Archive for the ‘images’ Category


This lovely 6.9L Daimler, delivered to the Don Quixote Sculpture Garden in East Jesus, California, will be radically and violently transformed between now and January 9th into a car-b-que, ostensibly with much photo- and videographic documentation.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines….

Powersys 2.0 – the finishing details are endless…

Desulfators, catastrophic fuses, buss bars, oh my!


Eight months and fifteen thousand dollars later, I am still not finished.



Last night’s landmark (in lieu of project completion) was the final interconnection and torquing of the battery bank itself. With no charging in about a year and prolonged exposure to the elements, bank voltage was measured at 49.63V, the rough equivalent of 12.4V on a twelve-volt system. Which really ain’t too shabby, and utterly miraculous given the combination of neglect and rough-housing these things have endured since coming into my ownership. But that’s all I had to show for the effort: four significant digits. An electrochemical “Hello, world!” The first clumsily-uttered syllables of a precocious infant. Proof of life inside that unbelievably massive, toxic aquarium, the soft machine containing (at full charge) nearly one-quarter megawatt-hour. Antony & the Johnsons should sing a ballad in homage to this monstrosity.

Tonight, after escaping from the afternoon heat for many hours in the *other* container, I worked by flashlight, slowly pushing closer to completion. Whatever criticisms I may hurl at myself publicly, I am trying for the first time in my life to actually do everything right on this project. Every little step calls for introspection, “what-if” contingency anticipation, reconsideration of the previous three steps, and painfully cautious execution. Usually I just rush through things, after the motto, “We’ll fix it in the mix.” The stakes are too high now. There might be a caustic sink hole in the ground to show for miscalculation. Or permanent blindness. Or worse.

Tomorrow I’ll pull down the protective plywood sheets I put up this morning, connect the desulfators and then figure out what to do next.

The After(mam)math – photographic evidence

magic day

Yesterday was unseasonably cool and, in the morning, overcast with cumulus clouds, which blocked the sun occasionally, making it a perfect time to go out into the sculpture garden and get busy with some projects. The windmill’s tail needed to be re-mounted; the Tower needed to get its electric lighting started; ditto for the dome. I got all three done, plus a few sundry Tower modifications / repairs. On top of that, I got a good bit of maintenance inside the living area taken care of, and cleaned up the music room. Just the vacuuming took nearly an hour. The dust out here is brutal, and I don’t fight it very often, so when I do, it’s a real chore.

Windmill, repaired

While I was up on the top level of the Tower, I took a few photos of East Jesus below (click for larger image.) I got a little work done at dusk and will hopefully get more done soon, posting the evidence accordingly.

I haven’t tested it yet, but the dome should perform quite well as a counterpoise for the screwdriver antenna, and I got to thinking…. what if I set up the Mac as a sound capture / looper / processor / mixer and created live mashups of ham & swl radio signals, ergo Geodesic Dome As Radiophonic Musical Instrument? I was thinking of doing an extended work of sound art based on that idea anyway… whaddaya think?

Reminder: The Mammoth BBQ is Coming!

cosmos & the mammoth

Greetings, sports fans.

It’s about 105F outside now, but I still stir from within the air-conditioned confines of the East Jesus nerve net / radio shack / promotions office, just to go and once again have a look at Cosmos – the mesmerizing, elegant sculpture by Royce Carlson, on display here until it finds a new, permanent home with someone wealthier than myself. If I had the twenty grand, I’d buy it outright. I will be very sad to see it go. Contact Royce directly at <> if you happen to be interested.

The piece already has a bit of history and infamy. It was on display at Burning Man in 2004, and appeared in the movie Surrogates, starring Bruce Willis. It’s long been my dream to take sneaky advantage of the fact that I have lots of space virtually for free, and there are lots of large sculptures out there whose storage fees are slowly draining the coffers of the artists. Technically, the Transit Antenna bus was the first artwork to be added to the collection from the outside, but that’s in a class of its own – artwork, mobile home, museum and monument to itself, installation and guest house…. Cosmos is a *sculpture*, period.

