Downhome Junk Yard Blues

by Alphaville Herald on 11/02/08 at 6:49 pm

by Kaos Usbourne, virtual world traveler

Richardina Petty and Kiff Clutterbuck relax on the docks

It was a good day. The fickle SL winds were blowing, yet I found myself drifting among coastal swells. I was bored – so I pulled out the charts (world map) and located a red circle that seemed to promise something… I just didn’t know what. I raised the sails on my faithful Trudeau Tricordia, Sky Chaser, and skidded her across the grid for that coastal speck which the map identified as Junkyard Blues.

As I approached, I dropped the sails and motored closer to find a series of wood drawbridges spanning the entrance to fairly large marina. Cypress and Monkey Nut trees swayed in the wind and the unmistakable sound of Meat Loaf’s Bat out of Hell came wafting from somewhere inland.

The drawbridge opened and I motored through to a quaint little marina store, bait shop and fuel dock, its graying wood planks supported by pilings caked with layer upon layer of algae. This place had all the atmosphere of a backwater Mississippi Delta marina.

As I pulled to the fuel dock a beautiful southern woman with short brown hair, wearing jeans and a white linen shirt said, “Welcome to Junkyard Blues! I’m Richardina Petty!”

Richard–dina Petty…

“Of course,” I thought as we tied off Sky Chaser… Fitting….

I looked for a resemblance to “The King” of stock car racing, but there was none, so I settled for saying hi and asked if she knew who the owner of this place was.

“That would be me,” she said, “and Kiff… Kiff Clutterbuck.”

“Say that fast three times,” I thought, as southern charm began to soak into my pores.

Kiff came around the corner and introduced himself. I went over to the old Coke machine as he grabbed me a chair. We clanked bottles together and the icy soda did a fair job of keeping the heat and mugginess of the bayou at bay.

I sat and took in my surroundings — old, wooden houseboats… Everywhere I looked were rows and rows of houseboats in varying states of upkeep and disrepair. Most of these simple, wood-hulled residences didn’t appear to have a motor and I was betting any that did, probably hadn’t been started in a coon’s age. But every last one was lived in… very lived in.

Then, in the distant haze, behind the final row of houseboat docks at the shoreline I spotted trailer houses — rusting, circa 1965, teardrop-shaped house trailers with round windows in the doors and rivulets of solidified tar running down their sides. Amazingly, they too were occupied. I became mesmerized. This was like a trip back in time. For a while I was back home as a teenager.

Conversation snapped me out of my stupor.

“He may be sleeping.” Said Richardina.

“Or even dead,” said Kiff

Like we all do at this point in Second Life, I feigned a RL crisis and they bought it… maybe.

“How bout a boat tour?” said Kiff. Obviously noticing my fascination with the place.

“Sure!” I said looking around the docks for the owner’s boat. All I saw was an old scow that blended in with the charming dilapidation.

splendid decay

Three Hour Tour

Kiff walked over to the scow and motioned me aboard where I sat on an old wood bench along the port side. To this day, I am convinced that the barnacles and algae were all that was holding her together below the waterline.

Although the seat beside me was vacant, Richardina said something about there being only room for two and did not board — a fact that did not go unnoticed by yours truly who glanced around for a glimpse of any coast guard-approved flotation device.

Rats, I thought as Kiff turned the starter and the scow rumbled to life and settled (surprisingly) into the throaty purr of healthy Detroit iron.

As we pulled away from the dock and turned along a row of rented houseboats I asked, “So what inspired you to create Junkyard Blues?”

Kiff sighed, “I had a small patch of land and was living in a rusty trailer with some junk I had found. I had the blues on my stream. Miriam Antonelli, a friend of mine, would come by to visit and bring a friend or two. They started bringing friends and visiting on their own and one day I just had to move out.” Kiff moved to his current sim, but he never intended to have a club there – he explained that it just evolved.

“Miriam pointed out to me one day that it had turned into a club,” he said, “So I called it Junkyard Blues.”

As we chugged through the emerald green waterways, houseboats — some flying Stars and Bars and others with foil pasted on the windows, and strings of plastic fruit strung across their decks — gave way to the shore where the trailers sat amidst old tires and toilet bowl planters and plastic pink flamingos scavenged around the obligatory monument to trailer park tackiness…, a 1980s Buick on blocks.

