3/26/2010-- Hello everyone. If you are a stranger to me, and here on this site, you probably just want to know about the PBS show Colonial House. When the show first aired, I started getting so many questions I decided to start a website to kind of answer them all at once and to share some of the thoughts I had immediately after returning. It was a hideous looking site, so I am in the process of abandoning it. I have copied the relevant pages and posted them below. Please forgive the bizarre formatting. It was originally built in Yahoo Sitebuilder, which....don't get me started....
From around April 2005:
COLONIAL HOUSE FAQ
After the show aired all the participants were bombarded by questions. After a while I
thought it would be easier to start a Yahoo Group where I could answer them in a public
forum and maybe not have to answer the same ones over and over. It did fix the repetition
problem, but it also opened up the floor to hundreds of people, which was an overwhelming
surprise! As the show goes into reruns and airs in the UK, I figure some of these questions
may come up again, so here they are: (It may take a while to get them all up, there are over
2,300 posts on that forum. Also, please remember that the answers I gave were my feelings
at the time, based on the information I had at the time. I have a better understanding now of
certain incidents and the motivations of the folks involved, but thats not as fun to read...)
THANK YOU SO MUCH, ALL WHO POSTED THESE QUESTIONS!
Q: My ...question is…has there been hard
feelings among participants since you have all now
heard what others were saying during the project and
in interviews since then? I can't help but feel sorry
for a few that obviously didn't endear themselves to
the majority of the group
A: I don't know for sure, Dan. If there is anything along those lines,
I think it would be between Jonathan and the Heinz's, as they didn't
seem to play very straight with each other. On the other hand, I
think they each expected as much from the other. With everyone
jammed together in such a small space for such a long time, any
problems you had with people generally came out in the open pretty
darn quick. I think Dom was a bit taken aback by something I say in
tonight’s episode on diary cam. But it was nothing I had not said to
him in person. In fact we are still very good friends despite having
so many points on which we are exactly opposite. He is in NYC to
watch the series and we've been hanging out, getting into some of the
same arguments! It's much funnier now though.
It would be hard to hide anything about yourself in that environment
for that length of time, so I don't think anyone on the Colony is too
surprised by the revelations others have made. I think some of the
people MAKING the revelations might be a bit surprised by how they
are being perceived by the audience (as evidenced by their
vilification on message boards, etc.)
Q: You said during one of the shows that you'd basically signed up
as a joke – is that really true? Why'd you decide to go through
A: Like probably anyone at any given point in time, leaving certain
parts of my life behind certainly seemed attractive, though I knew
they would all be there when I got back. Unfortunately, we weren't
allowed to choose which things to leave and which to keep. Also,
most people in NYC are desperate to do anything to get the heck out
of here for the summer!
I did indeed sign up as a joke, and actually turned the show down at
one point. Lucky for me, Sallie Clement met with me and talked me
into it. She made it sound much harder than anyone else had, and for
some reason that made get all competitive about it, like "Oh yeah?
Well I'll show you. Sign me up for that!"
Q:I wondered how your experience changed your work and personal life
– did it change your perspective on any of it? Perhaps it led to some
changes in your career or personal life?
A: I definitely feel like it has changed my perspective on life and
work. One of the things that is hard is to keep those lessons alive
in my behavior and attitude. When I first got off the colony I was
astonished at how much trash it was possible for one man to produce
in a day and was really good about refilling things..., the whole
recycling trip. Trying to keep from falling completely back in to
buy-use-toss mode is hard. Same with attitudes about people and ways
of dealing with them. Trying to stay in a kind of "High Forgiveness"
mode is pretty damn hard while you're commuting through a big city.
Or anywhere, I suppose. It is so easy just to avoid people and
issues that are difficult, leaving you walking around with all these
unresolved petty conflicts. (begin lighting incense and listening to
Q:I'm interested to know about the behind the scenes stuff. For
instance, was there someone there with the colonists (on a 24/7 basis)
(besides the producers/crew) who was a yes/no person. Like, "yes you
can do this" or "no this isn't part of the period?" Almost like a
baby-sitter (for lack of a better word). Or, did you guys have just
an intense cram session before going to the colony and then have to
wing it on your own?
A: We were filmed, at the beginning, 12 hours a day, 4 days a week.
That went up to 5 or 6 days toward the end. The production team was our babysitter
and they were in constant contact with experts in Plimoth Plantation as well as
around the country and even the UK. We trained for two weeks at Plimoth Plantation
in Plymouth, MA. It was definitely intense.
The women made most of the meals. We freemen made breakfast for
ourselves as well as the other meals one or two days a week. It
changed a lot during the show, as you can probably tell. When Claire
showed up, she and Bethany volunteered to cook for us (and get out of
the crowded kitchen at the Governors House). That was heaven. It
really made a difference being out at work and knowing that there was
someone in your house looking out for you and your stomach. It was
very humbling and motivating, knowing they were working so hard on
our behalf in a house with no hearth. It was basically like living
inside a Weber Grill. It's too bad they never showed that.
