Item 33 | What the Deuce?! -- Fearless Cultural Mania
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Why is Wagner posing in front of El Con Mall in Tucson?

Read on.

Smut Patrol

Wagner turns the censors on their heads.

It was 10 a.m. a few years ago. I was sitting in a meeting, bored absolutely skull-numb -- as usual. The company with which I had been consulting had assembled all employees into "teams," according to project. Now, at project's end, all the members of the "team" were gathered into a conference room and presented with a survey. Entirely worthless, a complete waste of time -- which is to say, exactly like pretty much any survey.
Here are some of the survey statements, which we were instructed to rate on a scale from "strongly agree" to "strongly disagree":
  • "I am proud to be a part of this team."
  • "I would do just about anything to help the team."
  • "This team often laughs and plays together."
  • "Our team serves a vital purpose."
There was no way I was going to take part in any dumb-ass survey (it was bad enough being on a "team"), so I passed the time by mentally making pictures out the negative spaces in the survey company's bizarre, pseudo-Asian-looking logo:

Then I turned the logo upside-down. I was sure a like-minded artist had left a message commenting on these stupid surveys:

I figured it had to be intentional. There's no other reason for the otherwise superfluous pen strokes and marks. Also, the survey company's name was Campbell-Hallam, yet in the logo the letters appeared in backward order: HC instead of CH.

Suddenly overcome by the spirit of teamwork, I shared my discovery with the rest of the "team."

They were less than enthusiastic, except for one woman. She claimed she knew the person who had worked on the design for Tucson's El Con Mall and that he had intentionally worked the same word over & over -- upside-down -- into the mall's pseudo-tribal decoration.

And that's why Wagner was at El Con Mall. And it turned out the woman was right:

Update, October 2000: Does my photo violate an El Con Mall Rule?

Update, April 2009: An historical antecedent.