The myth that will live on long past 2009

1 Jan

One of my favorite Oakland shirt designs is the one of the Oakland container crane dreaming of being an AT-AT from Star Wars. Whenever I wear this shirt outside of Oakland, I get interesting reactions. Like when I was in LA a few days ago, a woman asked me if I worked for George Lucas. And at Burning Man a couple years ago, someone tried to engage me in a detailed conversation about Star Wars and I was totally confused until I realized what shirt I was wearing.

The shirt is based off of the story that the Oakland cranes inspired George Lucas when he created the AT-ATs, which if you look at them, makes perfect sense. Every time I wear the shirt, I repeat the story, and people always love to hear it.

A Star Wars fan who lives in Portland and visits his sister in Oakland seems as taken by the story as I am:

When Sister A told me [the cranes] inspired the All-Terrain Armored Transports from The Empire Strikes Back, I was filled with glee. It all made sense. George Lucas is based in Marin County, which is a lightstaber’s swipe from San Francisco Bay.

A blind man can see that the cranes look like AT-AT’s. Lucas found lots of terrestrial inspiration for the Star Wars movies. The battle scenes came from World War II stock footage. The speeder bikes came from Harleys. The cloud city of Bespin came from Lucas’ airline trip between towering thunderstorms. Star Wars is all around us. Ergo, the cranes are where the vehicles came from. (Either that, or AT-AT’s really existed a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, George Lucas is really an alien, and Star Wars really happened. It’s one or the other. For the sake of my sanity, I would have to believe the former is true.)

Well, this summer the SF Chronicle had to go and debunk this myth after interviewing George Lucas. I was so upset to hear this, but it hasn’t stopped me from repeating the story. And apparently, I’m not the only one who won’t let this myth die, no matter how much George Lucas denies its truth:

I’m devastated. This is worse than discovering there’s no Santa Claus, or that Michael Jordan wasn’t a spirited teammate, and instead was an insufferable prick. I hate finding out that my dearly held beliefs aren’t true.

Then again, maybe I can just refuse to believe George Lucas at all. This is the same guy who made The Phantom Menace, and somehow forgot how to make good movies between 1980 and 1983. Maybe late in the shoot for Empire, a stage light fell and struck him on the head. Perhaps this injury caused him to simultaneously blank out memories of the cranes and come up with the ideas for Ewoks, Greedo shooting first, and the prequels.

That makes sense.

Oakland cranes = AT-AT’s. There can be no doubts about this.

Discussion over.

I couldn’t agree more. And whether you believe the myth or not, head over to The Girl and Rhino’s website to purchase a shirt or hoodie with this design. (Or come to the Temescal Farmer’s Market any Sunday to meet the designers, buy some great clothing, and, of course, debate the myth that never will die.)


4 Responses to “The myth that will live on long past 2009”

  1. dto510 January 2, 2009 at 3:32 pm #

    A friend who used to work for the Port claims they have a video of George Lucas saying he was inspired by Oakland’s container cranes. I believe that the OakBook tried unsuccessfully to track it down.

  2. Becks January 3, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    I’d love to find that video. Either way though, I think Lucas must have at least been somewhat influenced by seeing the cranes so many times. Even if they weren’t his main inspiration, they obviously contributed to the design.

  3. Coolhand Luke January 5, 2009 at 10:54 am #

    Yeah, I’m sticking to the old story. Maybe he just wants to act like he’s more creative than he is. A lot of things strike us subconsciously and then come out later on in an unrelated muse or thought. So regardless of what he says, I think their is definitely a relationship.

  4. OP January 5, 2009 at 2:11 pm #

    I was bummed when I found out too. In high school I always used to tell that to visitors. Two years ago I wrote Mr. Lucas asking him to confirm the story and his secretary wrote back that it was false. I chose to believe that she never asked him and just wanted to get rid of all the letters that must swamp the office, but I guess not…

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