For those of you who have neighbors who have tacky taste in lawn decorations, thank your lucky stars you don’t live next to Dr. Newton Howard. About two years ago, brain scientist and 80s robot enthusiast Dr. Howard decided to pay homage to the Transformers and piss off his neighbors by putting two life-size sculptures of Transformers Optimus Prime and Bumblebee outside of his house. The battle between good (Dr. Howard’s robots) and evil (good taste and the D.C. public space committee) has raged on. The war has blown up to the point that the REAL Optimus Prime and Bumblebee have gotten involved.
Howard put up the two-ton robots in front of his home as he believes that the Transformers “convey the message of humans coexisting with machines.” Apparently, the message didn’t get across to his neighbors because they have no intention of “coexisting” with these more than meets the eye-sores. The local council got involved and stated that the famous autobots were just outside of his property lines, so he needed a public space permit to keep them standing. Nobody has backed down, so the Great Robot Battle has rumbled on for a couple of years. In the latest part of this saga, Howard brought out the big guns at a recent hearing for permit permission: the original voices of Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen) and Bumblebee (Dan Gilvezan)! via DCist:
Cullen and Gilvezan’s robot voices were on hand for the monthly virtual meeting of the D.C. Public Space Committee, a government body that decides whether public space can be used for things like sidewalk cafes and fast-food drive-thrus to retaining walls and, well, massive metal sculptures of cartoon characters that technically occupy a portion of a sidewalk outside a private home. (Spoiler alert: The committee said no to Optimus Prime and Bumblebee.)
If you think this all sounds incredibly idiotic, this is what Optimus Prime and Bumblebee had to say about his doctor buddy’s decision to honor them through the medium of sculpture:
“I, Optimus Prime, pale to his heroism. Georgetown should be proud to share his visions of transformation. Peace is the right of all sentient beings. Autobots, humans, let us transform until all are one!” said Prime.
(Bumblebee:) “It seems fitting to me that we heroes who fight every day for freedom and liberty belong in a place so closely associated with those very qualities, the capital of this great country,” he said. “Now, I understand some people think that these statues don’t fit the character of the neighborhood, that they stand out like a sore thumb. Well, first, I resent being compared to a sore thumb. A healthy, well-functioning thumb, maybe, but a sore thumb? It’s also been said that they don’t reflect the historic nature of the district. Are you kidding me? We Autobots have been around for millennia. You want to talk historic? We’re prehistoric.”
Sadly, despite the bizarre yet moving words, Howard couldn’t convince the committee and was denied his public space permit. Are we sure they haven’t been infiltrated by the Decepticons?? Howard vows that this isn’t the last the committee has heard from him.
“It’s not over yet,” he says. “Obviously there’s a variety of legal options but we want to get a better sense of whether reapplying with certain modifications may make some sense.”
Stay tuned for next Saturday morning’s episode: Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Dr. Howard visit the Supreme Court!