Today’s post is going to focus on the few days…and the shooting deaths of two black men by police.
By now I am sure you have heard of #TerenceCrutcher …you may not have yet heard of #KeithLamontScott. The fact that I’ve put their names in #hashtag format should give you a huge clue…these two men are the latest men to be killed by police while being black.
A fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man by a white officer has reopened fresh wounds in this city with a fraught history among African Americans, white residents and police officers.
A graphic police video shows Terence Crutcher, 40, being fatally shot by a police officer Friday night as he walks with his hands up toward his SUV, stalled out in the middle of the road.
Video at that link and more…
The police shooting victim in Charlotte, North Carolina has been identified by friends and family as Keith Lamont Scott, 43. The officer who shot Scott has been identified as Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Brentley Vinson.
UPDATE: 9/20/16, 9:00 p.m. ET — The victim’s daughter, Lyric Scott, has gone live again from a growing protest in response to the police shooting of her father.
***ORIGINAL STORY BELOW***
A disabled black man has died at the hospital after being shot by a Charlotte-Mecklenburg police officer Tuesday afternoon on Old Concord Road in University City, a subdivision of Charlotte, NC.
Police said they were searching for someone who had outstanding warrants when they saw a man with what they believed to be a gun leave a vehicle.
According to police reports, the man, who has not been named, returned to his vehicle. When they approached the man, they claim he “posed an imminent deadly threat to the officers” and one of them opened fire. An eyewitness told the victim’s daughter that a Taser was used on her father, then he was shot at least three times.
Medics arrived and the injured man was taken to Carolinas Medical Center, where he was later pronounced dead.
The victim was not the subject of the initial search, said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney.
I have so much to say, but my internet is acting up or wordpress is doing something wonky…I will give you plenty of links for now…more to be said in the comments.
That statement about her brother was not a bad bad dude…oh wow.
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into the police killing of 40-year-old Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday, but his family is demanding that the charges against the involved officer be filed immediately.
Police were originally responding to an unrelated call when they approached Crutcher’s vehicle, which had been stalled in the middle of the street. Shortly after the officers arrived, one officer deployed his taser on Crutcher who stood by his car. Moments later, Officer Betty Shelby, who is white, fatally shot Crutcher, who was black and unarmed, while he had his hands raised in the air, according to this graphic video footage released on Monday. Inone video that was captured by an overhead helicopter, Crutcher is seen standing by his car while a police officer is overheard describing him as a “bad dude.”
“That big ‘bad dude’ ― his life mattered,” Crutcher’s twin sister Tiffany Crutcher told reporters on Monday, according to Tulsa World. She went on to demand an end to police brutality. “The chain breaks here. We’re going to stop it right here in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is bigger than us right here. We’re going to stop it right here.”
Tiffany, who just celebrated her 40th birthday with her brother, mentioned a recent text message she received from Terence that she said read, “I’m going to show you. I’m going to make you all proud.”
She expressed her grievance over his loss and how Terence will never get that chance, “because of the negligence and the incompetency and the insensitivity, and because he was a big, ‘bad dude,’” Tiffany said. “And so we’re demanding today, immediately, that charges are pressed against this officer that was incompetent, that took my brother’s life.”
“When Terence was shot, he laid on the ground bleeding out without any assistance,” Dario Solomon-Simmons, an attorney for the family and longtime family friend, said at the conference. “Terence died on that street by himself in his own blood, without any help.”
“This video is extremely disturbing,” he added. “Without a doubt we believe this was an unjustified shooting that should not have happened.”
The anger around Crutcher’s death has been felt from many on social media who have poured out their grievances online over the police killing of yet another unarmed black man with the trending hashtag #TerenceCrutcher. However, as the mourning continues, Crutcher’s sister has asked that people remain peaceful as they demonstrate their anger over his death.
“Just know that our voices will be heard,” she said. “The video will speak for itself. Let’s protest. Let’s do what we have to do, but let’s just make sure that we do it peacefully, to respect the culture of (the Crutcher family).”
This next link is from a comment by a woman who has an adopted black son…she lives in Tulsa.
On the Kaepernick protest:
Here’s How Many Black People Have Been Killed By Police Since Colin Kaepernick Began Protesting | Huffington Post Oh yeah, it has only been one month.
At least 15 black people have died during encounters with the police since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting police violence by kneeling before NFL games, based on numbers compiled by The Guardian.
Kaepernick’s decision to sit or take a knee during the national anthem first drew attention after his team’s Aug. 26 preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, when he told NFL.com that he was “not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Since then, Kaepernick’s continued protest has drawn considerable criticism from politicians, police unions, pundits, other professional athletesand many on social media who have opposed both his message and his method of conveying it.
But the problem Kaepernick wants to highlight has continued. And on Monday, it was back in the news again, after police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, released multiple videos that showed the fatal shooting of Terence Crutcher.
The videos show that 40-year-old Crutcher, like so many other black men, was unarmed with his hands in the air when police officers shot and killed him as he returned to his car, which had stalled in the middle of a roadway. The videos run contrary to the department’s initial statements about the shooting, which claimed that Crutcher had ignored officers’ warning to raise his hands.
And lastly a few links that are related to the topic today:
I can’t end this post on a happy note. No way in hell.
This is an open thread of course.
(That message above is my projected thought to Trump BTW…)
Holy shit! I completely forgot what day it was…
Today is Sunday and it is my turn to write the post.
So, here is an open thread:
I will post some links in the comments below.
2007’s Alexis Arquette: She’s My Brother. In an outtake posted to YouTube, Arquette declared “No one in my life or on the streets can say or do anything that’s going to persuade me from becoming … who I am.”
In fact, the only label she ever truly embraced was the one she gave herself – The Lady Chablis. “I just try to be who I am without all the labels people try to put on you,” she told the reporter at Savannah Magazine.
“The legacy that she wanted to leave was one of ‘believe in who you are and never let the world change who you are,'” [her sister Cynthia]Ponder said. “Love yourself first and respect yourself first and others will love and respect you.”
The leaves are starting to change their colors here in the mountains. That normal process that creates a marvelous paint of brilliant transformation has begun. Same trees…same hills…same mountains. Whatever nature has planned, that innate process that happens when the leaves change from green to vivid hues of crimson and gold, radiant orange and fire…colors that you could describe with names that sound more like MAC lipstick color hues…than the shade of leaves hanging from the trees. Which seems appropriate, because this post is a tribute to two ladies who gave glam to transgender before hashtags and tweets.
I think the best way to start the ball rolling is with this article from The Guardian.
