Ever heard the expression “East Jesus?” It’s slang for “nowhere” or “super far away” – where the sidewalk ends, the boonies, Timbuktu, the end of the earth…. Well, that’s where we’re going today. But instead of finding nothing in the middle of nowhere, we found ALL of the things. The most epic collection of bizarre sculpture… the strangest, oddly inhabited assortment of wonders this side of the Salton Sea, California’s dead sea, the great accidentally man-made salt lake in an ancient seabed that’s spawned legend after legend after legend.
And that’s not all that’s out there. We also visit the Mountain.
The ultimate oddity, the ultimate piece of roadside folk art that’s neither meant to be art for arts sake, nor is it found along a major highway. The creation of Leonard Knight, a near-hermit who lived in the desert alone for decades creating his monument to God’s love.
I had the opportunity on several occasions to meet and speak with Leonard. The most amazing person, a very loving and energetic individual who despite all obstacles and temptations, stayed in the desert creating this wonderful technicolor dream-coat of a mountain.
Nowadays, thanks to the proximity of Coachella, it’s become less of a secret desert oddity and something of a hipster photo-shoot hot spot, but I like to think that Leonard is up there smiling, seeing even more visitors at his mountain. In the video I included a clip from Leonard’s tour of the mountain posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDlf6sdBrEk
If you have a few minutes, please watch it and leave a comment, tell em I sent ya, and check out http://salvationmountaininc.org for more info and ways to help preserve the mountain as long as possible.
I take no public position on anyone’s faith. I avoid the subject of religion (just like sex and politics) as much as humanly possible. But I loved that little old man, and he was truly an inspiration to me. How one essentially homeless man with virtually nothing but the clothes on his back, an old bible, and an impossible-to-inflate balloon could create something that’s awed and inspired thousands of people. What a legend.
And then finally we head to the Salon Sea at sundown to find the weirdest thing I’ve ever found anywhere…..