What can you see through Broken Windows?

IMG_0760The second story windows of the old Johnson Cotton Company building in Wallace, NC have become weathered. Some panes have been broken by the rock of a rebellious child or pine branch thrown by the forceful breeze of a summer storm. The lower level windows were bricked years ago, while the building’s front entrance houses a set of decorative metal framed display windows that lead you to the entrance of the long been shut down store. The recessed entrance is still inviting because it is now used as storage but the hints of its history peak through.

The now Historic Commercial District sat formidably as the nucleus of a booming railroad and agricultural town. This small Southern town is situated in the coastal plains region of North Carolina and lies in the southern edge of Duplin County. Wallace was originally incorporated in 1873 as the settlement known as Duplin Roads; but was incorporated as the town of Wallace (named after railroad official Steven Wallace) in 1899. Like many Southern railroad towns, the small town’s orthogonal grid developed along the railroad tracks. The small town grew and grew because it was an important transportation link between the large port city of Wilmington to the South and Faison to the North.

Over the years, Wallace continued to expand. Fast food restaurants were built on Highway 117 and businesses extended passed the grid pattern that once hugged the railroad. The one and two story brick buildings in this historic area now house offices or maybe even modern stores. Buildings whose foundations were laid in the late 19th and early 20th centuries found themselves booming in a post World War II period. So these historic buildings, like the Johnson Cotton Company; whose second story windows still peer down upon the renovated Train Depot; still scintillates above a town that they help inaugurate.

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Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Famous Deadly Weapons

Before Lockheed Martin created the F-22 Raptor and even before the Kalashnikov family created the AK-47 during World War II; there were many weapons that were infamous for being deadly. Whether the wielder made the weapon famous or vice-versa, people knew that if they disobeyed the wielder or were on the wrong end of this weapon…then it ultimately meant their doom. With the sword first appearing during the Bronze Age; being made primarily out of copper and was uncovered at the Harappan sites in what is now present-day Pakistan. By the Middle Ages iron and steel swords were being mass produced and used in battle. Time went by and generals, kings, emperors, soldiers and all around bad-asses yielded swords and other weapons of mass destruction. This was however before the era of guns but as soon as primitive firearms came to be in 13th century China; the age of portably propelling projectiles utilizing gunpowder had begun. The era of modern firearms has led to automatic and assault rifles strong enough to pierce a tank’s thick skin. In this blog we will discuss historically famous weapons who made the wielder famous or the wielder made it famous. Weapons from mythology, movies, video games, TV shows, etc. will not be listed but with that being said; here are, in my opinion, are – Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: Famous Deadly Weapons


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Honorable MentionSmith & Wesson Schofield .45 revolver – One of the most notorious outlaws that lived in the annals of Old West history, Jesse James was without argument a robber. He and his top-break action Smith & Wesson Schofield revolver became somewhat of a folk hero after the Civil War. James and his brother Frank robbed banks in the former-Union territory and the press at the time portrayed him as the Confederate’s Robin Hood. Though his motives deviated from any ‘give-to-the-poor’ mentality, he and his revolver have went down in history none-the-less.

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10. Tizona Sword – Formed in Córdoba, Spain from damascus steel in 1002 AD, the medieval sword known as Tizona was one of many swords owned by Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar aka El Cid. El Cid would use Tizona to fight against the Moors. Due to Tizona’s wielder, El Cid became known as one of King Alfonso VI’s most valuable asset. Tizona is now on display in the Museo de Burgos (Burgos Museum) in Spain and definitely helped El Cid become a Spanish hero.


 

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9. The Fujiwara Kanenaga samurai sword – World War II is not a time that is known for samurai and ninja legends but the man known as “The Tiger of Malaya” is famous for his time in battle. Tomoyuki Yamashita was a general of the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II and became legendary after he led the Japanese to conquer the British colonies of Malaya and Singapore. After WWII he was tried for the atrocities that took place in the Philippines and Singapore (specifically the Manila Massacre) which culminated with a controversial death sentence. The controversial case changed the way the United States rules in regards to military leaders responsible for war crimes (a law that is now known as the Yamashita Standard and has been added to the Geneva Conventions). The Fujiwara Kanenaga sword (created somewhere between 1640 and 1680) which was by his side during his military career is now displayed in the Military Arms wing of the West Point Military Museum.


