Today was a travel day - not slugging through the airport and dealing with luggage carts kind of travel day, but beautiful, open-road, California Redwoods to Oregon coast travel day. Crusading is pretty rad. On this leg of the trip, we have a photo dream team assembled with Sean Dana (SF pop-up) and Kurt Simonson (LA pop-up) on board, and we have been having a blast talking photo, stopping every few minutes to make pictures, and having loads of unplanned adventures. These activities all came together at once when we were driving through Willits, California this morning on our way north. Sean mentioned once seeing a toilet in the middle of a field in that area, and how he had always regretted not stopping. This led to a common photographer conversation, where we all lament those missed opportunities at what in hindsight we can say with certainty would have been the photo of a lifetime. (As a side-note, Michael David Murphy's project on this very topic, "Unphotographable" has been one of my most favorite for years - definitely take a look.)
Suddenly, we passed by the toilet field, gasped, and made a U-turn (or "flipped a bitch", as I just learned it is called - this Crusade is so educational!). We pulled the Lady in front of a welding shop-turned eclectic assemblage of bizarre wares all housed in a barn-type building. As it turns out, John, the owner of that place is also responsible for the toilet. If you use it, you get to sign the toilet guest book!
We ended up spending over an hour with John, learning about his place, his four grown sons and seventeen grandkids, and how he likes to spend his time (apart from monitoring the toilet log). Because he works quite a bit with a salvage yard, he collects a lot of different types of things he finds in old cars. He is also unbelievably generous, and we each left with a new (to us) pair of sunglasses, a lapel pin of our choosing, a pocket knife, and a Mr. Potato Head arm.
But although John collects - gathers and stores is maybe a better way of describing it - lots of random items, what made me really think of him as a "collector" was his carefully curated assortment of noise-making metal parts.
In a special metal garden out front, John has collected all different shapes and sizes of metal cylinders, each of which makes a unique sound when hit. At first glance it looks like a parts pile, but in actuality, this is John's collection. He even has a fog horn or two to make you wish you had used the toilet across the way.
Last month I wrote a blog post titled, "Isn't Everyone a Collector?", where I made the point that we all collect something, and that the term "collector" in reference to art should not be considered intimidating or stuffy. John is the perfect example of a collector. He has found something he loves and has purposefully acquired pieces that make him happy.
John made our day, and I loved hearing him speak passionately about his collection. Collectors are everywhere. Join in the fun. Crusade away!