A guide to all things gross in America

bubblegum alley

Bubblegum Alley in San Luis Obispo was high on my list of things to see when I spent a couple of weeks wandering around the Central Coast of California a few years ago.

bubblegum alley 1

It’s a fascinating piece of collaborative street art. All along the 70-foot wall in this narrow alleyway, people have placed their pieces of chewed up gum in highly decorative and innovative ways, making statements and expressing emotions.

It’s also kind of gross and probably pretty germy.

49174_1eff4c5d047ed91c91b11241335696f9_2b4928a35f6e84dec9d9bc79fd82b29aAnd it’s just the type of attraction you’d expect to be mentioned in Richard Faulk’s book ‘Gross America: Your Coast-to-Coast Guide to All Things Gross’.

And it is but only as a footnote to Faulk’s review the Market Theater Gum Wall located beneath the Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Start reading ‘Gross America’ and you’ll soon discover that walls laden with bubblegum art are pretty tame compared with some of the gross attractions that Faulk has found in his travels.

Turns out that everything from the world’s largest fungus (in Malheur National Forest, Orgeon) to the oldest human turd (at the University of Eugene, Oregon) can be found in America.

Did you know, for example, that there’s a museum in California where you can find fungus-zombie ants? Or that there is a food court at the University of Colorado, Boulder named after an infamous cannibal?

And if you think it’s all West Coast weirdness, think again.

It’s just as weird and gross in the East Coast.

At one dog park in Cambridge, Massachusetts there’s poop-powered lamps lighting the way.

Weird art and anthropomorphic taxidermy (translation: dressing dead animals in outfits and posing them in human activities) can be found at the Morbid Anatomy Museum in Brooklyn, New York.

So take a trip across America with Gross America if you dare. I promise you will never be bored.

(photos @Liz Lewis 2011)

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