Thursday, February 16, 2023

The True Tale of A Happy Hoarder

February 16, 2023

   Is it just my imagination, or do hoarders get a bad rap? How many books have been written that claim to "help" pitiful hoarders and the loved ones they "torture," with "helpful hints" on how to clean up their "unholy" messes that "nobody" wants or needs? I admit to having a couple of these book titles in my massive book collection, if only I could find them.

   That said, sometimes the fact that I have saved everything that ever happened to me, actually pays off.

   Case in point: on Valentine's Day, Jana Bommersbach and I gave a lecture on how we produced our Real Women of the Wild West book together. This was my view of the packed hall at the Cattletrack Arts Compound.

   Everyone in this photo showed up despite the inclement weather. It rained most of the day and as I left this book signing at 8:30 in a downpour, I heard later there was a microburst storm over Cattletrack that took down several trees.

   Not as many trees as it took to produce our book, but you get the idea.

Here I am deferring to Jana during our talk. What I was trying to say here is, doing the book together was very stressful and difficult but we are so proud of the results and we never want to do it again! Ha. True.

True Tales of A Happy Hoarder!
You can confirm this with Kathy, but I save everything. Thanks to the late, great Kristi Jacobs, virtually all my sketchbooks going back to the 1970s have been saved by her and organized by year!
Unrelated to the book, in the last part of the talk I told the story about a young artchitect student at ASU who approached me at the Mill Avenue Street Fair in 1985 and told me he was a fan and wanted to be my architect if we ever built a house. I told him I was, in fact, getting set to build a house in Cave Creek but I couldn't afford an architect (my salary at New Times was $150 a week). Long story short, this snot-nosed kid—Perry Nathan Becker—agreed to charge me $25 an hour, and when I finally agreed, he drove out to our property and, in his own words, "made love to the land." That involved camping on our site and rendering every plant on the property. Here is the view of our property at that time.

Aerial view of Old Stage Road in Cave Creek
 circa 1985

See the trail that resembles a little smile at bottom right? At the left corner of the smile is the location of our proposed housing site. And here is Perry's site plan sketches of all the native plants on our property which he rendered with loving care on his Site Plan.

Perry Nathan Becker's Site Plan
Where every single plant is named
and accounted for

Believe it or not, here are the actual pages of my 1985 sketchbook when I met Perry Nathan Becker at the Mill Avenue Street Fair in Tempe, Arizona.

Daily Whip Outs: "Mill Ave. Street Sketches"

I had a table at the street fair to sell my Honkytonk Sue comics but I was actually surreptitiously sketching the fair attendants, in order to do a New Times doubletruck parody of the event. When this Becker kid came up and introduced himself I jotted down his name and phone number at the top of the page (see, above). That was the beginning of a wonderful legacy.

Perry's attention to detail—drawing every plant on the property!—ultimately saved the project because it turns out we could not build on this site (zoning issues involving farms), but when the newly established Cave Creek Planning & Zoning Committee came under fire for requesting just such a site map and the old hippies and drug dealers who moved out to Cave Creek to get away from just these kinds of HOA type restrictions had a hissy fit, it saved us, because when I showed this Site Map to the P&Z people at a public town hall meeting they immediately approved the building of our dream house and we've been here for 36 years and counting. And every day I marvel at the spectacular house Perry designed for us.

Aerial view of our desert dream house
immediately after completion
(note the hook of a smile road just beyond the house which is the same one from the aerial photo)

Now, the real reason I told this story at our book signing is because Perry Nathan Becker was in the audience and I wanted to give him a shout out, and did. He actually brought the miniature, scaled model of our house (his first house as an architect!) to Cattletrack and here he is proudly showing it off.

Perry's First House

So, thanks for the folks over at the Mill Ave. for putting on the Street Fair, and thanks to the ASU architectural school, and also a big thank you to the pissed-off-hippies who didn't get their way and a bigger shout out to John "Bud" Glenn who built the whole kit and kaboodle from scratch. Love you all. I feel blessed and very, very lucky. And, to be frank, you are lucky because I am such a unrepentant hoarder.

"Sorry I am late. I was at home sitting down."
—Old Vaquero Saying

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