Journalist • Photographer

Bobby Magill is a senior science writer for Climate Central in New York and a journalist who has covered fracking and the environment in Colorado and New Mexico since 2001. 

What is "The Thing?" I'm still not sure...

If you've ever driven Interstate 10 between El Paso and Phoenix, you've seen the signs along the highway: "The Thing? What is it?" They usually say something about "The Thing?" being a great mystery of the desert in the same way those "South of the Border" signs entice travelers off I-95 in South Carolina.

I've dismissed "The Thing?" the thing on my many trips between New Mexico and Tucson or Phoenix over the years. But today, I had some extra time, so I thought it would be fun to experience "The Thing?"

In addition to the very well-stocked curio shop full of moccasins, trinkets, cowboy hats, T-shirts, a Dairy Queen and all the sugary beverages you can imagine, there was this, the purported "Thing":

Is it real? In good taste?

Of course, there's no explanation of what (or who) is in the coffin. It's up to the viewer to decide, I guess.

There were a few more things, too, more than a few related to matters of torture:

A closer look:

More torture:

A plug for Hitler:

I'm not sure what this one is about:

Highway kitsch is always a bit strange and, of course, cheap. "The Thing?" certainly exemplifies that standard. What kind of message am I supposed to come away from "The Thing?" contemplating?

Caveat emptor.