Monday, June 05, 2006

As a child, Charlie Chaplin developed a illness that confined him to his bed for weeks at a time. It is difficult to imagine the difficulties this would provide for a five year old.

After dusk his mother would return from the theater. She too was a showman. In the light of a dwindling sun she sat near his window and acted out the activities on the street below. Perhaps she made creative additions to amuse her bedridden boy. Maybe an Arabian camel made its way down the street. Or a fabulous march, full of regalia, flags and stern martial order. Or a panther snaking its way through an unsuspecting crowd. Or maybe the Ernst the baker was having trouble with his window as he usually did in the later hours.
His mother was later overcome by a mental illness and admitted to Cane Hill Asylum, now known as Cane Hill Psychiatric Hospital(CHPH). She lived there for years and had few lucid moments within those confines.

Later Charlie invented "The Tramp" and galvanized new standards in American cinema with his awesome creativity. He and his older brother Sydney returned to England to visit her.
"Sydney saw her, but I had not the courage, so I waited. He came back upset, and said that she had been given shock treatment of icy cold showers and that her face was quite blue."
They took her to a private institution. This time Charlie did see her. He told her she would be well soon.

She said "Of course, if only you had given me a cup of tea that afternoon, I would have been alright." This cryptic sentence haunted the Tramp for quite some time.

CHPH's administration block is cartoonishly featured on the original US 1970 cover of The Man Who $old the World by David Bowie. The glamourous musician's brother, Terry Burns, was a inmate there. He later escaped to walked in front of a train. That wasn't the first of his suicide attempts but it was the most successful. He believed his brother would come and "rescue him".

The great artist feared seeing his brother. He feared that he would loose his own sanity. So he wrote letters and sent albums. David Bowie seems like a brave man in my opinion, one not prone to those kinds of mortal problems. He is fiercely independent. The man once declined a invitation to join The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire as a Commander. He also has permanently dilated pupils and differently colored eyes due to a schoolyard fight. Perhaps he is simply an alien.

We are all tied to life's nuanced tragedies. I have fewer tethers than so many others. This is something I am thankful for. Although, now that I'm thinking about it, more philosophizing must be rolled over to know who I should be thanking.

Here are the last words of one of CHPH's wards:

This man thanked his retainers. He had my name. I have my fathers name and like me, he his. I'm reminded of the 'Peter Movie Credit Phenomenon'.

Next time you see a movie in the theater stay for the credits. Look for the name 'Peter'. You will likely find that the name is disproportionally represented. I find it often exceeds in quantity the more common named like 'John' for instance. Sometimes 'Michael' beats it out. Michael happens to be my middle name. I have no idea why this is or what it means.

Its pretty tangental anyway.

The Cane Hill Psychiatric Hospital is a beautiful building. Some of it is still in mint condition. Other parts have been bombed, burned, vandalized, or have simply experienced dilapidation.
It is the kind of place I would like to take up residence. I believe that its variety is inspiring. I think the incredible history is inspiring. Michael Caine's estranged brother was once a resident there.

One of the rooms has a carpet of moss.

Chairs sink in the old wood floor.
Glass guides light in for
Natural reclamation.

With time all things become soil.

In the mountains of North Carolina we have a tenacious vine named Kudzu. It is native to Japan and parts of China. The word for "vine" is "kuzu" in Japanese. Now it is a invasive exotic in the south east United States.

I like to think of kudzu as a "plant warrior". One vine can grow up to a entire foot per day. You can see it slowly overtaking large trees and old buildings. Uprooting and demolishing everything within its reach. vehicles,
fences and all manner of other objects become shambling leaf covered giants once enveloped. Sometimes they look like dinosaurs in costume. Monstrous reptiles motionlessly masquerading in plant materials. It happens fast and yet just slow enough to keep most of us unaware. I've seen a houseboat consumed by kudzu in Cullowhee N.C.. The plant wears the crown of a conqueror.

One covered in purple jewels.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I just read my favorite episode from A Lessons is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible again. It is titled Getting Over Women. Like many of Dale and David's embellished stories the title is a misnomer. It isn't about getting over women. It stars a yeti.

I think about yetis far more than I really should. They great snowman intrinsic to my existence. I envy his great strength and stealth, his self-imposed solitude, his self-sufficiency. I admire things that haunt but I don't know why.
We used to call my brother Jef "the Yeti". When we where younger his hair was quite long. Mullet long. Of the 6 of us brothers he was the hairiest. To this day he still holds that title. The hairiest one, not "yeti" of course. That is enough about yetis though.

Well just after this yeti collection.

"blue steel"

Yetis adore free hugs!

and trying to scare kids.

but not this kid, he is immune

Some are surlier than others.

But they know how to take it easy.

Some more than others.

They are skilled healers.

Some play sports. Like Baseball.

And Skier-eating.

Sometimes I dream of yeti intermurals.

Mascots like superman can be part of Team Snowback.

Yeti Intermurals must be fantastic.

Yeti games.


Yesterday I saw the seasons first firefly. Fireflies (aka lightning bugs) are beetles, not flies, though they do fly. The abdomen of a firefly contains the enzyme Luciferase which acts on substrate Luciferin to illuminate little bug. So when they are all out we will gaze out and see there glowing bug crotches floating around the grass like perverted willow-wisps.

When I was in elementary school I heard my peers talk about catching the bugs, waiting for a glow and then smashing them to make colorful glowing face paint. This apparently happened. Or at least they said it did. I never saw anyone crush a bug into their hand. I think most of them would have found that "gross". I don't it seems like something quite harmless to us the might humans. But the destruction of a living creature just so I could have glowing lemon-lime cheeks always felt wrong. So I never killed a firefly on purpose. They are beautiful, even when they are flashing genitalia lamps on the fourth of July.

Someone recently ransacked the home of two of my friends. They are currently away on vacation. I think it is important that they don't have to deal with this knowledge until they return. I would hate for them to abandon a well-earned vacation because of some ridiculous vandals. Completely ridiculous vandals. From the looks of the home and the wreckage they left behind I assume they where looking for money and only that. Many things that I would have thought to be stolen where still there. TVs, jewelry, expensive purses, all discarded as if they where trash. They even yanked the laundry out of the machine. Who does that? I hope the frustrated rampage was fueled by the thieves inability to find any cash.
Speaking of theft, a few days ago my family and I stole a piano from a house in-between ownership. I suppose the legality of it is only a little bit questionable. The piano was left by it's former owners and the people moving in didn't seem to want it. So we took it. The massive instrument now resides in the lower level of my parents house. I don't think any of us can play it.

Last weekend was spent at a wedding and wedding parties. In related news I hope more of my friends have surprisingly wealthy parents and marriage plans. I took way to many pictures. Roll after roll after roll.

That is all.