Everyone bathed according to their own schedule. I jumped in the
ocean about once a week. Dominick went every day. We would wipe
ourselves down with wet cloths for the day-to-day stuff.
We originally used licorice branches to brush our teeth, which worked
pretty well. Soot or something started to collect in the tiny cracks
in our teeth,however, slowly turning our teeth black. When the
production team couldn't be sure-after talking to dentists-if it
would be permanent, we were given toothbrushes.
The ubiquity of advertising was one of the biggest shocks upon
Q: ...and where did those axe heads come from, did someone forge them or were
they supplied? No hunting allowed (?) - were the bows for show, or were you just not
allowed to have guns in case you missed and took out a fellow colonist?
A: The axe heads were forged in England. Not just for us, they were
bought by production. We didn't have a blacksmith, which was a
bummer. After we got talking to each other, we realized that almost
every man on the project had asked to be the blacksmith when they
were cast. We did have a bunch of stuff made for us by the
blacksmiths at Plimoth.
We did hunt with the bows, without much luck. Insurance was an issue
with guns, but they brought a guy in and we did get to do a couple of
hunting days with muskets. Not everyone went, and I was not in on
those trips. I was afraid I'd get a good opportunity, in which case
you either screw up and miss, or kill something, neither of which
sounded too appealing. The gun expert told us our bows were much
more accurate than a musket anyway.
John Vorhees did shoot a porcupine with a bow and we ate that, but
there was very little meat on it, in the end.
Q: My question/comment is about those in the colony who didn't really
work. Forgive my wording here - I am trying to keep an open mind and
not sound contemptuous about the situation. When Jeff Wyers was
governor he was frequently seen doing hard labor (along with his
other duties) with you, Dominic, Danny, etc. When the Wyer family
left and Donald Heinz was named governor, he basically stood around
in his red gnome pants, drank wine and waxed philosophical. But it
just wasn't while he was governor. The entire series only showed him
trying to chop firewood once. Why did he have immunity from any of
the daily duties of keeping the colony running? (If age was an issue,
I am certain there were many other smaller tasks he could have
occupied.) Was this an accurate portrayal of Heinz? Did he do
things that eventually were put on the cutting room floor or was he
just mainly fluffing about his house? I really don't mean to sound
critical about it, it just kind of bugs me to see everyone working so
hard and he's just standing around watching. If you have a free
moment, I would really love to hear the truth from someone who saw it
A: In fairness to Don Heinz, he had a bypass operation a year or two ago
and lets face it, was probably never a lumberjack wannabe. I will
say that once he was Governor and his name was on the line, he
suddenly found a few more ways to pitch in with light duty
(collecting wood chips, stacking wood, etc.) Wink.
Ya gotta love the Heinz's....
Q: Also, is it true that PBS provides a stipend to cover rent (basic
expenses?) during the months of the project?
A: We did receive a small stipend for the show. One of the reasons I
originally turned the show down was the fact that I was walking away
from some good carpentry jobs that summer. I think too the young
ones (Paul, Dom, Julia, Jonathan, etc.) the money thing was probably
not such a big deal, but the older folks (cough, cough) all took a
little hit, financially. It's the kind of experience you can't buy
for almost any amount of money, though.
Q: ...at the end of the project, was anything said about the Wyers'
participation that wasn't shown? I mean, did the final report to
the "Company" make any mention of Jeff's work as Governor and getting
the colony established and were any toasts made in his honor? I may
not like some of the man's political and/or religious views, but he
seemed like a really good leader for the group. Do you feel that the
colony got more accomplished under his leadership as compared to
Heinz? How about the others in the group, what were their feelings
A: Be assured that the Wyers were never forgotten and that many a toast
of appreciation was raised in Jeff's honor. He did a great job of
getting us through those first months and the fact he was so beloved
as a man after making such hated decisions shows you what kind of man
He and Hienz were both different, obviously, but both brought
strengths to bear on a very difficult job. Jeff was better with
people, Don was better at fighting the production company on our
behalf. In the end, it was the colony itself as a sort of organic
entity, that decided to turn things arouind and get moving. This
largely came from the new colonists, like Jeff and Craig, who are
sadly underrepresented in the finished product. Not to take anything
away from Jack, he worked like a trooper and brought a great attitude
to the colony, but the show kind of makes it seem like he came in and
kicked some tails and got things moving, which is a bit misleading.
If the colony hadn't decided to move in that direction prior to his
coming, he would have been doomed, because at that point we had been
there so long, and were so hardened, no boot in the world would have
been big enough to kick us into gear. Jack was/is a consumate
dealmaker, and was able to pull off a very difficult job, trying to
redirect Don Heinz and keep peace on the Council and Colony.
Q: ...did any of the cameramen become friends with the colonists during or after the
A: We did indeed become very good friends with the camera crew. There
was just one crew (the same that did Frontier House), which was key.
Because of that, they did become just like "another colonist" which
made us really comfortable. Also, they learned all of our routines
and how we worked , which allowed them to be right next to or behind
us and know just when to move to get out of our way as we turned or
got up. They were amazing and man, the place looks gorgeous. It's
kind of funny to see it and say to yourself "Man, our house didn't
look that nice when we were sitting in it."
