|The modern-day petroglyphs of spermatozoa adorning the walls of the underpass at Exit 120 in Mesquite.|
Traveling up and down the interstate, road engineers have been very creative in decorating bridges and overpasses. In Las Vegas the overpasses are colorful, with various engravings like horses, bighorn sheep, and even fighter jets adorning the highway structures.
When you think about it, these are our modern day petroglyphs - permanent markings in "stone" that will be around for thousands of years, or until the Nevada Department of Transportation decides to replace those bridges.
The mustangs represent our state's proud tradition of wild horses roaming the millions of acres of BLM-owned land. The desert bighorn sheep? Nevada's official animal (not to be confused with Colorado's official animal, the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep). Even the jets have significance, since they are part of the overpass that leads to the Nellis Air Force Base.
About five years ago, Mesquite finally got its highway art.
As part of the Grapevine overpass which crosses the interstate to connect Pioneer Blvd. to Mesquite Blvd. mid-city, Mesquite requested and received a big yellow orb backing a flat tan mountain. It was supposed to be the city's official logo of a large sun setting on Flat Top Mesa, the artwork which can be found on city vehicles and letterhead.
Instead, after some mischievous pranksters placed a small dot of black rocks inside the yellow circle, drivers up and down the interstate began asking themselves why Mesquite's insignia was a large PacMan eating a mountain range.
"Did we just pass PacMan City?" was probably a common question.
Fortunately, thanks to the intersection NDOT recently built at exit 120, we have a new symbol of civic pride: Spermatozoa.
Built into the walls underneath the bridge that crosses Falcon Ridge Parkway is a collection of what look like badly engraved sperm cells. It's a certainty that government officials will insist that the designs are supposed to be some sort of decorative rock. To be fair, the concrete surfaces above and below the line of spermatozoa are shaped and colored to look like boulders. What Mesquite has to do with the Flintstones, I'll never know. Maybe when combined with the PacMan symbol, our city can capitalize on a new tourist-friendly cartoon theme. Since some in our city government believe the road to prosperity will be paved with out-of-state kids playing soccer in a $5 million tent, it's probably a valid move.
But spermatozoa between the boulders?
When you think about it, while the sperm cells swimming along the wall might be considered distasteful by some, the ejaculate is actually the most honest depiction any government has ever created. It's the perfect symbol for that interchange.
For starters, NDOT basically date-raped the city by insisting that the new exit should include roundabouts, those insidious fender-benders that have damaged more cars in this country than hail, hurricanes, and Firestone tires.
Because of our city government's whorish nature in shamelessly pursuing state and federal grants (you know, "free money"), the 2010 city council prostituted itself by going against the wishes of local citizens who didn't want the roundabouts. Those citizens got screwed. Also, because the Regional Traffic Commission said they would pull a few million in state funding if we didn't include those ovary-shaped obscenities, our council happily bent over and grabbed their ankles in anticipation of the pile of money to be left on the nightstand.
Cementing the choice of spermatozoa on the walls as an apt symbol, all you have to do is look at an aerial shot of the new Exit 120 interchange. When viewed from the correct angle, the interstate bisecting the two roundabouts looks a lot like a long, thin penis with two testicles.
So while it may be embarrassing for those of us who actually live here, the sperm cells on the underpass walls are probably the most honest roadside symbols in the entire state. Maybe the whole country.
The next time you're negotiating the bumper car ride on the west end of town and you pass under the Spermatozoa Bridge, simply lean back in your seat, smile, and enjoy seeing your tax dollars at work.