Laundry waved in the breeze, frogs chirruped and I think I heard a Dukes of Hazzard episode coming through a cracked trailer house window as we idled past.

In Second Life, most residents prefer to do the things they either couldn’t, wouldn’t, or shouldn’t do in real life. While Avis live lifestyles of the rich and famous – their static megayachts rub the docks behind grand art deco mansions with infinity pools, hot tubs and waterfalls. Yet this opulence finds itself abandoned while its builders and owners dance themselves into oblivion — nights and days fading into a blur of sparkling bling and swirling ghostlights.

But there are neighborhoods in Second Life where the owners seem content to be at home, or at least share time between their abodes and the neighborhood clubs – never straying too far, or too long.

These neighborhoods are becoming a Second Life phenomenon — not because of their opulent good looks or old-world charm. Rentals here fill up fast and stay occupied for months at a time – seldom do they sit empty.

So… what is it about Second Life’s seedy trailer parks that suck people in and keep them there?

More southern charm surreptitiously seeped in through my pores.

“Did you start with trailer rentals first?” I asked.

Dina continued, “When we out grew the other club, we decided to purchase an island for more room for our members. Then we realized we needed a source of revenue to support the club, so I thought trailers would be perfect. You see, I’m from the wrong side of the tracks, I lived in a trailer park called Sleezywood. Kiff came up with the idea of houseboats and we can’t put out enough of them. Everything is full all the time.”

“We cut back on the trailers because the boats are so popular,” added Kiff.

In all There are 30 houseboats and about 13 trailers, but Kiff promises to have more houseboats available soon.

As we motored around a corner, I caught a glimpse of an open field strewn with refrigerators, junk cars, 55 gallon drums and cinderblocks.

“Kiff buys every piece of junk in Second Life,” explained Richardina. “He’s always dragging home more crap that he finds.”

Kiff just smiled. Just past the empty lot, we came upon a nice tiled dance floor and the unmistakable guitar mastery of Stevie Ray Vaughn.

“Our motivation was to have a club for our friends to dance in—-never to make money,” said Richardina.

“We wanted a whole community environment and the island gave us total control over that environment,” said Kiff, “No more huge ugly builds in our faces. Everything from griefing to script overload was under much more control. We bask in compliments about that aspect of JYB.”

But I was more interested in another aspect. The trailers. More specifically the people who lived in them. I mentioned this to Kiff and Dina and soon we were joined by Kiaraluna Frangilli and Deuce Devin both residents of the Junkyard. Deuce lives in a houseboat on the water and Kiaraluna lives in a trailer that faces the water and the edge of the sim.

Deuce Devin is the proud owner of one of Junkyard Blues’ coveted houseboats

Looking for Answers

So with this panel of trailer park experts at my disposal I said, “Second Life is ordinarily a way for people to live RL dreams. What do you make of the popularity of the trailerparks and run-down houseboats in second life?”

Dina spoke first, “So many people tell us they grew up in a place just like this.”

Kiff was less philosophical, saying, “Hmm… Haven’t thought of it from that angle. I’m not sure how much of it is specifically the theme and how much is because it feels so real and the club draws us all together. But people do tell us they feel at home here immediately.”

“And foreigners are entranced with the charm of an American coastal town,” said Richardina.

As we rounded the last trailer along the green waterway and headed back toward the fuel dock, Kiff elaborated on how the theme is maintained.

“For the sims there is a land covenant,” he said as he secured the boat and I eagerly leapt onto the solid looking dock. “But for the marina and trailer park it’s a bit looser. We stress the theme and people pretty much know what looks goofy in it and what looks okay.”

Duece offered his take, “For the short answer, its Kiff and Dina that make it different. Their passion for this place knows no bounds. But if you did not know them. It would be the laid-back atmosphere — the people that this place attracts.”

Definetly it’s the people you meet here,” said Kiaraluna. “That is key. Second, I just love the way the sim looks. The trailers, the houseboats…”

the docks – near the junkyard

I’ve been here a few months,” said Deuce. “I gave up a large house to be here. I have a house boat. You just feel at home here. Like, Kiff and Dina allow you to act as if its yours.” He grinned reflectin on something… “I had friend in the service. I went home with him for a long weekend in RL. I swear, this was his place. It’s amazing. It was weekend of nothing but tables of food you would expect here. Cajun blues and this setting.

