Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Meet John Rice Irwin

This is John Rice Irwin, Founder of the Museum of Appalachia located off 1-75 in Norris, Tennessee. A true Tennessian with deep roots, John had the good fortune of knowing all four of his grandparents who were the granddaughters and grandsons of the pioneer era in Appalachia's southern region. Interested in learning their lives and histories, John began collecting relics, memorabilia and stories in the early fifities during his travels through the mountains. Soon his garage was filled and a collection started to grow. "It wasn't a situation where you go out and build something and then say we're open. In the late fifties I built a log house or two and eventually I furnished them the way I thought they should be furnished and then people started to stop by to see it and so forth. It eventually got to a point that I had to have somebody to stay here because I had another job." And just like that, by word of mouth, the Museum of Appalachia was born.
Originally situated on five acres of land in a log cabin next to his house, the museum has now expanded to over thirty log structures and cabins, including a school, church, barns, and smokehouses, all of which are furnished with artifacts from Southern Appalachia. In purchasing an additional nine acres, John has surrounded the museum with lush gardens and soft, green pastuers, home to over fifty varieties of animals, including sheep, goats, hens, chickens, peacocks, horses, mules, ducks, guineas and turkies.   
John says that people from all over the world come to the museum. Just yesterday a couple from Egypt visited and told him they enjoyed his museum because it was so personal. John didn't have the money to hire a professional for the exhibition and display. He says most museums or the people who do this kind of work have background in museum studies or similar training. As a result most museums look a like. "Mine may not look better, but it’s different.” The museum seems genuine and real. You can freely walk in an around all the cabins and experience it first hand as opposed to sitting behind a rope or glass wall. “I tried to be honest, most places for example tend to put things in and overemphasize them to coincide with what they think the people expect, such as whiskey jugs. But I try to do it honestly, although often times it is not what people want or expect.” Everything in John's museum has a story behind it, the background, location, its family history. "I enjoy especially meeting the people and families who owned the artifacts, but it has gotten to the point that I am so far behind displaying the items and running the history that I don't have the time to get out and collect." Prior to the museums construction, John maintained four or five jobs at once, teaching at the University of Tennessee and school superintendent for Anderson County for several years while also starting several businesses and corporations.
With a passion and high admiration for the people of Southern Appalachia, John has reconstructed the past through way of personal dialogue. Throughout the museum are pictures of him and the people he has met, their artifacts and stories, even his own family heirlooms. John believes in the personal touch, carefully handwriting many of the museums informational cards, and signs all of them with his initials. His collection is full of innovative contrivances, tools and so forth. "So many of the artifacts are one of a kind because the ingenuity and the necessity to live twelve or fifteen miles from the nearest neighbor. If you had any blacksmith work you did that, the carpentry work, the medicine and everything. You had to be almost completely self-sufficient." John says that it is really important that you come and see the museum.You will see the beauty of living simply.
Today John's daughter Elaine has taken over as the Executive Director of the museum. He says she is quite a worker, has three children, and is the choir director at the church along with several other respectable city titles. John still lives behind the museum.

MUSEUM ENTRANCE QUOTE: "Welcome to the Museum of Appalachia. These are our people. World renowned, unknown, famous, infamous, interesting, diverse, different, but above all, they are a warm, colorful and jolly lot, in love with our land, our mountains, and our culture. May their memories ever be preserved -- Not so much in reverence to them, but as a gift to us and to generations yet to come. To appreciate where we are today, or where we are going tomorrow, we must understand where, as a culture, we've been in the past. The folks you will meet here will help provide this understanding." 

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Meet the Showbots

Meet the Showbots, a group of human robot super-heroes who travel around the south keeping kids in school, off the street and away from drugs. Showbots, also known as Cop-rots when working with the police and Swopebots, when they advertise for the Sam Swope Car Dealership in Kentucky started as a concept of Clay W., a Jehovah Witness from Chicago whose fascination with superheros became his inspiration to help the community. With his own two hands, Clay cast and molded custom plastic robot attire built with detailed electronic devices that allow the robot to light up and make noise by remote control. The end result was a flexible light weight suit that provided Clay with the superhero powers needed to get the kids attention. "When a person talks to a child, they will hear it but they won't get it. When a character or a musician says it, they will listen every time."

