Progress: A Life Apart
Goatboy lives about eight miles outside of Woodbury. Exiting off the main road, one begins driving a few miles along a curvy dirt road, passing an occasional farm house. Often, the way is blocked by a small group of dogs or ducks that belong to one of his neighbors. Driving further, you turn off on an even more primitive dirt road that winds its way up the mountain – you even have to drive through two small creeks before getting there. The road can be quite treacherous in Winter; Goatboy recalled one particular difficult drive to town where he survived the drive to the paved road only to slide off in a ditch after hitting pavement.
Arriving at the cabin, you are struck by both the isolation and the manner in which Goat's dwelling fits into the natural surroundings and his own life. Goat chose the site to eventually build a house and started construction on the dwelling a few years ago. When I visited, the foundation and floor plan had been laid out – besides the usual areas for living and sleeping, he plans a library, a room for his own musical instruments, and a gym. The house is set at an angle from the dirt road and will eventually meet the visitor head-on when they turn a corner on the road.
The first thing that Goatboy constructed was the outhouse – "the most important thing", in his words – and it sits to the right of the house. With this utilitarian structure, one sees a small summation of Goatboy's craftsmanship and skill, as well his aesthetic and artistic sense. The customary "half-moon" cutout on the door forms the basis for a pleasing, balanced design surrounded by stars – a kind of expansion and sly parody of the front doors for homes he has done in the past. The statement doesn't stop there – the door is framed by almost elegant woodwork and one sees a stained-glass window on the right of the structure. Goat designed and constructed the window himself; the window casts a warm glow on the occupant, bringing a new meaning to the term "throne".
Inside the outhouse is a very personal collage that reflects many aspects of Goat's personal beliefs and his wry sense of humor; clippings from the Weekly World News ("A Horned Demon Has Invaded My Bed"; "This is Not a Hoax, Say Cops", "See Sexy Firemen Put It Out") are mixed with postcards, comic strips, and other bits and pieces of magazines and clippings that he has collected over the years. In some ways, it is reminiscent of similar collages I have seen in the rest rooms of Gay bars (particularly Leather-oriented establishments) where images of hunky men form a backdrop to one of life's basic functions.
To the right of the outhouse is a workout area that forms a kind of post-modern sculpture, the steel and iron of the weights, bars, and benches contrasting with the softer forms of trees and plants that surround them. Goat joked as he worked out that he could throw his weights on the ground, something that most people cannot do in a commercial gym because it might damage the tiled floor. He noted how difficult it was to keep his focus when working out here; the meditative quality of the surroundings has a tendency to make his mind wander and he is not as driven and motivated to work out as he was in the past.
To the right of the workout area is the Goat pen, another personal statement of his skill. One is impressed with how something so simple could be so well constructed and designed. Even the gate to the pen has Goatboy's trademark design that fits with the other structures there. Hanging on the goat's shelter is a large metal Regina music-box disk, marking the animal's shelter as Goatboy's own.
As Goat was working on the house, he was renting a nearby cabin and had to move out when a new owner bought the place and wanted to take up residence right away. He had three months to find a place to live and came to the conclusion that if he rented another house or apartment in town that he might have to give up his dream of building the house. So, in the middle of winter, Goat constructed the small cabin that forms the center of the semi-circle of structures. He recalled putting up part of the tin roof during an ice storm and slipping on ice in the lower part of the dwelling as he tried to finish it. Despite the difficult conditions, Goatboy took the time to put finishing touches on the outside of the cabin so that the structure would fit in with its surroundings.
The cabin is simple and functional. The front porch looks out onto the dirt road and woods beyond and Goat spends many of his evenings there. A lower room contains a gas stove and refrigerator and dinner table; the upstairs, reached with a ladder, is his bedroom and contains a big-screen television, VCR, and stereo. The cabin is lighted by a six-volt battery system, similar to an RV, and he charges the batteries once a week in his shop in town. Watching a video is a special event that has come to be known by some of the Radical Fairies at Short Mountain as "Movie Temple" – the rig is powered by a gas generator located about a quarter mile away to minimize the noise. The cabin will eventually become a kind of "guest house" when his permanent home is finished.
There is no running water, so he collects the rainwater that falls from the tin roof of the cabin in a large barrel for bathing. The heat and insects can become irritating at some times of the year and a simple wood stove provides the only heat in Winter.
Goatboy discussed how some people come to the mountain, fall in love with the surroundings, and want to move there, but become discouraged by the difficult conditions. "It's like camping out," he said, "but I live this way all year round."