Here's one of two stories I sent to papers about alternatives to Tuesday's "State of the Union" speech. The other, on a "The Haves and Have Nots" actress, is in the blog above this one:
By MIKE HUGHES
The task is basic – take cabin-building to new extremes.
Tackling this on “Building Wild” are opposites.
Pat “Tuffy” Bakaitis knows cabins; he has five of his own.
One is just to visit with his family; another is for what he calls his “happy
hour” crew. “It just gets trashed every Friday night,” he said.
Paul DiMeo knew little about the cabin world. “It’s a
lifestyle that a part of me longs for,” he said.
Now he’s getting a crash course in it. When “Extreme
Makeover: Home Edition” ended, DiMeo linked with Bakaitis to form Cabin Kings,
in Upstate New York. Often using found material and volunteer labor, they bring
offbeat designs to off-the-road settings.
Now they have a reality show that could get a boost this
week, when it runs against the State of the Union address. What people may
notice first is the byplay between these Kings.
Bakaitis calls DiMeo a “city slicker,” given to exotic
notions instead of practical ones. That included the time he insisted on using
horses for an uphill haul. “My grandfather worked with horses and the horses
went out with the Indians,” Bakaitis said. “We’ve got excavators now.”
And to DiMeo, this is a chance to expand his world. He’s
Unusual clients. “We have everyone from Navy
SEALs to dairy farmers to a school teacher to an old veterinarian who also is a
Odd ideas. One week, a portable outhouse slid
along a track; this week, there’s a rotating cabin.
And a different lifestyle.
DiMeo’s life has been in Philadelphia, New York and Los
Angeles (where, he says, he owns “70 square feet of land”). He has to admire
the flip side.
Bakaitis, DiMeo said, “has 350 acres and there are just
animals running around and it’s just a world of beauty.” Settings like that
bring a communal notion to building the cabins and enjoying them.
“Having … everyone come together to make this happen,” DiMeo
said, “there’s a great deal of camaraderie.” That continues afterward, in long
weekends of talk, drink and gentle sunsets.
“Building Wild,” 9 p.m. Tuesdays, National
Geographic. The Jan. 28 episode could get an extra audience, in the Eastern and
Central zones it goes against the State of the Union address.