The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

My Photo
Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Banana Republic of Arkansas

Several weeks back, Charlie and I were working like madmen to get some plumbing finished. I was out on the back porch, our improvised workshop, cutting some pipe when I notice an old, worn pickup truck pull up in our drive. My first thought was, "Who the hell is that?" I certainly wasn't expecting anyone. Focused on the job at hand, I went back inside.

A moment later I heard a faint, "Hello?"

I went out to the front porch and found Mr. Campbell perched in my doorway. Mr. Campbell is little man. He's probably five feet tall, darkly tanned, and a thin fifty-something year old man. The only odd thing about him are his arms, which are disproportionately large and muscular. Mr. Campbell is a stone mason, so it makes sense.

"Hey, I've been trying to call you for two weeks," he said. "I guess I got your number wrong. I thought that I'd just come by and see if I could catch you here. Now, you're interested in stone work, right?"

I'd given up and forgotten about Mr. Campbell weeks ago. He'd given us the best quote on stone work about a year ago. We were hoping he could start work for us now that we were ready for him. When he never called back, we started looking for someone new. Maybe Mr. Campbell appearing was a good omen?

Aside from the chain smoking, Mr. Campbell reminds me of Donkey from Shrek. He's, "the talkin'est damn thing you've ever seen." In addition to rock work, he kept up a constant, mind-numbing torrent of chatter for nearly two hour's. Every time I got him steered towards the door, he'd find something else to mention. I knew I was a goner when Charlie and Mr. Campbell discovered that they had some mutual friends and acquaintances in common.

I did glean a few interesting bits of information though. Some of that found its way into this post. One bit that didn't involves gas-log fireplaces. According to Mr. Campbell, up until a few years ago, most licensed plumbers would do all the pipe work for a gas-log fireplace installation. Normally, it is a very straight forward, fifteen minute job. Now they won't touch them. Why? Because the State of Arkansas now closely regulates this process and only one man in entire state is licensed to do this work. I'm not sure about the particulars of it (something to do with insurance premiums, fees, political connections, etc), but he's got the market cornered for the foreseeable future.

I hate to spread what may be gossip or rumor, but I believe it is true. In my experience, this is business as usual in Arkansas. I know that there is (was?) a member of the state appraisal board that had a de facto monopoly on the appraisal of commercial farms. If you were a licensed appraiser qualified make a commercial farm appraisal and you did a textbook perfect job, you could count on being called before the appraisal board and fined. This was the board's way of informing you that you needed to stay off their turf. Also, I believe that their salaries were paid in part by fines (I have not verified that, but it is common for some boards and commissions to receive their funding from licensing fees and fines).

So, if you did a perfect appraisal, what could they fine you for? I knew one appraiser that was fined for using "that" instead of "which." According to the rules of English grammar, in certain usage, these two words are interchangeable ("It was their boat that sank" or "It was their boat which sank."). According to the Arkansas Appraisal Board, following the rules of the English language is $400 offense. Two or three of these "offenses" and you have quite a hefty fine.

And to think our governor got in trouble a few years ago when he called Arkansas a banana republic on national talk radio. It's funny how royally pissed people get when someone has the audacity to tell the truth.


Blogger Greg said...

Boy, and I thought California was bad...well, it is bad, but still..

5:08 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Web Site Counter
Website Counter