Ripleys/Believe It Or Not

11350645_1437518303233185_299193078909005322_n.jpgjimi casette headRipleys Tall Guy

Yesterday, believe it or not, we went to Ripley’s famous museum at the Fisherman’s Wharf area in San Francisco, this was the same day we toured the US Navy WWII submarine the Pampanito, which I wrote a blog about yesterday…..My daughter and granddaughter are in town so we are really playing the tourist here lately, but it is a great way to see things I would otherwise overlook or never visit at all, and as long as my family is in town we will keep going……

Robert Ripley was an eccentric weirdo, he was very dedicated, a noted world traveler and an intrepid explorer and he devoted his entire life to uncovering oddities, aberrations and completely off the charts exhibits of human beings and their strange customs, beliefs and artifacts from all over the world…..We are all strange, admittedly, but he really pushed the envelope in putting together his collection…..

He did the bulk of his collecting in the 1920’s and 1930’s…..We saw wonder after extreme wonder at Ripley’s, of course I have seen it before as it is a well know American institution, and most of you baby boomers have had at least the opportunity too see for yourselves some of these exhibits, oddities and curiosities with your own eyes in your own home towns…For those who have not, here is a brief listing of some of the exhibits we saw….

There was a wax figure of a 9 foot tall man, reputedly the tallest human being ever born, who weighed 460 pounds, and he was not fat at all, totally proportional, and he lived out a normal lifespan…Too bad he wasn’t around for the current NBA!…There was a large cable car and a model of the space shuttle entirely made of matchsticks on display, faithful to the tiniest of details that blows my mind, and there were several models of bridges and structures carved out of old wooden cigar boxes and allegedly put together without glue, paste or nails….

There was a wedding dress made out of toilet paper….There was an acrobat, a woman who slid across Times Square in NY supported only by a device she clamped her teeth around to hold onto, this was a video…There was an Asian man who had a horn, like a unicorn, nearly 12 inches long, growing out of the back of his head, and another Asian man with blue skin, these were both wax figurines of people who lived otherwise normal lives…..

There was a more modern, almost futuristic spinning room with brightly colored flashing lights that was very disorienting because when you walked through it you felt like you were going to be flipped upside down, like some weird carnival ride, but in reality you passed through to the other side unscathed….There were exhibits and videos of headhunters from some isolated jungle areas which described in precise detail how to shrink heads, and explained how these tribal people did this to honor their slain enemies…

There were some really cool exhibits of Jimi Hendrix made entirely out of old cassette tapes, and right next to him were models of Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia and Carlos Santana made entirely of wires….They looked as real as a painting or a sculpture, and I guess in this case the medium really was the message…

There were bizarre exhibits like the women from a certain tribe in Africa who were forced to wear neck bracelets from an early age to elongate their necks, they coiled several bracelets around their necks so their necks stretched out as they grew older….. This was done to make them attractive to their own tribe but repulsive to men from other tribes…..

There was a painful to look at wax figurine model of a beautiful Chinese woman whose feet were cruelly bound and disfigured for life…This was a ritualistic practice for a long time by rich people in China, and they performed this intentional disfigurement to mark the women as special, royal or marked for favor at court…

They actually broke the feet of the children chosen for this honor when they were very young, usually before 10 years of age, and bent their toes toward the heels until they touched, and then tightly bound them for years….When they were full grown, their feet were very, very tiny…This was considered a state of beauty among the upper classes, as horribly deformed and cruel a practice as it seems to us now….

There were tiny, tiny carvings of elephants made out of ivory, so small that 100 of them could fit in a seed, and they sold the seeds for as low as 25 cents each….You could not even make out that they were elephants without a screen magnifier, but imagine the dedication of these artisans! This was one of my personal favorites….

All in all, I saw a lot of things I would never have dreamed ever existed anywhere, in any time span, so in that sense the exhibit was definitely educational….There were crowds of people and lots of wide eyed children seeing all these oddities for the first time, so the aura was both festive and reflective…But in the long run, it just shows how diverse and different our various cultures are and how they each developed their own customs, habits and superstitions over the years…..

As the old saying goes, different strokes for different folks….


Just leave it like it is right now

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s