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Photograph by Eric Carlson

Notes From the Underbelly

Holy City--Pop. 1

By Eric A. Carlson

"Mother cries out."

--Translation of English crop circle by Hopi shamans

HOLY CITY, an honest-to-God incorporated town just south of Los Gatos on Old Santa Cruz Highway, has a population of 1 by day and 0 by night. And that would be Tom Stanton. Tom toils by day in the unthriving metropolis of Holy City at his place of business--Holy City Art Glass. He retreats at night to his home on Summit Road--up yonder. Holy City Art Glass is the only business in town; the only building in town. The structure was once the Holy City Post Office, in the days when the city was populated by more than Tom.

I arrived on a brutish Honda 919 motorcycle, and opened the door to Art Glass. Tom was on the phone but beckoned me in. When I told him I wanted to do a story for Metro he was enthusiastic: "Oh good, I like the Metro because I'm a conspiracy theorist." I had to suppress myself from hugging Tom when I heard this; quotable folk are few and far between. Tom spends considerable time unraveling the mysteries of the universe and fathoming conspiracies, but he is a master glass artist by trade and the evidence fills Art Glass in gaudy profusion. The most amazing glass pumpkins lay at my feet. Not kitsch or glass-by-numbers, but unique items of intense beauty. I reckon one must travel upon an almost-abandoned highway into a mountain forest to find good art these days.

A stained window of green glass and geometric shapes caught my eye. "The design is of a crop circle in England," Tom said. Now I know some people are dubious about the origin of crop circles; skeptics, for instance, maintain that evil pranksters armed with boards mash crops out in the dead of night. That is a red herring, I suspect. Tom related the tale of some retired British Intelligence officers who struggled to decipher the designs. They took the images to Sumerian mystics, cryptologists, psychics and distinguished New Agers. No luck. Finally, they showed the pictures to some Hopi elders. The elders examined the designs and began to weep. When asked about the meaning of the circles, an elder replied, "It says, 'Mother cries out.'" A hurting Mother Earth makes more sense than pranksters.

Aliens are also very much on Tom's mind. He hasn't seen any critters himself, but he knows of those who have. And he is saddened by the 1947 Roswell, N.M., coverup which has deprived mankind of the possible benefits of other beings. "The truth will never be revealed to the public," he solemnly mused. Tom speculates the coverup took place because the advanced science and alternate concept of God offered by the aliens would undermine those in power on our planet--especially those involved in the business of war, medicine and religion.

Tom took me on a short walk behind Art Glass, through an overgrown field where grass engulfed two yellow tractors. We waded through 8-foot-tall shoots to a small grove of redwood trees. A circle of dirt was surrounded by a perfect circle of immense redwoods. At first I thought the trees had been planted in that pattern--by whom?--but Tom explained that they were once saplings, and that a parent tree had been in the center, and had long since fallen. The circle of trees occurred naturally. At the edge of the grove a shrine is set up with pictures of the Virgin Mary, St. Francis of Assisi and photos of little girls who have been kidnapped. Tom told me that nuns visit and maintain the niche, and pray for the girls.

Holy City was incorporated in 1919, the brainchild of visionary charlatan William E. Riker. The town was inhabited by William and his loyal disciples, some of who remained into the 1950s. A sign once stood on the edge of Santa Cruz Highway proclaiming, "William E. Riker, the only man who can save California from going plum to hell." Another sign read, "See Us if You are Contemplating Marriage, Suicide, or Crime." William was, in fact, a white supremacist and con artist. Tom Stanton, on the other hand, is an artist, and a proper caretaker of a town that isn't there.

Final Note: Holy City Art Glass--408.353.4426

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From the August 15-21, 2002 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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