 

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8. Ieyasu spearHattori Hanzōs famous 14 foot long spear and ceremonial battle helmet are on display inside the Sainen-ji temple whose cemetery in Yotsuya, Tokyo house the remains of one of Japan’s most Japan’s most historical figures…during the greatest periods of samurai culture. Hanzō’s significance has bled beyond the immediate Samurai culture and is now a pop culture icon where his likeness is seen in many films, anime, manga, and comic books (mostly due to the fact that there were rumors of Hanzō’s supernatural abilities which were rumored to be teleportation, psychokinesis, and precognition). Hanzō was an expert tactician, and despite having many beautiful swords; he was known to be a master of spear fighting. He lived the last years of his life as a monk under the name “Sainen”. This brave ninja leader, born into a samurai class, will forever be known for his ferocity on the battlefield; and commitment to his leaders and the men that he commanded.


 

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7. The Cutlass – The 15th Century French Pirate François l’Olonnais was as ruthless as they came and his cutlass was used as a tool to inflict pain and fear into fellow sea-goers. During his bloody reign as a French Pirate during the 1660s, led a fleet of upwards of eight ships housing over 400 pirates and even sailed alongside the infamous pirate Captain Morgan (yes the one that they named the rum after). He and his men raped/pillaged cities and preyed upon sea going vessels in a blood thirsty manner which earned him a reputation for being a cruel and ferocious pirate. “The Bane of Spain”, as he was so nicknamed, came to Central America where he pillaged the town of Puerto Cavallo in Honduras where he captured two Spaniards, drew out his cutlass, sliced open the chest of one of the men, pulled out his heart and began to ‘gnaw it with his teeth, like a ravenous wolf’. The surviving Spaniard showed l’Olonnais a clear passage to San Pedro, he and his crew were captured by the indigenous Kuna tribe where he was torn to pieces and eaten. Call it Karma…call it justification. I call it just an epic ending that a pirate with blood lust with be proud to call his own ending.


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6. Smith & Wesson Model 3 – Upon the day of the most famous gunfight in American history ‘The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral’; Wyatt Earp (sworn in as a temporary policeman); his older brother and town Marshal Virgil; his younger brother; Special Policeman Morgan; and temporary policeman Doc Holliday sought to end a long-simmering feud with a loosely organized group of outlaws called the Cowboys. The shootout took place around 3:00 on Wednesday, October 26, 1881 near the narrow lot on the side of C.S. Fly’s Photographic Studio on Fremont Street (despite the aforementioned name) in the town of Tombstone in the Arizona Territory. The gunfight was not relatively well known to the American public until Stuart Lake published the biography Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal; which began a myriad of pop culture references to the gun fight and subsequently Old West’s Superman: Wyatt Earp. Despite becoming the archetype for the stereotypical Old West story, Wyatt Earp didn’t actually carry a gun called “The Peacemaker” on the day of the infamous O.K. Corral gunfight (which in pop culture was conceived to be the Colt Buntline Special that Stuart Lake described in the biography). On the day of the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Earp was carrying a Smith & Wesson Model 3 (with a modified 8-inch, 200 mm barrel) that he received as a gift from Mayor and Tombstone Epitaph editor John Clum. That gun and now Wyatt Earp are immortalized in the annals of pop culture forever.


 

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6. Zulfiqar Scimitar – Muhammed, the prophet and founder of Islam, gave Ali (his cousin and son-in-law (not sure how that works)) a Scimitar at the Battle of Uhud. The scimitar, which is now a symbol of the Islamic faith and is admired by millions of people is a West Asian or South Asian curved blade sword. The sword was famously used during the Battle of the Trench where the Prophet Muhammed, Ali and other Muslim defenders built trenches to protect the city of Medina against the oncoming calvary. The sword became known as “Zulfiqar” and has been passed down from each new Imam (name for their religious leader) since the death of Ali.


