Home, Home on the Strange

Of the 5000 souls that reside in Mulvane, Kansas, only one vies for the title of America’s strangest folk artist. On the main road cutting through this little burg, sits a house whose owner is a painter with, well…divine inspiration. The structure itself serves as his palate, his preferred medium — spray paint…. CONTINUE READING >>


The God Guy of Kansas

Of the 5000 souls that reside in Mulvane, Kansas, only one vies
for the title of America’s strangest folk artist.On
the main road cutting through this little burg, sits a house whose owner is a painter with, well…divine inspiration.The structure itself serves as his palette, his preferred medium
— spray paint.

 

A little leery of getting too close to the place, Veronica was making good use of her zoom lens before realizing that capturing the full extent of the subject could only be executed from up close.Cautiously exiting the car, she left the door open. As a shield
against a sudden burst of gunfire? Hmmm, a tad paranoid, but a quick
getaway could be needed.

Behind the wheel, David inched our vehicle
up toward the mish-moshed masterpiece.

With her face buried in the camera capturing images of graffitized stream of consciousness craziness like “X-END-STOP-XX EVIL SIN DRUGS / SIN -> HELL EVER FIRE,” her heart thumping a mile a minute, Veronica shot like paparazzi at a Brittney, Lindsey and Paris drunken pantyless party. Advancing toward the front gate, suddenly she realized someone was

standing directly in front of her. It was an elfish little man with a big toothless grin on his face. A friendly one.

A quick visual frisking indicated that there were no firearms involved, so Veronica stuck out her hand in greeting and was relieved that her hand
was taken in kind. David moved in from the support vehicle and
we met Mr. Ronald Pollard, the God Guy himself. No call for backup
needed.

Sporting a sunny disposition and a Kansas City Chiefs sweatshirt, Mr. Pollard seems a gentle little man, in stark contrast to the “GOD IS ANGRY” and “WHO KILLED JESUS?”
pronouncements emblazoning the front of his home.Our fears forgotten, we asked him a few questions and that was more than enough to get him started. As artist and curator he insisted we see the work in its entirety.

We followed him as he talked, and talked, and talked.

We pretty much got his life story. He specifically asked us not to call
him Ron, he used to go by Ron but recently “God set him straight.”
His parents named him Ronald and he must honor that. When asked
what he does for a living, he merely said “I’m 72.”

Mr. Pollard is a simple man, and during the entire course of our visit, it
never occurred to him that we didn’t see things exactly the
same way he did. Being awoken by God in the middle of the night
and told to arise, go forth and spray paint stuff on the side
of a house seems perfectly normal to Ronald.

God has a lot to say. Every available surface, outbuildings,
fences and even cars were covered in God graffiti.This is a life’s work for Ronald, as far as he can recollect,
he got the calling sometime in 1992 and insists that “God
does it all, it’s all from God.”It’s the fine line that separates a temple like this from your run
of the mill New York City subway car in the graffiti art world.

Ronald insisted we follow him down a path lined with odd doors, through a courtyard of assorted strange relics to a freestanding garage on the back
of the grounds. Inside, an old car whose hatchback runneth over
with tracts and bibles awaited the next evangelical journey.

We were informed that bibles were on sale for a buck at the Dollar
General Store so he stocked up. He handed us a few sheets of fuzzy
Xeroxed paper of bible teachings with indistinguishable handwritten
scribblings in the margins. With his testifying completed, he
escorted us back to our vehicle.

Standing on the sidewalk in the front of his house, Ronald asked if he could pray over us.Touched, we agreed, and he petitioned for our safe travels, our country’s leaders (“even
the wicked ones”) and anything else that came to his mind in a stream of befuddled babble that managed to end with amen.We thanked him and headed on our way.

Looking back over our shoulders, we caught a glimpse of Mr. Pollard waving and smiling, right where we left him. Waiting for God’s next
directive to be delivered and then sprayed onto one of the few
remaining clear spots on the Pollard residence.

His art may be angry, but Ronald Pollard is a happy guy.

