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Photograph by Jonathan Williams

"TWIXT THE LIGHTNING AND THE MOCKING BIRD"
 
 
"PASAQUOYANISM IS THE NEXT THING, MAN, IT IS DEFINITELY WAITING IN THE WINGS!!! It means the end of all these Buddhists and Muslims and Christians and all this other shit, man. I just hope I live long enough to establish it."
 
It's a hot Sunday afternoon in June at the "Land of Pasaquan" and the one and only Pasaquoyan, Mr. Eddie Owens Martin, aka ST. EOM, is in good form, helping digest his collard greens and cornbread with a huge joint of fine "donkey-dick sensi", about the size of a Hav-a-Tampa full corona.
 
"Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn and Amy were out here Friday. Town sheriff turned up at 8 o'clock in the morning and I didn't know what heavy shit might be coming down ... Jimmy came here one time for a reading before he was a politician. I told him to go for it, to go for what he wanted, and he would be very successful. He looked kind of sad the other day and was too cheap to ask me to do his cards. I said to him: I could have told you those Image Makers up in New York wouldn't let you do what you wanted. They don't like people who dress at J.C Penney's and wear leisure suits ... What this country needs is exactly what it's going to get: Ronald Reagan -- a fine head of hair, and a mean line of talk ... Politics ain't been much good since the studs dragged the bitches off the thrones thousands of years ago. That's one thing Pasaquoyanism will change!"
 
For those readers who have not followed the Yellow Brick Road to, and through, Marion County, Georgia, let me tell you how to get to the fabled "Land of Pasaquan." Leave the town of Buena Vista (which you will be more than ready to do). It is pronounced Bewnuh Vistuh, by the way. Go north on Highway 41. In about a mile, veer left on Highway 137, towards Cusseta. Three more miles, take the second paved right, just before you get to Kinchafoonee Creek. Go about half a mile, and where you see cane and bamboo, angle right off onto the dirt driveway. There, just like in The Wizard of Oz, suddenly everything turns technicolor: THE LAND OF PASAQUAN, "where the past and present and the future and everything else come together." No longer are you in the desolate pine woods between the big Ocmulgee and Chattahoochee river valleys. No longer are you next to the paratroopers of Fort Benning. You are not drowning in kudzu, protestant totalitarianism, whore houses, the drumming of bible-whackers. You are at the entrance of the finest folk-art environment in the Southeast.
 
The sign says: BAD DOGS! BLOW HORN STAY IN CAR TIL I COME OUT! Eventually, ST. EOM will bellow like Proteus and emerge in ceremonial drag through the sculptured, Easter-Island-like gates to peer at his visitors. He checks against "bad vibes." Most quivering people want to avail themselves of his psychic powers: he reads cards for twenty bucks a time. "The white folks are interested in bullshit; the black folks want the lucky number ... I like about five customers a day, that gives me room to maneuver... Most of them are caught in the love-trap, man, the LOVE-TRAP! Back in the old days, a man would just want to get his rocks off. Now he says: LOVE ME! ... Shit."
 
Eddie Martin, the strapping, six-foot, scraggly, tattoo'd, bodacious, septugenarian Boy George of Buena Vista, was born a few miles from Pasaquan in 1908. The Seaboard Railway came past the tenant farm he was raised on. He used to look at the otherworldly passengers behind two sheets of glass in the dining car-- and dream. When he was 14, he bought long pants, said goodbye to all the cane dust and mule farts, and hopped a train to the big city. He instinctively headed for Forty-Second Street --"there's always a crust of bread for a pretty boy, Mary," to use Maurice Chevalier's pleasant phrase for the peddling of one's tender fundament to the cruel grown-up world. Eddie hustled, smoked much dope, lived up in Harlem, read tea leaves, and educated himself very well indeed in dance and theatre. He knew about Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Pearl Primus; he knew about Sikhs and ancient religions and symbols. James Churchward's book on Mu seems to have been his favorite text. The first inkling of the "Land of Pasaquan" that was to be came to him from a spirit when EOM was in his twenties. He was dangerously ill: "I came to a monstrous man who sat in a chair, as big as five men. His hair went straight up and his beard was parted in the middle. He told me I would become the Pasaquoyan, the originator of a new way of life, which is caring for the beard and the growing of the hair straight up." ... "Levitation has something to do with it, man, you look at the way those Mayans drew themselves. Hot rice syrup will help make your beard cooperate. The hair is the secret! Other than that, there ain't a lot of tenets and proscriptions. Just act natural, man."
 