Showbots are musically talented and often perform with robot guitars, keyboards and drums. They visit schools and offer different programs through the police department, traveling to eleven different cities throughout the South in a vinyl wrapped promotional car and trailer. They often set up stage in the back of a pick-up truck and a stage inventor, played by Clay's cousin, gives the robots orders and takes free Polaroid's of the kids as souvenirs. "We give the kids pictures to remember us and try to get in their heads.... We do musicals to get their attention and make them stand up and repeat after the robots things such as 'stay in school, say no to drugs' and give them pamphlets of important information to take home." People have been receptive to the Showbots, who have performed in Disneyland, toured with rock groups and contributed to several other stage shows. The best experience has been working with the children who have cancer through the Ronald McDonald House. "You know that these children do not have long to live," Clay admits, "but you know the one thing we can provide is a good positive life."
In order to meet financial needs, the Showbots have been contracted through Sam Swope to serve as a promotional form of entertainment. For Clay and the Showbots, this is their full-time gig. Performing a few years ago at the Louisville Auto Show, the Showbots were a success and ever since have become regular performers for Sam Swope, providing entertainment at their festival events and on site at their dealerships around town. Recently, the Showbots have become television icons in the Sam Swope's 'good credit, bad credit' commercials.
As a Jehovah Witness, Clay feels somewhat limited as a Showbot on what he can do. For example, he cannot perform at birthday parties. But he strongly believes that he and the Showbots have to live what they preach. "You can't tell kids not do something when you're doing it. I see a lot of people doing that. They will say something and then totally do the opposite. You have to be what you say you are. That is the one of the main things that kept me going. We are living what we teach." He believes that the way to save people and gain technique is to learn more about God. True to his superhero nature, Clay does not allow anyone except his family to take pictures of him without his costume. It is very important to him that a superhero does not lose his real identity.

Image hosting by Photobucket

 A word from Ron Overstreet, Sales Manager at Sam Swope Mitsubishi in the Hurstbourne Auto Center: (Ron also starts in all of the commercial with the Swopebots.)
Stop by and see the Swopebots perform Tuesdays at Sam Swope on Dixie Highway, Wednesdays at Sam Swope on Bardstown Road, the 'Just Trucks' location, and Thursdays at Sam Swope Hurstbourne. Get your picture taken with and by the Swopebots! Bring the kids! Fun for Everyone!
"Obviously, they will make your eye turn!"

Image hosting by Photobucket

Prepared for you by Laura

Image hosting by Photobucket


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Meet Ed

This is seventy-one year old Ed Copeland and he has been in the hand-painted sign business for over 44 years. Ed started the business in Michigan when he was twenty-six years old. "I had a business in Village Park, our one horse town in Michigan that I ran part time. It was a concession business next to the high school. You know it was one of those hotdog/popcorn stands. It was a permanent structure and had been there for many years. So the first year I didn’t do anything but take care of that business and it was seasonal. I said well, jeez I am going to just stick a sign in the front window of this concession business saying, “Signs done here, fair rates". I did pretty good with the sign business considering it was part-time. Little did I know that I would be sitting here today talking to someone about my career?"

Ed was born in Detroit, Michigan and raised in a little town south of there called Jonesville. Growing up Ed was interested in art and horses. "I realized that I was very talented in art early on and most artist don’t do sign work, but I was able to do both." Although educated in the fine arts, Ed considers himself a self-taught sign painter. He tried to get involved in horse racing art but it was pretty hard to do because it’s not what you know it’s who you know. Ed attended Fort Wayne Art School for two years after high school and then in 1958 took a short course at the Art Institute in Pittsburg. He was considered a great student there, but began to push himself beyond his limits and his nerves began to act up. “The pressure was getting to me so I had to drop out. My dad suggested that I go work at Yellowstone National Park in the laundry department for a few months and I did that instead." Once back in Michigan, Ed took a two-year correspondence course through the mail at a famous art school in Westport, CT founded by Norman Rockwell. “I also did something that I didn’t think I would get an answer too. Soon after I started the course I wrote a letter to Norman Rockwell and complimented him as an artist. You know who Norman Rockwell is don’t you? Well he is my idol. To make a long story short he answered the letter and wished me luck in the art course.” The letter is one of Ed's favorite collectors items.

In 1977 Ed moved to Louisville, a larger city that would be more profitable for the sign business. "To make a long story I had been to the Kentucky Derby off and on in the fifties and sixties. My dad was a dentist, and he adopted my brother and me when I was a year old. One of his hobbies was Shetland ponies. He had ponies and of course all kids wanted a pony for their birthday and we had twenty of them! He also had a live merry-go-round business and we would travel to different carnivals and county fairs during the summer. They had harness racing at the county fair so that’s how I got interested in horse racing. When I got old enough I started learning about the KY Derby, of course little did I know that I was going to end up down here? This year will be my 35th Derby. Anyway, the program cover for 1976 KY Derby was hideous. So I sent samples of my work to Churchill Downs and I figured I would follow it up by moving down to Louisville whether they accepted it or not because I liked the town. I went to see the big shot at Churchill downs and to make a long story short I knew I was going to get the brush-off. My first job when I moved to Louisville was at Churchill Downs in the parking lots. One of the employees said, “you like to come down here so much why don’t you work here?” I ended up working on the backside too for two seasons. At that time Louisville had two other tracks including harness and quarter horse racing in the west end. I worked at all three and even put lettering on horse vans. You couldn’t get behind the scenes anymore than that I don’t believe."