The two transgender women were activists and entertainers who dared to be themselves – and set the tone for future generations
In the last week, America lost two pioneering transgender women entertainers:Alexis Arquette and The Lady Chablis. Both died relatively young, Arquette at 47 and Chablis at 59. Then again, perhaps that’s actually rather old, given the world they were born into: although there’s no good data on life expectancies for trans and gender non-conforming people in the United States, the statistics we do havesuggest that they face greater health concerns with fewer resources than their cisgender counterparts, and that they are therefore more likely to die younger as well. Yet both Arquette and Chablis lived outsized lives despite their short durations, and along the way, they managed to break barriers for transgender artists everywhere.
In the 1990s, if you wanted to see a trans actor on the big screen, you had remarkably few options. Despite a plethora of films with large transgender roles, ranging from the deplorable (Ace Ventura Pet Detective), to the complicated (The Crying Game), to the tragic (Boys Don’t Cry), trans actors were almost entirely sidelined from major productions. Today, a small handful are gaining traction in mainstream film and television projects, such as Laverne Cox, Tom Phelan, Mya Taylor, Jamie Clayton and Trace Lysette. And if a cisgender actor does play a transgender character, there’s bound to be some uproar, as there was when it was recently announced that Michelle Rodriguez would play a transgender assassin in the new Walter Hill film, (Re)Assignment.
But that wasn’t even a conversation in the 90s, when Arquette and Chablis became two of the first trans actors to play trans roles in major mainstream films – Arquette as the gender non-conforming George (based on Boy George) in Adam Sandlers’s The Wedding Singer (1998), and Chablis as herself in the 1997 docu-thriller, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.
Both women had nuanced, complicated and shifting understandings of their own genders. Perhaps reflecting the time in which they grew up, over the course of their lives both used (or had applied to them) a wide variety of labels, from “drag queen” and “female impersonator”, to “transgendered” and “gender suspicious”. Yet no matter what words they used, both were always vocal advocates for trans people, rights and representation.
Arquette came to movie work early in her career, thanks in part to her famous family. The Lady Chablis, on the other hand, was a well-known performer in her hometown of Savannah, Georgia, but it wasn’t until the publication of the true-crime book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (in 1994), that she gained wider notoriety. After spending over 200 weeks on the New York Times’s bestseller list, the book was made into a film starring Kevin Spacey and a young Jude Law. Chablis was shocked when they asked her to audition for the role of herself. In an interview with NPR, Chad Darnell, the film’s casting director, recalls that she informed him “there’s nobody else who can play me but me”. When he suggested Whitney Houston, she slapped him so hard she drew blood – and got the role.
Like the leaves on the trees, both The Lady and Arquette lived life being who they truly are…as nature intended. Here are some quotes from articles over the past few days that will be good to read.
The Lady Chablis, the transgender performer featured in the 1994 best seller “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and in the film version, died on Thursday in Savannah, Ga. She was 59 and had been working until about a month ago.
The cause was pneumonia, said Cale Hall, a longtime friend and an owner of Club One, where she had performed for three decades.
Ms. Chablis was a standout character in the book, in which the author, John Berendt, introduced the world to Savannah and the sometimes eccentric people who live there.
“She was The Lady Chablis from morning to night,” Mr. Berendt said in an interview on Thursday. “She had a great repartee,” he said, “and she had a way with words. She was creative.”
They first met when Ms. Chablis, who had just received her biweekly estrogen shots, insinuated herself into Mr. Berendt’s car for a ride home.
“She had both hands on her hips and a sassy half-smile on her face as if she had been waiting for me,” he wrote.
She would become the book’s most popular character, Mr. Berendt said. She was also his favorite.
“It’s not as if she died without knowing,” he added. “She knew. And she also knew she was everybody’s favorite.”
After the book came out, Ms. Chablis appeared on “Good Morning America” and “Oprah.” Readers from around the country went to see her at Club One. She published an autobiography, “Hiding My Candy,” in 1996 and the next year played herself in Clint Eastwood’s film adaptation of the Berendt book.
She was born Benjamin Edward Knox in Quincy, Fla., on March 11, 1957, and never finished high school. She took the name Chablis as a teenager. As she recalled in Mr. Berendt’s book, her mother, inspired by a wine bottle label, had intended the name for a younger sister but had had a miscarriage. Ms. Chablis immediately expressed interest in the name.
“I said, ‘Ooooo, Chablis. That’s nice. I like that name,’ ” she was quoted as saying in the book. “And Mama said, ‘Then take it, baby. Just call yourself Chablis from now on.’ So ever since then, I’ve been Chablis.” She had her name legally changed to The Lady Chablis.
Over twenty years ago, Chablis was written in as a character in John Berendt’s non-fiction narrative, Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil. The story centralizes around Jim Williams, a noted Savannah socialite and antiques dealer who was found guilty of murdering a local male prostitute named Danny Hansford. Berendt wrote Chablis into the book as one of the many eccentric true-life characters and he uses her to better paint the picture of queer nightlife in Savannah. In both the book and the film, Chablis acts as a light-hearted contrast to the more serious themes of the story, with memorable one-liners such as “two tears in a bucket, motherfuck it” and “yes, I am a bitch, and proud of it, honey”. Her performance both on the page and on screen established her as an icon within the drag world, however, Chablis has contributed more to the community than just her work with Kevin Spacey.
In 1996, a year before she graced Clint Eastwood’s rendition of Midnight, Chablis published an autobiography entitled Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography of the Grand Empress of Savannah. In her book, Chablis spills the T on her upbringings in drag, beginning with her introduction to Miss Tina Devore in a Tallahassee nightclub. Devore would go on to become Chablis’s drag mother and in Midnight, Chablis remarks that she got her drag name from Devore, saying “my mama got the name Chablis off a wine bottle. She didn’t think it up for me though. It was supposed to be for my sister”. While in Atlanta, Chablis began her transition towards becoming a transgender woman, taking hormones and legally changing her name to Brenda Dale Knox, all while still developing a budding drag career. In his book, Berendt remarks that he meet Chablis at a doctor’s office after a routine estrogen injection, writing that “her big eyes sparkled. Her skin glowed. A broken incisor tooth punctuated her smile and gave her a naughty look”. But it wasn’t just Berendt who was captivated by the queen because after the film’s release she went on to guest on Good Morning America and the Oprah Winfrey Show. Despite her growing fame, Chablis stuck true to her roots throughout the 2000s, headlining Savannah Pride and hosting the Miss Gay Pride Pageant. In 2013, she made an appearance on The Real Housewives of Atlanta, reading the wives to filth before a live audience.
