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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Shelter: an introduction

When we hear that half of Guatemala’s population is homeless because of the recent earthquake, our usual questions about shelter — whether to live in town or in the country, in an apartment or a farmhouse— are thrown into sharp and disquieting perspective. The cruel irony of so many Americans on diets in a starving world is paralleled by our indulgence in revolutionary new architectures (everything from ecologically questionable domes to the towering monstrosities of the World Trade Center in New York) in a world where “home” can be anything from an abandoned car to a refugee tent. We may be indignant about hollow doors in new houses, built by carpenters forbidden by their unions to use a hammer heavier than fourteen ounces (which might speed up construction and make some union men expendable) and paid for by 30-year mortgages whose accumulated interest comes to twice the value of the house. But all this means about as much to a family living on the streets of Calcutta as the price of a Rembrandt to a blind man. Shelter is relative; there is no right dwelling, except what’s right for the individual.

The Fantasy And The Reality

Designing and building your own home can be a vital step in taking control over your life, in taking responsibility for your own actions, in becoming free. It can do this on different levels, in different ways.

Other Blueprints

Probably the largest investment anyone of us will make is in our home, whether we rent or build or buy. House building has changed from a master craft to the expensive complexity of big business with its steadily increasing cost to the consumer and inefficient use of natural resources.

Doing It

If you are building your own home and you’ve decided to dig a well for your water supply, I have a bit of advice for you: Get a dowser. Don’t ask the well digger about dowsers. He will laugh at you and call them water witches. And don’t ask a geologist, because a geologist is likely to say that they can’t do what they claim. Dowsing has been proven false in scientific testing. Get a dowser anyway. Don’t worry what people will think. You can find dowsers around here who will do it for nothing and it only takes a few hours. I’ve dug two wells in my life. In February of 1972 I dug to a depth of 425 feet and got one gallon a week. A few days later, with the help of a dowser, I dug 85 feet and found water flowing at seven gallons per minute. I admit that my sample is small, but the results remain dramatic.

The Back Of The Bus

We knew the bus had good vibes. I had ridden in it one Christmas, singing carols with a group of friends. A candle in its center lit the bus and our faces. A year later we needed a dwelling and heard the bus was for sale. Excited about our good fortune, we set out to Durham to buy it. Mandala on the back, and an assortment of trash and semi-useful junk inside, it sat in a city parking lot. Though considerably dirtier and neglected, the bus still held the slightly-broken candle of last Christmas. It seemed that the bus was as tired of traveling as we were, as its new engine had just died. Since all we wanted was a home — and no more traveling — we had it towed to our land.

Thought: Shelter Of The Future

Thought is the most precious natural resource we have at our service. In the right cultivation and use of that resource will come the harmony of life in the visible world.

Memories Of The Sea

Lamellicorn the Clone once said that the only thing better than a good fuck is an orgasmic death. His writ­ings, which almost obsessively juxtaposed quasi-biolog­ical sensations with abstract speculation, often graced the pages of The Sun.

The Dream House

It is a large, very old, grey-green house with brown shutters, a long porch in front with a portion of it screened in. There is no lawn to speak of. But there is a yard with tall grasses waving sensuously to passersby and there are some trees, fruit trees perhaps, and in the back, one suspects there are animals and a rather large garden which comes right up to fences on both sides of the house.

Channel One

My loneliness gnaws at me. I frequently feel restless and bored. I want more stimulation. How can I enjoy life more?

Another Appetite

Golden-headed Rebecca gleefully carried her little red bench through the door of her cardboard house, closed all the “shutters” and secured the entrance and was all alone in her canton retreat. Flashback — five years ago in Tiajuana: a whole village constructed of cardboard crates, corrogated paper, stacks of newspaper and sheets of tin where blackheaded children ran in and out of the makeshift doors. When asked why the people didn’t build more permanent shelters, I was told that the river annually floods the area, destroying the homes anyway.

Fiction

*NOTE: Original copies of this issue are no longer available. Unbound, laser-printed copies will be provided for print orders.

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