I chose a decentralized life style so that my free time could be spent on creative projects and design-meditation. Settling down in Maine, in my early twenties. Sensing that my mission in life needed a rural, creative setting. Freedom from hectic conformity was key. I focused on acquiring skills like construction as well as serious, continuous self education. Possibly to "get a foot in door" for better opportunities. I began self-education long before the public-internet. It was very difficult without search-engines available anywhere, (such as google today). I also enrolled in an accredited correspondence school for electronics technology, (through snail mail of that era). I wanted to understand the physics of energy while living rurally.
It earned me a diploma, though my focus soon turned towards organic, naturalized studies. The understanding of basic electronics was very satisfying, but i could find no mentors or jobs which appealed to me. I gradually acquired, multiple disciplines. I spent most of my small profits on tools and kept them them very organized. Having been reared in structured societies-- Yet a stronger common sense overtook my perception of order.
I came to highly respect an old man who lived near by. This man Lewis Newell became a decentralization-mentor, (at an informal level). He was a highly skilled, self employed country dweller. He taught me much about mechanics, welding and independent lifestyle. He didn't use words like that but had many common sense opinions in a generalized philosophy of life and of truth. I was fascinated that mechanics could work in his wilderness style of seeming disorder. Yet Lewis did maintain a curious kind of order beyond material appearances. It seemed fun and cool, actually. He knew exactly where to dig things out of junk piles or assorted boxes. Most important, he knew how to leave time for, better things in life. Focus on personal interests, rather than spend time on cleanups or tidiness. (Some of these B&W pictures are poorly, digitally scanned 1970's film negatives. A real 35mm film scanner is needed).
Here is Lewis Newell welding my nearly-dead machine. He even showed me that oil filled gear boxes on old machinery, could in dire straights be welded. I was barely able to afford this machine which was key to "land sculpting" and to build our garden. To establish our garden home on a junk yard property. My heart goes out to the memory of this good man. Another friend provided a well-finished photo print-
Photo credit: Peggy Mckenna, Montville, Maine
Lewis and his wife Francis gave me my first flock of laying hens. Abundant hens were apparently escapees from the large chicken-houses of that era. People found free hens in this way. I had always envied farm life, but defining my integrative, new roots took years to sort out. I was amazed and inspired by the easy going recycling of things. Just parking terminal cars or machines in a field. Perhaps using them to haul firewood first or just for spare parts. "Out to pasture" was the expression. Sparingly, a 35mm camera caught a few glimpses of that period. Missing better photo ops, having not realized junk pictures could prove interesting, (in later years).
Picture above was captured years after we began restoring our land, but does catch a sense of what it was like to restore land that previously was a forsaken junk yard. The pine tree died from junk yard abuse. It blew over one rainy day. Cleaning up the pre existing junk yard took many years. Just this picture, above, of pre-existing junk, was taken and saved through the years. Funny, how society has seemed to disparage the disheveled look. Yet archeology is passionate about crumbling old ruins. Quirky antiques become prized, somehow. Artists have "died in the ditch" (as a saying goes). Yet some of their works are auctioned at millions of dollars today. I spent much time during the 1980s, attempting to invent a market for the 'archeological look'.
Above: In 1975, after several years of junk removal past, our land looked like this, from our rooftop. I did want to keep the old scrappy steel, but we needed garden space and some sort of home business image. Priorities gradually take over. Space was limited. Later in the fall, after my own first effort at "land sculpting" efforts, the following picture was taken. A little photoshop clean up was attempted in the second collage. (Original negatives are still on hand, as all pictures on the site are 'abbreviated quality for faster internet travel).
I came to like the care-free , reduced-materialism lifestyle. Highly detailed order in design is commonly appreciated. While at the same time something about disorder can also inspire creatives. A playful mixture of cultural-history and advancing tech can bridge the distances between. The natural succession of mosses and lichens on age-worn stone work embody such inspiration. Like the basin (below) in the prestigious Borghese Gardens (in Rome, Italy).
I aspired to decentralization from a very early age. It was simple. Some kids need extensive coaching to matriculate into centralized schooling, which is steered by the powers-that-be. Luckily for me, this was in the 1960's, before big-box-pharma pushed it's drug monopoly on school kids. I argue that my "attention deficit" was a valid creative differential, for me. Why slow down a child who has a creative-project-oriented mind? Why drug kids through big-pharma profiteers? I was praised for my projects and unique-problem-solving abilities.