Ed advertises his business by carrying two poster-boards filled with colored sample drawings, pictures and his phone number. He also carries a brief case with his rates hand-painted on the side. Ed never leaves home without the posters and briefcase. He feels strange without them, "They identify who I am." Just last week he was at the grocery store and a woman approached him for a business card. “I try to update the sign every once in a while. You can’t keep those in A-1 shape when you’re carrying them around all the time.” This form of advertisement was an accidental idea. A long time ago he was at a restaurant next to Churchill Downs when a horse exercise rider commissioned him to paint a sign for Mary Jane Champlain Racing Stable. In good faith Ed made the sign but when he delivered it, the guy had gone out and got drunk the night before and spent all his money. He expected Ed to give him the sign for free. “Well I wasn’t going to give him the sign so that gave me the idea well, hey, why not come up with some kind of a deal that you could carry around.” He used the Mary Jane Champlain sign as his first poster advertisement. Ed says that the general public often thinks that he is trying to sell the drawings on his advertising posters. It annoys him because they do not realize that those are just samples.

Today Ed says the hand-painted sign business has pretty much been replaced by computer generated stick-on letters. He doesn’t even know how they make them, but knows computer made signs are fast and cheap. He thinks they are also uncreative. “I still think, I call it the ‘old-fashioned way,’ is the best. I think that human touch is what is being lost today." Ed does not entirely support himself through the sign business. “Years ago, you wouldn’t recognize me now from then, but I had a bad nervous breakdown. I had nerve problems all my life. Usually if a person has a nervous condition they wouldn’t be able to do this kind of work so I surprised myself and that really helped my nerve condition to focus on drawing and being accurate. So anyway I was on disability and now I am on social security disability”. Ed qualified for section-8 housing and a minister friend helped him get into KY Towers Apartments downtown. He can still work and is not ashamed of his circumstances. Ed says that he is reasonably financially stable and is economical, never going off the deep-end. He does not drink or smoke. “I try to get a good night sleep so I do feel good most of the time. I don’t think I have a set routine. Each day is a new challenge and I love to talk to people and I am good on communications. Of course a lot of people would like to be left alone. They won’t even look at you to say hello in this society today. To make a long story short an average day, well I can’t really say, everyday seems to be different. I think it motivates me more. Because many jobs that you go to, it’s all routine. Once you get done you haven’t accomplished anything.” Ed can walk by his signs anytime of day and say, “hey I did that,” and that makes him feel pretty good.

Ed never married but almost did one time, " I guess it just wasn’t meant to be". He loves his art and considers it his best talent. “I think that everyone has a talent, you’ve got a talent and everyone that you see out here has a talent. Otherwise God wouldn’t have put them on this earth.” Ed grew up with church being the main activity of town. He has always been religious but his relationship with God has grown stronger over the years. He believes that God is directing him everyday and shows him how to do things. “You just can’t do it on your own.” Lately the press in Louisville has taken an interest in what Ed is doing. Bob Hill from the Courier Journal recently wrote a piece about him and the photographer Matt Stone from Velocity took his picture last week. Ed felt good about Bob’s article but was surprised that not too many people approached him afterwards. But overall the attention makes him feel pretty good about himself and his accomplishments.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Ed's thoughts on technology, society and politics:

"I like technology in a way and in a way it makes me a little, not mad, but shake my head. A lot of it is good in the way that it is being used, but a lot of it has taken over people’s ability to talk one-on-one. I think that people isolate themselves so much with TV’s and computers. I mean they're still talking to somebody but they are not doing what we are doing here. And I think that is a bad part of technology. People are lost in their own worlds walking down the street with headphones on, I don’t know what they’re listing too, or talking on the cell phone. I don’t want that. I am going to walk down a street and look at nature. And young people are actually getting overweight from sitting behind a computer so much. So in away it is detrimental, it’s not all constructive. I can see a use in some ways but I think it is being abused. Cell phones for sure. People are feeling lonelier because they are letting this technology run their lives. People were happier when I was growing up. They had less and they knew how to manage their money. Now they are going in debt head-over-heals and I don’t see any sense to it. I don’t own a credit card and I don’t want one. And I have got an answering machine on the telephone and that’s it. No cell phone and I don’t miss it. I think that people have too much to juggle today and that they make their own stress. Most people are in debt so no wonder they’re miserable. T.V. has promoted buy now, pay later and I think TV has brainwashed many people today. And then Christmas, I’m a Christian, is gone. The real meaning of Christmas is gone. I would like to hope that it gets back to what it used to be but I’m afraid we have gone over board and that the newer generation does not think like we used too growing up. And politicians today are just like kids fighting over something. They have lost their humanity and they just that don't care about us anymore.“

