Inside the Quest to Save 42 Giant Presidential Statues

Gary Knapp // Getty Images
Gary Knapp // Getty Images

In 2004, Presidents Park opened in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was a huge open-air museum containing 42 two-story-high busts of the presidents to date at the time. Visitors could perambulate among the presidents, reading plaques about them. (Note: There are only 42 busts in total because of Grover Cleveland's two nonconsecutive terms.)

In 2013, local builder Howard Hankins was hired to remove and destroy the busts, after the attraction itself went bust. Hankins had another idea. He carefully transported all the busts to his family farm. This cleared the way for an Enterprise Rent-a-Car facility now located on the former grounds of Presidents Park. It also left him with 43 giant statues, many of them slightly damaged, to deal with.

Over the ensuing years, Hankins has walked among the busts, weeding the grounds and struggling to figure out what to do with these "giants of men." He loosely envisions a similar attraction, this time called The Presidential Experience. Ideally it would have a better location to attract tourists. But Hankins lacks the funding to make it a reality. Since the original haul, he has managed to secure a tiny template for an Obama bust, but couldn't afford to purchase the full-size version. No word yet on a Trump bust.

In the short film All the Presidents' Heads directed by Adam Roffman, we meet Hankins, see the busts, and learn about the possible second coming of a presidential roadside attraction. Enjoy:

The ChopBox Smart Cutting Board Has a Food Scale, Timer, and Knife Sharper Built Right Into It

ChopBox
ChopBox

When it comes to furnishing your kitchen with all of the appliances necessary to cook night in and night out, you’ll probably find yourself running out of counter space in a hurry. The ChopBox, which is available on Indiegogo and dubs itself “The World’s First Smart Cutting Board,” looks to fix that by cramming a bunch of kitchen necessities right into one cutting board.

In addition to giving you a knife-resistant bamboo surface to slice and dice on, the ChopBox features a built-in digital scale that weighs up to 6.6 pounds of food, a nine-hour kitchen timer, and two knife sharpeners. It also sports a groove on its surface to catch any liquid runoff that may be produced by the food and has a second pull-out cutting board that doubles as a serving tray.

There’s a 254nm UVC light featured on the board, which the company says “is guaranteed to kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria" after a minute of exposure. If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cleanliness, the ChopBox is completely waterproof (but not dishwasher-safe) so you can wash and scrub to your heart’s content without worry. 

According to the company, a single one-hour charge will give you 30 days of battery life, and can be recharged through a Micro USB port.

The ChopBox reached its $10,000 crowdfunding goal just 10 minutes after launching its campaign, but you can still contribute at different tiers. Once it’s officially released, the ChopBox will retail for $200, but you can get one for $100 if you pledge now. You can purchase the ChopBox on Indiegogo here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

49 Notable Columbia University Alumni

Julia Stiles at the Golden Globe Awards in 2011.
Julia Stiles at the Golden Globe Awards in 2011.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images

Columbia University in the City of New York has hosted some extremely famous students over the course of its 266-year history. Back in the 18th century—when it was still called “King’s College,” after King George II—the Ivy League institution educated Founding Fathers Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, both of whom now have buildings named after them.

As time passed and Manhattan became more of a cultural hub, the university began to attract a different kind of celebrity clientele: actors, artists, musicians, and writers of every variety. However, the university has never been devoid of students with political aspirations: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for example, graduated from Columbia Law School in 1959, and President Barack Obama transferred there in the early 1980s to finish his undergraduate degree.

Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac practically birthed Beat writing while in attendance, and other acclaimed writers, including J.D. Salinger, Zora Neale Hurston, and Hunter S. Thompson, have also walked Columbia's hallowed halls (though they didn’t all necessarily graduate).

When it comes to musicians, Ezra Koenig and the rest of his Vampire Weekend band members have Columbia degrees, as do Richard Rodgers and his songwriting partner, Oscar Hammerstein II. Leonard Cohen, Ira Gershwin, and Alicia Keys all took classes but dropped out to pursue musical careers.

Scroll on to discover more notable Columbia grads, as well as some who didn’t quite make it to commencement.

Columbia University Graduates

  1. Isaac Asimov // Science fiction writer and biochemist
  1. Kathryn Bigelow // First woman to win the Best Director Oscar
  1. Warren Buffett // Business magnate and investor
  1. Chelsea Clinton // Author and daughter of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton
  1. Sasha Cohen // Former Olympic figure skater
  1. Brian Dennehy // Award-winning actor
  1. Art Garfunkel // Grammy-winning folk rock musician
  1. Lou Gehrig // Former New York Yankees baseball player
  1. Allen Ginsberg // Writer and poet of the Beat Generation
  1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg // Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
  1. Maggie Gyllenhaal // Oscar-nominated actress
  1. Alexander Hamilton // Founding Father and first U.S. Secretary of the Treasury
  1. Zora Neale Hurston // 20th-century author
  1. John Jay // Founding Father and first U.S. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
  1. Jack Kerouac // Writer and poet of the Beat Generation
  1. Ezra Koenig // lead vocalist and guitarist of the band Vampire Weekend
  1. Alfred Knopf // Book publisher
  1. Tony Kushner // Tony Award-winning playwright
  1. Kate McKinnon // Emmy-winning comedian and SNL star
  1. Barack Obama // 44th President of the United States
  1. Jacques Pépin // French chef
  1. Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II // Award-winning musical theater writing duo
  1. Jenny Slate // Comedian and writer
  1. George Stephanopoulos // Television anchor and political correspondent
  1. Julia Stiles // Actor
  1. Jonathan Taylor Thomas // Actor and director
  1. Eudora Welty // Pulitzer Prize-winning 20th-century author
  1. Dr. Ruth Westheimer // Sex therapist and talk show host

People WHO Attended Columbia, but didn't graduate

  1. Casey Affleck // Oscar-winning actor and director
  1. Timothée Chalamet // Oscar-nominated actor
  1. Leonard Cohen // Grammy-winning musician and writer
  1. E.L. Doctorow // 20th-century novelist
  1. Amelia Earhart // First female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean
  1. Federico García Lorca // Spanish poet and playwright
  1. Ira Gershwin // Pulitzer Prize-winning 20th-century lyricist
  1. Joseph Gordon-Levitt // Actor
  1. Jake Gyllenhaal // Oscar-nominated actor
  1. Lauryn Hill // Grammy-winning singer and songwriter
  1. Langston Hughes // 20th-century writer and activist
  1. Jane Jacobs // Journalist and activist
  1. Alicia Keys // Grammy-winning musician and actress
  1. Yo-Yo Ma // Grammy-winning cellist
  1. Anna Paquin // Oscar-winning actress
  1. Gene Roddenberry // Creator of the original Star Trek series
  1. Franklin Delano Roosevelt // 32nd President of the United States
  1. Theodore Roosevelt // 26th President of the United States
  1. J.D. Salinger // 20th-century author
  1. David O. Selznick // Oscar-winning producer and screenwriter
  1. Hunter S. Thompson // 20th-century author and father of gonzo journalism