Mom sent me to The Mountain School in Vershire Vermont, (it's 2nd scholastic year, with 14 students total,1965). I tried my best but also fell under dissonance there. I was great at the required construction job activities. (We where renovating the old dairy barn that year and transforming it into classrooms and library). I suffered a key classroom discussion.... Never to expect much from schooling again. I challenged the teaching, that life was defined by the condition of biological self-replication. I asked how could this be proven? In case a factory should build a like-replicated-factory within itself? Robots were considered an unacceptable fantasy, apparently. Yet today it has been done. The teacher hated that question. There were no such factories at that time. I got discouraged, by the biased inconsistency (and by denigration of my grade averages based primarily upon "the three Rs" alone).
So why then, invoke robotic-flash-card thought processes on creative kids or on a society in general? In the 1960s my schooling focused on rote memorizations. I lacked needed coaching for that stuff. I would have needed prolonged coaching to catch up with flash card specifics. My main abilities were too free-flowing. Much later, at age 18, a new 'schoolmate' inspired me to drop out of 'college', before my first college year actually began. I had been accepted by a new, (fly by night?), barely established college in Brattleboro, Vermont-- (It needed students, not that my high-school records looked good).
I arrived early in Brattleboro, Vermont. To attend this college, completely housed in the above structure. I worked in a nearby, antiquated paper mill most of that preceding summer. I lived with some students for a while and also secretly in the college attic, (based upon another student who lived secretly in another hollow wall space there). I had no clue how college would suit me and it could not. Just as the school year began, my new friend, Chris inspired me to drop out of this college and go to New York City with him. It seemed intriguing. He seemed sophisticated and very focused. He was not shy or reserved like me. It seemed very intriguing. I went tentatively at first but never actually returned to study at the college. His stated purpose at the college was simply to get the standard, legal Draft deferment, from the ongoing Vietnam madness (1967). I actually knew too much about the insanity of war in general. I was intrigued by the adventurous potential and by a cultural awakening, of my peers.
NYC was overwhelming at 18. Chris was my only contact there. We met with a wealthy friend of his, son of a Madison Avenue mogul. Together they compelled me to fork out some scarce dollars i had saved from my paper mill job-- To rent for them, a very interesting, small, 5th floor apartment on Bowery Street (3rd st) in the East Village of NYC. They had no cash in their pocket, being city-wiser. (The poor are apparently expected to pay). The apartment had been abandoned and disused for decades. We started to haul trash out, but... I also needed to get my few belongings from Vermont and resolve my life plans. By the time i got back to NYC, after some delays, my new friends convinced me to study Scientology, which they had been doing for a year or more. They were then aiming towards the higher realms of it. There was some sort of intern-like program offering free 'intern' therapy, (for begginers).
I was intrigued by the e-meter, processes. I never could afford much of Scientology but was fascinated with the inducements like "total control over matter, energy, space, time and life". My new friends and some associates did seem very dynamic and empowered. Steve had a stack of NYC parking tickets in his Landrover-- He would place one of these under a windshield wiper when parking illegally. He boasted of ramming cars for parking space and cutting through toll road fences to avert tolls. This seemed to be an assertion his elite classism. He strutted around likea lord, (perhaps just an 'altitude' of wealth). I struggled a while with his mystique. Years later "The Church" paid me a sizable commission, which some how ended back in their pockets, (no mystique there). My main learning there was about hotshot, aggressive capitalism, which ultimately proved un-spiritual to me. Still, i did summarize many philosophical concepts which were later studied elsewhere.
Long NYC story short, i found a minimum wage job with a photography studio, thanks to Steve's connections. Later , Chris quit his job at a very cool food company, recommending me to take his place. At the time this food company rented 3 floors of a warehouse at 171 Duane St, (very close to the WTC site, then just beginning construction). At that time the neighborhood was wall to wall warehouse-commerce, with big trucks docking and straddling the streets crosswise, all day. (Winos used the park and alleys at night). Infinity Foods vanished in the 1970s. I grabbed the opportunity in 1968 for a year or so. While it seemed very progressive to my eyes. The Infinity Food Company was the sole importer of tamari and macro-biotic-approved miso in wooden kegs, at that time. I loved the company logo which boasted "nothing added, nothing removed", (way ahead of the times!) We picked up shipments directly from ships, at the docks in Brooklyn. (I doubt those lovely wooden kegs are to be found any more). We also specialized in whole grains like brown rice, etc... I loved learning about Scientology's "Org Board" of business organization technology, (applied in simplified basics).
