Tag: distinctive digs

Inspired by the otherworldly landscape of Joshua Tree, California, artist Phillip K. Smith III turned a 70-year-old desert cabin into an awe-inspiring optical illusion.

With a series of mirrored panels and some LED lighting, Smith created "Lucid Stead" from an abandoned shack that stood on five acres he had purchased in 2004. The resulting play of light and reflections created a kind of fragmented phantom that appeared to be stuck between here and another dimension.

Unfortunately, the work was only temporary, but you can experience it through a series of images available at Royale Projects.

You can also watch Royale Projects' official video on the work, below. ... Continued

Back in June, it looked like Austin's beloved Cathedral of Junk, a towering maze of miscellaneous materials, was going to be torn down after its creator, Vince Hannemann, was unable to work things out with city officials who seemed determined to legislate the landmark into obliteration. However, it looks like the Cathedral has life in it yet!

I spoke with Vince this week and he told me that, after he had decided the seemingly endless effort to bring the Cathedral under building code was no longer worth it, the city of Austin stepped up and worked things out with him.

It looks like the city finally came through and respected the citizens' wishes to "Keep Austin Weird."

A few days ago, I reported on a man who built a nearly exact replica of the set from MASH in his own backyard, but to my dismay, I couldn't determine his location except to say that he lived in Orlando, Florida. Well, today I know where he lives!

Admittedly, I hadn't done all that much research — hey, it's Christmas week, after all — but thankfully, Laura Leu from Asylum stepped up and tracked him down for me. The creator's name is David Dilday and he has proclaimed himself the world's biggest MASH fan. Together with his best friend since childhood, Brandon Crisp, he built the compound in just 1,000 square feet of lawn.

In fact, it's the second such replica the pair have erected. A much younger Dilday and Crisp, together with a few other friends, built a scale version of the Swamp back in 1983, which they used to re-enact a home-movie version of MASH's final episode. Twenty years later, they decided to build another version in Dilday's backyard, only much more accurate. ... Continued

Writing three installments for the Weird series of books has led me to dozens of unique and outrageous homes. Few, however, have made me utter as many excited expletives as the reconstruction of the entire MASH set in one man's backyard.

Known so far only as Kraw27, this ambitious visionary has even recreated the Swamp (Hawkeye's tent, if you're not familiar) in unbelievable detail, right down to the homemade still. According to his post at the HGTV website, it makes a great place to host poker night.

What's more, Kraw27 has also built a pretty awesome Indiana Jones-themed TV room.

I'm currently working on getting more information about the mysterious Kraw27. If anyone out there knows anything, please send me a note. With any luck, I'll be able to pay him a personal visit in the near future. ... Continued

On the very last stop on the very last day of my very last research trip for Weird Arizona, I met one of the state's most prolific, and friendliest, folk artists. His name was Jerry Hall, and his "World of Imagination," a collection of unusual, scrap-metal sculptures that took up the entirety of his front yard, had become a regional sensation.

I had been unable to contact Jerry before my arrival, but by sheer luck, he arrived at home moments before I finished taking photos and hit the road back to Texas. As a result, I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of hours chatting with Jerry, learning about what made him tick, and even getting a personal tour of the wall art inside his house.

Jerry welcomed me like a friend into his home, which is why I was sad to learn that he had recently succumbed to cancer. He passed away on Oct. 19 at the age of 65.

To my regret, my story on Jerry Hall's World of Imagination was cut from the final version of Weird Arizona due to space concerns. But the story, presented with photos of Jerry's creatures, can be read in its entirety here at the Roadside Resort. ... Continued

Update: The Cathedral of Junk lives on!

This has not been a good week for roadside oddities. First, Ohio's Touchdown Jesus was razed by God himself, and now the City of Austin, Texas, has forced the closure and dismantling of the long-standing Cathedral of Junk.

The immense, interactive, multilevel sculpture comprising countless found items — crutches, mailboxes, bicycles, bottles, typewriters, you name it — has stood for 21 years as one of Austin's most loved folk-art sculptures and a definitive example of the attitude that gave rise to the city's motto "Keep Austin Weird."

Unfortunately, city officials threw a wet blanket on the installation back in March when they began ordering changes and demanding permits. Since that time, the Cathedral's creator, Vince Hannemann, along with a small army of volunteers, had been working to bring the sculpture up to code and keep it open. The city had even been fairly cooperative in extending deadlines to make preserving the iconic structure possible. The Austin mayor himself contacted Vince back in May to try to help things along. ... Continued

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. ... Continued

Kelly Laffey at ShelterPop has published a nifty little gallery showcasing 10 of the strangest examples of roadside architecture visible across the U.S.

Coming in at number 7 is one my favorites, the mysterious Kettle House in Galveston, Texas. Laffey kindly cited Weird Texas as her source of information for the strange, bowl-shaped abode, though she only credited my two esteemed co-authors, inexplicably leaving my name out. Which is odd, really, since I was the one wrote that chapter.

Am I bitter? Nah. 'Cause I know the secret behind the Kettle House ... and I'm not telling Kelly.

I received some sad news today. Louis Lee, creator of the Lee Oriental Rock Garden, one of Arizona's most intriguing attractions, has passed away.

I was very lucky to have met Mr. Lee and his wife Esther on my first research trip to Arizona back in September. The Lees sat with me in the shade of their patio and talked with me about how their extraordinary rock garden came to be. Mr. Lee started it in 1958 with just a retaining wall, after which the elaborate assemblage of arches, partitions, shelves and walkways grew out of control over the course of nearly 50 years.

The Lees were very welcoming upon my arrival and were gracious enough to let me wander around the garden by myself for an hour taking photos. Although I've seen dozens of Arizona oddities since, my visit to the Lee home was one of the most enjoyable. It's strange to think now that the portraits I shot during that visit may well have been the last to be taken of Mr. Lee.

Louis Lee died on Tuesday, the 15th. He was 92 years old. Mr. Lee had lived a long and obviously productive life.