We got to LA and looked at each other and wondered why we had come to LA in the first place. San Diego wasn't even for a few more days. There we were though. We made our way to Venice and then what? I went to shoot kites on the beach. My best friend Hal took a seat on a bench. When i got back he was talking to a fella named Tachowa who said he had dreamed of Hal, and of another guy who turned out to be me. We were going to make a movie about him and his tank, he said. I still had my mind on Venice and had no idea this man would shape my life and become a spirit guide of sorts. I just followed Hal's lead and pulled out my camera as he began to tell us about Cloud Nine. And then he took us there.
It was tucked away but really right out in in plain sight. A modern day squatter's Walden and monument to choosing your own adventure. Inside the tank he put on his helmet with poisoned spikes on it and at the perfect moment, asked Hal to hand him his sword. He stood over me intensely with it as our cameras rolled and clicked and in that moment i knew i was alive but wasn't sure for how much longer. He was a warrior and a king and now someone else knew it too. It was the closest i had been to LSD in forever and over the next few years i learned it was always that way with Tachowa, tank or no tank.
He lived there for 3 more years making it about 9 total when all was said and done. Made something out of nothing. This rusted irrigation tank by his hands became a minimalist, eccentric palace where he could live the life he wanted to live. He just didn't care to be out here and do what most of us do, preferring to stay on the fringes and not chase the things that the world commonly says a person needs. Banksy just happened to be in LA and tagged the tank, giving it a value to the rest of the world and a collector came in and bought it. Some financial reparations were made to Tachowa out of sympathy and more so, respect. All it did was get him by for a bit and allow him to help some people. It was just money, he said.
Last trip to see him we slept in a broken down car together a night or two, visited Spahn Ranch, helped a friend of his that was too loaded to fend for himself, shared fruit and nuts and mostly i just followed him and listened while he told me more. There is always more. And while the rest of the world was turning i was frozen in his world yet again. Dirty, sleep deprived and hyper alert. In those moments i am aware of little else and all is good and well and right where it belongs. I think 95 % of his life consists of a similar, barren perfection.