For many homeowners and gardeners in the Southeastern United States, a difficult-to-eradicate kudzu infestation is terrifying enough without the involvement of a towering kaiju.
But thanks to a new Kickstarter campaign from Chris Lindland of San Francisco-based online clothier Betabrand, such a creature — a 40-foot-tall beast that not even gallons of glyphosate solution or a herd of ravenous goats can destroy — could potentially rise from a vacant, kudzu-infested lot somewhere in the greater Atlanta area. And depending on how well said Kickstarter campaign goes, this edible invasive species abomination known as Kudzilla may also be capable of shooting flames from its mouth and waving its elephantine limbs at any pulaski-wielding citizen who dares to cross its path.
Now you may be thinking: Why would I want to financially support the creation of an oversized sculptural monster that incorporates a rapidly growing plant associated economic and environmental devastation? Isn't the "vine that ate the South" status good enough?
The line of thought here is that kudzu, a climbing vine first introduced to the Southeast in the late 1800s as an ornamental plant and form of erosion control that now holds the dubious distinction of being a federally recognized noxious weed, isn’t going anywhere any time soon, so might as well have some fun with it in a cheeky, roadside attraction kind of way. Because really, when it comes to drawing attention to one of the botanical world’s most destructive troublemakers, nothing quite does the trick like a flame-breathing topiary creature. So why not, in the words of Lindland, "turn kudzu into a bigger monster?"
And I could be reading into this too much, but perhaps Kudzilla could be interpreted as a metaphor for our reliance on chemical herbicides just as his mega-destructive, reptilian inspiration was a metaphor for nuclear warfare? Or perhaps not.
The Kudzilla team, which, in addition to Lindland, includes a kudzu-savvy assemblage of architects, builders, engineers, gardeners, and topiary artists, is aiming for a base crowdfunding goal of $50,000 to help bring the concept into “awe-inspiring reality.” About $20,000 of the costs would go toward climbing vine-friendly building materials like telephone poles, netting, rebar, and wire. Another 20 grand would go toward labor costs. The remaining funds will be earmarked for the campaign itself and Kudzilla merchandise. And as mentioned, the team is eyeballing kudzu-infested land (ideally, donated land to save on acquisition costs) in the Atlanta area as a home for the sculpture's skeleton.
If the initial $50,000 goal is reached and specific future goals are met, Kudzilla will be outfitted with glowing eyes ($60,000), fire-breathing capabilities ($70,000), and animatronic arms and tail ($90,000 and $1000,000, respectively). Once $250,000 is reached, Kudzilla will begin to grow upwards from 40 feet.
Head on over to Kickstarter to find out how you can help give birth to "the greatest kudzu monster the South has ever seen." Think you’ll chip in and make a pledge and score yourself some Kudzilla swag? Or are you of the mind that more funds should be dedicated to wiping out kudzu and not celebrating it by erecting giant monster sculptures from this particularly troublesome native vegetation-suffocating vine?
It should also be pointed out that unlike Godzilla and his fellow kaiju such as Gamera and Rodan, kudzu vine (Pueraria lobata) is believed have originated in China, not Japan, even though it is also known as Japanese arrowroot. No word if Kudzilla, provided that he's succesfully funded, will go to battle a giant lepidopterian made from English ivy.
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