 

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4. Colt Single Action Army .45 Revolver – So a slave, born in 1838, learns of the abolishment of slavery after fleeding north into Indian Territory; he grows up to become the first African-American US Deputy Marshal west of the Mississippi River; after he Bass_Reeveslearns the Indian languages and masters skills of hunting and tracking with the Cherokee, Seminole, and Creek Indians. Sounds like a premise of a Hollywood blockbuster right? Well its the life story of one of the greatest lawmen in the history ofthe US. Bass Reeves and his Colt Single Action Army .45 Revolver are credited with more than 3,000 arrests and killed 14 outlaws in self defense. During his long career, he would track outlaws and criminals hundreds of miles through thorns, over mountains and through dangerous Indian territory to bring them back to meet justice at the hands of “The Hanging Judge” Judge Isaac Parker. Bass Reeves may not be a household name but that does not change the fact that he and his Colt Revolver overcame great odds and helped bring justice to dysfunctional land while being a real life Lone Ranger.


 

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3. Dane Battle Axe – A Victorian times King nicknamed “The Lionheart” wielding a twenty two pound steel battle axe on the field of battle sounds like another amazing image straight off the Hollywood big screen; but it is in reality true accounts of the King of England: Richard I of English aka Richard the Lionheart. Whether we agree with the crusades or not, no one can deny how ferocious of a site it would be to witness Richard the Lionheart wielding a Danish battle axe while attacking the Sultan Saladin and his army during the Battle of Jaffa.


 

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2. Tonbo-Giri – From the late Sengoku to the early Edo period of Japan; Honda Tadakatsu rose from a proud Japanese Samurai to a general to a noble daimyō (also known as Lord) of Otaki (a town in Chiba, Japan). He was known as the greatest Samurai of Eastern Japan and earned a reputation for being a samurai among samurai. The veteran of over a 100 battles by the end of his life never once even suffered a significant wound and was known as “The Warrior who surpassed Death itself”. The reputed samurai was known for being a recognizable figure on the field of battle by his helmet, famously adorned with deer antlers, his horse Mikuniguro, and his spear which was named Tonbo-Giri aka the Dragonfly Cutter. It was named Tonbo-Giri or Dragonfly Cutter because as the legend goes, a dragonfly landed on the tip of the spear and it was so sharp that the dragonfly was cut in two. His fighting prowess led him to be known as one of the “Three Great Spears of Japan” and the spear itself has became a natural treasure of Japan.


 

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  1. Scottish Longsword – The scabbard, hilt and belt of this sword were originally made with the dried skin of English commander Hugh Cressingham. Despite the sword being a pop culture symbol, the infamous 13th century “Guardian of Scotland” Sir William Wallace wielded the 6 lb, 4 feet by 4 inch sword during the Battle of Stirling Bridge in 1297 and in the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. William Wallace fought and was eventually executed for the freedom of his country. Today, in Scotland, he is known as a national hero; and everyone around the world knows of his Patriotism. What is now one of the most famous swords in the world (housed at the National Monument in Stirling, Scotland); William Wallace’s longsword invokes an image of freedom. Most of that is because of Mel Gibson’s portrayal of William Wallace in the 1995 blockbuster hit “Braveheart where he flung the 4 foot long sword through the sky while yelling “FREEDOM”. That scene is forever etched into the annals of Pop Culture and William Wallace and his longsword will forever be immortalized.