Over on the “dark side” of the sculpture garden, where a more chaotic, post-apocalyptic sensibility and stories of The Fall of Western Civilization told in a dozen assemblages made of junk reign supreme, Joe Holliday’s Mammoth saw its resurrection – at least the first phase of it. With a skeleton crew of helpers working in the afternoon heat, the parts were unloaded, concrete footings were poured and the armature was assembled, awaiting a larger gathering of participants to hoist it up into place and finish its skin. After some seeing and sawing about whether or not music and festivities in honor of Mammoth’s erection would take place here, it’s beginning to look once again as if some sort of festival will indeed happen. In any case, all signs point to at least a final assembly and upright-making on June 19th.

Like much of Holliday’s art – installations, graphics and sculpture – the Mammoth is raw, aggressive, and brilliant in its visionary scope. Joe begins with abstract, ontological ideas within a conceptual framework, incorporating process and discovery and the ever-present limitations of whatever material happens to be on hand in the realization and representation of the idea. Accordingly, finished works are challenging, richly textured, and reveal density and complexity to the diligent observer. These photos is no way do the Mammoth justice – they are shown solely for their documentary value, and in a kind of surreal contrast to the final, standing sculpture. Proof we did something this weekend.

Mammoth is to become a permanent installation of the East Jesus sculpture garden.

Cosmos (by Royce Carlson) in motion from chasterus on Vimeo.

meet Captain USA

Living in the middle of nowhere, between a live bombing range and one of the world’s most spectacularly surreal and barren man-made disasters turned wildlife sanctuary, ensconced in an art compound made principally of garbage, has its advantages. For one, the boring cookie-cutter mundanes you don’t really want to see (I mean, you moved out to the middle of nowhere for a reason, right?) think you’re a weirdo and go away. And then the poeple you do want to meet, greet and get drunk with on occasion think you’re a weirdo and say to themselves, “Wow! A WEIRDO! One of us! One of us!“ People who make big ridiculous things out of metal, shredded tires or styrofoam. People who pose naked with guns and people who set themselves on fire. In my three-and-a-half years here, I’ve been lucky enough to attract some very interesting folks, some of whom have eventually contributed to the general weirdness of East Jesus in very positive ways. Today I received a missive from a gentleman who goes by the stage name of Captain USA.

No, I had never heard of him before, either. Note well: that’s pronounced “Captain OO-sa.”

Indulge me in my initial skepticism for a moment: Sounds kinda hokey, right? Like a cross between a poor man’s Evel Knievel, some lost middle-aged biker dreaming of Captain America (the Easy Rider one,) and the guy who still hasn’t gotten around to scraping the “Pride In Proudness” stickers off his car that have been there since 9/11. Well, sort of, but not really. He’s in on the joke. He is a master of the fine art of Not Taking One’s Self Too Seriously. Captain USA is a backyard superhero. He sets himself on fire and then jumps off his garage roof into a kiddie pool. Then he does the same thing, only on a motorcycle. All this, and rightly so, in the name of Freedom. Good stuff, highly compelling:

Now here’s the fun part, for all you East Jesus / Slab City fans:

Hello Sir! I love your art garden at Slab city. Been there 3 times. Love the desert ducks and the art cars especially. I was with art car camp at burning man last year and have been gratefully learning more and more about the art car community ever since. I have a proposition for you that I think could be one of the super duperest art car projects everr!

My name is Jimmy from Georgia aka Capt USA. One of my favorite forms of expression is thrilling stunts I perform as Capt USA celebrating freedom on the 4th of July. Each year my stunts get bigger and better and this year will be my greatest to date. My Nissan Pathfinder has 235000 miles on it. Hauled a trailer all the way to Cabo and back down the hard road along the Sea of Cortez. I call her El Burro, hence the title of my new stunt and art car project…The Flaming Burro of Freedom.

