For The Collective Quarterly.
We showed up to the busted town of Ballarat, population 1. A laissez-faire sign greets visitors: “THIS IS A FREE ZONE TAKE ANY KIND OF PHOTOS YOU WANT. CAMP PARTY MAKE MOVIES ETC NO HARM NOBODY CARES. LEARN NOTHEN SETTING IN YOUR CAR.”
The place has one unofficial resident: its caretaker, Rocky Novak. He grew up mining for gold in Surprise Canyon with his father, strategically setting out nail strips to deter curious off-roaders from discovering their cache.
We drank a lot of moonshine on Rocky's front porch. His buddy, moonshine Robby, told grim and sobering stories from Veitnam while watching US fighter jets illegally practicing strafing runs over private homes and property, all a backdrop to Charles Manson's busted pickup truck sitting on the front "lawn."
“I’ll be making moonshine until the day I die,” he says, addressing the feds in defiance. “If you’re gonna put me in jail, let’s get fuckin’ busy and quit talkin’. Listen, cocksucker, I was sittin’ on a barstool when you drafted me, and I’m still sittin’ on one.”
So, yeah: Robbie is mad at the government. And he has no intention of paying taxes or accepting its assistance
Such is Ballarat.