I've just been informed by a fellow detourist and fan of Weird Texas that the Cathedral of Junk, Austin's towering backyard monument consisting of old bicycles, typewriters, crutches and tons of other metal detritus, has come under fire from the city government!
Despite its being a part of the Austin landscape for the last 20 years, the city, in response to a recent complaint, gave the Cathedral's creator, Vince Hannemann, notice that he must either bring his creation up to local code or they will destroy his property.
I spoke with Hannemann today and he said there were absolutely no issues when he talked to officials as recently as six months ago, but they've now taken a firm stance against his unapproved, permit-lacking structure. It's another sad example of a city failing to recognize its true cultural landmarks.
Thankfully, despite Vince's being given only 7 days originally, the city agreed to an extension through the end of the month, and it now looks as though he'll be given even more time than that. Plus, volunteers have gathered every day in Vince's backyard to help correct specific problems with the structure, which involves demolishing approximately one-third of the Cathedral and rebuilding it farther away from a side fence. Moreover, the local Home Depot has donated sledgehammers, wire cutters and personal safety equipment to aid in volunteers' efforts.
Concerned citizens have also created a Web site at savethejunk.com to aid in gathering support.
The best news, however, is that just yesterday, Vince received a call from Austin's mayor himself, who has agreed to meet with the artist to cut through all the red tape and find a quick, and more sane, solution.
If you yourself would like to help, Vince still needs volunteers. He is also accepting donations to help defray the cost of reconstruction and permits. You can reach him at (512) 299-7413, or just show up between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. at 4422 Lareina Drive in south Austin.