An Invitation To Lubberland

An Invitation To Lubberland

Buried beneath the city of Cleveland is a prehistoric river known as Kingsbury Run. Before it was rerouted underground, itinerant workers made their home along its banks. During the depression of the 1890s, a “tramp census” conducted by John McCook indicated 6% of the population of the United States were itinerant. At that time Cleveland was regarded as a “hobo’s paradise” because of the gracious handouts itinerants would receive, and lenient treatment by the city’s police.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s the itinerant population swelled to 30%, and the Kingsbury Run grew into a sprawling shantytown. However, a series of gruesome murders occurred along the Run, targeting the hobos. As a band-aid solution to stop the serial killings, the police department arrested and displaced the population, burning the neighborhood to the ground.

Today, itinerant cultures both nationally and globally are being marginalized to the brink of extinction. The hobo census, a once a respected barometer for the American economy, is now obsolete.

Motivated by our current economic climate, I traveled the country by freight train, attempting to re-conduct McCook’s census, ultimately returning to Cleveland. By infiltrating the sewer system, I regained access to the forgotten Kingsbury Run. In search of the lost “hobo’s paradise” I followed the Run, beneath the streets of Cleveland, to its headwater.

Videos:

Process

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It seemed crazy to undertake a project about hobos without doing some train-hopping.
It seemed crazy to undertake a project about hobos without doing some train-hopping.
So, I decided to re-enact the hobo census that John McCook conducted in the 1890's.
So, I decided to re-enact the hobo census that John McCook conducted in the 1890's.
Brett and I
Brett and I "rented" some vintage clothes from a costume shop and hit the rails.
Kitty Joe and the Merenda joined us for part of the journey.
Kitty Joe and the Merenda joined us for part of the journey.
We tried several yards around NYC before we were successful.
We tried several yards around NYC before we were successful.
After fending off guard dogs, and crossing a moat...
After fending off guard dogs, and crossing a moat...
We finally found a yard that was easy to catch out of.
We finally found a yard that was easy to catch out of.
Friendly workers in the yard gave us flashlights, water & long timbers to prop a boxcar door open.
Friendly workers in the yard gave us flashlights, water & long timbers to prop a boxcar door open.
We rode in style from there to Buffalo.
We rode in style from there to Buffalo.
Checkin for bulls...
Checkin for bulls...
Lunch in Buffalo
Lunch in Buffalo