Many have commented on the drag icon’s passing, including the book’s author John Berendt. “She’ll be remembered for her outrageous profanity-laced spontaneity and for being one of the first up-front transsexual personalities to be accepted by a wide audience.” Today we see many transgender actors and actresses beloved by millions on the big screen, however, Chablis and her role in Midnight made her a legend and a role model for others who have followed in her footsteps. And while Chablis was loved by audiences for her role on screen as well as by those who had the chance to watch her perform, the road to stardom wasn’t easy for Chablis. In her autobiography, Chablis explains that performing in Atlanta taught her about the realities of prejudice and she was even arrested for falsification of identification. “They took my purse and my gowns and they took The Doll to jail, honey…”, Chablis writes and she shows readers that performing in drag and living as a pre-operative transgender female was not as accepted at the time as it is today.
Chablis continued to perform at Club One in Savannah up until she was hospitalized on August 6th 2016. On social media, Club One paid tribute to their resident queen, sharing that “just as The Book shined the spotlight on Savannah, so too did Chablis shine the spotlight on the gay scene, and especially on Club One. She was Club One’s very first entertainer, officiating our grand opening in 1988, and paving the way for female impersonation in Savannah. No one, however, could outshine the Grand Empress herself.” And while Chablis may no longer be performing on the main stage at Club One, her legacy as a drag performer and transgender pioneer will live on for many generations to come.
I’ve always been fascinated with The Doll…something about her way of expressing herself made me feel like she was an old friend.
As for Alexis….The Arquette family has issued this statement:
“Our brother Robert, who became our brother Alexis, who became our sister Alexis, who became our brother Alexis, passed this morning September 11, at 12:32 am,” Richmond wrote. “He was surrounded by all of his brothers and sisters, one of his nieces and several other loved ones. We were playing music for him and he passed during David Bowie’s Starman. As per his wishes, we cheered at the moment that he transitioned to another dimension.”
The Arquette family have paid tribute to their daughter Alexis Arquette and commended her fight for the “understanding and acceptance” of the transgender community.
The Arquette family have requested privacy and asked for donations be made to organisations which support the LGBTQ community in her honour.
Her sibling’s statement in full:
“Our sister, Alexis Arquette, passed away this morning, September 11th, 2016.
“Alexis was a brilliant artist and painter, a singer, an entertainer and an actor. She starred in movies like ‘Last Exit to Brooklyn’, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Jumpin’ at the Boneyard’, ‘Of Mice and Men’, ‘The Wedding Singer’, and ‘The Bride of Chucky’. Her career was cut short, not by her passing, but by her decision to live her truth and her life as a transgender woman. Despite the fact that there are few parts for trans actors, she refused to play roles that were demeaning or stereotypical. She was a vanguard in the fight for understanding and acceptance for all trans people.
“She fiercely lived her reality in a world where it is dangerous to be a trans person — a world largely unready to accept differences among human beings, and where there is still the ugliness of violence and hostility towards people that we may not understand.
“Alexis was born as Robert, our brother. We loved him the moment he arrived. But he came in as more than a sibling — he came as our great teacher. As Alexis transitioned into being a woman, she taught us tolerance and acceptance. As she moved through her process, she became our sister, teaching us what real love is.
“We learned what real bravery is through watching her journey of living as a trans woman. We came to discover the one truth — that love is everything.
“In the days leading to her death, she told us she was already visiting the other side, and that where she was going, there was only one gender. That on the other side, we are free from all of the things that separate us in this life, and that we are all one.
“She passed away surrounded by love. We held her and sang her David Bowie’s ‘Starman’ as she punched through the veil to the other side. We washed her body in rose petals and surrounded her with flowers.
“Alexis always had to do everything first. She left before we were ready to let her go. We are all heartbroken that she is no longer with us, but we are grateful for the grace and kindness we were all shown during this difficult time. We are comforted by the fact that Alexis came into our family and was our brother and then our sister, and that she gave us so much love. We will love you always, Alexis. We know we were the lucky ones.
“The family asks that in lieu of flowers or gifts, donations please be sent to organizations that support the LGBTQ community in honour of Alexis Arquette.
“Please respect our privacy during this time of grieving.”
Actress and transgender activist Alexis Arquette transitioned to a woman in her late thirties, so why did her brother, Richard, and ex-boyfriend, Ryan Black, refer to her with male pronouns? It’s especially confusing for some, considering sister Patricia referred to Alexis with all female pronouns in the family’s press release about Alexis’ death Sunday.
GLAAD, formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, encourages the media to becautious of “pronoun confusion”: “Ideally a story will not use pronouns associated with a person’s birth sex when referring to the person’s life prior to transition. Try to write transgender people’s stories from the present day, instead of narrating them from some point in the past, thus avoiding confusion and potentially disrespectful use of incorrect pronouns.”
The Associated Press Stylebook writes reporters should: “use the pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth. If that preference is not expressed, use the pronoun consistent with the way the individuals live publicly.”
So if Alexis transitioned to a female more than a decade ago, why is there confusion about her gender? Lesser known to the public, Alexis became more fluid about her gender later in life. In fact, she said she was “not transgender anymore” when Caitlyn Jenner came out last year.
“She was like, ‘Yeah, sometimes I’ll be a man, sometimes I’ll be a woman. I like to refer to myself as gender suspicious,’” her brother, David Arquette, said on “Kocktails with Khloé” in February.
David was confused. “I said, ‘You’re my sister and brother?’” he recalled asking. “[Alexis] said, ‘It depends on how I’m dressed.’”
Alexis believed there was only one gender after death. “In the days leading to her death, she told us she was already visiting the other side, and that where she was going, there was only one gender,” Patricia wrote in the family’s press release. “That on the other side, we are free from all of the things that separate us in this life, and that we are all one.”
Arquette remained fiercely private about her health struggles and obstinate about seeking treatments, ignoring her friends’ and family’s entreaties to take the life-saving AIDS drugs that were emerging every year. In recent weeks, the battle became a losing one: Arquette, 47, had developed an infection in her liver that spread throughout her body.
She was pronounced dead at 12:32 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11. The news was first shared in a Facebook post from her eldest brother, Richmond Arquette, 53, perhaps the least-known member of a powerhouse acting family that includes Rosanna, 57, Patricia, 48, and David, 45. “Our brother Robert, who became our brother Alexis, who became our sister Alexis, who became our brother Alexis [has] passed,” began his announcement.
Alexis had left specific instructions for her death: David Bowie’s “Starman” was to play as her final moments approached. (Glam rock had always been her favorite genre of music, followed by new wave and punk.) And when the final breath passed her lips, she asked that everyone cheer “the moment that [s]he transitioned to another dimension.”
A few other links:
Whether or not AIDS complications played a role in either woman’s death, they can still teach us a lot about the health inequality of transgender life.