Q: ...wouldn't the women have been used much more violently during that
period of time? I found some of the women as outspoken as though
they were on Oprah's tv show in 2004.
A: There are a lot of things you can't do on a show like this, and
asking people to leave their personalities at the door is one of
them. In fact they want the opposite. All I can say is that the
producers were well aware of who the women on the show were and how
they would act and react on the show. I am sure they could have
found families with overbearing men and quiet women, but really,
where's the fun in that?
Q: You were lucky enough to be able to bring him with you, were you able
or expected to 'provide' for him, bring dog food, flea & tick
protection, etc? I imagine the ticks and Lyme disease would have
been outrageous up there. I would have thought that dogs in colonial
times would have had to fend for themselves, or eat scraps, but food
was too precious and would have been reserved for the people. What
did Henry eat?
A: Henry had his heartworm and tick stuff with him. The policy for all
of the animals was that they were not there out of their own choice,
so they got the most modern care and feeding available. The dogs
were provided dog food, but ate almost none of it, as all the meat in
the colony came "off the bone", which left four and later five
household's worth of bones lying around every day. They were in
Q: What ship was it that transported the group to the colony? How long
were you all on board? The shallop had mast and leeboards, yet she always was
rowed while on camera. Did she have the ability to sail?
The colony was next to the Atlantic. Wasn't the water cold?
A: The ship we sailed there on is a replica of the Nina, which is, of
course, part of an earlier period in our history. I guess you can't
exactly shop for the exact historically accurate sailing ship...
The men were on the boat for about 20 hours, I guess and the women,
36 or so.
The water was 48 degrees. And yes, that is bone-chilling cold. You
can kind of see it in the reactions of people jumping in, though you
did get tougher about it as the summer went on. Especially when the
cameras are on, haha.
The shallop was indeed rigged for sail a few times, unfortunately,
the wind came straight down the very narrow inlet we were on and
tacking up and out was impossible, at least for a crew with our
experience: zero. As they became more and more desperate to get a
shot of us catching a fish, they loosened some of the insurance-
driven limits on where we could take the shallop, and we did get her
out into some more open water and sail her a couple of times. That
was alot of fun. I think they do show us breaking out the forsail to
help us row back. Usually, we were just rowing from one "maybe here"
fishing spot to the next. Not so fun.
Q: How did cooking work when it came to you, Danny and Dominic? Did you eat with
a different family each day or for each meal? Did the men
help out with the cooking and it just wasn't shown? Or did they not
really have the time?
A: How the Freemen were going to eat and where we did eat was a
constantly changing and controversial situation. There were endless
discussions on it. Eventually, when Claire showed up, she and Bethany
offered to cook for us full time, and that was amazing.
We did feed ourselves probably an average of twice a week, and every
breakfast. In general the men did not help cook. Cooking is a full,
and I mean FULL time job. Whoever is making the meal is not doing
anything else, so when all the work is physical, it makes sense to
break the labor down along gender lines, I guess. It was a real
partnership, I think.
Q: What and where did the camera crew eat? I always wondered how
the producers handled the fact that you have all these people around
with 21st century equipment, clothes, etc. Were they required to
keep their snacks and soda off the "set"? I could imagine it would
be hard to watch people eating their roast beef sandwiches while
you're eating salted fish that's had the maggots removed as best as
A: The camera crew ate regular food in a kind crude trailer-home/shed that served
as their headquarters, about 1/2 mile from the colony. They were required to keep all
that out of our vision, though ever once in a while when they were at a remote
location, you would see a PA bringing them plastic bags containing precious
Styrofoam food containers! Jealousy.
Q: It was an incredibly emotional scene when Bethany was reunited
with her father. Was it for everyone there as well? They seem like
an incredibly tight-knit, nice family. How is Bethany doing now? I
was very impressed with her. That was a hell of a thing for a 20
year old to have to deal with. How is Amy (the sister) doing with
her medical problem?
A: It was emotional seeing them reunited. And they are an incredible,
very tightly knit family. They all came up to visit me in my apartment a few months ago
and it was CH all over again, people spread out all over the floor. Bethany is doing
really well, going to school and all that young person stuff. Amy Wyers is doing really
well too, and her medical problems are pretty much behind her.
Q: Were people allowed to bring any necessary medication with them?
Or were people on necessary medication excluded from participation?
A: If you needed medication you could bring it, I guess. Anyone who was on any kept
it so quiet I wouldn't know. I seem to remember an asthma inhaler somewhere.
Q: Did you actually have fun on the show?
A: We had a great time a lot of the time, Kim. Once the sun went down
and we had to stop working, we just sat and talked, which was a great time. I think all
of us from the city were really glad to have an opportunity to live a more rural
existence for a while.
