 1.2 million.

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    • Nobody is disputing America’s boundless blunders. To clarify the “Only in Canada” riff: name one other country where both a badminton icon and “Stick Doctor” are both in the running for a public memorial. 

  • Yeah, we kind of messed up on that one but we just grab our cup of Guy Lafleur coffee and sit in the park and nobody really cares. Oops…Tim Hortons coffee. My bad.  :)

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  • they’re for blowing large soap bubbles, right?

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    • At least that would be fun.  What if the “wrong guy” had been a proctologist or something. I shiver..

  • we are not a town! we are a city! In fact, we are the freaking capital of Canada. Come on!

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    • You win. 

  • Maybe the Jack Purcell who fixed broken hockey sticks also liked to blow bubbles?

  • Someone from the city had to approve the design so don’t blame it all on the designer.

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    • no ill blame the designer for ignorance, but most designers are guilty of that, ill also blame the city for their lazyness

  • Plus nobody ever repaired all those broken badminton raquets.

  • At least Canada didn’t end up with a town called Chicken because no one in the entire town who lived there could spell Ptarmigan properly. Check out Chicken, Alaska. Incidentally, the common farm chicken is not endemic to the area.

  • Why, I repeat, why could this only happen in Canada?

    3 Replies - Reply Now
    • Because both Purcells were Canadian. Why would another country build a monument to either of them?

    • Because most countries would not have a memorial for a man who mended hockey sticks and gave them away, it is quintessentially Canadian. We are a hockey nation and for the most part pride ourselves on that fact. I believe the statement “this could only happen in Canada” is completely suitable. Although most may look at it as a derogatory view against their intelligence as a Canadian, I take a different stance and agree this could only happen in Canada. 

    • +
    • See Mike Franssen’s Comment. BINGO. 

  • This could only have been written by an American. Speaking of ‘Talking to Americans’… at least they managed to find a photo of the Parliament Buildings (even if they don’t realize it) and didn’t post a photo of our ‘national igloo’, lol!

    1 Reply - Reply Now
    • Thanks. We do our best. 

  • Are there no approval processes in Ottawa before the expenditure of public funds? I don’t understand why the nature of the sculptures to the Ward Counselor, as if they just write a check to an artist, give him a name and say “make us something.”For the record, City of Ottawa, next time you need someone to bend some metal tubes and stick them in the ground, you should call me. I’d be happy to do it for half what you paid.

    2 Replies - Reply Now
    • poor self editing–should read: . . . the nature of the sculptures is a surprise to the Ward Counselor . . .”

    • Oh David, you should see the unsightly ‘scuptures’ where I am.  A huge circle with a street light on top that looks like antennae.  Apparently 1% of all public construction project funds MUST be put towards ‘art’ and whoever approves this junk is a mystery to everyone!!

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      • Obviously, Mary, we’re both in the wrong business. We also have some public art that I consider questionable–the giant typewriter eraser comes to mind, but I’m not aware of any here that seems to require so little effort for the money.

  • To be fair, Amerians have Done A HELL of a lot worse in the past too …

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    • You are absolutely correct. 

  • Someone’s walking around with $49, 950 in their pockets…

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    • I was thinking the same thing. Somebody’s (insert obscure family member of politician here) got paid bank for a few bucks worth of steel.

  • I don’t quite get the opening comment of “This could only happen in Canada”.  Are you implying that no other country makes mistakes, or has stupid people, or lazy contracters?

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  • I live right next them it is pretty hilarious. But dude, stop calling Ottawa a town! It’s a city with almost 1 million people…. 

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    • Sorry Ottawa’s a town, a small one at that. Spend some time abroad and you’ll see what I’m talking about. For example Shanghai has 18M people….

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      • “Spend some time abroad and you’ll see what I’m talking about” – Really? I’ve lived in Europe and travelled all over Asia. My point is, technically Ottawa is not a town. It is a city. THE capital city actually. By your rational, Toronto is a town as well. What about Boston or San Fran? Cause guess what, Ottawa is larger than both of those.  

  • They could make it the first Canadian Quiddich park!

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    • You beat me to it! :)

  • You think thats bad. What the heck is this??

  • Yeah.  You can obviously trust bureaucrats with your money.  They’re so frugal…  $50,000.00 for THAT dreck?

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    • Oh, I can top that.  Durham, UK, our City Council are so up their own backsides that they decided to revamp our historic city centre (which is beautiful and old).  Ripped out the stones, moved the enormous horse and general statue, removed Neptunes statue only to replace the stones with, yes you guessed it, more stones.  Neptunes plinth got moved to where they thought it would look best but it got in the way of traffic as they couldn’t make the corner without clipping it as it aws too close.  And they didn’t put Neptune back on it.  After a few months they had to rip up most of it, move the plinth, resite Neptune to his original position and fix part of the floor that they hadn’t put in properly because they had squeezed in arty seating that had to be removed anyway.  And they still insist that it was all a success.

    • Crazy!  I would have done it for $49,000. 


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