Here in Milwaukee, we have some interesting landmarks. With the Hoan Bridge, seen at the end of the Blues Brothers, the Calatrava-designed Art Museum, and the former Bank One building where I used to work on the 18th floor, there’s a lot to see.
So yesterday, on the first truly warm day of the year, we headed out to show Ollie his hometown. We were Hometown Tourists (dorks), taking pictures of buildings and landmarks we see on a daily basis, just because we’re downtown and have a camera.
Our intended destination was Downtown’s riverwalk, where there were cooler breezes, interesting people to look at, and of course, The Bronze Fonz.
Yes, of course, it’s the Bronze Fonz.
A few years back, someone somewhere in Milwaukee decided to spend something like $85,000 to commission a bronze statue commemorating Happy Days. Because the show was set — but not filmed! — here in Milwaukee, we were looking to honor a well-loved tv show. Like the statue of Andy and Opie somewhere in North Carolina and Mary Tyler Moore in Minneapolis. I just don’t know if Happy Days is worthy of such honoring, but that’s apparently just me.
As an aside, however, I would like to come clean that I have declared “I hate Happy Days” and stand by that statement. I really don’t like the show and often get embarrassment goosebumps if it happens to be on. Every time The Fonz (see? that right there, typing “The Fonz” gave me shivers) did actually say his “eeeehhhhhhhhh!” I get chill bumps.
Happy Days and I just don’t have a good relationship.
The buzz the Bronze Fonz sorta caused when it was pitched and considered; and when it was unveiled, we had a reunion of Happy Days cast-members in town for the Big Reveal. (Strangely, Ron Howard wasn’t able to create a hole in his schedule to make the trip. huh, go figure.) It was a big, fat cheesy to-do back in 2008. I think Potsie sang the National Anthem at a Brewers’ game that night.
Personally, I think someone really liked the idea of a Bronze Fonz just because of the rhyme it created, not so much because of the tv character it is honoring.
And, I sorta think it’s kinda ugly.
The statue is shorter than I am, but I hear it’s life-size, so apparently Henry Winkler is a bit on the short side (who knew the “King of Cool” is pint-sized?) and unfortunately, The Bronze Fonz honestly and seriously looks nothing like Henry Winkler. In fact, he’s a little creepy. Even Ollie was suspicious…(rightfully so, Ollie! In pictures he’s even creepier than I remember; have you seen his eyes? ::shudder::)
Unexpectedly, though, we had to wait to get close to this second-rate tourist trap. There was a line of people wanting to do exactly what we were doing: poke a little fun at Milwaukee’s strange honor, arms around the statue, giving the camera the “thumbs up” right along with this counterfeit Winkler.
We took our pictures, made our comments, and headed on our way. Up and down the riverwalk a couple times and then home. On the way, we did get a couple pictures of some true Milwaukee landmarks. Our City Hall, which I consider one of our most beautiful buildings in our skyline. (Also featured in the opening credits for LaVerne & Shirley, another show thatwas supposed to be set in Milwaukee — where’s their statue, huh?)
As we headed back to the car, we passed The Bronze Fonz again. Matty thought he looked lonely, so he took his picture again. I don’t know if he looks lonely, but I do think he looks pretty cheesy. In real life, his pants are more turquoise than denim and his face is just sorta…weird. But most bronze statues are a bit on the scary side.
I have to admit, I rolled my eyes when I heard of the effort to bring the Bronze Fonz to fruition. But, it made for an entertaining afternoon and rewarded us with some fun pictures, and I think that’s totally the point, right?