Q: You're a carpenter by trade, right, in the 21st century? What kind of carpentry work
do you do in your job, and how similar is it to what you did in the Colony? How
A: I do high-end renovation work in New York. Mostly coops and apartments on the
Upper East Side. I do finish work, some site supervision I guess, a little of everything,
depending on which contractor I'm working for and what they need. I think that just
having practice in the "building something" mindset was helpful, but the techniques
were very different in 1628, so I'm not sure that I had such a huge leg up on anyone
else as far as that's concerned. One of the big advantages I had was that my hands
were already calloused. After about a week, many of the guys had hands that were
Q: ...during the celebration at the end of the corn planting, two guys did cartwheels
over the bonfire. Was that you and Dom, or who were they?
A: Yes, that is me doing the very BAD cartwheel and Dom doing the
graceful one,(though I did have to hold him from falling back in the
Q: Please tell, what's the real poop on the Heinz family??
A: You probably get a pretty good look at what they were really like on the show, but
Don does have a certain self-deprecating humor that rears its head every once in a
while. He's a very funny guy, actually. Also, when you are right there with them, its
hard to get upset, because it's so outrageous, sometimes. Your ja just drops and
you laugh and walk away shaking your head. At least I do. I'm sure they felt the same
about some of the dreck that came out of my mouth.
Q: What's up with the horror movies? Any more in the making? And, is that really
you? Just curious......
A: Yes, that is really me. My friend Jim makes those movies and I help
him if he asks. They are really fun to do, even though I am not a horror movie fan. I
used to be in an underground theatre company in Boston with him way back in the
late 80's-early 90's and he gets us all back together to work on these. I know some
people have looked at that site and thought "Oh yeah, here's another guy trying to
jump start his acting career with a reality show" which I find hilarious when you
consider that this is PBS, and that it lasted 5 months in all, and that the most famous
reality TV star in my memory was Puck from Real World and he was able to parlay
that into what? "Rollerboys"? Or was it "Hackers 2"? No, I am actually a
carpenter who does like doing creative stuff as well. I guess that might be rare other
places, but you can't swing a cat at a job site here without hitting some guy with a
band or a few published poems or a stand up routine.
Those movies should be distributed, straight to video (woohoo!)
later this year.
Q: Dom, (Don) Heinz and Jonathon all seemed to have decided they were close
enough to the end that they didn't really have to do anything else. But even the ones
"sweating their balls off" were only trying to look good for the final evaluation. How
necessary was it really to build up this huge stack of fire wood a week before they
A: We would have needed a woodpile FAR larger to survive the winter.
There are etchings of villages in that time with a three story stack of wood in the
center of town that dwarfs all the buildings around it. We were trying to do what we
could to show that we at leastappreciated that fact.
Q: I'm sure during all those months there were highs and lows of the
project. Which were the best and worst? Would there be any that didn't make it in the
A: There were many highs and lows, as you say. When I heard that Jeff Wyers and
Don Heinz actually did think that I was trying to "rip the colony apart" by not attending
the religious part of the sabbath, and that the "D" for dissembler was given to me
quite seriously by "The Colony" and not just because they had to for the show and
Production, I suddenly felt very, very isolated up there in Maine with no way to talk to
friends and family. If you are out of the Colony up there, as a single person, you are
SO that was a low point. I think many of the high points were just the talks and
goofing around we did, laying in our beds, cold and wet and giggling like schoolgirls
at a slumber party because it was just so ridiculous...
Q: What happened to the Governor's daughter that forced them to "return" so
quickly? I do realize that this may be private information, so if you cannot answer it, I
A: I don't think they have said what it was, publicly, so I won't be the first, but I can tell
you that it is behind her and she is doing really well.
Q: I thought it was so strange to see the tables and foods and people
covered with flies and to not see any prevention- did no one try some kind of screen
or window covers at meal times? Was it too hot?
A: Actually, you get used to the flies, (kind of). The flies were so omnipresent that a
"mealtime" solution would 't have worked. The ceilings (or rather loft floors) in the
huts that had them were just black with flies in the morning.
Q: Did you guys try native plants and old remedies for simple problems like muscle
aches and headaches?
A: We did use native plants as a diarrhea cure which worked well and also for
aches, which worked okay, but thats something thats hard to
distinguish; how much is psychosomatic, etc.
Q: When did the production wrap? Last year? How long did it take you to get
adjusted to your life in NY after you left the colony? What are you doing now in your
life? What did your parents/family think about your participation in the show?
A: The production ended the first week of October, last year. I have still not really
adjusted to life back here, i don't think. Then again, I wasn't too darn adjusted too it
before I left! I am still doing carpentry in Manhattan and as far as my family and
friends, they have seen me do enough crazy projects to react with resigned humor to
just about anything.
Q: Why wasn't a privy of some kind built? Do you think the lack of and the close
tossing of night pots might have contributed to the fly problem?
A: Well, actually privies were not built for a long time after the period we were in.
Bizarre, huh? They just never felt the need. I think it worked in our favor, fly-wise,
because Heinzy was the only one depositing his offal nearby, everyone else had a
"spot" far from the village. (Often so far that you had to have an 'emergency' spot a
little closer if the peas didn't sit right.) There, got to use the word "offal", my work here
Q: How did everyone deal with the tedium? That lifestyle had to be quite an
adjustment coming from a world where there is a lot more mental involvement in
how most folks spend their time. Do you just get used to it after awhile?