Image hosting by Photobucket

Image hosting by Photobucket

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Meet Jaime

This is Jaime and she is a mechanic at Westport Road Automotive in Louisville, KY. She is also an artist, musician, teacher and works part-time as a courier to make a little extra cash. Jaime grew up in a small town an hour south of Louisville called Bloomfield. She moved away from home car-less when she was sixteen. Every night she would hitchhike to Louisville to play in a sixties/seventies folk band. When the hitchhiking got old she decided to move to there. Jaime took a job at General Electric as a Sourcing Consultant and saved up enough money to buy a car. "One day I drove past Jim Brown Automotive and this little car was sitting in the lot and it has a sign on it that said 'pick me' and I loved it." The car was a 1972 blue Super Beetle. Jaime looked at it four different times and practically cried every time she couldn't take it home. She didn't have parents who would cosign, was young with no credit and the car was too old to get a loan. Gratefully her boss at GE agreed to cosign and she bought the car. She named it "Strudel" because it was German and cute.

The car did have some problems. The tires and valve stems were dry-rotted so it kept breaking down and getting flat tires. One day her tire literally fell off while driving. She went to Auto-Zone who couldn't help but recommended she go to a guy named Steve Parker at Westport Automotive. Steve, a thirty-year expert of Volkswagen auto repair, stayed late that night and helped Jaime find the right parts. He also recommended that she buy John Muir's Volkswagen Book, which she refers to as the "complete idiots guide, pretty much. It's a funny book because the audience that it was written for was hippies. So it's kind of like 'you're a stoner and you can't remember anything, so lets break it down and don't forget to put your long hippie hair in a stocking cap.'" From then on every time her car broke down she would use the book to troubleshoot. If she couldn't figure out the answer she would call Steve and he would have what she needed. Eventually Steve had Jaime come to the shop on Saturdays to learn more and make a little extra money. Jaime became really good at fixing up cars, particularly Volkswagens. It got to the point that she was so frustrated with her job at GE that she quit. Call her insane she says but "I hated sitting behind a desk with the florescent lights and no windows." It was then that Steve offered Jaime a full-time job at the shop and she became a mechanic. Jaime says Steve is the most honest mechanic that she has ever met in her entire life. "He is just super, super nice and giving."

Jaime really likes working on cars and doesn't mind getting greasy. Occasionally men customers will make a sly remark. Steve thinks its funny and if they say anything to him, such as they don't want a girl working on their car, he turns them loose to her. One time there was a guy who wanted a performance air filter put on his fancy Nissan. Jaime warned him that it wouldn't be good for his car because the car had no support bracket. He insisted that she put it on, she did, and it ended up being really bad for his car. He brought it back to the shop and told Steve, "Ever since you let that girl work on my car" Steve stopped him mid-sentence and said "wait a second, let me let you talk to her." So Jaime talked to him and "ripped him a big one".

At work Jaime wears blue pants, a mechanic's button down shirt with a name patch and non-slip black shoes. "It makes sense to wear black because you're going to spill oil and shit all over them. No mechanics uniform would be complete without a silicon stain or an oil stain on the shirt." Jaime is very careful with her hands when she works. After all she plays instruments and makes art. She does not like to wear gloves because she cannot feel and a big part of her job is to feel where she is at in the engine. Not that she cares anyways, but her nails are always broken and different lengths. When Jaime goes home she smells like Volkswagen and her boyfriend often says, "oh honey I am so happy to see you but can you take a shower... you smell like oil." Jaime spends more on expensive hygiene products now that she is a mechanic. Every three months she buys a nine-dollar bottle of shampoo that takes the grease out while keeping the hair soft. She's a girlie girl, but she likes cars.

Jaime prefers an old car to a new car. Her car is over thirty-four years old, it's easy to fix and she knows how it works. Some of the newer cars have computer system problems when they break down and you need codes. With an older car you have less problems, less frequently because the life is a lot longer. "Your not going to see a brand new Ford Excursion out on the road in thirty-four years for now, your just not going to see it. It is all about economics, you design something so that it will break so people will have to sink more money into it, the dealers and makers make more money off of it and eventually the car craps out and you have to go buy a brand new one anyway." New cars also have lighter bodies for performance and speed but old cars have the protection of steel. Knocking on her car, "So if I get hit in this thing I am protected. This car has been hit at least six times, I've only been in it three of those times, and I have come out with not one scratch."

