The City of Richfield had a problem. With social distancing in full swing and more people spending time in public parks, volunteers were running themselves ragged picking up piles upon piles of litter.
The city called upon Scott Ramsay, a naturalist who works with the Wood Lake Nature Center, to make a quick, fun video encouraging the public to be courteous and pick up after themselves.
The result was… and we say this as people who describe things for a living… indescribable.
Meet Rudy Refuse, a man-sized, sentient pile of trash whose goal in life is to convince you to sin against nature, like some kind of greasy Lucifer. His head is an overturned milk jug. His nose is a juice can. He terrifies small children. He relishes the wanton destruction of wildlife.
We fear, loathe, and respect this horrible trashman, who is made of unfettered id and fast food containers.
We highly recommend you watch all 15 minutes (!) of this phenomenally buckwild masterpiece, but for a quick taste, you can check out these highlights pulled by Wedge LIVE!:
City of Richfield has produced a trash musical. I don't know what the big deal is about staying home. We're living through a golden age of entertainment. https://t.co/dSNqZzt8H6 pic.twitter.com/jTu6udWbCE— Wedge LIVE!™ (@WedgeLIVE) September 2, 2020
“I didn’t quite know what to make of it at first,” city communications manager Neil Ruhland says.
Ruhland has to admit, the video’s getting people’s attention. Usually, when the city makes these public service announcements, they’re lucky if even one person gets in touch to talk about it. They’ve already fielded something like four dozen calls and emails about Rudy.
There is a story of sorts behind the trash man. Ramsay, the man behind the milk jug, created the character back in the ‘80s, when he was working for another nature center just north of the Twin Cities. City government was trying to institute its first curbside recycling service, and people weren’t exactly buying in.
So, Ramsay took a pair of thick cotton coveralls, covered them in as much garbage as he could, added tuna can eyes, and started doing presentations for kids at the nature center.
His bit was hiding in a trash bag and popping out whenever the presenter mentioned the word “garbage.”
“It was kind of terrifying,” he admits. “The kids were initially frightened.”
But as the presentation wore on, the kids would warm to the character’s antics, and go home ready to bug their parents into signing up for curbside recycling. It was such a popular program that he toured with it for about a year, performing the act at schools.
“I thought for a while I should call David Letterman,” Ramsay mused.
Eventually, recycling became so commonplace that Rudy wasn’t needed anymore. He’s been hanging bonelessly in Ramsay’s garage ever since.
That is, until Richfield needed a way to spread the word about litter. Ramsay grabbed Rudy, dusted him off, and revived some of the old routine – raps and all.
The public has reacted so strongly to Rudy that Ramsay’s hopeful they’ll be able to film a few more installments. Maybe Rudy’s what the city needs to raise public eco-consciousness enough to get on the curbside composting bandwagon. For now, Ramsay’s happy to keep up his never-ending quest to end litter, scaring and delighting us all into compliance.
Stay tuned for more educational content from Richfield, where we learn about porta-potty etiquette with the help of a cheerful puppet.
Porta-potty puppet show pic.twitter.com/ijtilkRLey— Wedge LIVE!™ (@WedgeLIVE) September 2, 2020