Meet the mysterious men behind Oklahoma's monument to Azathoth

Eric Piper and J. David Osbourne aren't cultists (that we know of), by they did build a 300-lb. monument to the dark Lovecraftian god Azathoth and left it on the lawn of the unsuspecting Paseo Grill in Oklahoma City two weeks ago. Curious whether this was some kind of art project or a sign of the end times in which humanity will descend into gibbering madness, we decided to get the answers straight from Piper and Osbourne themselves.


Top-right photo io9 reader JamesD; all other photos by Alicia Smith.

io9: Who are you guys?

J. David Osbourne: I’m the author of By the Time We Leave Here We'll Be Friends, Low Down Death Right Easy, and God$ Fare No Better. I write about alien neck parasites and bodies stuffed in catfish dens and time worms and hitmen that can unhinge their jaws like snakes. I’m also the Editor-in-Chief of Broken River Books. My goal is to find a good girlfriend for the Beal House Dolphin Girlfriend, who is a pink dolphin.


Eric: Eric 26 artist

Are you both Lovecraft fans?

David: There’s nothing scarier than big slimy things that don’t care. Also I’m really scared of sex, so I’m down with the spooky tentacles. There’s a lot of gold out there in the Mythos world: Cody Goodfellow, Laird Barron, Thomas Ligotti, those guys kind of take the whole thing to the next level.


Eric: yeh

Why in the name of all the dark ones, did you do this?

Eric: It's a statement on land ownership

David: There is land and then there is concrete and with that heaviness comes place and with place comes the rulers, the owners. You plant your flag and flex your muscles and the ground you walk becomes yours. We were thinking: in order to claim land, all you really need is enough concrete.


Fair enough. How did you make the monument?

Eric: I woke up from a week’s worth of fever dreams and the monument was finished


David: The fever dreams were the worst. I sat by the poor boy’s bedside. Waited on him hand and foot. Then I saw him get up from his stained sheets and build a pyramid from wood and mix the concrete in a wheelbarrow and pour.

You said the monument sat around for a year before you moved it. What were you waiting for?


Eric: Can't force things. It just wasn't meant to go out before August 28th.

You also said you moved it to its location with a forklift. Where the hell did you get a forklift?


David: The forklift was available at the art school. We kind of rolled it onto the lift and got it up and heaved it into the back of Eric’s truck. Then we drove around with it for awhile, kind of feeling it out. We backed the truck up, hopped out, angled it so the ass end was on the tailgate, and shoved it out. There it landed.


Why did you choose to set it at that specific location by the Paseo Grill?

Eric: It was a place of creative chaos back in the day, and unfortunately a lot of the area has been gentrified to this gross sterile copy paste business models.


Have you even eaten at the Paseo Grill before?

David: I’ve never eaten there. Had never heard of it. Seems like a lovely establishment. I looked at their menu and it seems like maybe a little out of my price range. I’m sure it’s delicious, though. I encourage everyone to eat there, it seems like they were good sports about the whole thing.


Have you talked to the Paseo Grill people since you dropped it off? Do they hate you?

Eric: Haha no haven't talked to them.

David: I mean, I hope they don’t hate us. Like I said, my impression from the articles I’ve read is that they were confused by it, but not angry (and it seemed like they ended up liking it). This wasn’t out of malice or spite. Didn’t cause any property damage. It just kind of sat there and got them some free publicity. Also, they’re in the arts district. You can’t love art when it brings customers and then hate it when its purpose is a bit more obtuse. All or nothing. Art brings the bored people with fat wallets. I heard some folks wanted to buy it, so maybe they got something out of it. I hope so. But I also kind of hope that the monument drove them crazy and they destroyed it with a sledgehammer.


Do you know if they plan on keeping it?

Eric: I think it was thrown away or stolen already.

David: I’m pretty sure they moved it, which is a bummer. Like I said, at least sell it and get some $$. That’s what I would’ve done.


Why choose to make a monument for Azathoth, and not one of the other Elder Gods?

Eric: Azathoth was chosen because of his connection to chaos.

David: Azathoth’s vessel resides in the air filtration system of a smoky bar called Joe’s, which is where Eric and I think up all of our best ideas. It seemed only fitting since I’ve seen him there so often in the blue smoke and yellow walls and the tacked-up collages of ‘90s-era Polaroid people with Santa hats and wine glasses in their mouths.


Has Azathoth given you any feedback about this stunt? Does this mean you get to be the last to die by his hand or something?


Eric: Well I haven't heard any pipes but lately it's felt like my brain is slow melting out of my head.

David: It’s really weird. There have been weird things, like an excess of weirdness. After we dropped the monolith the world started spinning closer and closer together. A man in a bright red shirt stopped me in an alley and told me that I was Jesus and he was the Devil and that he crucified me. At work a woman poured all of the money from the take-a-penny dip by the register and told me she'd take all of it if I didn't give her back her son. Next day the same woman walked into the Bonnet with her shirt rolled up and threatened to hurt the bartender and reached in for her tips and came around the bar and I hopped off my stool and shouted at her to get back. I swore a lot. A man in orange pants came looking for me. I sat alone in a bar and wondered on the sudden influx of weirdness and couldn't make sense of it. I live by Griffin out here and they keep folks for a three-day examination if they say they're going to harm themselves or others. Then they let them go and they wander to the Corner and find they can make a bit of money by just asking the mutant cherubim lined up and down the blocks waiting on coffee and beer. We all walk and make little vibrations and then others are bigger like the Devon building up the road. That monument was about as loud as we could yell and I'll be damned if the touched didn’t hear it.


So what’s next?

Eric: I'm trying to find a place to live and working on new pieces for upcoming shows.


David: Gonna keep making stuff. I’ve got several novels coming out, also books that I’m putting out on my own press.

What’s been your favorite part of this whole thing?

Eric: I liked the people talking about it on the local news.

David: Oh man. So much of it was fun. I thought: hmm, local news. Nice. Then it kind of exploded. The talks of aliens and evil demons inside of it was great. Also the idea that “several strong men could not have put it there.” It was two weak-ass dudes amped up on adrenaline. And you know, physics. Gravity. I think my favorite part was how quickly everyone caught on to Eric’s involvement. The plaque says “creer pipi claims blah blah” and a ton of people were like, “creer pipi is an anagram for Eric Piper.” Apparently there was some dude called Puzzlemaster or some shit that figured it out quickly. Also Eric got a lot of creepy emails from Lovecraft fans.


Bottom photo by Andrew W. Griffin/Red Dirt Report.

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