In addition to being a mechanic Jaime plays, writes and teaches music. She and her boyfriend are moving in together and they plan on turning their basement into a classroom space where she will teach piano and he will teach bass. She also likes to paint and draw. Ultimately she says those are the things that make "me, me". If they do one day bring her money it will be good, but at this point they offer her something much more. Last week Jaime's boyfriend asked her what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. Jaime says the things she wants to do have no bearing on any job that she has right now. None of the jobs she can have right now will get her to be playing music all of the time, or making art at home. But being a mechanic is a job that she loves and one that she will continue even if it is not always her full-time job.

Need your car fixed? Westport Road Automotive, 8715 Westport Rd, Louisville, KY 40242 (502) 426-6266
Jaime will also be taking new students from the Louisville area starting this the summer.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Image hosting by Photobucket

Image hosting by Photobucket

Meet Jeffrey

This is Jeffrey and he is a commercial artist who specializes in airbrushing, comic books and portraitures. Jeffery was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and discovered his artistic talent at age six while drawing from a coloring book. He is self-taught and did not have the opportunity to take art classes when he was in school. As a young adult Jeffery made his money in construction, industrial, and assemblage work. About six years ago he began to focus his career on art. Jeffrey purchased a "how-to" tape from Aztec Airbrush Company and started painting basic lettering, cartoons and portraitures on t-shirts, caps, and license plates. He began to sell the merchandise at flea markets and then at fairs. He and his, now, ex-wife traveled to fairs in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa and Ohio in a car that had a personalized license plate with both their names airbrushed on it. Jeffrey would airbrush the merchandise during the fair and felt comfortable as an audience of people watched him.

Jeffrey also makes comics. In 1985 he made his first violent comic book. He had never read a comic book before that point. He created the character Pandemonium Panda and obtained a copyright from Washington D.C. "Panda got locked up for drinking too much, getting into fights and then I had him steeling and breaking into stores to get alcohol and all of that stuff. "  At the time Jeffrey didn't really care about the consequences of Panders actions but included them in the story so they didn't look one-sided. He also wrote a comic about a little girl who ran around killing people. He enjoyed the process of creating comics but only showed them to a few people. Occasionally he would hand them out at fairs or leave them on the tables at a library.

In 2001 Jeffery caught pneumonia and almost died. He was extremely ill, went two weeks without eating, couldn't talk or walk and started remembering things from his past. He knew that he was close to death before he went to the hospital to receive a diagnosis. Jeffery did not think he was going to survive until he started thinking about his ex-wife. "I hadn't heard from her so it gave me a strong will to keep going."  Jeffrey recovered and as a result of the experience stopped making violent comics and began to create stories based on positive miraculous miracles.

One of his recent comics, 'Bryon's Well', was based on a true story that he read about in Readers Digest. Bryon is a young boy who learns about African children who are becoming ill and dying from polluted well water. Bryon becomes a hero taking it upon himself to solicit donations on the Internet. He raises enough money to help several communities in Africa build clean wells. Another comic is called 'The Unfortunate Family Disaster'. "This is about a baby that is in a car accident with her parents and the parents die and the baby gets out of the car and crosses the interstate. She was about five years old and didn't get hit, and I thought that was quite unique considering how big that interstate was. And somebody picked her up and they found out who the relatives was and the relatives resumed the responsibility of raising her."

Jeffery says his comics are similar to soap operas because each book is a continuation of the same story. Jeffery focuses on people that are extremely ill and who have less fortunate lives. He says those are the type of people who gravitate towards him. Panda Pandemonium is still a character and narrator in his recent work, but he does get into as much trouble. Panda is confronting HIV, which Jeffrey based on the life of his real-life friend. In one book the warden accuses Panda of trying to spread HIV within the jail. Panda objects to the claims but later in the story writes to his wife asking if she would still have sex with him. Jeffery read something at the time about the high risk of spreading HIV and how it recommended using condoms. Most people that he knows have a real problem using condoms because they find them uncomfortable. As a result there is a lot of disease that spreads in his community. Helping others and spreading awareness about these issues gives Jeffrey the motivation to make comics. He is also working on confronting his own problems day-by-day and is recovering for a drug problem. He recently attended church, something he has not done in over twenty years.

Jeffery went back to school for his GED a couple years ago which improved the grammar in his comics. He loves to write and says that he expresses himself better on paper. Jeffrey just applied to take online classes through the Art Institute of Minneapolis. They are sending him an art test for a scholarship. When he was fourteen they offered him a scholarship but he did not find out until years later. His mother had answered the phone and told them that he was not interested. She didn't want him to depart from the house. He says she did not encourage nor discourage him from making art, she just never said anything about it. At the moment he takes commissions for realistic portraitures and says that Norman Rockwell is his favorite artist. His weirdest portrait commission was drawing a nude transsexual. Jeffrey hopes to receive a grant that he recently applied for so he can start another airbrush company and move on from there.

