/ art

Cadillac Ranch on FM802 Osaka

I went in to FM802 Osaka yesterday to record my bi-monthly radio corner about Texas. I’ve been doing this for a show called Beat Expo twice a month for almost two years now and we never run out of “only in Texas” things to talk about.

One of the nice side effects of doing the show is that I have a reason to stay updated on what goes on in the Lone Star State while living on the other side of the planet. And since it is a Japanese radio variety show, there is a desire to focus on the positive. We can get our news about assault rifle-toting nut jobs elsewhere quite easily, even in Japan.

But the best of Texas rarely makes the headlines. I think that’s a shame because there’s so much to love. At least I can do something about that in my own small way: I can talk about the brighter and unique side of Texas on Japanese radio.

Of course, I have to read about all things Texas online since I live in Osaka. I have a few go-to sources for getting Texas news and event updates. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting an idea from what my Texan friends are posting on Facebook.

Often, I start by visiting Texas Monthly’s website. This can be an excellent diving-off point, as it was yesterday.


One of the segments I recorded for FM802 yesterday was about the 40th anniversary of Cadillac Ranch near Amarillo. Cadillac Ranch is a line of classic Cadillac automobiles half-buried nose first into the flat dirt of the Texas panhandle. Present are various Cadillac models made between 1949 and 1963 in all of their tailfin glory.

Chances are that you’ve seen an image of Cadillac Ranch somewhere, even if you didn’t know it by name. The art installation has even made its way into some pop culture: Bruce Springsteen had a song about it apparently, and its likeness appears in Pixar’s Cars.

I’ve never seen Cadillac Ranch in person but I consider it to be one of the most iconic art installations in Texas. The Cadillacs themselves remind us of a bygone era of Texas when these giant cars were a highly-favored mode of transportation across the state.

A few years ago at a bookshop in San Francisco, I came across a copy of This is Texas by Miroslav Sasek. It was a modern update to a children’s book that was originally published in 1967. One of the original illustrations points out the fact that Texans (or at least people in Wichita Falls) love their big Cadillac cars; this would have been true back in 1967. But the book’s modern reprint now provides a footnote that these days Texans prefer oversized pickup trucks (or SUVs).

I think I’m just old enough to remember the tail-end of Texas’ transition from the Cadillac to the truck. I can still recall all of these boat-sized cars navigating the roads when I was a kid…


News to me:- Cadillac Ranch was made by a group of three artists from San Francisco collectively called Art Farm.

  • The project’s patron, Stanley Marsh 3, died on June 17, 2014 (just a few days ago), around the time of the 40th anniversary of the creation of Cadillac Ranch.
  • According to the Amarillo Globe-News, the Cadillacs were inserted into the ground at an angle matching that of the Pyramids of Giza.
  • Also, I had no idea that the whole of Cadillac Ranch had been dug up and moved in the late 90s. I was too busy being a floppy haired high school kid in Dallas, light years away from dusty Amarillo.