A: In fact, I found the life anything but tedious. Boredom really seems to be a product
of modern life. In my not-so-humble opinion, those very, very few who occasionally
complained of boredom weren't pulling their weight at the time. A colony that size,
more of an encampment than a colony, would have been heel-bent-for survival dawn-
to-dusk. Those who craved a life of the mind would never have made the journey,
and having made it, certainly wouldn't have survived to ponder wistfully the next
Q: ...did you get many splinters whilst woodworking on the colony. If so, were there
tweezers or a first aid kit around.
A: You know what? I actually got far less splinters than I do in my regular job. I have
no idea why. We did have tweezers in the emergency first aid kit.
Q: Were there any injuries?
A: Yes, there were a few injuries. Giaccomo put a hatchet into his hand and needed
a few stitches.
Q: How was the beer/alcohol they gave you all to drink. And was it real to the period,
or something they just kegged up from a modern brewery? Or could you tell?
A: That beer could have been "Red White and Blue" (Anyone remember
that brand?) and we would have loved it. The first batch was pretty accurate,
historically, specially arranged from a microbrewer, but after that I believe it was
Q: What was it like living in (the Freeman House)? Since there was no chimney, did
the smoke really get to you? Or do you just get used to it?
A: The smoke in our house was probably one of the single most important aspects
of our life there, and it is a shame they never decided to
show it. You never get used to it, but you do get resigned to it. We spent a LOT of time
standing outside while smoke poured out our windows and door. Dave Verdecia the
fireman couldn't believe it. He said that at his work they would have to fill out medical
forms if they were forced to be in there even a few minutes. Funny, in a coughing sort
Q: What modern day luxury did you miss most while in the colony? Was it difficult
going back to the 21st century, especially after being away from it for all for so long?
A: The thing I missed most was the ability to share things or get support from friends
and family. I have found that since I've been back, a lot of things just are not as critical
to get to, TV shows and new XBox games being at the top of that list. I go out a lot
more though, now.
Q: Do let me begin by stating that you hold the honor of being the
only colonist that didn't irritate me to the point of nausea at anytime
during the show. Thank you for that.
On that score, at some point on Frontier House the Clune women
were found to be hiding make-up and shampoo, and other such modern
conveniences. Was there anyone on CH who had smuggled in similar
items? For example, the women's maintenance of fine and separate eyebrows and
Paul's lack of facial hair by the end of the project, while most other men had full
beards, suggests some colonists were operating under the influence of razors or
depilatories...Sorry to resort to asking something so teen magazine-ish, but all the
profound and interesting questions were posed already.
A: We were supplied with straight razors and some training in how to
use them. It is really just about my only regret of the project. I
decided to see how far my beard would grow, but I really wanted to
learn how to shave with one of those. As it was, Julia and Amy K did
all the shaving, it was just too hard and dangerous to do to
yourself. By the way, Paul cried when he was shaved, haha!
Q: What did you guys feed the pigs? You ended up with 13, right? We
raise pigs and they eat A LOT. Of course we go to the local feed store and pick up
their food, so what did the colonial piggies eat?
A: The pigs, as well as all the other animals, were fed up-to-the-minute diets, as
they didn't choose to be there. So, they got a Pig Mash thing, as well as all the sour
goats milk and what little table scraps were left.
Q: Where did you guys get fresh water? I'm assuming the inlet was a fresh water
source, or was there a creek nearby?
A: The production company could not find a place both remote and near a
fresh water source, so they dug us a well about 200 yards or so from the colony. The
water was great. Ice cold. We used to call it the "Coffee pump" because even without
any coffee, a few seconds under the ice cold water would wake you right up.
Q: Knowing what you do now, would you repeat the experience? Any other time
periods you'd like to travel back to?
A: Yes I would repeat it. I was a little bummed out when the show aired, but thats
behind me now and I can just look at it as an experience that was fantastic. I had no
control over the finished product, so I can't worry about it.
Q: What did the porcupine taste like? Oh, wait, let me guess...chicken.
A: The porcupine ended up in a stew, there was so little of it, but I
would say it tasted a lot beefier than chicken.
Q: In clips after one of the episodes they showed the women making sausages. Did
you butcher one of the pigs or was that left over lamb?
A: I think when they were making sausages, it was with the meat and
rice pudding that the Plimoth people brought when they came for the
big feast at the end.
Q: As I was watching, I found myself increasingly obsessed with the colonists' hair
growth. I know everyone's hair grows at different rates but did you all have access to
razors/scissors? It looked like Dom jumped b/w clean shaven and scruffy through
the whole experience. Or was that just the editing? And it didn't seem like John
Voorhees' hair grew at all.
A: We did have scissors as well as the razors as I described above, so
people did have different hair lengths. I think I am the only guy who just let it go the
whole time. I did trim my moustache to keep it out of my food, though i now hate
myself for not trying to grow a mini handlebar moustache.
