Friday, May 6, 2011

I Make Fun of State Quarters: Arizona

I want you to think for five, ten seconds about what would appear on the Arizona state quarter. Don't cheat and scrounge through your wallet, just do it. All right, that should be enough time. What did you come up with?

Well, maybe for the redesign. No, it looks something like this:

Of course the most impressive natural feature in the country is going to dominate the Arizona quarter. The state's Wikipedia article doesn't even have a section for notable attractions, so what else would they put on there if they didn't go with the canyon? The cactus wren? Jimmy Eat World? They don't call it the Grand Canyon State for nothing, after all. Though the only problem with this seems to be the scale. Is it really a good idea to distill a 277-mile long geological wonder into a gray, one-inch vista? Given the halfhearted boycott efforts against Arizona, I have to wonder if some people canceled a vacation and instead wedged an Arizona state quarter into their eye socket and imagined they were there...after some apocalyptic event left everything gray and lifeless, of course.

In fact, there were four finalists for the Mint design and three of them zeroed in on the giant erosion pit. One was just the canyon alone, another added a human element by focusing on the 1869 expedition of John Wesley Powell down the Colorado River and through the canyon, and a final one was pretty much the winning design with the cacti in different locations. Whoever put all that time and effort into it must have been pissed. Another QUARTER-finalist (suck it, professional stand-ups!) honored the Navajo codetalkers of World War II, but the state apparently realized it had an image to uphold of excluding people who have lived there all along as well as those folk from south of the Rio Grande.

QuarterDesigns, a site dedicated to the official quarters as well as the finalists and a few other trivia bits, has a surprisingly complete page dedicated to the Arizona coin. It seems the Arizona Daily Star had a design contest where people were invited to submit their own ideas. Several were detailed, thought-out efforts showcasing unique architecture, desert scenery, or the mythical jackalope. Others were cheesy tourist trap pictures, such as a cactus giving the peace sign or a cartoon snowbird playing golf for some reason. Others referenced heat, drought, scarce work, or other variations on the theme of "this state sucks." But for that pure, welcoming Arizona attitude, you can't beat the submission of Murray Bolesta:

Fine, dick. I'll make my own Grand Canyon. With blackjack, and hookers.

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