 



Images:
Featured Image Jesse James colleague image courtesy of NRA, Fair Use.
Espada Tizona sword image by and accredited to Infinauta – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8027534
General Tomoyuki Yamashita’s Fujiwara Kanenaga sword image by and accredited to William Maloney – Fair use, http://www.williammaloney.com/Aviation/WestPointMilitaryMuseum/WorldWarII/pages/19GeneralYamashitasSword.htm
Hattori Hanzo spear image – Fair use, twcenter.net
François l’Olonnais from “De Americaensche Zeerovers” by and attributed to Unknown, book by Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin – The Library of Congress presents The Buccaneers of America, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=134350
Smith & Wesson Model 3 display image by and accredited to Rama – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.0 fr, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=448083
Zulfiqar (split-bladed sword) from the Mughal period in India by and attributed to Royroydeb – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38680744
Bass Reeves photo with pistol image by and accredited to the NRA/American Rifleman, Fair Use – Bass Reeves American Rifleman article
Bass Reeves by Unknown, Fair Use – http://digital.library.okstate.edu/ENCYCLOPEDIA/entries/R/RE020.html, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27904696
Richard the Lionheart in Battle image – Fair use, Public Domain, Image
Honda Tadakatsu by and accredited to 不明。 unknown – 良玄寺所蔵品。現在は千葉県立中央博物館大多喜城分館にある。, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3397023
William Wallace Longsword by and attributed to Glenn J. Mason from Edinburgh, Scotland – 00022.jpg, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3534808

I knew it was only a matter of “Time”

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600px-SDCC_2014_-_Masters_of_the_Universe_(7752978172)Sometimes the only thing it takes is just time for all of the things that you dreamed of getting as a child, to be available to you when you are older. Unless you dreamed of owning a dragon or wanted to become a super hero, then you can pretty much fulfill your childhood dreams. GI Joe fans can join the Marines. Masters of the Universe fanatics can purchase He-Man’s power sword or Star Trek’s Trekkies can learn Klyngon while wielding the infamous Bat’leth. We can cosplay as Deadpool all day long while visiting our favorite Con. If we have the money can rock a mustache and black cowboy hat while driving 100 MPH in a black 1977 Smokey and the Bandit style Pontiac Firebird or sit back playing an Atari in a 1986 KITT Pontiac Trans Am. Carpentry ready fans can build a TARDIS in their backyard. Or those of us with a big imagination can travel back in time after they hit 88 MPH in their own Delorean. Is it exactly the same as we dreamed? Definitely not. But things usually are different than they seemed when we were little. Reality usually sits in but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have fun a little!

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For those of us born in the 80s, the realization of fulfilling our dreams is a little bit closer thanks to O’Reilly Auto Parts. Well….kind of. Anyways, go to the O’Reilly Auto Part’s website and search for Part #121G. Trust me!!! You won’t be upset that you did.

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Featured Image: He-Man is a TimeLord image by Chris Favero from USA – He-Man is a TimeLord?, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=34364586
Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am image by and accredited to Pat Loika – LBCC-1, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42451758
He-Man, She-Ra and Teela cosplay image by and accredited to Ryan Quick from Greenbelt, MD, USA – Masters of the Universe, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42384853
Knight Rider KITT car image by and accredited to Thomas R Machnitzki (thomas@machnitzki.com) – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19551841
Delorean image by and accredited to Spanish Coches – DMC Delorean, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=38114628

Top Cat’s Tuesday Top 10: James Bond movies

In 1952 Ian Fleming introduced the world to a character who would change the face of popcasino-royale-book-cover culture forever. His name was Bond. James Bond. A British secret service agent who loves beautiful women and likes his martini shaken not stirred. Fleming’s first Bond novel, Casino Royale, was the first in many successful books and short stories. Fleming’s wartime service for the British Naval Intelligence Division during WWII allowed him to have all of the details that he needed to write 11 Bond related books and multiple other short stories between 1953 and 1966. The James Bond character which has appeared in film twenty-six times and has been portrayed by seven actors has been popular since Dr. No’s release in 1962. But despite who portrayed James Bond (codename 007) in the movies they were relatively a hit. From 1962 to the latest Bond movie that was made in 2015; it is obvious that I would have a few that rose above the rest on my favorites list.