This week has seen the death of two famous transgender women. First was Lady Chablis, the 59-year-old African-American performer made famous by the best-selling book and later Clint Eastwood film Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Chablis spent much of her life as an elegant and attractive cabaret performer at nightclubs in Savannah, Ga., and Columbia, S.C. Her death from pneumonia did little to diminish her star power which had grown from her role in Midnight (she played herself) to appearances on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and Bizarre Foods America: Savannah. According to The Advocate’s Neal Broverman, she continued her club performances, wrote an autobiography, and “used her fame for good, raising money for diabetes and LGBT causes. She remained beloved in Savannah, even though she lived in South Carolina.”
Lady Chamblis (above) made Savannah a destination
In her obituary, pneumonia was listed as the cause of Chablis’s death. Pneumonia, literally an infection in one or both lungs, affects 1 million people a year in the U.S. and kills about 50,000. There’s a vaccine, but it’s usually only recommended for people over 65 or those with immune system issues like HIV.
Pneumonia, just like what Hilary Clinton has, is common and can be caused by bacteria or viruses from things like the flu, whooping cough, and chicken pox. People who have HIV are more susceptible, as are those who smoke, or have diabetes, asthma, or heart disease. When people in the HIV world hear someone died of pneumonia, and they are otherwise in decent health, we can’t help but wonder if it that pneumonia was a complication of their HIV.
Chablis died, at 59, just days before actress-turned-artist Alexis Arquette did so as well.
Arquette, 47 at her death, was the second youngest of a Hollywood dynasty that began with her grandfather Cliff Arquette, a man who dressed as both Mrs. Butterworth (replete with falsetto and mustache) and a character, Charlie Weaver, that became so famous and ubiquitous he occupied the Hollywood Squares in character longer than most other stars of the time. (Cliff, in fact, was rarely seen in public without playing the Charlie Weaver character.)
The family bloodline traces back to Meriwether Lewis (half of for the the 1800s era Lewis and Clark Expedition) for whom Alexis’s own father was named. (He was on The Waltons.)
Arquette’s siblings — Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia, and David Arquette — were reportedly by her side at the end, and supportive throughout her tabloid-ridden life. But if People magazine, ex-boyfriend Robert DuPont, and “anonymous sources” are to be believed, Arquette died of complications from AIDS — an inoperable cancerous tumor and some sort of infection — at Cedars Sinai hospital, as her family played David Bowie’s “Starman.” These same “sources” reported that Arquette had been living in a West Hollywood, Calif. Actors Fund home for people with HIV, rather than with her wealthy siblings, out of a need for independence.
Here the thing about all this, and about the attendant reports debating over whether Arquette’s transition a decade ago was still relevant, whether she was misgendered by family members in death or whether she now identified as “gender suspicious” and thus open to pronouns of any sort — the thing here is that nothing about Arquette’s health or death has been confirmed by those closest to her, by her family or by her doctors, and until then we can’t say she had HIV at all. That won’t stop the tabloids though, which requires us, too, to comment.
The same can be said for Lady Chablis.
What we do know is that when we hear about transgender women dying in their 40s and 50s, and the cause isn’t violence, we know that complications from AIDS is a very real possibility. That’s because HIV disproportionately impacts transgender women, especially those, like Chablis, who are women of color. We know that the life expectancy for a a black trans woman it’s extremely low and often unlikely to be from old-age natural causes and far more likely to be violence or AIDS complications.
And, those of us in the world of HIV healthcare and activism know that for years, pneumonia and cancer have been code words for AIDS complications.
Go to the link to read the rest of that post…which also touches on the Hillary conspiracy.
This is an open thread. Please post links to whatever you like in the comments below. I just would like to end with this last bit from the very first article I discussed in this post. It phrases my thoughts and feelings:
Today, we are a little further down that road to equality thanks to pioneers like The Lady Chablis and Alexis Arquette, but our world is also a little dimmer without their light. The roles they won might seem small or stereotypical by today’s standards, but they were exceptional 20 years ago. Rest in power, Goddess Chablis and Goddess Arquette.
Rest in power is right…and may the glam be with you!
Good morning, it’s been 15 years…no need to say anything else. The words September Eleventh just reach my ears like a stone. It is strange, but many of the WTC survivors and the victim’s families refer to that day in using the words. September 11th. The numbers: 9/11 just seem to simple a way to describe such a sorrowful day…a jarring cold way to designate an important date.
That September morning was beautiful…the sky was clear and blue, and there was that warm Indian Summer feeling in the early morning air. We lived in Newtown, CT…on Sugar Street, in a big white house that was built in 1900. The house used to be a nursery, called Key Rock Gardens, and the grounds were full of ornamental trees and perennial gardens. I was outside that morning, my husband had been gone for three hours…catching that 5:40am Metro North train out of Bethal, that took him down to Stamford. From there the train headed toward New York City, and after the hour and a half train ride, he would arrive at Grand Central Station. On to the subway, the 4/5, going downtown…to the Trinity Church/Wall Street station. Then he would walk up a couple blocks to Liberty Street, next to the World Trade Center Complex.It was a Tuesday, and the Amish Market would have been in full swing along the large concrete walkways at the World Trade Plaza. Before we moved to Connecticut, when we lived downtown in Hanover Square, I would take our kids to World Trade Plaza and we’d meet their father there for lunch. Tuesdays were special, we would grab something from one of the vendors at the market and take our lunch to a small area, just behind the towers…We would sit on park benches, surrounded by ponds with water gardens and raised beds that held beautiful flowers.
Oh yes, that September morning was beautiful…I was watering the plants that were outside along the front of our house…when I heard the sound of a loud jet engine. I looked up and saw a huge jet flying real low over our house. I was familiar with that sound, growing up in Tampa our house was right in the path of the jets that would land at the International Airport, so the jets would fly directly over our house. You could hear the engines and see the big wheels, in the down position…
It was strange so see this plane flying so low over our house on Sugar St., we did not have any airports nearby where a jet that big could land…and what made it even more odd, was that the wheels were still up in there compartments….and the compartment doors were closed shut. I shut the hose off and went into the house, I was concerned, I thought the plane was having problems and that was why it was flying so low. The kids were playing in the sunroom, Disney’s Fantasia was playing on the VCR when my husband called me from his office. He had forgotten his cell phone at home that day…but that was not why he had called. He told me to turn the TV on, a plane had flown into the North Tower, or Tower 1 of the World Trade Center…his corner office was just across the street and overlooked the towers.
I was on the phone with him as I watched CNN’s Paula Zahn, filming her first show from the rooftop when the second plane hit the tower…it was strange, I saw the big fire-ball, but I had heard the speeding jet over the phone…loud, like a fighter jet flying low, buzzing a beach or a mountain…as it flew into the South Tower, also called Tower 2.
