Since the launch of this campaign, Earl Ma has been one of the 76 Ball's most passionate supporters, but he has outdone himself with his latest effort: a series of short films celebrating spinning 76 Balls on display in their natural habitats. Part one: Hawai'i!
Earl's films were all shot in Spring 2006, and more will be posted soon. Anyone with a favorite local 76 Ball and access to DV-quality equipment, please make your own film and we'll be happy to share it on this site.
I asked Earl about his intent with creating these shorts, and he replied, "This is the least we can do in terms of 'preserving' them, in full color/motion, for future generations, because there is no telling how long these specific examples will last." He is interested in "illustrating in an animated manner why these signs matter--because of how they fit into the cityscape at large. And they're not supposed to be static (of course it doesn't help when they're not turned on)." His main reason for getting out in the streets with his camera? "Nobody else has taken the initiative to do this!"
Hooray for Earl Ma and for the 76 Ball!
Micro Fuel Union 76 station, 540 N. Nimitz Highway, Honolulu, HI, March 2006
George's Union 76 self-service station, 500 Kapahulu Avenue, Honolulu, HI, March 2006
Tenn's Enchanted Lake Union 76 service station, Enchanted Lake Shopping Center, 1010 Keolu Drive, Kailua, HI, March 2006
Hank's Union 76 service station, Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center, 46-047 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe, HI, March 2006
Thanks to Brandi at Team Madsen, we can offer interested 76 Ball fans this graphic and email text to send out to people who you think would like to know about the campaign. Just right-click the image and save it to your desktop, then you can send it out in emails. We appreciate all your comments, great ideas and support from around the world. Spread the word and together we can Save Our Balls!
Please click the image above to visit the site and learn how you too can help save a part of America's history. If you are unable to visit the link by clicking the image - you can just copy and paste the following link into your web browser: http://www.savethe76ball.com/ Campaign was started and is run by Kim Cooper and Nathan Marsak. Supporters include the "76 Ball" creator Ray Pederson and actor Michael Madsen.
Please forward this email to anyone and everyone who you think may support our fight! Thank you for your support!!!!!
Disclaimer: Email and logo above were created by Brandi Blanchard "FilmReelGirl Productions (c) 2006" in support of the Save the 76 Ball Campaign. Pictures used in the above logo were taken from these websites: The BBC and Save the 76 Ball and they retain their original copyrights. This email was sent to you by an acquaintance in the hopes that you would support our fight. If you do not feel the need to support the campaign, please disregard and delete this email as you are not on any mailing list to receive any more.
We are honored to report that cartoonist Bill Griffith, father of Zippy the Pinhead and champion of daffy signage (see: Doggy Diner) will be celebrating the endangered 76 Ball in a strip that will run in over 200 daily papers on July 24. Thanks, Bill and thank you Zippy! Even pinheads know how great the 76 Ball sign is... so why don't the suits at ConocoPhillips?
Actor fights for Hollywood balls
By Chris Vallance, BBC News
Hollywood actor Michael Madsen, best known for his roles in films such as Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill and Sin City, has thrown his weight behind a web-based campaign to save an iconic piece of Americana.
The Union 76 petrol station signs, otherwise known as the "76 Ball", have been a feature of the Los Angeles landscape for nearly 50 years.
The large orange spheres were created by designer Ray Pedersen for the 1962 Seattle World's fair.
The signs have even had cameo appearances in Hollywood movies - one was knocked down by a rampaging T-Rex in the film Jurassic Park: The Lost World.
But the 76 balls, which adorn petrol stations across the Western US, are being replaced with more conservative flat signs by Union 76's Texan parent company ConocoPhillips, sparking a blog-based campaign for their preservation.
Madsen said he decided to join the cause after seeing a newspaper report detailing blogger Kim Cooper's efforts to save the historic signs.
"There seems to be this driving force to tear down everything that's a little old", he told the BBC.
"These are things that were landmarks, it's a symbol that I remember from childhood. What's the point of smashing them and putting up flat signs?"
In Madsen's view Los Angeles' increasingly bland environment is representative of a process of thoughtless modernisation that is taking over the movies too, "everything is just getting completely homogenised", the actor said.
"I grew up in a time when I watched actors like Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum... those are the movies that I liked and I responded to.
"They're all gone now and there's no talent like that anymore, there's no immensity of talent that exists like that in the motion picture industry.
The same thing is happening to the motion picture industry that is happening to the landscape
"Even the movies are turning into a bunch of junk.
"They think if they put a handsome face in there or a good-looking body and they surround it with enough cars blowing up, that it is going to be entertaining... but in the long run it's just not going to last.
"It's all empty, there's no story anymore... the same thing is happening to the motion picture industry that is happening to the landscape."
As well as lending his voice to the campaign Madsen has made a personal effort to save the signs from destruction.
Having been tipped off about a facility where dismantled balls we being kept he attempted to purchase one, but was told that they were all going to be crushed.
He said, "I get so mystified by things like that. Not only do they want to take them down, but they are going to make sure they smash everyone of them into pieces."
The 76 Ball is not the first piece of disappearing street furniture that the star has attempted to save.
He is also buying one of Britain's old red telephone boxes in an effort to preserve a little bit of the London that he remembers.
"I'm in the process of purchasing one of the phone boxes for myself and having it put up in the front of the garden. My kids aren't going to see the same London that I saw, my kids aren't going to see the same California that I saw."