Shop Talk: When tourism gets groovy

Nothing like a random oversized object to market your piddly burg. See, for example, Baker, Calif. (world’s largest thermo meter), Cawker City, Kan. (world’s largest ball of twine), and Darwin, Minn. (world’s largest ball of twine built by one man). Now Soap Lake, a down trodden spa town in eastern Wash ing ton, wants to build the world’s largest lava lamp.

Brent Blake, an “architect, interior designer, graphic designer, artist, painter, Harley bike rider and amateur archae olo gist,” dreamed up the idea with John Glassco. Blake admits the idea is “weird and out there,” but says the “kinetic piece of sculpture … has merit from an art standpoint.” Also, he says, the “calming, sooth ing” properties of the lamp would tie in with the healing qualities of the town’s min eral-rich water.

“I suppose it’s better than not having a 60-foot-high lava lamp,” says Kevin Kehoe, co-president of state-tourism agency Pub licis in the West, Seattle, adding that it would actually further the lava theme used so successfully by Mount St. Helens. If the lamp is built (it’s a big if), could it be used in tourism ads? “One res pon sibility we have is to pro mote all of Washington’s diverse regions,” he says. “Does a little town like Soap Lake fit into one of the things you didn’t know about Washing ton? It’s as cool as the Space Needle. Why wouldn’t you take your kids to see the world’s largest lava lamp?”

Even if you have a good answer to that, Blake doesn’t want to hear it. “I’m not gonna rest until it’s built,” he says.