SunRay Kelley in New York Times

The Times did a huge article on SunRay today, almost two full color pages (here). Article by Michael Tortorello, Check the slide show, photos by Randy Harris. SunRay is one of the featured buiders in Builders of the Pacific Coast; we did 26 pages on him in 2008. I got interviewed extensively for this article.

“Give a man a couple of acres and a week in the woods, and he’ll start to plan his castle.

It is an unusual soul, however, who proceeds to build 7 houses, 10 ponds, a hermit’s hut, a 17-foot-tall maple-wood Jesus and a yoga studio whose sculptured pink doorway resembles (with frank anatomical accuracy) the female genitalia.

   The lord of this manor is a 60-year-old barefoot maverick named SunRay Kelley. And his fantastical hand-hewn compound lies at the end of a dirt road that bears his grandfather’s name, in the foothills of the Cascade Range, north of Seattle.

The best way to discover SunRay Kelley’s work (picture a hippie Taliesin) is to make a pilgrimage.

   One repeat visitor is the writer and founder of’Shelter Publications, Lloyd Kahn, whose definitive book on 1970s vernacular architecture, Shelter, is a touchstone for Mr. Kelley’s style.

“It was kind of an odyssey,” Mr. Kahn said in a phone call from his own D.I.Y. home in Bolinas, Calif. “He’s really an artist. He doesn’t deal with the details of the real world all that engagingly.…’ ” (In the interview, I’m sure I said something like “realistically,” not …”engagingly.”)

8 Responses to SunRay Kelley in New York Times

  1. Thanks for the heads-up this, Lloyd. SunRay is always good copy.

  2. Hmmm. Reading the article, I'm struck by the same-old "Look what this weirdo is doing" mentality that so much of the mainstream coverage of alternative lifestyle is filled with. Most, if not all of these media outlets are simply looking for semi-sensational oddities to help them sell themselves with free content provided by you and me.

    So many of these articles/videos are written from the perspective of exception rather than acceptance. Would Sun Ray's medical problem have been half as interesting if it had been the result of a birth defect rather then a construction accident? Oh, and BTW, NYT – self-medication is now a legal activity in Washington State. Why was it even necessary to mention it? Repeatedly?

    Myself, I've stopped cooperating with media shills who come calling looking for free program content. The first thing I ask is: "How much am I going to be paid for helping you write/film this?". That usually stops the dialog cold right there. My lifestyle isn't a freak show for them to exhibit to straight middle-america.

    Lloyd, if this article, and others like it help you sell books, all the better for you, your heart is in the right place, but please keep in mind that the interviewers aren't doing it because they appreciate the craft or the spirituality of the act, they are doing it to sell advertising. Ask for some editorial control of the resulting product and see what their reaction is (probably not good).

    Oh, and for those of you who wish to avoid the NYT paywall, simply set your web browser up to automatically delete cookies upon closing. You'll be able to read to your heart's content AND all of that invasive tracking information that they and all of the other web sites put on your computer will vanish as well. Turning off Javascript and only enabling it on a case-by-case basis is also a good way to protect your privacy.

  3. Lloyd Kahn says:

    Mr Sharkey,
    People who do unique work like others to know about it. SunRay talked to the Times guy and now millions of people have seen his work and that's a good thing.
    So what if there a few snarks? East coasters have built-in snarks about us west coasters.
    The interviewers do these pieces because they are writers, not media shills. Reporters.
    So what if it sells ads? The NYT is one of the best newspapers in the world, and without ads, they would not exist. And sure, I want to sell books, it's how we exist, and how we're able to keep publishing. I'll talk to the NYT anytime they want to. I'll take my chances. (And you don't ask a journalist for editorial control.—ridiculous.)
    Focus on the half full glass here.

  4. Lloyd Kahn says:

    Ryan, Thanks for the URL. I'd forgotten to post it. I subscribe to the NYT and I need to remember to use a way in for non-subscribers.

  5. bayrider says:

    I thought the part about self-medicating was tasteful and added color to the story. If Ken Kesey was writing this story I doubt he would have omitted that detail or done a better job of incorporating it. And let's face it, SunRay definitely IS a 'weirdo' from the perspective of mainstream America. He's a classic eccentric with an outsider's vision. Hell, for that matter so is Lloyd. That's why these guys are so interesting and worth writing about, nothing disrespectful about that.

    But you're right that the NYT typically writes the story you would expect from them. I thought they did alright by SunRay, it's the crap that they write all serious like with a straight face that you really need to question.

    That's why I love these blogs. The last two years of reading blogs has exposed me to more useful and life changing ideas than a lifetime of the MSM.

  6. I guess the bottom line is that militancy doesn't sell newspapers (or books)

  7. bayrider says:

    The bottom line (an expression directly rooted in the for-profit business world) is that we are all selling something. And also buying, except when we can defeat those cookies and pirate it.

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