He told me the people who worked for him were going to try to leave the office, but several of his brokers went to see if they could help…he wanted to make sure they came back to the office and that they were safe, before he left the building. That was the last time I spoke with him. My kids and I watched those buildings fall. Then we waited. I knew his office was so close to the falling Towers, there was a strong possibility that he was in extreme danger. We thought the worst.
He walked in the door later that night after 7:30, covered in ash and dust, after running from the debris cloud as the second tower fell. His building was damaged when the towers fell, and three people from his office were killed.
He said the worst thing was watching groups of 20 to 25 people holding hands jumping from the burning building. He saw people fall and burst into pieces as they hit the cement or landed on the large light poles that were in the plaza. He found a heavyset woman lying in the street, when he grabbed her wrist, she had no pulse, he said she must have had a heart attack as she ran.
These are just a few of the things he has told my father. It’s been fifteen years, and he still will not talk to me about the things he saw, but I am there when he has the nightmares. They don’t come as often now, but they still seem to break through his sleep during this time of year.
One thing is strange since that day fifteen years ago… you would be amazed at just how many times he takes a look at the clock, and the time is 9:11. He says it is God’s way of reminding him of that September day.
We cannot forget what we saw that day. We cannot “get over” what happened on that day ten years ago…and I will tell you, it is very upsetting to see articles and op/ed pieces in the press that tell us to leave 9/11 behind.
There were two targets, Washington and New York. Washington saw a great military institution attacked, and quickly rebuilt. In Washington people ran barefoot from the White House and the Capitol.
But New York saw a world end. New York saw the buildings come down.
That was the thing. It’s not that the towers were hit—we could have taken that. It’s not the fire, we could have taken that too. They bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 and took out five floors, and the next day we were back in business.
It’s that the buildings came down, in front of our eyes. They were there and proud and strong, they were massive, two pillars at the end of the island. And then they groaned to the ground and there was a cloud and when people could finally see they looked back and the buildings weren’t there breaking through the clouds anymore. The buildings were a cloud. The buildings were gone and that was too much to bear because they couldn’t be gone, they couldn’t have fallen. Because no one could knock down those buildings.
Those buildings, jetting out of the skyline. You could see them from almost any angle in Midtown and Lower Manhattan. They watched over us. They protected us.
When you ask New Yorkers now what they remember, they start with something big—the first news report, the phone call in which someone said, “Turn on the TV.” But then they go to the kind of small thing that when you first saw it you had no idea it would stay in your mind forever. The look on the face of a young Asian woman on Sixth Avenue in the 20s, as she looked upward. The votive candles on the street and the spontaneous shrines that popped up, the pictures of saints. The Xeroxed signs that covered every street pole downtown. A man or a woman in a family picture from a wedding or a birthday or bar mitzvah. “Have you seen Carla? Last seen Tuesday morning in Windows on the World.”
I remember seeing these posters and notes that were put up all over Manhattan…it was so hard to walk by these makeshift signs…those lost faces of families looking for their lost loved ones. Holding on to the last bit of hope, that they made it out alive and were somewhere in the city and just could not make it home.
The Pompeii-like ash that left a film on everything in town, all the way to the Bronx. The smell of burning plastic that lingered for weeks. A man who worked at Ground Zero told me: “It’s the computers.” They didn’t melt or decompose, and they wouldn’t stop burning.
But the human remains did decompose. My husband would smell death every day for weeks as he went back to work just a day after the towers fell. People would line the streets as the first responders would head into the pit. They held up signs, gave out bottles of water, and waited…
The old woman with her grandchild in a stroller. On the stroller she had written a sign in magic marker: “America You Are Not Alone, Mexico Is With You.” She was all by herself in the darkness, on the side of the West Side Highway, as we stood to cheer the workers who were barreling downtown in trucks to begin the dig-out, and to see if they could find someone still alive.
Many heartbreaking things happened after 9/11 and maybe the worst is that there’s no heroic statue to them, no big marking of what they were and what they gave, at the new World Trade Center memorial.
But New York will never get over what they did. They live in a lot of hearts.
They tell us to get over it, they say to move on, and they mean it well: We can’t bring an air of tragedy into the future. But I will never get over it. To get over it is to get over the guy who stayed behind on a high floor with his friend who was in a wheelchair. To get over it is to get over the woman by herself with the sign in the darkness: “America You Are Not Alone.” To get over it is to get over the guys who ran into the fire and not away from the fire.
You’ve got to be loyal to pain sometimes to be loyal to the glory that came out of it.
So many of those people who died in the towers have never been found, they just incinerated into dust that was blown over the city. Even in Newtown, Connecticut, for days after the buildings fell, ash and dust was falling from the sky. It was like being near a large wildfire, when you see those papery ash particles float down like bits of snow.
As of January 2010, only 1,626 of the 2,752 WTC victims had been identified.
Forward to March of 2015, that number of identified victims had only increased to 1640.
Eric O’Connell/courtesy of HBO
Nobody who remembers Sept. 11 wants to relive it.
And that makes the profusion of 10th-anniversary specials blanketing television throughout the weekend daunting to contemplate, let alone watch. Seeing those images and hearing all those stories is a painful exercise at best, cathartic only in the sense that repression is worse.
What happened that day was unimaginable, and, 10 years on, so is not going over it, again and again.
There are many archives and photo projects that I would like to mention.
The September 11 Photo Project began as a community response to the tragic events of last fall. The Project grew out of a desire to preserve the culture of the outdoor, makeshift shrines that sprang up in public squares and in front of firehouses throughout the city. Anyone wishing to participate was invited to give up to three photographs with accompanying text, which were hung in a donated gallery space.
The Project’s philosophy is simple: To display without exception every set of photos and written statements that are submitted, and to welcome all those who wish to view them. The Project is unique in its approach—each participant, not the organizers, selects the pieces that are displayed, and all are included in the firm belief that no entry is better than any other.
The September 11 Photo Project put the images it received into a book, you can click on that link and see sample pages. It is now a permanent exhibit of the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Collection of the New York Public Library.
Here are a few images from my book…the first picture is a color picture…remember that.
The September 11, 2001, Documentary Project captures the heartfelt reactions, eyewitness accounts, and diverse opinions of Americans and others in the months that followed the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Airlines Flight 93. Patriotism and unity mixed with sadness, anger, and insecurity are common themes expressed in this online presentation of almost 200 audio and video interviews, 45 graphic items, and 21 written narratives.