“And I love how I can just sit at the trailer and listen to awesome music at night,” said Kiaraluna who volunteers at the club at night.

“The entire staff at the club volunteers,” said Kiff. “They make the club what it is. And they participate in sim fundraisers like lingerie fashion show and kissathons.”

Kiff and Dina are proud to say that there is no camping, or sploders or games at the club, just good friends enjoying each other’s company.

There are live performances at times by actual residents of the marina and trailer park and all the free crawfish your avi can eat.

Kiff had just added four full ocean sims around the marina to give group members more space to sail their own boats.

And with that and the feeing that I had just made several lifelong SL friends, I thanked them all, untied Sky Chaser and sailed off in search of another profundity.

Junkyard Blues — (85,155,21)

6 Responses to “Downhome Junk Yard Blues”

  1. Genia Wood

    Feb 12th, 2008

    Junk Yard Blues is the result of two remarkable people, Dina and Kiff, who provide a unique atmosphere for real people who love THE BLUES and unpretentious surroundings. I don’t know of any other club in Second Life whose owners put so much love and effort into their clients’ comfort and entertainment. It’s THE BEST!

  2. Prokofy Neva

    Feb 12th, 2008

    This looks great, can’t wait to visit.

    But the Herald reminds me of this video:

    And this is the part where the guy in glasses goes, “This chart reminds me of this summer camp we used to go to…”

  3. Razrcut Brooks

    Feb 12th, 2008

    Great article. Private Estates in SL during Spring/Summer of 2007 increased exponentially, yet sadly many were very un-original. Haven’t we all become tired of seeing the typical square islands with tiny canals seaparating these grid-like ghetto paradises? Junkyard Blues at least has some character from what I can tell-like an old football or a favorite pair of jeans . Estate owners need to try to connect with people in a comfortable way that welcomes you. This place seems to do it.

    Different subject: Just curious, to all of those that have a virtual home in SL..what do you do there? Here are my observations from my own experiences with owning a “home” in SL :

    1) The first several weeks are great. I spent alot of time and energy buying/building/landscaping.
    2) I would invite friends over to see my home and creations.
    3) I would use the platform in the sky to build.
    4) I would camera all around the sim and watch others as they build, landscaped, and had sex.
    5) I would rez/unrez/rez/unrez/rez/unrez different homes every few weeks.
    6) I had rooms full of furniture that rarely were used.
    7) I would terraform the land. I would revert the land back. 8) I would create meditation areas and gardens which myself and nobody else ever used…
    9) I would take pics of my land and home thinking the images were somehow important to others.
    10)I would buy various weapons and subtlely use them from afar when newbies would walk around
    the place as if they owned it.

    All in all, number 10 was the most fun. My point is, that for me at least..and others if they are honest…SL homes become more about finding ways to kill boredom and showing off. I am not saying that boredom is a bad thing. In fact-there is something very Zen about focusing for long periods of time on a project. Example: Once I spent a few hours trying to build the tiniest cube I could.
    As you can see, for me, I have mixed feelings about owning a home in SL…what about the rest of you? Is it worth the tier?

  4. Just Me

    Feb 13th, 2008

    I’ve been in Sl for over a year .. have a free account and have never owned a home or rented / bought land .

    What is an SL home for? About the only two purposes I can think of are for parties with your friends and a sort of private (but not really as we all know) place to have virtual sex.

    Since there are so many clubs to party in, and it’s fairly easy to find a place to have sex (you can rezz a skybox somewhere you can rezz .. and there are a lot of places, and raise it to 700 meters, for example .. and have roughly the same privacy), I see no reason for land ownership or a home in SL.

  5. Kaos Usbourne

    Feb 18th, 2008

    Thanks for the comments… The best I have been able to gather.. a home in SL serves as an extention of one’s avi/self. Most Avi’s are as into decorating their homes as they are decorating themselves. Many rent for a couple weeks, spend all that time decorating, then let it all go in favor of another pad to re-decorate.

  6. ArorA Chadbourne

    Feb 25th, 2008

    The Junkyard is the best place on SL for forming great friendships and listening to music…live and DJ provided. I’ve been going there for well over a year now and it’s my favorite place. I did my first SL concert there and always have SO many people show up when I perform at the JY Beach Club…it’s wild! Great friends…great music…awesome owners…You just can’t help but have a great time at the Junkyard!

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