David & Veronica,
GypsyNester.com

Rockin’ and Rollin’ Down Route 66

It is the Mother of all Roads. The escape route from the dust bowl. It is the 1950s American Dream come true. Inspiration for songs and shows. It is legend. It is Route 66. She served as America’s Main Street from 1926 until 1985, then was sadly… CONTINUE READING >>


It is the Mother of all Roads.

The escape route from the dust bowl.

It is the 1950s American Dream come true.

Inspiration for songs and shows. It is legend. It is Route 66.

She served as America’s Main Street from 1926 until 1985, then was sadly decommissioned.

Making way for the faster pace of the big four-lanes and our newer, hectic world left only scraps and remnants of the way out West.

Route 66 ends at the Santa Monica Pier
Route 66 ends at the Santa Monica Pier

The Mother Road is now spotty at best, but a true haven for nostalgia buffs, foreign tourists and GypsyNesters alike.

Starting in Chicago and crossing eight states into Los Angeles, the old Will Rogers highway is still a terrific way to see the “real America.”

IF the traveler is diligent and willing to piece it all back together and hit the road, old school.

Many places of interest are as deep-rooted as the Great Mother herself, like the Golden Driller of Tulsa.

He is straight out of 1953, standing 76 feet tall and resting his 43,500 pound bad self against a real oil derrick.

Dedicated to “The men of the petroleum industry who by their vision and daring have created from God’s abundance a better life for mankind.”

Quite an honor.

While gazing up at The Driller, our awe was momentarily interrupted by a security guard. She observed, “He’s a big feller, ain’t ‘e?”

There’s really only one reply to that, “aeyup.”

Our quest on this trip was not so much one of nostalgia, but of discovery.

We had heard of a town in Missouri that was recapturing its place on the map by weaving retro 66 promotional techniques together with a modern twist.

The Fanning 66 Outpost and General Store in Cuba, Missouri was our target. Our goal? To discover what it took to bring the masses to a tiny town on a virtually vanishing road far out in the boonies.

Check out more of our adventures on Route 66!

Through the Outpost’s phenomenal marketing approach, we found that in
order to build a proper destination on Route 66 just stick to these simple rules:

Step One: Build the World’s Largest of Something

In the Outpost’s case, it’s a ginormous rocking chair. And yes, Guinness has
visited and it’s in the Book of World Records. This massive rocker is 42 feet high, 20 feet wide and weighs in at an incredible 27,500 pounds.

Even the Golden Driller could cop a squat in that, it’s one serious rocker. Rock on!

Why a rocking chair? The proprietor, Mr. Dan Sanazaro, had seen an oversized rocker on a family trip as a youngster and the memory apparently stuck with him. When he launched his business in Cuba, he built a huge homage to that recollection and the chair of his childhood.

Step Two: Provide Professional Growth Opportunities for your Employees

Mr. Sanazaro had the foresight to make the Outpost a destination unto itself.

He sent his nephew to taxidermy school so now you can “Explore Native Species Inside the Taxidermy Studio,” (in somewhat disturbing poses) and commission to have one’s own dead animal stuffed and mounted.

An archery shop and outdoor range round out the festivities at the Outpost and there are licensed experts on hand, thanks to Mr. Sanazoro’s foresight and pro-grow strategy.

A gallery of outdoor art is also on display.

We’re not sure if anyone was sent to art school, but hey, art is subjective, right?

Step Three: Catch ‘Em Off Guard

Entering the Outpost, we were completely taken aback by hostess/cashier Jackie Sonsone asking, “Would you like to sample some wine while you have a look around?”

Huh? We were instantly intrigued and answered in the affirmative.

Jackie, an aspiring GypsyNester, served us a healthy pour of Route 66 Red, while laughing at our reaction. We instantly loved Jackie — she loves her job and realizes the humor of it, as well. She is quite the witty little treasure trove of information.

While showing us around, Jackie informed us that the movie Cars had brought renewed attention to Route 66, especially among the younger set.

Tourists from all over the world pass through on their journeys back to the heyday of American automotive travel. Adding our names to the guestbook, we noticed vacationers from as far away as Argentina, Japan, Norway and Finland had visited in just the past few days.

Countless Americans also make the pilgrimage to the ribbon of blacktop that first tied the Heartland to Hollywood.