I want to haul the Burro out to slab city on July 2 and start hot gluing roman candles and barrels of fun fire works along both sides of the exterior, spray paint it red white and blue. Then on the 4th spray the exterior with just enough gasoline to light it up and set all the fire works off at once while a stunt driver drives it and I ride El Burro on top in the Capt USA costume. Sounds crazy and dangerous. It is. But I have done this kind of thing many times. Check out my video. It will be amazing and no one will get hurt.

I’m reaching out to you for help. Slab City is a community and I don’t want to barge in with my vision. I was hoping the stunt could help contribute to the freedom celebration that will already be taking place. I am hoping for your blessing, advice, and help to create the Flaming Burro of Freedom. I was thinking that maybe in return I could give you El Burro. She could be cleaned up after the stunt and turned in to a whole new creation. She still runs. Iam using her today to install Satellite Dishes for DirecTV.

Anyway, I hope this letter finds you happy and well. And once again, I love your art.

Jimmy from Georgia

Thanks, Jimmy! You’ll be hearing from me real soon.

Mammoth Erection – sneak preview

artist Joe Holliday w/ Mammoth

2010.06.01 – CANCELLED DUE TO I HAVE NO IDEA – original post below…


East Jesus is growing. Come help us saw our own legs off, lest we continue to grow. Or help us grow, and gnaw your own limbs off in envy.

The gyst of the matter is this: two large sculptures are being drawn by mule to the muddy banks of East Jesus, to be displayed in all their glory for the two or three “eccentric,” wayward visitors we receive every season. And, of course, for you. One is a full-scale replica of the now-extinct Mammuthus primigenius, or wolly mammoth to you Philistines. What’s a Philistine? Ask Iggy Pop. If he’s wearing a bonnet and stirring up a slow-cooked pot of beans with possum and spices in it. The other is Cosmic Steel’s magnum opus, Cosmos. Gosh darn, that almost rhymes. Or what do they call that… alliteration? Anyway, they will be erected here for your viewing and worshiping pleasure, until they are sold to the highest bidder. And when they’re gone, you’ll have the memories of having seen them, possibly even touched them, to share with your grandkids when we’re all driving Buicks to the moon.

Looks like there’ll be some other surprises of the artistic kind. Shhhhhh!

Cosmos, by Royce Carlson / Cosmic Steel

Um, and I think a couple of up-and-coming legends in their own time will be crooning their dulcet tones ‘neath the voodoo moon (in alphabetical order:)

Delta the Troubadour
DreadCrew of Oddwood
Fancy Space People
Grapes and Nuts

Insects Versus Robots
Last Round Down
Riz Orkestra
The Funderstorm
The Tleilaxu Music Machine

Weasels Exist

Like you, I had never heard of any of them until I spent a moment cruising the Great Information Superhighway and found that not only does each act boast its own lame MyFace or SpaceBook page, they are all *actually pretty good.* And today, that’s saying an awful lot. My personal favorite is Grapes and Nuts, who have the stupidest name for a band I’ve ever heard, but are surprisingly sophisticated in a prog-rock-jazz-self-asphyxiation kind of way. Last Round Down list themselves as hard-drinkin’ skunk country-bluegrass on Sterno, but forget to mention they sound an awful lot like the better UK drunkard ensembles like The Pogues and the Whiskey Priests. [As an aside, I’ve served as FOH mixer for both. The Whiskey Priests were total assholes.] I’d have expected DreadCrew of Oddwood to be an embarrassing hippy-RenFaire dilution of pirate bandoneon, but I just couldn’t navigate away from their webstream. Last on the list are the estimable Weasels Exist, another somewhat stupid name for a really amazing group. Honest. I could probably come up with something clever for every last one of these acts, but I’m running out of steam. The lineups at NIMBY (1.0) back in the day were rarely this good (unless the Extra Action Marching Band was involved.) And, of course, I will be exercising my rights as mayor and founder of East Jesus (Pop 1, Elev 75) and premier number one musical act no matter how much I may suck, and do the traditional Leonard Cohen gig: closing the show, playing depressing and beautiful acoustic songs long after all the druqks are gone, you’ve finished rioting and have long since gone to bed. The piano will be in tune, and when all the live musical talent has headed back home to Illinois, we will extend the pains and pleasures of listening with a Jandek marathon. Rumor has it Tom Waits will show up out of the blue, play a few songs, and disappear. Honestly, I have no idea if any or all of these acts will be performing during Mammoth Erection, but the list was passed on to me in good faith by someone who Knows Such Things and Who Shall Remain Nameless.