COLONIAL HOUSE WRITINGS
People ask me all the time what it was like to be on Colonial
House and what it was like to come back to Modern Life. At this
point, a year and a half later, I guess I have begun to wonder
myself. I thought it might be a good idea to collect the things I
wrote about the experience just after I got back. What you see
below is generally from a private web board I started so Colonial
House participants could talk to each other about the experience
of being on the show and reentering the regular culture. Some of
it may seem disjointed, as I feel comfortable posting what I wrote
here, but not what others wrote with the assurance of privacy.
The Colonial House participants left Maine around October 5, 2003:
Tue Oct 7, 2003 11:44 am: Howdy all. I hope this will make it easier for all of us to keep track
of each other and how we are doing. If anyone has a better idea, let me know, I would be way
up for it. Thanks, Don
Sat Oct 11, 2003 12:33 pm: Well, well, well...Vorhees...I suppose it was only a matter of time
until the rapscallions of the world found their way here...Thanks for emailing more people, I am
really hoping we can get all the colonists on here. When I started it I figured it would be just the
colonists, but maybe after more folks get on we can open it up. Or we could start a separate
group for all comers. I feel like it would be nice for a while to have a place where the insularity
of the experience remains preserved. At least until it doesn't feel like we are all visitors to a new
and strange planet. That said, I'm flexible. Go Red Sox. Red Sox vs. Cubs...now thats baseball.
If you want to hear some really bad Heavy Metal. Try looking up Manowar on amazon and
listen to a few samples ("crown and the ring is good", not to mention "Return of the Warlords"). I
have their "best of" album, and it is hilarious, if nearly unlistenable.
Sun Oct 12, 2003 11:35 pm: Man, it is fan-f'ing-tastic to see more and more people on here. I
had a huge near-breakdown today as I walked to my weekly football game. I borrowed an Oasis
CD from the friends I am staying with,and hearing the actual songs that Paul was...lets
graciously call it "singing"...threw me for a huge loop. I suddenly missed him and everything so
much, I had to just stop walking and pull everything together. ...spoke to Jeff Wyers tonight on
the phone, which was cool. We talked about what a big deal it was, getting all those logs down...
thats you boys....be proud. I am going to send him the group info and he'll be on here soon. His
family is doing very well.
Wed Oct 15, 2003 10:36 am: On this subject, what I find is that a lot of my memories are
turning from movies to stills. The other day I started a process of trying to write down specific
memories of different people on the colony. Things like waving to Jonathan as we passed on
our early morning rounds before wake-up. I found that once I started listing stuff there was a lot
more there than I initially thought. I guess the stuff is back there somewhere. Now if I could only
locate 1989-1995 I'd be all
It speaks to the intensity and value of the experience, I believe, this desire to hang
onto as much of it as possible. I'm glad we are trying. We are lucky, I think, to have an
experience framed so clearly. We can't say "I'll remember that next time" so we're forced to
nurture what we have, to pay attention to our
The need for that in everyday life was brought home to me on the bus before we even
left the colony.A lot of you already know this, but I received a couple of letters that missed the
"ship" deadline when I got on the bus. One contained news of the death of a 32 year old
acquaintance of mine. I can't even say we were close, but it really ripped me up. I'm not sure
what it was, but I think it was the realization that things don't always come around again and you
often don't get another chance to talk to someone or be someplace or do
I'll try and scramble back to the topic here...I guess I'm trying to talk about taking
what we are doing here--checking in, comparing notes, cultivating memories--and applying it to
the world we inhabit now. I went out for a few beers with my friend Jim last night, probably for
about the 1,000th time since I met him in 1986, but when I got home (okay, "home" is still Jim's
couch), I thought back on it, just trying to remember it, remember what it was like to talk to him
on that night, in that place. That it rained. That a woman came in with a Chihuahua in her
purse. That we talked about work and
That awareness of memory is something I want to hold onto. I don't imagine it will
be easy in a memory-free culture, but its worth a shot. Does any of this sound familiar?
Fri Oct 17, 2003 9:51 am: Nothing says "autumn" like the drooling, profane screams of
Yankees fans. Except perhaps the rattle of their jewelry...
Tue Nov 4, 2003 6:05 pm: Hey Jeff, Messed up, aint it? I thought I had all my readjustment
issues in check, then opened up a whole new can of worms when I moved into my new
apartment yesterday. I actually LIVE here now, this is my actual life. Don't know if that is a good
or bad thing. Anyway, the stuff you are describing sounds pretty normal.
Mon Nov 24, 2003 7:39 pm : You're familiar with it; the theory, subscribed to with religious
fervor by the production team, that they lived a life not too far removed from ours. That they,
too, were marooned in Maine without the creature comforts of home. That perhaps they had the
luxury of communication with the outside world, but that beyond that, their experience shot
quickly down through the depths of less-than-acceptable and skidded across the bottom of a sea
Well... Last night I had dinner with Paul Cabana at Kristi's place in Manhattan.
