A one-time prizefighter, “Kid” Mertz lived in a cinderblock house in the woods near Nowago, MI, which he decorated, along with virtually all his possessions, with colorful paint and witticisms. Most of his career had been spent on an assembly line in Detroit, but after retiring he lived almost entirely off the land, foraging for nuts and berries, fishing and hunting and cultivating a garden. He gathered bottles and cans that motorists threw from their cars and transformed them into striped and polka-dotted vessels, and painted the skulls of fish he took from a stream behind his home. Every shovel or saw he owned bore his painted handiwork and he even painted his shoes and baseball caps. Mertz apparently believed that there was nothing in the world that could not be made more beautiful with paint.