My job was primarily taking orders, milling grain, bottling tamari, jarring products and making deliveries. All done by hand in those days. Only bits of published history remain of Infinity, as on page 93 of HISTORY OF EREWHON - NATURAL FOODS PIONEER IN THE UNITED STATES: EXTENSIVELY ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY AND SOURCEBOOK ISBN 1-028914-09-8. I remember Paul Hawkins, the founder of Erewhon , coming to personally order Japanese macrobiotic products, one day, with Infinity's owner Howard Rower presiding, (me taking orders). I lived in the upper loft and worked without pay, (but with a nebulous promise of future profit sharing). Profits were essentially nothing as health food was discredited and almost shamed in those days. Despite commercial successes of the health industry today, the forces to outlaw health, still threaten the world today, for example in Codex Alimentarius and other devious monopolist efforts. I learned a lot about commerce and Scientology here, as Howard Rower had reached sort of a stellar level in it. He also was an ambitious young business man. Howard fascinated my 19 year old perceptions. There were a dozen tiny health food stores in NYC and only one restaurant to which we delivered our products-- It was called The Paradox Restaurant, on East 7th street, at that time.
I loved The Paradox as a hang out with a geodesic framework, half built, in the tiny courtyard behind the building. Picture above re-visualizes how it once felt, (using Photoshop paste up methods from from my memories). I even washed dishes a number of times to earn a little needed cash. The food was great but i never committed myself to the macrobiotic system. I was dreaming of more varied cuisine. I was very curious about power-trip practices, (as Howard Rower's air-conditioned Scientology Franchise on 5th Avenue seemed to me). Yet the advancement potentials seemed thin for moneyless youth like me, without trust funds to splurge.
I was hitch hiking in Connecticut one weekend break from Infinity. My long hair and woven basket full of my clothing, made me look like an authentic hippy. (I really never fit labels though). Along came an old school bus, (converted into a camper). A young couple with two very young children were just returning from Maine. The mom was driving at that point and said she liked my travel-basket, so that is why she suddenly decided to picked me up. They said they were starting a timely commune up north. I asked if i could qualify and was essentially promised acceptance. It took a while for them to ready their rural property, in Appleton, Maine.They finally sent me a message to come. I think it was June 1969, when i finally took my trunk of worldly possessions on a Greyhound bus to Camden, Maine. Then hitch hiked up to Appleton. I was notified upon arrival, that the commune plan had just been cancelled. That i could live in shack on their property, which needed a lot of work (without wages). So i stayed and worked, insulating, building a stove and many fixtures. The owners had a trust fund and paid for materials and food. I even hand-dug an 8 foot well which proved very dry that summer.
I was lonely for a mate and needed to earn cash for a car. They wouldn't loan me money but gave me a junker to attempt repairs on it. (Repairs failed. I needed more mentoring yet, ha). During the winter and by an extraordinary chance meeting with a Camden social light, a 'job' came to me. A wealthy mom was struggling with two very wild sons of my age. Chauffeuring these two very wealthy sons, was to help persuade them from over-indulged decadence. The older brother was a brain-killed drug addict (completely blank, this one). The younger one had smashed up too many lavish sport cars and had lost his driver's license. They didn't object to the temporary arrangement. Their gracious mother trusted me and my affirmations against drugs, (elementary Scientology training, which still influenced me in those years) . Yet, as our tradition insists, alcohol ran like water and the younger boy kept a tab at local bar. I also took some laborer jobs. This part was very cold, shingling and framing 2X4s along the snowy, windy Maine coast. It proved my dedication to sanity somehow, even if a bit wild in itself. I also was granted a spot to live in houses under renovation.
Finally, a live-in job found me, renovating and building houses around Montville, Maine. I mostly did carpentry like the stair above. Rural styles and the "hip" attitude were astir in the 60's and 70's. Expensive publications were beyond touch, rurally. I got to borrow The Whole Earth Catalog and assorted media. The cultural-liberation, appealed greatly and provide a mental dialog of differentials, to challenge my Scientology training. I had to harmonize all diverse acquaintances, "to burn no bridges", but still never specialized in any single 'ism' or 'ology'. Never loose abilities to work hard. Though, it all was quite revealing, of spins on spins, on spins.
After cleaning up most of a junk yard aftermath, fixing up the collapsing, degraded house, paying for materials ourselves, (along with my newly met wife to be), we were at the mercy of needing to buy it. It had been a 1960s junk yard where cars (in those days) were gutted for harvesting the steel frames underneath. We bought the badly damaged site at what seemed like a 'situation-inflation'. It was mortgaged by the seller (because the deed was legally in question: a Quit Claim Deed. Ultimately Holding the property for 30 years, won us the uncontestable deed of ownership--Ha, except now America has mortgaged itself to world financiers. Oh-well.) Our seller mastered a friendly ruthlessness and objected to my pleas for bargaining the offered price. The seller knew my wife had a highly qualified job working for the State. (My wife Alda, had earned a masters degree from an ivy-league university, by working her way for income. She also was paying off student loans-- The well-off don't usually care, they just want advantages all for themselves.) Besides land prices were almost ready to begin climbing high, at that time. We were focused hard workers and had put too much into the place to loose it.