While there, I saw some photos of the production team at work in Maine. More importantly, I saw
pictures of where this work took place. The production headquarters were located in a corporate
resort. Yes, resort. Giant timber-frame rooms with massive fireplaces, beautiful cedar wall panels
interspersed among tall glass expanses through which the outdoor decks could be seen just in
front of the gorgeous lake. Lounge-like common areas with wet bars set up with stacks of water
bottles, soft drinks and fruit. Yes, my friends, it was indeed very much like our experience. It was
Fri Dec 5, 2003 6:14 pm: I made a bunch of colonial food for my friends when I got back, with
the effect of making them much less impressed by my feat of endurance. "That wasn't half bad!"
And to be sure, it wsn't. I actually eat oats every morning, and having run out of raisins this week,
have been cutting up prunes to sweeten it. (Pardon me, "dried plums" as they are called in my
grocery store) I have also been eating two eggs every morning. Yesterday I decided to take a
look at the nutritional info on the side of the carton and nearly keeled over. Just a WEE bit of
cholesterol in those babies. (no pun intended) So now I take the yolks out...ahh for a return to
Fri Dec 12, 2003 5:16 pm : (The official Colonial House website is launched. Jimmy Williams
had left Pedro in too long...) Yeah, it is great to finally have something to show people. Man, I
got real emotional when I first started looking around, but now that I notice all the photos are
flipped, it gives me just the distance I need. It is SO wild to hear Dom and Paul talk on the site,it
really whips me back there. Great fun. Enjoy the Pats (as I will be) Jack, because baseball
season is coming around the corner, and life is looking just a wee bit harder for General George
and his troops. Bye 24 game winning Andy, hello ageing Kevin.... I love it.
Wed Mar 24, 2004 5:56 pm: My part as "gigilo" was obviously either miscast or seVEREly
underwritten...that would have been a bit more fun than the "Handy Guy So We Make Sure Sh*t
Gets Built" part that I believe I was actually cast for. In the end though, "Bearded Man #2" I'll be.
That and "Henry's
I think that the Heinz' politics, if they come out in the edit, just might be a topic of discussion in
the US, the way the presidential race seems to be polarizing everyone. Whatever. If this thing
gets me a free beer, I'll be happy.
Mon Mar 29, 2004 4:29 pm: (After Paul Hunt, from Thailand, posted a message berating the US
versus his new Thai home.) The thing is, Jonathan, that the U.S. will continue to lag farther
and farther behind Thailand until our leaders wise up and get serious about creating and
promoting a world-class kiddie sex tourism industry! So many letters to the editor and still, no
Tue Mar 30, 2004 6:16 pm (Jonathan had recently posted about his continuing readjustment
and his acceptance to grad school.) Great news Jonathan, and not surprising in the least.
Congratulations. I think I am somewhere between you and Michelle and John. Sometimes it was
an eternity away, sometimes it pulls me out of what I'm doing now. I'll be lucky if I live that
Tue Apr 27, 2004 7:19 pm: Hello everyone, I've been busy showing the mad manc (Paul
Hunt) around town for the past week, and as you can imagine, its like trying to put a weasel in a
sock. I hope everyone is doing well and that you all got a chance to view the Red Sox f-ing de-
STROY the Yankees last weekend, including SWEEPING the Yankees in their own house....
ahhh, the sweetness of it all... Oh, hi Jack...
Annyway, I am looking at a place this week for a possible big viewing party here in New York,
and I believe the night 2 viewing party at the Vor-house is on, right? And where is this other
Hienzy article...nothing brightens my day more. I'm on my way to meet the PR people from
Channel 13, which will be kind of nice and akward, as they only called me once Paul was in
town....I am adamantly NOT worried about the press. Mostly I am worried about buying my folks
a good frame-by-frame dvd player so they have a chance of seeing their son in the show, haha!
Craig's parents are going to have to wait until that Blade Runner technology comes out:
"Freeze. Enhance. Zoom in. Farther. Enhance. Right 75 degrees. Zoom n. Again. Enhance.
There! Behind the log!" Adios, Don
Thu May 20, 2004 5:45 pm : (The show had aired at this point and colonists were starting to
learn that there were tv message boards like TWoP, where some of them were getting
excoriated.) I think any of us who read these boards will quickly take everything with quite a bit
of salt, except of course, for the stuff about how good looking I am.
Sat May 22, 2004 12:54 pm: (This was a message I posted to Bethany on our private forum
after she had expressed the hurt and frustration she was feeling at being bombarded by truly
nasty and personally insulting communications of all kinds.)
Do NOT worry about what these people say or think. Concentrate on
how good looking and funny they think I am....
Seriously, have you read how they fawn over Paul? Really, the
Okay, now ACTUALLY seriously: Even the most well-meaning people have
no idea what is going on. The other day I worked out that we
collectively spent about 98,600 hours on the project. Subtract
sleepy-time and you've got about 65,000 hours of waking Colonial
They see eight.
I have been startled by some of the questions I have been getting
from my friends who I have already bored to the point of insanity
with the prattling on I did about the project when I first got back.
