Re: Armstrong's collection
[06 November 1997]

Well, now that I have been publicly exposed, I suppose a response is
warranted, so here goes.

From: (gerry armstrong)
Newsgroups: alt.religion.scientology
Subject: Re: Armstrong's collection
Date: 6 November 1997
Organization: Rapidnet Technologies Internet

On Tue, 28 Oct 1997 07:20:53 +0100, (Jens
Tingleff) wrote:

>In article <>,
>(Tilman Hausherr) wrote:
>> (This info from before the conference)
>> Gerry Armstrong is collecting packages of all the food he is eating, and
>> has done this for many years. He takes them home, cleans them, and
>> collects them. His plan is that some day he will put it all on the grass
>> arranged in a symbol, then get up in a balloon and fotograph it, then
>> sell posters of the foto, with one "object" attached.

>He used to live in San Fran, didn't he? Say no More... Actually, I like the
>idea, I just hope he doesn't take it as seriously as the buyers ;-) ;-) ;-)

Well, now that I have been publicly exposed, I suppose a response is
warranted, so here goes.

I didn't live in SF, but in Sleepy Hollow and then San Anselmo, both
in Marin County, north of and across the Golden Gate Bridge from the
City. Having admitted to living in Marin, however, as you say, "Say no
more," could also be said, or probably even go without saying.

I do take it very seriously, in part because it has been so much
effort and trouble; and in part because it's so painfully hilarious.
Steve Whitlatch, who, unhappily for me at least, has disappeared from
ars, and who should, I would vote, be enticed back, perhaps with
promises of our better behavior, has seen my Marin trash mountain, and
can attest to its majesty.

>> In his bankruptcy case he had to list his assets, and also listed this
>> collection. Scientology wanted to get it (although it has no actual $$
>> value currently)! To explain his point of view, he then took all these
>> "objects" in huge bags inside the court to show the judge.
>> Scientology lost and got nothing.

> Jens

I started this project in early 1987 shortly after the December, 1986
so-called settlement with my former cult, thinking then that I had the
time, space, locational stability and peace to undertake such a

I call it my Consumed Consumables Container Collection (R), and the
final product a "Consumer's Mandala."(R) Americans are known
everywhere as notorious consumers, and this project contains an
underlying message of consummate consumerism.

So, within reason and reasonable logistics, every bottle, box,
wrapper, tube, bag, dispenser, can and carton of whatever I have
consumed, and some of the cups, utensils and other stuff related to my
almost all-consuming consumption, I have saved and stored. I clean
each object, as Tilman notes; then I sign it, which takes a little
time because my signature takes a little time, and I usually date it
and indicate where and the commensals with whom its contents were

I have something over 400 boxes of this stuff, all clean and carefully
packed, and I have acquired a commensurate appreciation for the art
and technology of the packaging industry. I believe that the various
companies represented in the collection, which probably favors
breweries and bread makers more than confectioners and caviar canners,
may want to participate in the project to promote their products.

Scientology sued me in the bankruptcy court, as Tilman mentioned,
seeking to prevent me from discharging my $630,000+ "debt" to the cult
resulting from the illegal judgment against me in the California State
Court enforcing the illegal "settlement agreement." Basing its case in
the US Bankruptcy Court on bogus charges, the organization sought to
seize my art, comprising my container collection, as well as my other
assets, including some intellectual properties, particularly my
formula for the Unified Field.

The cult made a lot of noise in the bankruptcy court about my
statements in other legal contexts that my art, including the
containers, has considerable commercial value. I argued that although
it has such value to me, it couldn't have any commercial value to the
cult. Was Scientology, after all, going to have its people lay out my
trash on a big lawn in Napa County, rent a hot air balloon, go up in
the air and photograph the stuff, create a poster, and market and sell
the poster and the trash? Would they really do that for Gerry
Armstrong, whom they vilify as a psychotic criminal? Imagine the ads
in "Source" and "Impact:" "Get your Gerry Armstrong (TM) Special OT
Junk Poster (C) NOW. Prices go up 10% next month."

So I took four big boxes (not bags as Tilman says) of these things to
my trial in the bankruptcy case in February, 1996. Initially I ticked
off the bankruptcy court judge because I was late, and he started the
trial without me. My lateness was caused by a long delay getting these
boxes of bottles, cans and other junk through the courtroom metal
detector. I had to open the boxes and let the courthouse security
people, in somewhat wild-eyed disbelief, paw through everything.

But after a one day trial the judge issued a decision in my favor, my
"debt" to the cult was discharged, and I got to keep my trash. For the
ARSCC Historical Research Department Investigators, the file is:
Scientology v. Armstrong, US Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of
California (Santa Rosa), Case No. 95-10911 aj. 99 South E Street,
Santa Rosa, CA 95404. Alan Jaroslovsky, Judge. Check it out.

My container collecting has gone on longer than many times along the
way I had thought it would or wanted it to. I have thought on many
occasions that it was time, always perhaps next spring, to complete
the project. But Scientology has shown that it will attack and attempt
to destroy almost everything I am involved in, so I have delayed the
commercial culmination and presentation of the project until the
cult's attacks end forever. In the meantime I eat, drink and collect;
and some day I will stop.

I just brought back some very cool containers from Germany: beer
bottles and coasters, wine bottles, mineral water bottles, etc., and
all the miniature salad dressing and cream containers, plastic wine
cups, wrappers, stir sticks and other valuable stuff from the
Lufthansa flights. I also have some extraordinary eisbein bones, which
I was able, only by unwitting forgetfulness, to get through Canadian
Customs. Although they are not technically containers they are so
closely related to a wonderful meal I consumed in Berlin and so
aesthetically pleasing I will give them a special place in the

All this is really related to the environmental side of my life, and
offtopic on ars had Scientology's attempt to seize the collection not
made it ontopic. I am also the founder of the Runners Against Trash
(RAT) (R), for which Rodale Press gave me its Golden Shoe Award (see
Runners World magazine of February, 1995), and the Organization of
United Renunciants (OUR) (R), which I see Tilman also mentioned in
another post. I will explain this activity shortly.

But the container collection is also fiscally serious because
everything I consume, the containers being art, is tax deductible. The
more and better I eat, the larger my deductions. Since I don't have
much actual capacity, as opposed, for example, to Big Bad Ron (R), I
pad my deductables by running a lot so I can consume more. In America,
at least, road races are also an amazing source of snack food bags and
wrappers and other containers. On the other hand, being, as much as is
practical at this time, a renunciant, and having little desire for
monetary wealth, I do not obtain tremendous tax advantages from this
concept. If a very wealthy person, Bill Gates for example, were to
save as art all the containers of everything he consumed, he really
could significantly reduce his tax load. Bill would also probably have
way more caviar tins in his collection.


Copyright © Gerry Armstrong - All Rights Reserved.