Friday, April 4, 2008

The eclectic pagan















Welcome to my first experience with feature hunting. This is John, and he's what surprised us coming out of the house.

After his nearly identical brother vanishes into the house, John appears around the corner.

He has fishnet sleeves and some tattoos that he later tells us he can't show us. He has two braids of hair that are capped off with a couple of polished wooden skulls woven into the ends.

"What was it you were wanting to talk about?" he asks, seeming a little wary or perhaps skeptical.
"Oh, well we're just wanting to find a little bit about Watts," Tracie says.
"How come?"
"Well we're both photographers. See, it all started...do you know Jean down the street? They call her Aunt Jean?" she artfully dodges the question.
"No."
"She's got some bird things hanging from her garage; only lady on the whole block with a manicured lawn?"
"Oh, yeah."

Then suddenly I am lost in translation. I regain awareness after Ann and John are already friends and he's showing us around his place. I still have no idea how she navigated through the questions and won his confidence. Good thing we're going feature hunting again tomorrow.

He takes us on a brief tour of the land he's been working on. He walks over to a branch and picks up a gargantuan leather trench coat--he calls it his "Sith coat"--and drapes the flowing hood over his head.

It turns out he sets up the lighting departments in Lowes stores across the country but is taking a year off to come back to Watts from California and clean up some of his parents' property. He intends to put a new trailer home on it that will later be modified into a two-story house.

The main hindrance to the completion of this project is the massive accumulation of stuff that occupies the space. It's just like the rest of Watts. Another rundown shack is there, and there are the remains of stumps everywhere.

He tells us that his father is a packrat (which explains the mangled chicken cages and other various and sundry items littering the place), and his mother is a shut-in. His brother David, the first guy we talked to, turns out to suffer from high-achiever autism and spends most of his time in his room playing online role-playing games.

Why is he doing this? He says it's bad karma, how his parents are abusing the land, and he's afraid something catastrophic will happen to his family if he doesn't step in and rectify the situation.

This is a source of disagreement within the family.

Next week, he's going to napalm the shack by suspending balloons full of gasoline and diesel from the ceiling, spreading styrofoam pellets across the ground and lighting it. (What was all that stuff about abusing the land?)

He tells us that he's an eclectic pagan, which means he can pick and choose bits of other religions to craft his own. He prefers a Sumerian theological foundation. He's 30 years old and well educated: He studied philosophy and other "useless" information at UCLA and Berkley.

After that, he spent some time traveling in Europe.

One of the most curious things about him is his love life. He maintains an open relationship with a woman named Tasha. Originally from outside Frankfurt, Germany, Tasha is a "busty," redheaded carhop who works at Sonic in Siloam Springs. (We went to Sonic afterward, and she does indeed work there.)

Tasha is his alpha. He's allowed to have a "pet," also. At first, we wonder if he's talking about bestiality. His pet's name is Rose, and she's from the Ukraine but currently works as a model in Bella Vista. She's the beta in the love triangle, and if the alpha says the beta has to go, she's gone.

"Does she know this?" Tracie asks.
"Oh yeah, it's very clear."

We're going back next week to shoot the inferno festivities. We ask for his phone number so we can call and find out when this is going on. He gives it to us and, leaving behind his badass alternative personality for a moment, cautions us not to call after nine.

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