The funny things that happen to an artist... I can not make this stuff up!
Everyday on my drive into Memphis, I pass a wonderful wrecking yard just off the interstate. Not only are there a lot of great smashed up cars but there are GOATS! Every now and then I see the owner chasing an escapee across the street. Words can not describe the feeling of joy I get every time I see such an event. Not that I’m laughing, anyone would have to admit that such a scene is pretty interesting, if not comical.
I have wanted to photograph the old cars for some time now and a few days ago I decided to make a go of it. I thought I’d be extra lucky if I could manage to capture one of those goats playing king of the hill with an old car.
Here is the story:
I knock on the door of the house/business about 9 a.m. and a little elderly lady answers in her night gown. When I tell her that I want to take photographs of the towed away vehicles she laughs so hard that I don’t know what to say. I think I managed something like: “I know that it is odd but I am an artist and we tend to do strange things.” I still have to work at convincing her that I am not some reporter from Memphis but I manage to get her permission to enter the property to shoot the old cars, trucks, and possibly a goat or two. Just as I head off an older gentleman comes out of the house and looks at me very strangely… I smile and just keep walking with my camera.
Within five minutes I’ve committed homicide on approximately 23 mosquitoes and just as I’m about to assassinate the 24th here comes the old guy in his golf cart. I can tell that he wants to chat (this is actually one of my favorite parts of visiting new places to photograph – I love to meet interesting people and they always have fantastic stories). I smile and walk up to him and within a minute he is explaining that these are no ordinary goats; they are racing goats. (Yes, he actually races the same goats that I have seen him chasing down the street!) He pulls a photo album out from under his seat and shows me photo after photo of his prize winning goats at “Goat Day” in Millington. The album is complete with pictures of ribbons and trophies topped with gold plated goats.
The event consists of handmade carts tethered to goats. The owner or handler then kneels in the cart and the goat pulls owner in cart in a race to a predetermined finish line (although he admits that the goats do not always run forward. Sometimes they run backward or decide to jump over hay bales). The prize is $1,000 and he has won twice – he says they call him “The Goat Man.” The nice Goat Man then shows me a photo of one goat that he is particularly proud of and tells me that he has named the goat “Bad News” because “Bad News Travels Fast.”