Friday, April 08, 2005

James Lileks: A Closet Model Railroader??

This is the text of an email I sent to Lileks today. I believe I have discovered a new side of him:


I am a fan of your website, your columns, books and even your segement on Hugh's show. I have spent many hours sifting through your website and one of my favorite sections is "Ghost Signs". I am also a model railroader (I am only 29, so needless to say I occupy a very small demographic in the model railroading world). I was flipping through some detail sheets in my favorite hobby store the other day when I came across a sheet of paper signs for purchase. The signs were faded brick signs to be used in detailing structures on the layout. Essentially you would cut the signs out, glue them to the side of your model structure and, Voila!, you have an instantly weathered sign for your structure. As I looked at the sheet of signs for sale, I realized that I had seen several of the images before. It took me a minute, but I soon realized that several of the images were exact duplicates of images on your website. I found images of these sheets on line and have included links to the images on your site followed by links to the sheets of images for sale. For example:

Link to your site:
Your sign

Image of sheet of signs for sale (look at top right corner of sheet):
sign for sale

Your site:

Image of signs for sale:
sign for sale

Your site:

Sign for sale:
for sale

Your site:

Signs for sale:
for sale

If you would like to browse through all 18 sheets of signs for sale to find other matching images go here
and scroll through the AIM Products links.

Now how is this possible? The images aren't similar, they are exact. If it is assumed that many copies of the same sign were painted what are the chances that the signs would have weathered exactly the same way? Zero.

There are only four possible explanations:

1) AIM products ripped the images off your site.
2) You ripped the images off the AIM site
3) You and the AIM products rep phtographed the same signs in the same towns at approximately the same time
4) You are a closet model railroader and are the evil genius behind AIM Products.

I am leaning towards #4. Don't be ashamed James. Be proud of your hobby. At most railroad conventions I am the only person who doesn't get a senior citizen discount on my ticket, yet I am not embarrassed. Model railroaders are a proud, pro-American, patriotic group. They are also not politically correct, look at the figures for sale for example:

figures 1
figures 2
figures 3
figures 4
figures 5

Nude sunbathers

Most interestingly, look at how Preiser (a German company) represents Americans with it's figurines:

a redneck, an Hasidic Jew, a hobo, an overweight black lady and a protestor. I believe that is a pretty interesting commentary on how the Germans view Americans.

I plan on posting this email and outing you as a closet model railroader on my blog.

Mostly political, but I do post images of some of my structures there occasionally as well.

Anyway, thought you might find this all entertaining. I plan on nominating you for the next NMRA ambassador, I think you will make a good one.

Marlin Huston

Lileks - More than Just Hummels

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