So here are my Top Cat’s Top 10 James Bond movies:

10. License to Kill 

license-to-kill-bond-movieThe 80s produced a lot of things and the 16th James Bond movie was one of them. Timothy Dalton stars in his second and final Bond movie in the first movie not use the title of an Ian Fleming story. The movie showed Bond in a more violent, darker Bond than people had been used to but it was just what people in the 80s had been looking for.

9. Die Another Day

die-another-day-posterBefore our blue eyed blonde Bond stole the screen in Casino Royale, Pierce Brosnan took to the big screen and portrayed Bond in four spy films. In Die Another Day the MI6 agent is betrayed and imprisoned. He spends 14 months in prison and must then track down his betrayer. It’s a typical Bond storyline but the CGI of the movie is…..well…a little off putting. The redeeming factor? Halle Berry. Even though Pierce Brosnan is by far my least favorite Bond, Die Another Day’s action scenes and story line were almost as beautiful as Halle Berry.

8. Dr. No

dr no.jpgSean Connery was the first to don the on screen James Bond persona. Since Dr. No is not the first James Bond movie, the movie fills in movie goers who have not read the books. The movie also introduces us to the criminal organization SPECTRE (which appears in all six subsequent movies, as well as in the Daniel Craig movies). In Dr. No, Bond travels to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of another 00 agent. He finds Dr. No, who is trying to destroy America’s first human spaceflight program with a radio wave weapon. Bond frees the bikini clad beauty that he had met earlier in the movie and boils Dr. No in the water from a nuclear reactor. The two escape in a boat as Dr. No’s lair explodes in the distance. The movie begins a chain reaction of popular James Bond movies and many other mock spy movies. Dr. No made James Bond a house hold name and it has remained there since 1962. And I don’t see it leaving any time soon.

7. Quantam of Solace

quantum-of-solaceAfter we were introduced to Daniel Craig’s pastiche of the James Bond character in 2006’s Casino Royale, James not only seeks revenge over the death of his love but must also try to stop a mysterious organization who is hell bent on destroying the world’s most valuable resource. The movie delves us deeper into the psyche of 007. We also get to see the convoluted relationship between M and Bond deepen.

6. From Russia With Love

from_russia_with_love_posterIn 1963’s From Russia with Love, which is our second James Bond movie (second time with Sean Connery at the helm) and this storyline takes our favorite agent to Russia where he battles rogue agents of the KGB and from, what it seems, every SPECTRE agent alive to keep a decoding machine out of the hands of SPECTRE. He finds a beautiful girl (of course) and defeats all of the bad guys. This and every James Bond movie, the tag line should be “His new enemies, His new women, His new Adventures!”

5. Goldfinger

goldfingerA bad guy who loves gold and ironically has the last name of Goldfinger whose driver is a super strong henchman who can chop people’s heads off by throwing his derby hat after getting off the plane being flown by a gorgeous woman named Pussy Galore? Yeah. I’ll watch that. In the beginning Bond makes Goldfinger look like a fool and steals his girl. Well while he’s out handling business, Goldfinger has her gilded. Yes. You heard me right. Bond tracks Goldfinger down and finally gets caught. When he thinks he has it all under control, he realizes that he has his work cut out for him when it came to taming the gorgeous Pussy Galore but his real work was the fight between he and Oddjob (the driver/henchman) after he breaks out of Goldfinger’s prison. He stops them from breaking into Fort Knox’s gold reserve and gets the girl.

4. Casino Royale (2006)

casino-royaleAll James Bond fans were apprehensive when we found out that there was going to be a new Bond. Especially because this bond had shockingly beautiful blue eyes, blonde hair and a sculpted body. But as a fan, I can say that within the first 10 minutes I looked at my best friend (also a big Bond fan) and smiled. We both were pleased with the studios choice and Casino Royale easily became my favorite Bond movie at that time. Movies series get better with time because of increased graphics and the fact that more money is spent in production (ie Marvel’s The Avengers, X-Men, etc). Oh…about the movie. Our favorite fictional MI6 agent James Bond finds himself at the beginning of his 00 career. He is just earning his “license to kill” (definitely pun intended) and of course proves his awesomeness. The new time line follows Casino Royale with Quantam of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre.

