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Ah ha! After months of wondering, I've finally found it. "It" is the name and location of a statue that has been looming large in recent months on my television: an orange, double-helix fountain sculpture.

I first noticed the sculpture late last year in a Sprint Mobile Broadband television commercial. It was background set decoration. Big and bright orange, it stands out from a typical back drop. Because it appears in a commercial, I assumed that it must be in Los Angeles, where most commercials are shot. Yet within days, I spotted a Dockers television commercial when a man in business slacks runs in front of it. The Dockers' ad prominently featured San Francisco landmarks.

Now I HAD to know where that statue was, featured as it was in two television commercials running simultaneously, apparently featuring two different locations. I was especially curious as to this statue's location, perhaps even because such a large, noticeable object was completely unnecessary for the products' sales pitches. (Though let's face it: I don't have a laptop computer, and I'm not wearing slacks. I've been paying too much attention to these commercials. come to think of it, I probably pay too much attention to all commercials. But that's why they run them, right?) Google searches on "orange fountain sculpture" in "LA" and "San Francisco" turned up nothing. That statue could have been anywhere.

But tonight I caught a break! The statue was featured prominently as "Kirby Plaza" in New York City during tonight's "Heroes" episode, "The Hard Part." (I fully endorse NBC's "Heroes," by the way. It's great television.) As I suspected, the name "Kirby Plaza" was fictitious, an homage to Jack "King" Kirby, the man most responsible for the look of modern comic books. (He's so important, he has his own museum.) Thank goodness for obsessive fans. One show fansite mentioned that ARCO Plaza was a planned shooting location for the episode. A few clicks later and eureka! (That's "eureka" as in, "I found it," not "Eureka" as in the also Wriphe-endorsed show on the NBC-owned Sci-Fi Channel.)

Double Ascension

Summarizing from the steel statue, titled "Double Ascension," was installed in 1973 in ARCO Plaza in Los Angeles. The statue was designed by Bauhaus professor Herbert Bayer as the first in a series of Los Angeles public art pieces aimed at helping to revitalize downtown LA. Bayer originally named the piece "Stairway to Nowhere," but ARCO executives didn't much like that title (for obvious reasons), so it was changed.

The plaza, a virtual city-within-a-city, has since been renamed City National Plaza after City National Bank bought the buildings after they were vacated by ARCO following ARCOs assimilation by BP. There seems to have been some concern that with new corporate owners would come changes to the site. Instead, the sculpture, seen from several angles here at, has been embraced by City National and become something of a motif for the new owners' decorations, serving as a pattern for the surrounding tables as well as the logo for the building's website. I also discovered that in addition to the recent commercials and television appearances, the piece was in the movie Pretty Woman.

The plaza are managed by Thomas Properties Group (TPG), which also manages LA's Universal City, home of and General Electric's NBC Universal Studios. Filmed at Universal City is a television show called "Heroes." (Did I mention how good that show is?) Does this make "Double Ascension"'s recent media exposure coincidence or conspiracy? You be the judge. Meanwhile, I'll keep my eyes out for an appearance of the statue on "Eureka" just in case it shows up there.

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Today's blog entry was going to be about how much I hate those stupid inflatable yard holiday decorations, but then I realized that everything in the blog has been negative this month. So instead, let me mention something that I actually like: Heroes on NBC.

Heroes is up against Monday Night Football and is marketed to that group of television viewers that is disinterested in sports (you know, geeks and women). As much as I love comic books, I'm not going to bypass weekly football for a television show about, well, anything. I wouldn't have ever discovered this gem except for NBC's brilliant decision to also air it on their sister station SciFi Network on Fridays before Doctor Who, which I also love. And starting last week, now streams old episodes so that I can catch up on the elements that I missed. (Heroes is as much an episodic serial as any other soap opera, so, believe me, there was a lot to catch up on.)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: America loves super heroes. (I think it's part of the American Dream.) Despite the entertainment ghetto to which comic books have been traditionally relegated, they continue to inspire more popular entertainments such as movies and television shows. If this show was a comic, it would never reach the mass audience it deserves. And it's a blast to find a well-written television show that contains as much wonder, suspense, and excitement as an issue of Grant Morrison's JLA. If Superman Returns had been written half as well as this, it could have been among the greatest movies ever.

Yet despite being a television show designed for a mass audience, the show is very loyal to its comic book roots. (In one episode, a major character is revealed to be a member of the "Merry Marvel Marching Society." Sweet!) Heroes is an enjoyable mixture of X-Men meets X-Files with a hint of Smallville. Though this makes it a little predictable for longtime comic readers, it more than makes up for that with an enthusiastic and encouraging embrace of the super hero genre. In any given episode, you'll find such echos of such characters as DC's Phosphorus Man, Thorn, and Waverider, or Marvel's Cannonball, Rogue, and Shadowcat. Excelsior!

So there you go. Something I like. This blog will now resume its regularly scheduled bitching.

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To be continued...


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