WHIMcity: The Moustache Ride
WHIMcity with Spike Gillespie
Sometime last year I was driving through my East Austin neighborhood, when I spotted an enormous moustache and glasses affixed to the El Chilito signpost at the corner of Cherrywood & Manor. Before I even discovered that this hilarious public art also doubled as a seesaw and an entendre, I fell in love with it. My goal to feel genuine gratitude every day of my life received a tremendous boost from the kinetic sculpture—anytime I needed a lift (physical or spiritual) I could just visit the Moustache Ride.
One night, I was parked in the El Chilito parking lot, waiting for my son to join me for some nice migas burritos. An SUV was blocking my moustache view, but I could hear loud, joyful squealing coming from near the structure. I got out to investigate, and as I rounded the SUV, I saw two little kids—standing on the sidewalk watching their mother and father go up and down, up and down, their mom unable to control her delighted laughter each time she flew toward the sky.
I wrote an essay for the Austinist last December about a perfect day I had in Austin and I mentioned the Moustache Ride. Nicolas Rivard, one of four collaborators who created it, saw the piece and sent me a note. This got the ball rolling and eventually I got to meet Nicolas, along with Davey McEathron, Charles Melanson, Bob Zrudsky and John Algood—the other geniuses behind the ride. Turns out these clever whippersnappers all come from architectural and design backgrounds. They share a workspace over at 618 Tillery, creating all sorts of innovative and practical pieces, nearly everything constructed from repurposed materials.
The four, under the title ¡el grupo!, fashioned the moustache as part of the Payphone Revival Project which exists to turn old, abandoned payphone booths into cool art. ¡El grupo! chose to actually use pieces of a phone booth as part of the seesaw.
I was super-bummed when I found out that, due to insurance risks, the Moustache Ride was removed from the El Chilito signpost a while ago. For the time being, it is over at the 618 Studio, until it finds a new home. I’m contemplating throwing a KickStarter campaign to raise the funds to move it over to my backyard. Because I have had an awful lot of whimsical fun in Austin since I moved here twenty years ago, but the Moustache Ride honestly ranks darn near close to the top of the list. How I’d love to have that thrill right outside my backdoor.