You may come and enjoy this godawful mess with us. But you must be prepared for very warm weather, as in three-digits-Fahrenheit and only as much shade as you bring yourself. We will have “sanitary facilities” for your convenience (and ours.) Bring everything else you think you might need or want, and take all your garbage out with you. FREE overnight camping available. Behave yourself. If you are an asshole, you will be asked to leave at gunpoint. I’ll be cooking up a survival guide of sorts that explains how to check your panties for scorpions before lifting them to crotch level, and such. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 18: pre-party music, heavy drinking, sunburned orgy
Saturday, June 19: The Real Deal. Worship the Mammoth, gaze upon Cosmos with awe and wonder, enjoy live musical performances, dwarf tossing, projections, UFO sightings / abductions, etc.
Sunday, June 20: Jandek marathon and warm beer for the survivors. Pack it in, pack it out.

why ham radio is not dead (part three) – Amateur Extra, MARS, mobile operation and digital modes

Did you know that you can send and receive email to anyone anywhere in the world using just radio equipment? Even if all other global communication networks – including the Wide Web Interworld – are down for the count? I’ll get to that later.

Back to the books…. and the scientific calculator.

As usual, radio silence in the blogosphere has indicated extreme radioactivity in meatspace. I have been busy. The fruits of my labors have culminated thus: upgraded to Amateur Extra (the highest amateur radio license class, with privileges on all frequencies,) became a full MARS (Military Auxiliary Radio System) member (Department of Defense meets amateur radio for whatever emergency or disaster comms may be necessary – not only do they train you in military-style radio operation, you get a nifty glow-in-the-dark decoder ring,) conducted my usual radio business for three days from my car out in the middle of nowhere and finally, today, after weeks of trying and failing and troubleshooting and tweaking and adjusting, began operating in digital modes. MT63 and WINMOR, to be precise, both of which are used in MARS. There are about a dozen others I’m dying to get my hands dirty with – RTTY, PSK31, Olivia, etc. – but these two, being the ones I need to be able to use on a daily basis, were what I chose to start with.


One day I found these in my P.O. box…

WINMOR is a protocol under development primarily for use with Winlink2K, that radio-only email system I mentioned in the beginning. Needless to say, complex systems under development are not the most user-friendly. I am pretty sure that if I hadn’t given up alcohol for the coming hot summer, I wouldn’t have had the patience or sharpness of mind to get it all working properly. In fact, my attention span has expanded immensely since I put down the whiskey. Never fear, dear reader, you’ll hear none of this “sobriety” gibberish from me – I hate that word and I don’t care for 12-Step programs (one step is all I need, thank you) and I will someday return to my infamous and invariably amusing, hard-drinking ways, but first I need to lose about 40 lbs and survive a long summer in the Slabs without dying of dehydration. In the mean time, I reasonably expect to get about ten times as much done as usual.

MT63 is another digital mode which performs quite well under poor band conditions by dividing its content into 64 tones stretched over time. In fact, it’s so immune to noise that you can use it without any fancy interface between your radio and your computer. Assuming your ‘puter has a built-in microphone, you can just let the audio from the radio’s loudspeaker get into the mic and under normal conditions this should work fine. For some reason, though, I had trouble receiving through a MacBook Pro’s internal sound card (which I understand is actually par for the course,) so eventually I just decided to put a dedicated computer in place and use a ham-radio-friendly sound card for interfacing. Since $300 buys an awful lot of computer these days, it wasn’t too big a deal. The robustness of MT63 still amazes me – my first trial reception with the new setup yielded 100% copy under just about the worst, noisiest HF band conditions possible.