The day after the attacks, the American Folklife Center called upon the nation’s folklorists and ethnographers to collect, record, and document America’s reaction. A sampling of the material collected through this effort was used to create the September 11, 2001, Documentary Project. This collection captures the voices of a diverse ethnic, socioeconomic, and political cross-section of America during trying times and serves as a historical and cultural resource for future generations.
My daughter Bebe wanted her dad to come to her history class and talk about his experience as a survivor on September 11, 2001. He did not want to do it…it still hurts.
Getting Dan to talk about that day is very difficult. Sometimes he will mention a few descriptions of images or thoughts or smells, but it is very rare. His nightmares have subsided, at least ones that are so real too him they wake me up.
So for this, the fifteenth anniversary of September 11, 2001, I thought it would be good to find some photos of what that day was like for my husband and so many other survivors who still remember that war zone as vividly as if it happened yesterday.
First, I want you to click on this link to a Flickr Slide Show. These are images of Liberty St., Maiden Lane, Battery Park and the Financial District Downtown NYC on September 11, 2001 and the days that follow. (If that slide show does not load, click here for the photo stream.)
I also came across this blog, which has some fascinating pictures and thoughts…13 Days: The World Trade Center, Day One
Day One: September 11
9:02 am 11:02 am
Woke up to sirens and radio reports of an incident at the World Trade Center. I grabbed my camera and was out on the street by 9:00.
This blog discusses the first 13 days and the first 13 weeks and the first 13 months after the attack on World Trade.
The collapse of the World Trade Center is one of those rare tragedies that people will ask of us in the future, in who knows how many languages, “Do you remember where you were, on that day?”
These pages are about exactly that: the weeks that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11th.
That is a wonderful place to spend some time, and get a perspective of what NYC residents had experienced during the days and months after those Twin Towers collapsed.
The photo up top, of the shoe covered in dust is from The September 11 Digital Archive « American Social History Project | Center for Media and Learning
On September 11, 2001, people around the world reacted to the attacks by using the Internet and digital media. This project is dedicated to the collection, preservation, and presentation of the history of that day and its aftermath. The Archive contains more than 150,000 digital items, including more than 40,000 emails and other electronic communications, more than 40,000 first-hand stories, and more than 15,000 digital images. In September 2003, the Library of Congress accepted the Archive into its collections, an event that both ensured the Archive’s long-term preservation and marked the library’s first major digital acquisition.. An unprecedented experiment in digital archival collecting, The September 11 Digital Archive became the Library of Congress‘s first major digital acquisition. The site was produced by ASHP/CML and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Unfortunately, those photos from the Library of Congress are only thumbnail size. You can only see full sized images on the LoC computers…which is really a shame because not everyone can get to Washington, DC. That is a real disappointment for me at least, I really would have liked to see the images larger than those 190 pixels.
Then there are a few more photos I came across while gathering links for this post:
From Time Magazine: 9/11: The Photographs That Moved Them Most – LightBox
Robert Clark—INSTITUTEKent Kobersteen, former Director of Photography of National Geographic“The pictures are by Robert Clark, and were shot from the window of his studio in Brooklyn. Others shot the second plane hitting the tower, but I think there are elements in Clark’s photographs that make them special. To me the wider shots not only give context to the tragedy, but also portray the normalcy of the day in every respect except at the Towers. I generally prefer tighter shots, but in this case I think the overall context of Manhattan makes a stronger image. And, the fact that Clark shot the pictures from his studio indicates how the events of 9/11 literally hit home. I find these images very compelling—in fact, whenever I see them they force me to study them in great detail.”David Surowiecki—Getty ImagesPatrick Witty, International Picture Editor of TIME;
former freelance photographer“After the towers fell, I walked back to my apartment on the Lower East Side, completely in a daze. I had shot black and white film that morning and there was a small lab in the kitchen of my neighbor’s apartment where I could process and scan. When I walked inside, covered in dust and a ripped t-shirt, my neighbors were there and we looked at each other in silence, in disbelief. Another photographer was there who I didn’t know, named David Surowiecki. At the time he was an editor at Getty Images, along with my old roommate Craig Allen. David and Craig were scanning film and transmitting the images from the apartment since Getty’s offices had been evacuated. David’s film from the morning was on a light table near the film dryer in the kitchen. I started looking at his film with a loupe and will never forget the feeling of despair when I saw this one particular image. It was a bizarre and terrifying, yet almost calm image, split down the middle with four tiny bodies falling to the ground. I saw bodies falling when I was near the burning towers, but I didn’t shoot it myself. I couldn’t.
That gallery has 23 images, some of them you may have seen before, but it is good to look at them again. My husband has told me that he saw groups people jumping together. A chain twenty-two people, holding each others hands and choosing to jump to their death. Horrifying.
Here is a link to the National September 11 Memorial & Museum | World Trade Center Memorial. The website had a live stream of the Memorial service from Ground Zero…hopefully you can catch a recorded video at that link if you missed the live broadcast.
You can find some interactive information here at this link:
Join us on Sunday, Sept. 11 for the 15th anniversary commemoration ceremony. The livestream of the ceremony will begin at 8:40 a.m.
Here are some images from the memorial that my daughter took while she was in Manhattan a few months ago:
Below are some links to items and artifacts that are part of the exhibit in the museum, stories, pictures and oral histories…Museum | National September 11 Museum
Like a chair that was donated to the museum, and the story that goes with it:
Lower Manhattan Resident Kathleen Gupta
Kathleen and Udayan Gupta’s Battery Park City home overlooking the World Trade Center was severely damaged on 9/11. Listen to Kathleen Gupta speak about residential life in lower Manhattan before and after September 11 and why the Guptas decided to donate a chair from their apartment to the Museum’s collection. Listen >>
Let’s look at the recent news articles for the 15th Anniversary:
I want to end with this, Pieces of demolished World Trade Center aboard Mars Rovers | Human World | EarthSky
The planet Mars is now home to a piece of the demolished World Trade Center in New York City.
A decade ago, engineers working with NASA turned a scrap of aluminum recovered from the site of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks into cable shields. The shields now protect rock abrasion tools on two Mars Rovers, named Spirit and Opportunity. These quiet tributes to the victims of 9/11 left Earth in 2003 and 2004.
The story of how aluminum from the demolished towers of the World Trade Center (WTC) wound up being incorporated into the Mars Rovers is an interesting one. The tale involves robotics engineer and Rover team member Stephen Gorevan. He was riding his bike in lower Manhattan when a plane hit the WTC on September 11, 2001. He told NASA:
Mostly, what comes back to me even today is the sound of the engines before the first plane struck the tower. Just before crashing into the tower, I could hear the engines being revved up as if those behind the controls wanted to ensure the maximum destruction. I stopped and stared for a few minutes and realized I felt totally helpless, and I left the scene and went to my office nearby, where my colleagues told me a second plane had struck. We watched the rest of the sad events of that day from the roof of our facility.
