Stanley Marsh 3, owner and patron of the Cadillac Ranch, died June 17th.

For my readers under the age of 40, Cadillac Ranch was an art installation built in 1974 by the Ant Farm, a San Francisco collective of artists and architects. It is still visible along the old Route 66 near Amarillo, TX.

Cadillac Ranch soon after installation, 1974

In an episode of Charles Kuralt’s On the Road, Marsh had this to say about the work:

Charles Kuralt: “When people ask you, what are all those ten Cadillacs doing out there in your wheat field? What do you answer?”

Stanley Marsh 3: “Depends on who they are…when I get a chance I lie to them. I tell them it’s for an Elvis Presley movie or Evel Knievel to jump over or maybe it’s the Caddy Cult, and it’s the new Mother Church for Home Religion. I tell them whatever strikes my fancy.”

CK: “If I asked you, what would you tell me?”

SM: “Well I’d have to tell you the truth. The truth is it’s a roadside spectacular sculpture made by a group called the Ant Farm, architects from San Francisco.

“From ’48 to ’64 that was the American Dream, the Cadillac fins. They’re the American Dream because they were so badly made and so cheap that after two or three years anyone could have one.”

"Caddy Ranch July 2006" by David // Released under Creative Commons 2.0

“Caddy Ranch July 2006″ by David // Released under Creative Commons 2.0

Early photos of the project can be found at Wyatt McSpadden Photography.

ht Simone // via Route 66 News.

Hitting bottom


I think a convincing argument can be made that civilization is addicted to fossil fuels. Thus when discussing the “cultural problem” of climate change, it is helpful to realize that we are dealing with a culture that exhibits addictive behavior. We cannot imagine life without our drugs, oil & coal; we cannot see that continued use of our drugs is counterproductive to our own wellbeing; we cannot accept rational arguments that would make it obvious that our addiction is slowly killing us and all the things that we love. Our lives are rapidly becoming unmanageable, and our self-loathing rises with each new bout of excess. We cannot continue, and yet we cannot stop.

My assertion that industrial civilization is headed towards collapse is based on many years of observing this addict’s behavior. As a youth in the 70’s I believed that we would soon embrace the ideas of ecology and conservation — but forty years later humanity is farther than ever from having a non-exploitative relationship with our planet.

But we have not yet hit bottom. We still think there is a way for us to continue to get what we crave, free of pain or consequence. We believe technology will find a way for us to keep fixing — we will invent substitutes for our favorite drugs — biofuels or solar power will still get us high, not quite as high as we did with oil and coal, but high enough so that we don’t really have to change how we live.

We refuse to take responsibility for the destruction and death we are inflicting on our planet and on each other. We blame our addiction on our circumstances, and say we have no choice but to live as we do. We believe that it will all turn out fine, that what we have thrown away will magically reappear. Even when we finally do admit that we have a problem, we will still be faced with the world we have wrought.