Like this inspired floor which i built into the house,1972-3, before buying it. Earlier, i had found an inspiring job working for a wooden boat builder, framing and planking a curved 27 ft sloop with oak and cedar. I usually seemed to work alone there, through a cold winter. It was freezing, but the high tide lapped it's way right into the boat shop. To warm the heart and soul. A recurring thought for me is that inspiration can be sought, despite the difficulties of life, despite suffering conditions around us. This should inspire young creatives to push forward and build a better world. (Instead of aiding worn out materialistic systems).
In 1983, we got rid of our 'clean-up-pile' of steel scrap dug out of the garden by hand. It had occupied our planned gardens spaces. Scrappy junk was an 'eyesore' in our neighborhood. My wife's perennial flower business possibly suffered. We literally had to pull out junked metal scraps and spark plugs, tiparellos and car seats, from the soil which we were restoring. Inventing our own style of gardening, out of a chaotic junk yard space. Healing the soil from years of dumped crankcase oil topping the antifreeze and brake fluids. We used the bio-dynamic process of specialized composting. Following Rudolf Steiner's recommendations, though some of the literature remained mysterious. I searched many diverse, published channels to establish a background and my own sense of phytoremediation, healing and spirituality.
Around 1975, now owning the place, my extensive efforts with rounded construction pushed forward. My wife Alda's studio is shown under construction, above. I had hoped artful structure could sell. A few creative jobs were found over the years, but, found somewhat spoFreedomly. "Suffer for one's art", indeed. This actually provides some space for soul growth, inspired by inner intentions to produce creatively. Rounded structure and ferrocement dominated my plans. History seemed to suggest that societies wait until forests are almost gone, before conserving threes as in prioritizing stone construction, or prioritizing efficiency in all productions.
Next Above- Our first sizable greenhouse. We always had smaller greenhouse space before this. In the early 1970s, Alda was possibly the first to 'hit' the mid coast market with a wide variety of seed grown perennials. Sold in peat pots. Before this time, perennials were primarily found only on the luxurious estates of this region. Local vendors sold annual plants, almost exclusively. People came from wide and far to buy her seedlings. Well, until the 1980s when big box stores and supermarkets took over this marketing. Also, this was before the 1990s when NAFTA instigated centralization of dominant profiteers.
Alda has always maintained membership in seed exchanging associations around the world. Fragrant, cool climate and rock garden varieties were her focus. By 1980, I framed my dome, right over the temporary square structure. For several years, the internal recta linear greenhouse served as an extra insulating layer. Alda also helped initiate the mid coastal wedding industry-- Just as the AIDS epidemic prompted many couples to formally marry, according to traditions, (with beautiful flowers). This actually seems to be a coincidental happening, a re-popularization of marrige.
"Cap-it-all" green roofing became one of my business hopes and dreams. Apparently the concept was not accepted at all-- What? you want a translucent dome for an attic? Granted that, low budget construction is rarely recognized for it's promised potentials. The fact that the highest office architectures of the world integrate domes and recta linear structure, perhaps scares the public. Perhaps it dissuades popular adoption of such styling. Emulating the ancient Roman Pantheon and subsequent symbols of grandeur. Or was it the integration of low cost with elegance which killed appeal. appeal. Despite the fact that life sustaining photosynthesis is a key use of sun light. Despite the fact that attics can take advantages of the sun, especially in temperate climates. I never could afford paid advertising or payola, to promote such concepts. I did use cedar 1X4s to hand-laminate the light weight arches. I was able to handle and place laminated arches with up to 25 ft spans, single-handedly. The whole 42 ft diameter dome, including the plastic sheathing came to $3,000, (the approximate 1980 material prices).
By 1990 or so, the patched together panorama looked like this (from dome top). In my vision, integration should balance centralization. It should 'breath' in a two-way flow. It might suggest an old constitutional metaphor and it largely is. However, the following decades saw Clinton's-NAFTA and Bush's-NWO favor leveraged monopolies, at the cost of localized prosperities (worldwide). While these economic policies defer to natural laws of causes and effects, may truer integrations of powers ultimately evolve.
To be continued. Emailed comments may help inspire me. email@example.com
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Note: These pages are placed in the public domain and are furnished "as is". The author assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of the concepts in this series. All authorities should be satisfied first, as might be required, by relevant laws, before any building proceeds.
Conceptual artist is repressed?