"Flat Bed" out of Buffalo.
Brett brought his banjo along, which I thought might be cumbersome.
Brett brought his banjo along, which I thought might be cumbersome.
But then again, Brett's pet rat, Lucy, also joined us for the trip.
But then again, Brett's pet rat, Lucy, also joined us for the trip.
A few hobo monikers we spotted along the way...
A few hobo monikers we spotted along the way...
...the only signs of our fellow travelers so far.
...the only signs of our fellow travelers so far.
Not much to report for the 2010 McCook census.
Not much to report for the 2010 McCook census.
'Somebody's Gotta Do This'
'Somebody's Gotta Do This'
During our plentiful spare time we started working on own monikers.
During our plentiful spare time we started working on own monikers.
I was still thinking about mine.
I was still thinking about mine.
Bret's came to him a little more easily.
Bret's came to him a little more easily.
So I used up all of my oil sticks...
So I used up all of my oil sticks...
...and all of that plentiful free time...
...and all of that plentiful free time...
...planning out my Kingsbury Run Fire drawing.
...planning out my Kingsbury Run Fire drawing.
We walked to the opposite side of Chicago to catch out from a different train yard.
We walked to the opposite side of Chicago to catch out from a different train yard.
After a run-in with the police, we ended up getting on the wrong train...
After a run-in with the police, we ended up getting on the wrong train...
...and woke up in East St. Louis.
...and woke up in East St. Louis.
We had to ride all the way back.
We had to ride all the way back.
I decided to spend the rest of the day reading a book by Jim Tully, legendary Ohio hobo/author..
I decided to spend the rest of the day reading a book by Jim Tully, legendary Ohio hobo/author..
Brett just decided to spend the day getting shit-faced.
Brett just decided to spend the day getting shit-faced.
We finally got a westbound train out of Chicago, but it was more of a tight squeeze.
We finally got a westbound train out of Chicago, but it was more of a tight squeeze.
Eventually we made it back to Cleveland.
Eventually we made it back to Cleveland.
After a few drinks at the Dawg Pound, we were ready to get to work.
After a few drinks at the Dawg Pound, we were ready to get to work.
Overlaying vintage maps of the city over google images...
Overlaying vintage maps of the city over google images...
...we were able to figure out a few places we could access the Run through the sewer system.
...we were able to figure out a few places we could access the Run through the sewer system.
A noxious mist rose off the highly contaminated Kingsbury Run.
A noxious mist rose off the highly contaminated Kingsbury Run.
I was literally rowing up Shit Creek
I was literally rowing up Shit Creek
The narrow culvert was actually extremely deep.  So I guess I really was In deep shit
The narrow culvert was actually extremely deep. So I guess I really was In deep shit
I think I would have rather been surrounded by sharks.
I think I would have rather been surrounded by sharks.
As I continued deeper underground, the culvert  gradually got shallower.
As I continued deeper underground, the culvert gradually got shallower.
So we put on waders and continued on foot.
So we put on waders and continued on foot.
The construction of the tunnel varied as we passed beneath different sections of the city.
The construction of the tunnel varied as we passed beneath different sections of the city.
The area where we did most of the filming...
The area where we did most of the filming...
...was directly beneath the 4th precinct police station.  Which seemed appropriate.
...was directly beneath the 4th precinct police station. Which seemed appropriate.
Stallagtites appeared above...
Stallagtites appeared above...
...and an ominous mold grew everywhere below.
...and an ominous mold grew everywhere below.
Finally we reached the 'headwaters', a pipe in the ground too small to enter.
Finally we reached the 'headwaters', a pipe in the ground too small to enter.
It must have started raining outside because the wastewater started flowing...
It must have started raining outside because the wastewater started flowing...
...and the water level started to rise really fast, and picked up speed, too.
...and the water level started to rise really fast, and picked up speed, too.
Soon it was up to our waist. So we decided to get the hell out of there.
Soon it was up to our waist. So we decided to get the hell out of there.
I had told the rental car company I needed it for business.
I had told the rental car company I needed it for business.
But failed to say what my business was...
But failed to say what my business was...
...or that we were filming a movie in the sewer.
...or that we were filming a movie in the sewer.
The hotel where we stayed was even less pleased.
The hotel where we stayed was even less pleased.
Hotel management sent photos to the museum & said we got cement all over the walls & down the drains
Hotel management sent photos to the museum & said we got cement all over the walls & down the drains
but the manager pronounced 'cement' like CEE-ment (kind of like on the Beverly Hillbillies).
but the manager pronounced 'cement' like CEE-ment (kind of like on the Beverly Hillbillies).
and the museum director mistook her pronunciation of 'cement' for 'semen'.
and the museum director mistook her pronunciation of 'cement' for 'semen'.
So it was relayed to me that I was in trouble for spraying semen all over the walls of my hotel.
So it was relayed to me that I was in trouble for spraying semen all over the walls of my hotel.
After the 'semen' incident, we found more modest accommodations.
After the 'semen' incident, we found more modest accommodations.
Cleveland was known as a hobo's paradise.
Cleveland was known as a hobo's paradise.
The giant salt piles near the mouth of the Kingsbury Run looked like the Great Rock Candy Mountains.
The giant salt piles near the mouth of the Kingsbury Run looked like the Great Rock Candy Mountains.
I decided to do the introduction text for the show on the tracks...
I decided to do the introduction text for the show on the tracks...
...so I could film it from a movie train...
...so I could film it from a movie train...
...sort of like a filmstrip or a ticker tape.
...sort of like a filmstrip or a ticker tape.
A remaining section of the Kingsbury Run as they were preparing to divert it underground, circa 1966
A remaining section of the Kingsbury Run as they were preparing to divert it underground, circa 1966
Kingsbury Run hobos being rounded up before being driven out of townl, 1939
Kingsbury Run hobos being rounded up before being driven out of townl, 1939
One of the shanty towns at Kingsbury Run burned by Eliott Ness, 1939
One of the shanty towns at Kingsbury Run burned by Eliott Ness, 1939
The same location today.
The same location today.
71 year later people are reclaiming the area as a shanty town.
71 year later people are reclaiming the area as a shanty town.
After the filming was complete, we decided to hit the rails again..
After the filming was complete, we decided to hit the rails again..
and made it just around cocktail hour.
and made it just around cocktail hour.
Bathroom Break
Bathroom Break
Kitty Joe, climbing into a gondola to hide from the bulls.
Kitty Joe, climbing into a gondola to hide from the bulls.
Actually, we got busted three times.  All were pretty mild.
Actually, we got busted three times. All were pretty mild.
But this was the only bust that pulling out a camera seemed reasonable.
But this was the only bust that pulling out a camera seemed reasonable.
Hitchhiking back to the yards after bust.
Hitchhiking back to the yards after bust.
Kitty Joe's shoe repair.
Kitty Joe's shoe repair.
Cat nap?
Cat nap?
I tried to get the cigarettes for making a cigarette tree mosaic for free, but failed.
I tried to get the cigarettes for making a cigarette tree mosaic for free, but failed.
Mosaic making, May 2010
Mosaic making, May 2010
Doubtful anyone would miss these old railroad spikes, but I turned it into a Rambo mission anyway.
Doubtful anyone would miss these old railroad spikes, but I turned it into a Rambo mission anyway.
We decided to borrow a piece of the train bridge that spans the Kingsbury Run.
We decided to borrow a piece of the train bridge that spans the Kingsbury Run.
It's one of the only true vestiges of the Run's history at the time of the shantytown.
It's one of the only true vestiges of the Run's history at the time of the shantytown.
Unless you count this guy...
Unless you count this guy...
The MOCA staff was eager to help us borrow the municipal property.
The MOCA staff was eager to help us borrow the municipal property.
I built a giant compass with 360 railroad spikes.
I built a giant compass with 360 railroad spikes.
I modeled the lubber of the compass after a brick sewer tunnel or well...
I modeled the lubber of the compass after a brick sewer tunnel or well...
..similar to those found at the headwaters of Kingsbury Run in my search for 'Lubberland'...
..similar to those found at the headwaters of Kingsbury Run in my search for 'Lubberland'...
Lubberland is a paradisiacal realm described in an ancient mariner song.   that the hobo classic 'Th
Lubberland is a paradisiacal realm described in an ancient mariner song. that the hobo classic 'Th
The same song was interpreted into Harry McClintock's hobo classic 'The Great Rock Candy Mountains'
The same song was interpreted into Harry McClintock's hobo classic 'The Great Rock Candy Mountains'
'Rock Candy' was harvested from the Rock Candy Mountains, a.k.a.the local Cleveland salt piles.
'Rock Candy' was harvested from the Rock Candy Mountains, a.k.a.the local Cleveland salt piles.
Oh yeah, and some from Home Depot too.
Oh yeah, and some from Home Depot too.
Naturally, in Lubberland, the Kingsbury Run would flow with whiskey instead of sewage.
Naturally, in Lubberland, the Kingsbury Run would flow with whiskey instead of sewage.
Besides, it made a nicer surface for projecting the hobo nickel animation I made.
Besides, it made a nicer surface for projecting the hobo nickel animation I made.
Exhibition Floorplan
Exhibition Floorplan