If you are interesting in a commisioned portrait by Jeffry please let me know and I will put you in contact with him.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Image hosting by Photobucket

Image hosting by Photobucket

Meet Daniel

Image hosting by Photobucket

Daniel McGowan is an environmental and social justice activist, unjustly arrested and charged in federal court on multiple counts of arson, property destruction, and conspiracy, relating to two incidents that occurred in Oregon in 2001. Daniel has asserted his innocence by pleading not guilty to all charges. He is facing a minimum of life in prison if convicted.

Daniel is from New York, and has been an active member of the community, working on diverse projects such as military counter-recruitment, demonstrations against the Republican National Convention, Really Really Free Markets, and supporting political prisoners such as Jeff "Free" Luers and others. Daniel was a graduate student earning a Master's degree in acupuncture and was working at, a nonprofit group that helps women in domestic abuse situations navigate the legal system, which is where he was arrested by federal marshals on December 7, 2005.

Daniel had originally been indicted separately, but his arrest comes in the context of a well-coordinated, multi-state sweep of numerous activists by the federal government, who has charged the individuals with practically every earth and animal liberation case left unsolved in the Northwest. Many of the charges, including Daniel's, are for cases whose statute of limitations were about to expire.

In order to help Daniel, his family and friends have created a support network (Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan) to assist in raising funds for Daniel's legal representation which is expected to be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Please visit Daniel's support web site to make donations, read more about his case, subscribe to an email announcement list, contact his support team, or write to him showing your support.

Check out the support site:

  • Support Daniel on Myspace:

  • Interesting article:
  • Eugene Weekly
  • Meet Scott

    This is Scott and every night for fifteen years he went to the White Castles* in St. Matthews. Scott enjoyed going there to socialize and says that he met a lot of interesting people who would talk politics and hang around like at a general store. Each night he ordered one of his favorites, either the fish sandwich with fries, or a hamburger and an orange drink. The St Matthew's White Castle had a fair share of regulars with the work crowd during the day and the drunks and drug addicts at night. A regular himself, Scott became friends with many of the White Castle employees. He says the employees had a pretty good deal at that time. If they stayed for forty years they would get profit sharing without having to pay taxes on it. They also provided maternity leave and after fifteen years of service, White Castles would fly their employees to the corporate headquarters in Columbus, OH for a banquet.

    Scott was born in Louisville in 1946 and attended St. Gabriel Grade School in Fern Creek, then Seneca and Eastern High School. Before moving to St. Matthews in 1979, he lived in the Highlands and worked as a clerk for The Louisville Courier Journal. He has also worked at hotels, factories and for twenty years at the Blue Boar Cafeteria on Gardner Lane. Today Scott works part-time at Rainbow Blossoms, a health food store in St Matthew's, “ I got that job on my own two and a half years ago and I really like it.” He says he does a little janitor work in exchange for good free soup and a little cigarette money. Scott likes Rainbow Blossom because they do not have robberies like they did at Blue Boar. The daytime the cashier would often announce over the intercom, “ Counters, personnel, we have been hit again”.

    At the moment Scott lives in a halfway house downtown. He goes to St Vincent’s Soup Kitchen often and says its cool because they still have relics from the old church. He says crowds of people go there daily for food. Scott also thinks The Cathedral of Assumption Soup Kitchen has pretty good food and they even serve White Castles sometimes. On Easter he attends a banquet there in huge gymnasium where they hand out free t-shirts.

    Scott's best talent is remembering faces. In his free time he likes to write and has written many short stories. He also listens to WFPK on the radio and has cable television but does not like it. Now that the St. Matthew's White Castle has closed he hangs out at Cahoots and The Seelbach Hotel Coffee Shop. Scott has not had a drink of alcohol in thirteen years but likes the environment at Cahoots and the young people, whom he calls “hippies”, don’t give him any trouble. “I have seen guys there (at Cahoots) who remembered me from White Castles.” Scott, perhaps unknowingly is a St. Matthew's White Castle icon. If he were to offer you any advice, he'd say for you to keep persevering.

    Meet Linda

    This is Linda and she is a self employed Art Therapist in Louisville, KY. Linda moved to Louisville from Savannah, GA in 1994 to attend the Masters in Expressive Art Therapy Program at the University of Louisville. "Expressive" meaning that it incorporates drama, music, and play therapy in addition to art. At the moment she works mostly with children. She says working with adults can be pretty intense because they are verbal, with defense mechanisms and have been programmed by society to be a certain way. Linda helps adults move past these defenses to a place where they can freely process their situation. She often uses a form of art and play therapy called sand tray therapy. In her office you will find three sand tray tables and two tall shelves she custom built full of hundreds of miniatures and figurines. The shelves are categorized accordingly: Animals and bugs, armies and teams, children, couples, houses, household objects, magical things, mothers and women, men, plants and trees, religious figures, sea creatures, shells, symbols of other cultures and superheroes. Linda has been collecting miniatures for ten years to use in play therapy and for shadowboxes that she makes as an assemblage artist.