Route 66 covers so much territory there’s a pretty good chance you’re not far from a chunk of it.

Slow down, take the next exit and explore the wild, weird wonderfulness of life on the Main Street of America.

Put the top down, dial in the radio, tip your hat to Bobby Troop and Get Your Kicks on Route 66.

David & Veronica, GypsyNester.com

Check out more of our adventures on Route 66!

The Great Frog Fraud of Creek County

The journey to the “Creek County Frog” is an adventure unto itself. Was it that we in the area and thought we’d drop by? Could it be that we simply ADORE frogs and just had to see a really big one in rock form? Or maybe it’s that David has a more than unreasonable affinity for crazy quirky crap. We’re pretty sure that’s it. Yeah, that’s definitely it.

The sizeable limestone amphibian lives smack dab in the heart of nowhere. The nearest settlement is Mannford, Oklahoma, home to a bit more than two thousand souls, numerous Yeti and a number of genuinely spooky characters.

According to Wikipedia, the source of all… CONTINUE READING >>


The journey to the “Creek County Frog” is an adventure unto itself. Was it that we in the area and thought we’’d drop by? Could it be that we simply ADORE frogs and just had to see a really big one in rock form?

Or maybe it’s that David has a more than unreasonable affinity for crazy quirky crap.
We’re pretty sure that’s it. Yeah, that’s definitely it.

The sizable limestone amphibian lives smack dab in the heart of nowhere. The nearest settlement is Mannford, Oklahoma, home to a bit more than two thousand souls,  numerous Yeti and a number of genuinely spooky characters.

According to Wikipedia, the source of all knowledge, the Mannford area has a sizable Bigfoot population. Somehow we missed seeing them or we certainly would have some blurred, grainy pictures to show.

Another website is wholly dedicated to myriads of truly revolting ghost sightings. The accounts include “a badly mangled hunter dragging a dead wolf,” “a seriously burned lady spotted glugging down blood from a jar,” “an armed forces uniform walking around devoid of a body“ and, our personal favorite, “a young lady with a cable around her neck was made out suspended in the air like a balloon,” among the gruesome tales.

Makes one think that there are more ghosts than humans in Mannford.
Moonshine?

This would certainly seem to be the kind of place to steer clear of, but
alas, the Frog beckoned.

About five miles outside Mannford, we found ourselves on a backwoods road with no signage and one rickety mother of a bridge. Hesitantly (okay, Veronica may have threatened David with his life if he didn’’t turn around right that minute, it‘s just a ROCK for God‘s sake), we crossed over, offered a silent prayer of thanksgiving and worked our way to Frog Road.

We were venturing into EPIC territory, the post-pollywoggal amphibian actually has its own road!

We passed by a home with an impressive life-sized ceramic deer family and an old commode in the yard (got to love some lawn ornamentation!).

Further on, suspended in the trees, old tires sported hand painted letters that read “NO TRESPASSING KEEP OUT.” Undeterred, we arrived
at the Frog. (Note: If you get to the appliances dumped off into
the ravine, you’’ve gone too far).

The Frog was a sight to behold. From high on his perch, he blankly stares out over his domain. We almost expected his brilliant white throat thingy to puff out with a loud croak.

Obviously, someone put a lot of love and care into the upkeep of the Frog, but we stood pondering whether it would have resembled a frog at all, if not for the paint job. After a great deal of study, we determined that the eye was the key to what made the impression work. If not for the eye, jutting unnaturally and majestically from the base, the formation would be just another big boulder on the edge of the road.

In awe, and wanting a closer look, we climbed the hill to look at Frog from all angles. He had been lovingly decorated all the way around his body and—HEY WAIT JUST A MINUTE MISTER!

The Frog is a FRAUD. On the back side, it was clear that his eye — the very essence of his froggly-ness — had been constructed from wood and concrete!

How many thousands of people have been duped by this counterfeit Croaker and the scheming people of Creek County? How could this BE? We felt like the MythBusters of weird crap on the side of the road. The truth
must be exposed.