Installation

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To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail left), 2010
To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail left), 2010
To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail left), 2010
To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail left), 2010
To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail left), 2010
To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail left), 2010
To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail right), 2010
To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail right), 2010
To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail right), 2010
To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail right), 2010
To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail right), 2010
To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail right), 2010
To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail right), 2010
To Determine Whether Or Not Things Were Getting Better Or Worse (detail right), 2010
Map of the Kingsbury Run in Her Years of Splendor and Glory, 2010
Map of the Kingsbury Run in Her Years of Splendor and Glory, 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail left), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail left), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail left), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail left), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail left), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail left), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail right), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail right), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail right), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail right), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail right), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail right), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail right), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail right), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail right), 2010
...But Then Something Evil (detail right), 2010
Lubberdise Lost, 2010 (Cigarettes on wood panel)
Lubberdise Lost, 2010 (Cigarettes on wood panel)
Lubberdise Lost (detail), 2010 (Cigarettes on wood panel)
Lubberdise Lost (detail), 2010 (Cigarettes on wood panel)
Lubberdise Lost (detail), 2010 (Cigarettes on wood panel)
Lubberdise Lost (detail), 2010 (Cigarettes on wood panel)
Lubberdise Lost (detail), 2010 (Cigarettes on wood panel)
Lubberdise Lost (detail), 2010 (Cigarettes on wood panel)
Lubberdise Lost (detail), 2010 (Cigarettes on wood panel)
Lubberdise Lost (detail), 2010 (Cigarettes on wood panel)
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
An Invitation To Lubberland (Installation View), MOCA Cleveland
Lara Allen performs, An Invitation To Lubberland Opening, 9/10/10 MOCA Cleveland
Lara Allen performs, An Invitation To Lubberland Opening, 9/10/10 MOCA Cleveland