When the engineers went back to work,
…they were frustrated by not being able to assist with 9/11 volunteer efforts. So, Steve Kondos, who was, at the time, a Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) engineer working with the Honeybee team, came up with the idea of embedding some kind of “interplanetary memorial” on the Rovers:
To carry out the idea, an early hurdle was acquiring an appropriate piece of material from the World Trade Center site. Through Gorevan’s contacts, a parcel was delivered to Honeybee Robotics from the mayor’s office on December 1, 2001, with a twisted plate of aluminum inside and a note: “Here is debris from Tower 1 and Tower 2.”
Tom Myrick, an engineer at Honeybee, saw the possibility of machining the aluminum into cable shields for the rock abrasion tools. He hand-delivered the material to the machine shop in Texas that was working on other components of the tools. When the shields were back in New York, he affixed an image of the American flag on each.
The Rovers have been on the surface of Mars since early in the last decade.
Spirit ended communications in March 2010. Opportunity is still going strong, and its rock abrasion tool is being used to explore a large crater that the rover reached in August of 2011. Gorevan noted:
It’s gratifying knowing that a piece of the World Trade Center is up there on Mars. That shield on Mars, to me, contrasts the destructive nature of the attackers with the ingenuity and hopeful attitude of Americans.
Sometime soon, both the Rovers will fall silent. But their aluminum tribute to 9/11′s victims will survive on the cold surface of the desert world Mars for millions of years to come.
Take the time today…remembering what happened that day and remembering the people who lost their lives in Washington DC, Lower Manhattan and a field in Pennsylvania, and thinking about those love ones they left behind…families that are still waiting for some part of them to come home.
It’s quiet now
And what it brings
Comes calling back
A brilliant night
I’m still awake
I looked ahead
I’m sure I saw you there
You don’t need me
To tell you now
That nothing can compare
You might have laughed if I told you
You might have hidden A frown
You might have succeeded in changing me
I might have been turned around
It’s easier to leave than to be left behind
Leaving was never my proud
Leaving New York, never easy
I saw the light fading out
Now life is sweet
And what it brings
I tried to take
It wears me out
It lies in wait
And I’ve lost
Still in my eyes
The shadow of necklace
Across your thigh
I might’ve lived my life in a dream, but I swear
This is real
Memory fuses and shatters like glass
Mercurial future, forget the past
It’s you, it’s what I feel.
You might have laughed if I told you (it’s pulling me apart)
You might have hidden a frown (change)
You might have succeeded in changing me (it’s pulling me apart)
I might have been turned around (change)
It’s easier to leave than to be left behind (it’s pulling me apart)
Leaving was never my proud (change)
Leaving New York, never easy (it’s pulling me apart)
I saw the light fading out
You find it in your heart, it’s pulling me apart
You find it in your heart, change…
I told you, forever
I love you, forever
I told you, I love you
I love you, forever
I told you, forever
You never, you never
You told me forever
You might have laughed if I told you
You might have hidden the frown
You might have succeeded in changing me
I might have been turned around
It’s easier to leave than to be left behind (it’s pulling me apart)
Leaving was never my proud (change)
Leaving New York never easy (it’s pulling me apart)
I saw the life fading out (change)
Leaving New York, never easy (it’s pulling me apart)
I saw the light fading out (change)
Leaving New York never easy (it’s pulling me apart)
I saw the life fading out (change)
While I’m waiting at the local Social Security office, I will try to get this post out. My father is being stopped by the armed guard/federal cop for carrying his gun into the office. And if that wasn’t bad enough…he has to go on and on with the guy, how he has a concealed carry license…even though the dude is telling my dad that license doesn’t matter for shit. The office is considered a federal building.
This is an open thread for now….please post any and all links you can, because it is just one of those shitty ass days.
I sometimes feel a strong sense of Déjà vu when I write the post titles…I especially got that sensation when typing out the title for today’s thread. Maybe it is because we spent last evening in the Banjoville General Hospital ER. Maybe it was seeing all those same people, and experiencing the same sights and smells as we did a few months ago when my brother Denny was taken to the emergency room…This time it was my daughter who was ill. She was suffering from food poisoning, something that the ER was able to treat with IV fluids and anti-puke pills. But that visit last night brought back some memories from my brother’s final stay at that hospital…and when we finally got back home last night, all I could do was think sad morbid thoughts.
If there is ever a day you’d wish to stay in bed…What Would Happen to Your Body If You Stayed in Bed Forever? | Mental Floss
Check out that link and find a video that will “make you want to get out of bed immediately.” Meh, all I felt was myself falling back to sleep while watching it.
I caught this blog post on Facebook and thought you all would find it intriguing. (Wait is that spelled right?)
There is so much incorrect information about the Maya online. This causes me much frustration, particularly as teachers (KS2 History Maya Civilisation) unknowingly are teaching these inaccuracies in the classroom and thousands of children are learning untruths about the Maya.
As mentioned in a previous blog post – How to spot untrustworthy resources on the Maya – the Maya seem to get a raw deal when it comes to the study of ancient cultures.
The Maya was only 1 of 5 cultures in the world to have independently developed a writing system where they could write anything they said, they were only 1 of 2 cultures in the world who created the number zero, they had an elaborate and accurate calendar system, they built cities in the rainforest and some of the largest pyramids in the world – so why are they given such a raw deal?
Meet the Ancient Britonians
The Britonians, for this is what the people were called, inhabited an area that is now called England.
In 2500 BC, when great civilisations of the day were building pyramids 500 feet high, the Britonians were placing abandoned stones upright, sometimes, if they were feeling artistically inclined, these stones were arranged into shapes, such as squares, rectangles or circles.
There were no carvings or inscriptions on these stones or anything of interest.
That should make you want to go and read the rest of that thread.
Death, war, graves, madness, oh they are all here for you today:
Starvation, torture and rape: the grim daily realities of prisoners inside Syria’s Saidnaya military prison have been recreated in harrowing 3D detail by a London-based agency, established to highlight claims of rights abuses.
A new study by University of Leicester academics has shown that lower severity trauma patients could be more likely to die after two to three weeks.
Researchers tackling the chocolate crisis …and that is a huge potential loss for people like me…and I bet folks like you!
It might seem like a no-brainer to inform the authorities and potential victims if a patient threatens violence, but it’s not that simple
When he was 2, Jeremy Shuler was reading books in English and Korean. At 6, he was studying calculus. Now, at an age when most kids are attending middle school, the exuberant 12-year-old is a freshman at Cornell University, the youngest the Ivy League school has on record.