Suddenly, an eerie pall came over us, our elation bubble popped. We felt
exposed, as if someone — no, someTHING — was watching us. Thoughts
of Bigfoot, wolf dragging hunters, blood glugging spirits, balloon ladies and empty army suits drove us to near panic.

What if the bridge collapses on our way out? Could the spirits be in cahoots
to protect the frog’s secret from being revealed? Would we ever be allowed to get out with the secret of the Creek County Frog alive…?

David & Veronica,
GypsyNester.com

Mr. Nemechek’s Opus

Mr. Nemechek has used his freedom of speech in a most unusual way. He has erected dozens of eye-catching signs protesting what he sees as a racial attack against his family of Czech descent “like done to the Jews – Czechs in WWII.” These signs accuse Noble County, the entire county mind you, of “ethnical cleansing,” “law discrimination” and the killing… CONTINUE READING >>


Signs at the Nemechek Ranch in Perry, Oklahoma, Noble County. GypsyNester.com
STOP YOUR LIES
NOBLE CO.
THE TRUTH

On a lonely stretch of John Wayne Road, about four miles outside of Perry, Oklahoma, David Nemechek has a bone to pick.

The Nemechek farm seems typical of the area, with one profound exception.

For the past forty years, Mr. Nemechek has used his freedom of speech in a most unusual way.

He has erected dozens of eye-catching signs protesting what he sees as a racial attack against his family of Czech descent “like done to the Jews – Czechs in WWII.”

Signs at the Nemechek Ranch in Perry, Oklahoma, Noble County. GypsyNester.com
NOBLE CO. YOU MALICIOSLY PROSECUTED US /
YOU LIED, YOU STOLE OUR PROPERTIES /
_____ ____ LIGHTS, THE PARTY IS OVER /
YOUR FUN AND GAMES, OF HELL MUST STOP NOW /
CONFESS YOUR SINS, TOWARD US /
RELIGIOUS _____, ______, _____ A WITCH HUNT

These signs accuse Noble County, the entire county mind you, of “ethnical cleansing,” “law discrimination” and the killing of his cattle.

These fascinating proclamations are fashioned in a haphazard manner, with mismatched colors, lines and letters, reminiscent of ransom notes hastily pasted together from magazine clippings.
Signs at the Nemechek Ranch in Perry, Oklahoma, Noble County. GypsyNester.com

Many painstakingly lay out dates and identifying numbers of the dead livestock, calling the perpetrators “bastards,” “evil inbred German religious terrorists” and “liars.”

WHY?

Signs at the Nemechek Ranch in Perry, Oklahoma, Noble County. GypsyNester.com
WHY YOU DEVELOPED THIS KIND OF HATRED TOWARD US? /
WHY DOES CRIME PAY — IT DID HERE /
WE ARE THE VICTIMS / “WHY” IS THIS A RACISM HATRED AREA?

Signs at the Nemechek Ranch in Perry, Oklahoma, Noble County. GypsyNester.com

WHY, YOU AND COM- MUNITY PROMOTING  YOUR NAMES AND DIRTYING OUR NAME, WHY?

Mr. Nemechek asks “WHY?” seemingly hundreds of times.

It seems that an attempt to answer at least one of the WHY?s was made at some point.

Mr. Nemechek must have been told that the cattle in question were infected with the Bovine Leukemia Virus (BLV), a common nemesis to ranchers in the United States, but he‘d have none of that.

Evidently taking exception to this diagnosis, he insists that the cattle were killed by members of the community through one of his signs, shouting:

Signs at the Nemechek Ranch in Perry, Oklahoma, Noble County. GypsyNester.comNOBLE CO. YOUR   STUPID MINDED RACIST HAVE / A RARE DISEASE B.L.V. IT STANDS FOR BULL S*** / SPREAD BY LIARS AND VICIOUS BASTARDS. THEY KIL- /
LED OUR CATTLE PURPOSELY – THEY CONVICTED US.

ETHNICAL CLEANSING
LAW DISCRIMINATION

The strange, yet eerily enthralling, display is not welcoming — as a matter of fact it’s a bit scary and off-putting.

We had to do a couple of drive-bys before we gathered the testicular fortitude needed to pull over and hurriedly snap photos of Mr. Nemechek’s manifesto.