So many things we take for granted have a contextual base that, if it
wasn't unique, wouldn't have been worthy of documentation. (Geez,
the other Don on the colony must have taken over for a sentence
Anyway, people are always talking to me about it now, and they like
people for the wrong reasons and hate people for the wrong reasons
and think that the Natives came the second day and that Amy left
after a couple weeks and that Michelle never went to one Sabbath and
that we were idiots for not using nets and trying to catch lobster....
It goes on and on.
One thing I personally choose to find amusing rather than infuriating
is my love life...no...wait...wrong website....no, I'm talking about
how Production is always given the benefit of the doubt, re: walking
the true colonial path. I was describing this the other day to some
friends when they were asking "Why would someone sign up if they
weren't going to do it exactly right the whole time?" (We'll put
aside for a moment the ridiculousness involved in asking such a
question within a culture dominated by the credit card.) I tried to
explain that everyone went in pretty damn gung ho, but that after
about the tenth "Oh, but you can't hunt" "Oh, but you can't touch the
lobster" "Oh, you need to stop this important project and take the
boat around the pond" , you as a participant become keenly aware that
you are living in what is not so much a controlled experiment as it
is a contrived entertainment. When Production is asking these "How
far are we willing to go?" questions, how can the participants
possibly be immune?
Note to self: Do not drink coffee before posting...
So, it is what it is. We can't change it, we can only ride it out.
I truly sympathize with the position you and your family and Jonathan
and the Vorhees are in. Being Bearded Man #2 has never been so
good. I will say you might want to look at the fact that between the
one or two horrifying posts on those boards, your situations on the
show have sparked quite a bit of serious, reasoned debate on some
very important issues. That can only be a positive.
As far as how on earth people can say some of the stuff they say on
those boards, I find it impossible not to see it as part of the ever-
intensifying spiral death tango of divisiveness and dehumanization in
this country. Our favorite show features a multi-millionaire mocking
the singing of children, the more cruel the better. The vast
majority of money spent on the coming Presidential campaign will be
spent by soft-money organizations who cannot, by law, run positive
ads for their candidate, meaning we will soon be awash in negative
advertising. It's a culture within which a debate is being waged in
all seriousness over whether it is wrong to take pictures of yourself
smiling next to the iced corpse of an enemy who died during your
All of that leads me to the one thing that really gets under my skin
about the show so far; where is the depiction of the community we
built against all those odds? You're not, as a viewer, going to walk
away from this show an expert in colonial history, but it should be
possible, given what we went through, to come away with the idea that
a bunch of people who have little-to-nothing in common can
simultaneously disagree AND harbor a deep, unbounded respect for each
I hate to say it, but Oprah may have seen the project more clearly in
24 hours than many others who were involved for months.
Ladies and gentleman, I believe you have witnessed a NEW RECORD for
Sun May 30, 2004 9:34 pm : I would just like to inform everyone that we had a great time at
Plimoth this weekend, treated like rock stars and partying like same. In fact I had to pull over
this morning before we even got out of town so that Paul could dart out of the rental car and
puke on some very well manicured bushes. Bring back the (beer) ration...
Thu Jul 8, 2004 5:08 pm : Walked over the Williamsburg Bridge into Manhattan today. A hot,
very nearly stifling day on the streets and in the shop became a breezy pleasure once I got
on the bridge and over the water. A hundred yards into the mile-and-a-half trip I took my shirt
off to catch some sun. Once I got about 50 yards from where the bridge dumps out onto
Delancy Street and the Lower East Side, I put my shirt back on, gettin' all presentable like.
Suddenly I was back on the Colony, heading into town, getting decent again after some
glorious, solar-powered woodworking at the work station. Yep.
Sat Jul 10, 2004 3:20 am : I just got back from a crazy night that included a message from
my ex-wife and seeing a show by my ex girlfriend from years ago ( who I was with much
longer than my wife, as an interesting side bar...). Anyway, as the cab back home passed the
United Nations Building at 2:45 am I noticed a few lights on an at first thought, "Good for
them, workng this late", which immediately morphed into "Hey! WHat the hell! With the world
in the state its in, that f-ing building should be going great guns 24/7!" Seriously. If now is not
the time for the UN building to look busy at 3 am Saturday morning, when is that time going
to come? I mean, its 3am HERE, but it's a calm 1pm for a maniacal despot SOMEWHERE....
shouldn't he be getting a call? Just wondering...
Wed Sep 1, 2004 11:41 pm: I have signed the contract, so I can now tell you all without
jinxing it that I have been added to the "cast" of "In a Fix", one of those redo-a-room shows
on The Learning Channel. I start on Tuesday and will probably do a couple of episodes a
month. It's not a very good show, I'm afraid (i've only seen two, to be fair), but it does pay
much better than honest work, so its got that going for it....Paul C. (a Colonial House
Associate Producer) was freelancing on a show at Discovery and ran into the "talent" guy
there, who told him they were desperately trying to find a carpenter. He very graciously gave
them my name and one thing led to another, which probably seals the deal for my
tombstone inscription, "I'd Rather Be Lucky Than Good".