Coyote is offbeat, eccentric, one of a kind. His vision, expressed in remodeled propane tanks and repurposed car parts, is at the intersection of clutter, kitsch, and art. But mostly clutter.
And when I met him, by chance in less-than-glamorous Jacumba Hot Springs just after delighting in his unmanned “exhibit” ten miles away, he was tapering to sober from his day drunk, holding unsteady court at his caravan of workhorse Chevy Blazer and paired flying saucers trailing behind.
I was after a selfie. He hammed it up for the camera, conjuring his plastic alien glasses in an instant.
He invited me into his UFO couch fort, where we reminisced about eating cereal and watching Saturday cartoons under such homemade hidey-holes in days past. About creating your own place in the world, even if it’s built only from sofa cushions and bedsheets.
And even if your own place in the world is one tow vehicle pulling behind it everything important to you.
Make a Wish
“Google me,” he implored, jabbing his finger at his truck’s logo. As if all fame resided in being known somewhere, for something.
“I did, Man! That’s how I found your place. I even put some money in your mailbox.” Twenty minutes prior, I had tucked a fiver into his donation box, more than doubling its bounty.
“Did you make a wish?”
“I didn’t know I could. What should I have wished for?”
He straightened up and moved a little closer, my co-conspirator in magical cures. “Peace for everyone. That’s the best, don’t you think?”
I believe I do.
Art, If You Care to Look
Coyote had made more than couch forts in the decades since childhood, with his Flying Saucer Retrievals and Repairs Service, a roadside collection of spare parts and alien castoffs that on quick drive-by seem more please-take-this-couch than something-is-out-there.
But earlier in the day Rachel and I weren’t on a quick drive-by. His roadside menagerie, along with the Desert View Tower half a mile beyond, were our destinations, waypoints on our exploration of the quirky Americana that individualizes us and defines us.
Coyote’s kitsch is most individual, indeed. And in his Fred Sanford meets Fox Mulder way, he makes art:
Don’t succumb to the norm: Find the profound in the mundane.
Imagine a world of miracles – maybe aliens falling or calling from the sky, maybe something else. But dream of more.
Turn life into a playground for yourself and others.
Showcase how ephemeral empathy is, by revealing that what once comforted one person can traumatize another.
Creativity is our most human characteristic, so create something – anything.
Too Much Credit
Do I give him too much credit? Yes, 100%. I’m like that.
And I claim that’s the best way to live: to give everyone just a little more credit than you think they “deserve.”
We’re all frail, broken creatures just trying to make our place in the world, carrying unseen burdens and weighing impossible choices.
Credit for that struggle is in short supply and we all deserve a little more of it.
Starting with Coyote.