3. You Only Live Twice

you-only-live-twiceJames Bond + Ninja powered Japanese secret service agents + gorgeous women + threat of nuclear war + Spaceships hijacking other country’s space capsules + a great opening/theme song = a great movie. SPECTRE is behind the theft of an American Space Capsule and their journey to start WWIII is thwarted by 007.

2. Spectre

spectreA lot of us fear that Spectre will be the last time that we see Daniel Craig as Bond and if it is, we will not be able to deny his amazing run. In Spectre, we find Bond following a cryptic message left to him by a deceased M. Bond starts to unravel and piece together the hell that he has went through during his whole 00 career. Bond begins to uncover the deep layers of deceit that have been the misreable truth that is SPECTRE. The movie ends with Bond riding off into the sunset with the newest of his many loves.

1. Skyfall

skyfallThe last and final movie on our list is Skyfall. The second to the last Bond movie that has been created. I hope that it is one in a long line of Bond movies. I hope that it is also one in a long line of movies that have Daniel Craig as the lead. This Bond movie showcases a time where his assignment goes really wrong and all of the agents around the world are exposed. The MI6 building is attacked and M has to utilize the one person in the world that she trusts: Bond. Bond follows a baited trail to what ends up being a shady figure from M’s past.

Wolverine’s Wednesday Whips: The H1 Hummer

m4-sherman-tankWhen you think about a truly bad ass vehicle, you think of an M4 Sherman tank. The only problem with a Sherman tank is that you can’t take your kids to Food Lion to get groceries in an M4 Sherman tank. Well you could….but its not really going to be a comfortable ride for any of you. For military applications, AM General created a a four-wheel drive, High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle which took the place of the Vietnam era M151 Jeeps and other light truck. The HMMWV commonly known as the Humvee, saw a lot of use in the deserts of the Gulf War.

The Humvee first felt the cruel hand of war back in 1989 during the US invasion of Panama but the military seemed to try to pry the Humvee away from its personnel and light cargo humvee desert storm.jpgtransport purpose. The Humvee was never intended to be on the front lines and therefore costs 67 lives to be lost in 2006 alone due to IED blasts. The US military equipped the Humvee with a turret, replaced the doors, and added bulletproof windows to make them safer but the increased weight put such a straight on the chassis that by 2012 the now unreliable Humvee was not feasible for combat. Luckily for the general population, AM General began producing a civilian off-road vehicle based on the M998 Humvee in 1992. You know what I’m talking about. You know where I’m going with this. I’m talking about the Hummer. The big, bad gas-guzzling behemoth that crushes Prius’s and takes up their own lane…plus some. The original release of the Hummer can owe its popularity to two huge things:

Operation Desert Storm and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Photos of the Humvees from
Operation Desert Storm were pouring in and we were salivating at how bad ass they looked. “The Austrian Oak” himself was the recipient of the first civilian owned Hummer and he made us all want one. In fact Arnold owns a lot of Hummers and even used his ‘alternative fuel’ Hummer as a selling point for his California gubernatorial campaign.

The Hummer and its sister vehicle (the more soccer-mom friendly) H2 is poked fun at by being such an economically inefficient vehicle but that hasn’t stopped thousands of these vehicles to have been sold. From 1992 to 2006, there were 11,818 Hummer H1’s sold around the world. This limited run makes the vehicle even more desirable. So if you’re wanting to pretend to be a muscular bad ass super soldier driving around in your plow thru anything assault vehicle, a guy wanting to flaunt his over powered ego, or just a guy wanting an awesome ride…go ahead and try to hunt down your own Hummer. Just don’t be too shocked when you see the equally awesome price tag.