In the fall of 2007, the staff of the newly opened Planet K San Marcos (including myself) celebrated our achievement with an on-site party/bbq. Several bands played, prizes were given away, and an ’88 Oldsmobile was beat with a sledgehammer for charity.
In the following weeks, the Oldsmobile was de-wheeled, painted by a local artist and a nationally recognized artist who specializes in painting reclaimed objects, filled with dirt, and turned into a cactus planter. The planter was affectionately named Ralph, after the famous swimming pig that once performed at Aquerina Springs. Shortly after, the City of San Marcos cited the planter as a junk vehicle and threatened to fine the store for every day it remained on our property.
Planet K, of course, took exception to this, seeing as the supposed junk vehicle no longer classified as a vehicle. Planet K has a history of cactus planters on its Austin and San Antonio properties, and the company took the necessary precautions to make the vehicle incapable of trapping an individual. The fluids were also drained from the vehicle. Therefore, the “vehicle” was actually nothing more than a blank canvas wrapped around a cactus planter.
The local case, through the process of appeals, found itself facing a possible hearing before the Supreme Court this past October. The case was denied, however, and the Fifth Circuit’s decision that “only great works of art are protected by First Amendment free speech rights” stood. The vehicle was removed from the property, but luckily it was saved, and now sits in exile at the Planet K located on Stassney, in Austin.
The company is now working on an initiative that would allow the issue to be placed on the ballot of the upcoming fall voting session in San Marcos. Signatures are being sought after from supporters that are registered to vote in the city of San Marcos. If 1800 votes are collected, the people of San Marcos will make the final decision.
For those who are registered in San Marcos and would like to support, visit Planet K San Marcos, or call (512)392-4596 and ask what you can do to help support bringing Ralph home.
If you are not registered, but would still like to support the cause, you can volunteer at the store as well, or call the same number.