HF/VHF/UHF mobile installation… in an art car.

Now, all this began around the time I was wrapping up my training for MARS and eyeballing an upgrade to the Amateur Extra license class. I had ARRL’s study guide for the latter collecting dust somewhere and one day grabbed it and started studying. It wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve ever done, but by no means the toughest, and after about ten days of dedicating three to four hours per day (sometimes a little more) to working through the question pool and filling in the gaps in my knowledge, I was passing practice exams in my sleep and figured it was time to take the plunge, scrape up $14 and go for the real thing. Not too surprisingly, I passed, though when I returned from the rest room as my answer sheet was being graded signed, some of the examiners were muttering things like, “It’s OK, he can take it again on the 24th….” within earshot, just to yank my chain.

Of course, I haven’t had a lot of time to go play radio on all the new elitist real estate within the ham bands that is the exclusive domain of the Amateur Extra – nope, I’ve been potty-training computers and sound cards, building a chicken coop and moving some actual poultry into it, moving trailers and art cars around to make room for new, and finally getting those disgustingly heavy and huge Pb/Ca batteries into their permanent home:

700lbs of lead-acid love….*each*… and 24 of them.

dome, finished

The dome crew were unable to complete the bottom-up assembly of the dome due to its high apex and our collective lack of tall enough ladders. It was also ascertained that one of the vertices was the wrong length. For these reasons, and because I had trouble sleeping at night with an unfinished dome in the yard, I performed an experiment to see if one Charlie, solo, could dis- and re-assemble the whole thing from the top down without the use of ladders or scaffolding.

purdy, ain't it?

Dis-assembly was relatively easy. The errant vertex was found to be an A strut cut two inches too long, so correcting this was no problem: re-cut, pound flat, bend, drill. Re-assembly was possible and not terribly difficult, even upon the soft, uneven ground at this location. Using only a Hi-Lift farm jack, a 4′ length of 4×4, a small hammer, c-clamp, vise grips, open-end wrench and ratchet, I nailed this puppy together in about a day. A 3V dome is easy to understand in terms of vertex mapping – the A struts are always and only the radials of pentagons; the C struts are likewise the radials of (regular) hexagons, and the B struts “frame” both. Simply arranging the A, B and C vertices into (very carefully) sorted piles is enough; no need for color coding or banding for identification. I did, however, double-check the length of each piece before using.

Next: a 4V half-dome with a radius of perhaps 8′ for a sweat lodge. Back to the nifty calculator at…


Last weekend, Cheesy Bob and krewe descended upon East Jesus in vast numbers, bearing Girl Scout cookies, many gallons of homebrew, good cheer, firearms and dome-building tools and supplies. Everything needed to build three geodesic domes from scratch arrived on a single pickup truck pulling a small trailer: 10′ sticks of 1″ EMT, hardware, tools, generator, everything.

A portable geodesic dome factory

In between sips of American wheat beer and sangria, everyone took turns cutting, flanging, bending, drilling and fine-grinding the vertices. As soon as enough of them were available, assembly began.

Work began at 7am. Before 6pm, two domes stood complete and a third, by far the largest, was *almost* finished. But not for lack of effort; it turns out the apex is higher than any available ladders could reach. Just about that time, rain came down and continued all night and all day Sunday, which brought a cold, soggy end to things.

The East Jesus 5/8-3V Dome.

This is it. Mine. MINE! Hee hee. It’ll be here a while. I’m going to experiment with grapes and morning glories for natural shade, maybe a misting system to keep said vegetation happy…

On the other side of the sculpture garden, there were other Tower-related activities… note the new chair encrusted with doorstop springs hanging in the 2nd level and the new 3rd level deck and “railings.” Most of the tower crew arrived shortly before the rain, though, so less was accomplished there that we were hoping for, but still a good effort with plenty to show for it.

The Tower, as of this morning.

Thanks to everyone who came out and helped. This place is beginning to take on a mind of its own, and it’s because of so many people who truly get it.

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