Thursday, June 12, 2014


  I use real estate and tobacco leaf as art material. Every couple of weeks I order a few more pounds of leaf from my guy in Ct. Today the computer wouldn't take my order, so I had to call them. When the guy saw my eclectic ordering history he inquired as to my usage? He saw no consistency in my tobacco taste patterns. I told him it was for art supplies.  Satisfied that I was not some smoker, breaking all the rules, he never questioned the usage as art and we moved on.
    My use of real estate as material is more varied. WSSP, WSSP II and THE HOLLIE WITCHEY PROJECT are full on domeciles, with close friends as occupants. Construction is basically complete on all three. My role now is more of an overseer, making sure they don't crumble, while remaining friends  with the occupants. So far so good.
   The other way I use real estate is to buy very small parcels at auction and utilize these strategically placed lots for sculptural purposes. My first one was a 50' x 300' sliver of land surrounded by cemeteries. This I use as the CLGM cemetery. Jerry Williams is there. So far he's alone. I put up a sign once, but someone complained and the town forced me to take it down. That's OK. Willie doesn't get many visitors. The other tiny piece is river front property down on Holiday Mountain Road. Initially I put up a sign denoting the spot as the CLGM "Baptism" site. This sign was immediately stolen. When i reported this to the town they said it was an "illegal" sign, and that I needed a permit. That set off a 1st. amendment debate. When I asked about all the FOR SALE signs in the county, they said they had no regulations concerning those. So I put a 4 x 8 plywood sign that just said FOR SALE, with no other info. This caused a big argument with the neighbor, who couldn't figure it out. When i tried to explain it as sculpture I did not succeed in convincing the neighbor of its merit and this was also stolen.

   This brings me to yesterday's attempt to purchase a 100' x 100' lot just down the road from the church. It has an old foundation, close to the road, and nothing else- perfect. I figured if I could get it for under $400 it was worth it. The yearly auction in Sullivan County is a trip. I paid about $300 each for the cemetery and the river front. My taxes are about $11 per year. The county takes over properties that haven't paid taxes for a couple of years and auctions them off. I paid $30,000 for WSSP and sold it as art. This year I saw prime real estate go for under $50,000. I always tell my city friends to check out the auction. They never do. Too bad. The bargains won't last forever.
   In a room with the worst acoustics on earth, fast talking auctioneers, with neck mics., go through the 300 or so properties on the block. The room is packed with hillbillies, mob, Hassidics, Orthodox, Black, White, Indian, and Asian. Everyone's looking for a bargain. When it came to #137 I was ready. I started the biding at $50. Then I heard $100. Fuck- someone else was interested. Later I found out it was Diamond Dave fucking with me. At $150 he backed off and a small Black man in a sweater vest, wearing a gold cross took over. At $400 I dropped my paddle. Who the hell could want that piece?

Bronco Billy came up to me after the auction and informed me that the man who had out bid me was a competing pastor. "I smell holy war." Billy whispered and moved off. My plan for the piece was to build a cabin in the sky on the old foundation. With lashed scaffolding and cribbing I hoped to put a tiny log cabin above the tree tops. Bishop Derrick R. Simms (Prophet/Founder) of the Cross of Calvary Church, Inc. had beat me to the punch. What are his plans? I asked him, but he was evasive. I, for one, would just like to welcome the Bishop to the neighborhood. I see no reason for a jihad. A little competition is a good thing. Holy Hill is expanding.  


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