u2018Weird Homes': Liberty's Oasis in the TV Wasteland

by Dario McDarby by Dario McDarby

It seems weird, a television show about Canadian and US individualists in the burgeoning socialist paradise of North America? How can that be, when the common member of the mindless herd prefers a Bushian security to a Burkean liberty?

The show is Weird Homes, a show that celebrates individuals and their strange shelters. These are men and women in revolt against the manicured lawn. In fact, the show and its individuals seem an affront to the secular deities herding us into civic regimentation and genuflecting toward zoning laws. It seems to be an anachronism.

Perhaps St. Ashcroft of the Church Secure should sniff its fabric and read the message of terrorism in its wrinkles. Save us from the weird and their domiciles, oh John! There is terrorism brewing, in hogsheads of homegrown liberty, fermenting in the hidden vats of those who do not worship the State!

Weird Homes is seen on the Discovery Homes & Leisure channel. The host is Arthur Black, himself an obvious affront to bean counters and picture straighteners, and undoubtedly a happy throwback to a time when people liked the thought of life, liberty, and property, even to the radical notion of men leaving their neighbors alone except in times of dire need and when they were asked.

His photo probably doesn't adorn the bland walls in straight-jacketed suburbia. These are homes to the sheep-like creatures on two legs who keep their boxes inoffensive to the prying eyes of u2018the neighbors,' the Grendel that shakes the suburbs with horror at the mere mention of the odious name.

Black is a weird character, a dabbler in many noble careers, such as dog walker, underwear salesman, and cattle prodder. He then descended into journalism as a livestock reporter. Later, tossing off the shackles of the Fourth Estate, he fell under the spell of that wonderful invention, the radio. He hosted a show, Basic Black, featuring wacky inventors, interesting eccentrics, and the admirably strange.

It lasted 19 years, homage to the spirit of liberty pestering the scowling stewards of the prison gate. Since then, he's hosted Weird Homes, and a sister show, Weird Wheels, about art cars and other visual insults to our beige citizenry. He's a syndicated columnist and has written several books of humor, eight at last count, from Basic Black: the Wit and Whimsy of Arthur Black in 1981 to Flashblack in 2002.

The individualists featured through their weird homes are libertarian by nature if not profession. They're contrary to the collectivist spirit infesting the continent. They help us breathe more easily knowing the urge for self-expression and a passionate love of private property are not dead in North America. For the man in the herd, these free-spirited people threaten the perpetual coma induced by politicians, the media, and professional miseducators, the locusts and fleas infesting the world today.

These individuals, the heroes of Weird Homes, are strange and unassuming enemies of the State, who usually strive to live beneath the ever-present radar of over-paid, under-worked bureaucrats. While they may or may not be lovable folk face-to-face, they are admirable as individuals who laugh at the wagging tongues of mass men and rumba through life to the beat of their own conga drummer.

They believe in the simple principle of u2018live and let live,' and for that crime are prey to the host of government officials who descend upon their property, peeping through letterboxes, sifting the garbage, measuring the height of weeds, and sniffing for hints of pet feces in the tall grass in order to tabulate the number of infractions of the local code foisted upon a dull-witted public by their elected misfits.

Bureaucrats too often take a certain glee in keeping the world safe for the secular sacrament of manicured lawns in the church of suburbia. And, like Satan, are perpetually served by shadowy murmurers who have the various agencies' numbers on speed dial. An army of whisperers resides in the suburban swamplands ready to click and cluck their complaints into the waiting ears of bureaucrats who swarm over the free man's portal to the ruination of his day.

At root of the government's response is fear, fear that somewhere a man is living happily in a personal kingdom away from officialdom's grasp. Such a heroic man offends the State's notion that it has the sworn duty to stamp out liberty and force the high colonic of conformity up the waiting masses.

The general temper of the bureaucrat remains hostile to all things that offend the code. And the code is a god to the little gray men and women, who have sections of legal code running like Scripture through their heads that would make an evangelist burn with envy.

These curious types profiled in Weird Homes live in collected piles of driftwood, assorted boxes, overturned small boats, in trees, in holes, in houses with yards ablaze in kitsch art. Anywhere that can become a home or can be personalized is probably inhabited with a member of the more courageous of our species. Our weird brethren live with hundreds of cats, strange and exotic collections, hand-hewn art, or towering turrets built from empty embalming fluid bottles.

The show is a veritable smorgasbord of the eccentric buzzing that zips through the fertile minds of individuals who may not charm us, but at least comfort us with the knowledge that the happily crazy human spirit, yearning to breathe free, is still alive and well in nooks and crannies of North America.

Don't confuse these individualists with the neo-socialists riding unicycles and trailing a scent of body odor around the streets of places like Berkeley or Venice Beach or the Canadian equivalents. No, those are the unwashed wannabees; children from affluence who see non-conformity as a laxative, purging the values of their capitalist parents from their weak and cowardly blood. While pretending to love non-conformity and individualism, they easily congeal into an army of brown shirts to defend perverse ideas without merit.

True individualists develop like fine wine over time, hide from public applause, shun the limelight, and are always aware that some unhappy bureaucrat will send him an official piece of paper threatening his economic or personal liberty because of his individuality. True individualists leave others alone and expect the same kindness in return. That is the equation of personal liberty: "liberty" equals "leave me alone" + "I'll leave you alone." It thrives and spreads when grown in the humus of Faith, the gift from the Creator of us all. Too many citizens hunger for the former but feel a necessity to abuse the latter for u2018national security,' the u2018good of the people,' or some other pious nonsense issuing from the mouth of an everyday, peeping-tom totalitarian.

Most of these individualists would help a neighbor in trouble, but when they encounter difficulties in the day they tend to craft solutions from their remarkable minds. They also are the people, who, as kids, were shunned and labeled with the factitious ADD, ADHA, OD, and other strange concoctions that enrich psychologists, psychiatrists, and other meddlers who can't find honest work.

Weird people are tolerated in theory across the fruited plain; but in practice the State's various functionaries vigorously try to stymie individualists. In fact, it's usually the only sign of work ever noticed from these small mole-like creatures scurrying from the tunnels of any sovereign state's bureaucracy, usually with forms and notices flapping wildly in hand, off to hector a man toiling in the sun, building a vision of his shelter. He is king of his little domain. The barbarians attack, proving that there is no such thing as private property in a free society organized and constrained by an all-powerful State.

Forms, especially in triplicate, are a hate crime to the free, an insult, an assault, and a wound to man and liberty. They see chains in lines of identity numbers, bar codes, and other tricks to strip us of dignity and liberty. Like sentinel chickens who are the first to warn us of mosquito-borne diseases, the individualists of this lost continent warn us of the clotting effects of conformity and remind us that beige is not the color of health or happiness.

They're fascinating people, though weird. They share one thing: the desire to live freely and in peace with their world. They want to be themselves. We need more of them in the dismal world of the goose-stepping massman to strike a humorous match to a tight-lipped darkness.