    To start a session she might ask her clients to build their world by selecting miniatures and playing in the sand. Linda says that people are open to art therapy because it applies primitive language using all senses in addition to the usually verbal approach. An individual can play out a situation rather than just speak about it. Play time during therapy is separate from the individual. Using Sully, a Disney character she explains, “We are talking about Sully, we are not talking about you, that frees Sully up to do whatever he wants to do (in the sand tray). He can smack her (referring to the Little Mermaid in her other hand) and bury her underneath the sand and there are no consequences. Instead you have had the ability to release that aggression". Art, drama and play are all language. She says looking into these visual areas taps into the subconscious through a different part of the brain.

    Linda also has a long history of working with autistic children. She has a comfort level because she herself has sensory issues. “If you get out of a car, you leave the key in the car and you leave the door open and that bell is dinging, I am going out of my mind to get the key out of the car so that it stops because I can’t focus on anything else. An autistic kid would do the same thing but it may not be as obvious. It may be a tag in their shirt that is driving them crazy. I have an understanding and compassion for where they are coming from, of course there sensory issues go a whole lot deeper than mine."

    Linda recently married to Rusty a fellow artist she met in Savannah. Their home, also their studio space, has art work hanging on every wall. She considers her practice a mixture of spiritual and scientific. As a therapist she believes you need to know your issues so you can keep them separate from the clients. "No one is perfect and there is never going to be a therapist without his or her own issues." Linda says that her best asset in life is that she is very flexible. She tries not to get too attached to one idea of what she thinks reality is because she is aware that it can constantly shift.

    Linda would like to know your interpretation of what is happening in the scene of the sand tray below.

    Image hosting by Photobucket

    Image hosting by Photobucket

    Meet Barton and Kate

    Image hosting by Photobucket

    Barton and Kate both work full-time at Michaels, a nationwide corporate owned arts and craft store. Barton is 20 years old and started working at Michaels as a sale associate and three months later was promoted to retail. He likes Michaels because he uses about ninety percent of the things that he sells. When asked if he was an artist he said, “ No, I can’t really paint or draw but I do the crocheting and the calligraphy and card-making, scrap-making and macromae”. He says he is not really into sports or anything else like that. But Barton does like the physical side of the job, “You know I stock a whole lot and unload trucks and stuff like that and I kind of like the manual labor, you know what I mean? It is not extreme manual labor but I mean it’s healthy, it’s enough to get you going”. Barton says that this is the best job he has ever had. He prefers this much more than sitting behind a desk. When he was in high school his parents only let him work during the summer so he worked at a Dollar Store. He also tried working at McDonalds but quit after six days because he hated it! The smell of food all day long really got to him and made him nauseated. Barton recounts a story about his most bizarre customer experience at Michaels. “I had a guy come in and he does an NA (Narcotics Anonymous) class and he needed something that looked like a kilo of coke that he could stomp on so I gave him Celucay!” Kate laughed and added, “That’s just what he told you, he was probably trying to sell it”. Barton was born and raised in Louisville. He would like to go to college but is holding out until he knows exactly what he wants to do. That way he will have the focus and determination to actually do it. He said it would be great. “I went for radiology but there was too much math that I did not care about.” Barton would love to do clothing design even though he thinks he is really bad at it.

    Kate is 23 years old and has worked at two different store locations. Her career at Michaels began in Elizabethtown, KY in the set-up department. There she was promoted to cashier, then lead sales and finally head front-end supervisor. Kate moved away for a year and a half and when she came back, the Elizabethtown store had no positions open. She loved the company so much that she found a job at a Michaels in Louisville. She now drives an hour from her home in Radcliff, KY just to get to work. In Louisville, she started in sales but now works in the retail department. Kate’s favorite part of the job is the customer service because she gets to meet so many interesting people. “ I always ask you know, what project are you doing today?” The strangest thing that a customer has asked Kate for was spray-on hair dye to paint their dog. Kate has worked in the retail industry since she was fifteen; “I had to have a work permit back in the day”. Kate has also worked at Gatzu clothing store and a laser tag place, but she considers Michaels her definite “nitch”. She is an army child and was born in Kansas but later moved to Radcliff, KY. She loves beads, has tons of them and considers that and making jewelry her thing. Kate says that if she decides to go to college she would want to be an art teacher. During this interview another Michael's employee interrupted us to tell Kate that she would be training a new employee in about twenty minutes. "Hold on, she's doing a interview about the job", Kate said. "Well it needs to be quick", her coworker said and then stood there waiting, arms crossed until we finished.