Another spirit came to Eddie in the 1950s. It said GO HOME! It came to him in a circle of light at 50th Street and 7th Avenue in Manhattan. He dutifully returned to Marion County. "Pasaquan is a monument to me and my mother. I am the first martyr to Pasaquoyanism. I am a Prophet without profit. It's a bitch, man. Everything's cotton, corn, and peanuts around here. People wouldn't know art if it bit 'em on the ass."
 
Profit or not, ST. EOM has constructed in four acres of grass and cane and bamboo and water oaks an astounding temple complex. There are elaborate shrines, pagodas, dance-floors, and many, many undulating walls, made out of cement and sand, decorated with bright oil enamels from the hardware store. Many of the walls are topped with amiable, sculptured serpents. "They even drop out of the trees on you around here," EOM says, "but I don't pay them no mind. They belong here much as I do." EOM pays for his materials with those twenty-dollar bills he receives for telling fortunes. He hires several local black youths to keep up the place and mow the lawns. He does the cement work and draws all the designs. His helpers follow the incised lines and paint the colors he tells them to.
 
EOM worries about the fate of "The Land of Pasaquan." "As long as I am here -- and Boo and Nina, my faithful old dogs --, things will be ok." But after the Pasaquoyan has gone to another incarnation in Mu, or Mongo, or Munchkin Land, then what? Rednecks never sleep, and order drifts towards chaos ... Let us hope the State of Georgia, or some university or foundation, or SPACES (the California organization under Seymour Rosen's direction that is devoted to preserving such folk environments) will have figured out a custodial arrangement at Pasaquan. A place for artists to come to. A retreat for one and all in which to see the achievements of this Whitmanesque shaman, this camp old thing, this distinguished citizen, who went in Beauty.
 
"Nov. 1-77 ... The weather is lovely this morning as I write this letter to you. Makes one happy to be alive. Even if it's not in the plans and the pranks of the bureaucracy in Washington and in Atlanta, let's be up with Pasaquoyanism! And may the old mores change for the better! I will have some collard greens for you when you come next time. Sin!! EOM."
 
 
Addendum: On April l6, l986, about two years after the foregoing account of Pasaquan was written, ST. EOM put a pistol to his head, pulled the trigger, departed for Outer Cosmic Infinity, and left us miserable suckers to the wiles of the Justice Department, the Supreme Court, Pat Robertson, William F. Buckley, Lyndon Larouche, and all the rest. Why did he do it? His kidneys were going, his prostate was already gone, his heart was a patch-job. Reasons enough, but there was a strain of ancient nobility in the manner of his going. He was, after all, a man who insisted on calling all his own shots. Now, with the daily fierceness of the Georgia sun and rain to survive, plus the lurking menace of vandals, Pasaquan has been left to the Columbus Museum of Art and it-- aided by Tom Patterson's book, St. EOM in the Land of Pasaquan, available from the Jargon Society -- must figure out how to save Eddie's monument. Can it be done? As Eddie used to say: "They'll ostracize the shit out of you, man, every way they can!"
 
 
Second Addendum: In 1991 we can report the establishment of the Pasaquan Society, under the auspices of the Marion County Historic Society, PO Box 564, Buena Vista, Georgia 31803. Fred Fussell, Director of the Columbus Art Museum, is Chairman of the Pasaquan Society. The primary concerns for now are the protection of the property and the conservation of the fabric of Pasaquan. To become a charter member of the Society, please send your contribution of $25.00 or more to the Marion County Historic Society. Members and volunteers have been meeting several times a year lately for clean-up days and picnics. Things are more hopeful than I thought. For those wishing to know more, you may contact Mr. Fussell in Columbus at (404) 322-0400.

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