Bopping up to his front door for an interview was most definitely out of the question.
Signs at the Nemechek Ranch in Perry, Oklahoma, Noble County. GypsyNester.com
IT’S RACISM
THEY GANGED UP ON US WRONGLY BLAMED US FOR ________
THIS  NEIGHBORHOOD WAS ________ FOR YEARS

Sadly, most of these unique works of art are fading away in the harsh Oklahoma sun.

Some of the signs are missing significant surface area, victims to the elements of the windswept prairie.

Perhaps their creator has just lost the fire in his belly.

We don’t know what really happened out there in Noble County, but we genuinely hope Mr. Nemechek has gathered some solace in his signs.

David & Veronica,
GypsyNester.com

No Bald Eagles

The opportunity to see The Eagles fell into our laps the other day. Veronica, a huge fan who had never seen them live, was chomping at the bit. I, however, was skeptical. Having seen The Eagles in their heyday, during the 1976 Hotel California tour, I didn’t want to spoil that memory.

Sure, the stranger on the ferry… CONTINUE READING >>


The opportunity to see The Eagles fell into our laps the other day. Veronica, a huge fan who had never seen them live, was chomping at the bit.

I, however, was skeptical. Having seen The Eagles in their heyday, during the 1976 Hotel California tour, I didn’t want to spoil that memory.

Sure, the stranger on the ferry boat who just saw them the previous night
said they were still great, but… he was just a stranger on a ferry across the Mississippi. I also have several musically knowledgeable friends who have seen the band recently and fully agree with ferry boat guy, so I allowed myself to start a bit of bit chomping as we drove closer to the arena.

Once inside, the first thing that struck me was the crowd. This wasn’t a ‘70’s rock concert crowd. Oh wait, yes it was — just 30 years older. Middle aged and middle class, I guess we all grew up and now we can afford the hundred dollar tickets. If I remember right, it was around fifteen bucks back when I saw them the first time.

The band took the stage, all in suits and ties, ala Buddy Holly.
What happened to the torn up blue jeans and tee shirts? Well, at least Joe Walsh and Timothy Schmit still have long hair, even if Walsh looks a bit like what if Nixon had long gray hair. Overall, they still look cool, just different cool, and at least there aren’t any bald Eagles.

About halfway through the first song I started using my ears instead of my eyes and realized “Man, these guys still sing great!” They are fully aware of the changes the years have brought and embrace them. They humorously acknowledged the passing time right off the bat, with Glenn Frey introducing themselves as “The ancient ones, the band that wouldn’t die” on “The Assisted Living Tour.” This is not a nostalgia tour, it’s rock and roll grown-up style.

This is a very different Eagles than the ones I grew up with. A four piece horn section and two extra keyboard players, Will Hollis and Michael Thompson, makes this more like a review than a country rock group. They also have another drummer, Scott Crago, allowing Don Henley to step in front of the kit for a good part of the show, although he spends a good bit of time on both percussion and drums.

Nobody plays the straight country rock beat any better than Henley, and he does it while singing. The group is rounded out with guitarist Steuart Smith playing Don Felder and Bernie Leadon’s old parts impeccably. He is pretty much a real member of the band these days, writing and co-produced on The Long Road Out of Eden album.

The mix of the old stuff with the new, plus tunes from their solo careers, is very smooth and presented with impeccable performances and sound production. The staging was cool, not overbearing, and did not distract from the music.

The guys may be older but they sure aren’t worn out. The show goes over three hours, with a short intermission. It was during this intermission that Veronica overhead perhaps the best line of the night. An appalled security guard remarked as she removed women from the men’s room that she expected that kind of behavior from last week’s Nickelback crowd but not from Eagles fans! Who knew? There were two women in the men’’s room when I went too. Rock-n-Roll.

After the break it occurred to me, why should it seem strange or out of place for Rock acts to keep touring into their golden years? No one thinks it the least bit odd when Blues, Jazz or Classical acts keep performing well into their 70’s or 80’s. I think it just goes to show you that Rock & Roll has now become an enduring art form and truly will live forever.

David & Veronica,
GypsyNester.com