    Wednesday, April 05, 2006

    Meet Jim

    Image hosting by Photobucket

    This is Jim and he owns a farm in Oldham County, KY where he raises and breeds miniature horses. In 1984 Jim was on a basketball trip in Auburn, Florida when his friend brought up the subject of miniature horses. Jim agreed to go look at a horse farm having not heard of them before but that’s all he agreed too! He went, was surprised and fell in love. At first it was a hobby but in 1997 Jim got serious about miniature horses. He began to show and sell them all over the world. Jim believes his horse breeds get better by the year and as proof he currently holds eleven national championships. In addition over half the people in Kentucky who started a miniature horse farm have purchased their horses from him. Up until a year and a half ago Jim was also a Chevrolet car dealer. Comparing miniature horses to cars he says, “The good ones you just can’t keep in”. “When selling a horse it’s just like anything else, if you have a ten thousand mile used car and you got a seventy thousand sitting besides it your going to sell the ten thousand one.” He says the “hot” horse right now is the Arabian with a real long looking neck and 34" height. They also come in a 28" and 30". As far as pet horses he says you can’t keep them all, but yes, they’re just like dogs, they know you. Jim has seventy miniature horses at his residential farm. He says there are no two alike and they can get jealous of each other. Jim has three grown children, two girls and one boy. Although a few miniatures are in their names none of his children have pet horses. He says they lost interest about the same time they received their driver’s license. Jim would not consider himself an expert of miniature horses but he can tell you everything about them. People call him all the time for horse advice, which he attributes to his well-kept records. Jim says he is a former everything. He would like you to know that if you need a horse he has one for sale.

    Image hosting by Photobucket

    Image hosting by Photobucket

    Meet Karen

    Image hosting by Photobucket

    This is Karen and she is a legal secretary and administrative assistant at a law office in downtown Louisville. Karen has worked at the same company for ten years and found her job through a current coworker. Her responsibilities have always been multitasked and as she puts it “multi-hats”. Karen has ADHD and finds it necessary to be efficient and well organized. She is always looking for ways to make things better. Karen has family photos on her desk displaying her two grown children, a daughter and son, and two beautiful grandchildren. She loves sunflowers and finds strength in their symbol. Karen is the master of hugs and loves making people feel important. However she has learned to ask before she hugs as some people are not as receptive of receiving. In her purse is a key chain that says, “ I love hugs”. Karen wants to be strong and at the same time loving. Karen is excited about her job and is excellent at helping clients involved in personal injury cases. She finds it easy to relate to other peoples sufferings. She has also learned that one does not have to do a lot of talking, a hug will do it! She believes that is the purpose behind her hugs. Karen’s desk is next to a huge window that offers the most natural light in the office.

    Meet Joe

    Image hosting by Photobucket

    This Joe and he works as bike courier in downtown Louisville. Joe was an avid biker before taking the job, but not the spandex wearing type. He has worked at Bike Courier for two years and gets to pick and choose his routes and deliveries. He really likes his job because he does not have to work in an office all day. He also gets to sit outside and do nothing in between breaks, meet all types of strange people and talk to the homeless. On any given day Joe makes between forty to fifty deliveries. The weirdest deliveries that he makes is riding blood, urine and unknown iced objects to and from hospitals. On average people treat Joe with respect. However he suspects it is because he delivers many of them their paychecks. When Joe is not riding his bike he creates cartoons and comic books. One day he hopes to publish his work. Joe was born and raised in southern California but moved to Louisville with his family when he was seventeen. He thinks Louisville is okay. He likes it because it is cheap and easy to get around. When Joe was twenty-one he had his most defining identity change. As he lifted his sleeves and showed me his tattoos he admitted that he used to be a Satanist. He was unhappy then and believes that it was a product of his upbringing. Today Joe is happy.

    Meet Trevor

    Image hosting by Photobucket

    This is Trevor and he is from England. He and his wife run Martinizing Dry Cleaning on lower Brownsboro Rd in Louisville, KY. He is not at all interested in dry cleaning but does find cars and women fascinating. He recently became a new father to a son born on September 11, 2005. The weirdest thing that anyone has ever brought into the dry cleaners to be dry cleaned was underwear. The person was a local celebrity. He cannot stand the color blue. He never wears it outside of work and would never paint a room in his house "Martinizing Blue". His favorite color is purple but he does not like to wear it. He really enjoys his job because of the customer service. Oddly he finds socializing outside of work less fun, uncomfortable and just different. One day he hopes to be able to vote in America.