Volcanoes are geology at its most exciting. They seem so fiery, dangerous and thrillingly explosive. That may be true, but most old and mature volcanoes are surprisingly stuck in their ways and even if when they will blow is difficult to forecast, where they will blow from is often more predictable.
A few weeks ago, Snapchat released a new photo filter. It appeared alongside many of the other such face-altering filters that have become a signature of the service. But instead of surrounding your face with flower petals or giving you the nose and ears of a Dalmatian, the filter added slanted eyes, puffed cheeks and large front teeth. A number of Snapchat users decried the filter as racist, saying it mimicked a “yellowface” caricature of Asians. The company countered that they meant to represent anime characters and deleted the filter within a few hours.
“Snapchat is the prime example of what happens when you don’t have enough people of color building a product,” wrote Bay Area software engineer Katie Zhu in an essay she wrote about deleting the app and leaving the service. In a tech world that hires mostly white men, the absence of diverse voices means that companies can be blind to design decisions that are hurtful to their customers or discriminatory.
A Snapchat spokesperson told ProPublica that the company has recently hired someone to lead their diversity recruiting efforts.
But this isn’t just Snapchat’s problem. Discriminatory design and decision-making affects all aspects of our lives: from the quality of our health care and education to where we live to what scientific questions we choose to ask. It would be impossible to cover them all, so we’ll focus on the more tangible and visual design that humans interact with every day.
I will include this next link…written by actress Gabrielle Union: ‘Birth of a Nation’ actress Gabrielle Union: I cannot take Nate Parker rape allegations lightly – LA Times
On with more links from the dump:
The worse it gets, as I wade and stumble through the Great Dismal Swamp, the better I understand its history as a place of refuge. Each ripping thorn and sucking mudhole makes it clearer. It was the dense, tangled hostility of the swamp and its enormous size that enabled hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of escaped slaves to live here in freedom.
A forensic artist has recreated the face of a woman alive 3,700 years ago
Mother Teresa is now a Saint: Mother Teresa: The humble sophisticate – BBC News
Back to murder and mayhem and misery:
- Anchorage has had 25 homicides this year and nine deaths remain unsolved
- Police issue advisory this week urging residents to be ‘extra aware’
Researchers discovered a new snake species in Madagascar and named it “ghost snake” for its pale grey coloration and elusiveness. They found the ghost snake on a recently opened path within the well-traveled Ankarana National Park in northern Madagascar in February 2014. They studied the snake’s physical characteristics and genetics, which verified that it is a new species. The researchers from the LSU Museum of Natural Science, the American Museum of Natural History and the Université de Mahajunga in Madagascar named it Madagascarophis lolo, pronounced “luu luu,” which means ghost in Malagasy. Their work was published in the scientific journal, Copeia, today.
What are the expectations of persons who decide to have their risk of Alzheimer’s Disease tested? What should doctors pay attention to when ascertaining individual risks? What is the benefit of risk determination for patients and their close others, while options to treat the disease remain insufficient? According to current estimates, the number of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease worldwide is 40 million – and rising. The burdens imposed on the patients, on their caregivers, and on society are considerable.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if a person who lost a limb could simply grow it back? It happens all the time in the animal kingdom. Sea Cucumbers, for instance, don’t need to die when they lose internal organs. They simply grow new ones in a process called regeneration. We use regeneration to grow new toenails and small parts of our liver and brain. But why can’t we regrow other important body parts, like legs or lungs? Scientists are studying an array of animals and insects in order to understand regeneration and how it can further help us.
From Viking graves to immigrant graves…Three cultures in one city
This investigative study examines the unique burial traits of three cemeteries in Ybor City, Florida founded by immigrant mutual-aid societies in the early 20th century. By thorough documentation and careful analysis, an argument for their potential National Register eligibility will be crafted to further support their preservation. Cemeteries on a whole deserve better protection, both locally and nationally, as they inherently deal with different circumstances than structures or buildings face in terms of eligibility. This thesis serves to highlight the underappreciated burial typologies found in the three mutual-aid society cemeteries in Ybor City.
Meanwhile in Iceland…what out for angry elves: Icelandic Construction Workers Dig Up ‘Enchanted’ Rock to Placate Angry Elves | Mental Floss
And also, check it out: In Iceland, Drawing a Map on Your Mail Works Just as Well as an Address | Mental Floss
Our last link for the day.
More cards at the link above…
And that is all I have for you today.
This is an open thread.
There is a scene in the film The Producers (1968), where the character Leo Bloom…played marvelously by Gene Wilder, has a “nervous attack” when Broadway Producer Max Bialystock, the one and only Zero Mostel, touches his “blue blanket”…click the link below to see the video of the scene at TCM:
Nervous accountant Leo Bloom (Gene Wilder) and desperate producer Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel) discuss financial chicanery and psychological nuances in an early scene from Mel Brooks’The Producers, 1967.
The line in particular I want to point out is this one…
After Leo has his hysterical fit in Max’s office and he calms down, Max says to him soothingly, “Yes, Prince Myshkin.” It’s an oblique insult, since Prince Myshkin is the title character of Dostoevsky’s The Idiot.
It was an obscure comment that many would have missed, had they not known who Prince Myshkin was…but if I could use it as an example of the subtle nature of Gene Wilder’s way of portraying his neurotic characters as crazy yes…but with that bit of humanity underneath.
Y’all know what I am talking about right? Maybe it is in the way he stared with those eyes, adding the sadness behind some of Hollywood’s most outrageous and hysterical characters.
There was no mistaking Mr. Wilder, even when it seemed like putting him in certain roles was a mistake. That’s why they put him there. Mopey gunslinger in “Blazing Saddles” or mad scientist in “Young Frankenstein” (both from 1974)? A 1977 parody of Rudolph Valentino’s silent-movie erotics in “The World’s Greatest Lover” (which he wrote and directed)? All miscast, all the funnier for it. All thestranger.
Mr. Wilder’s eyes were famous. They glimmered even when — in, say, “The Producers” (1968), “Blazing Saddles” or “The Woman in Red” (1984) — he looked sad, even in the black and white of “Young Frankenstein.” (Although, acting next to Marty Feldman or Zero Mostel he didn’t seem to have eyes at all.) But when he spoofed Valentino, he telegraphed the gag by enhancing the diameter of his eyes so that he looked more lunatic than lusty. And his Willy Wonka spent that chocolate factory tour quietly on the verge of a nervous breakdown. For one thing, he never seemed to blink.
Mr. Wilder also had amazing diction. It was as crisp as a potato chip, as precise as some professors and as neat as the curls in his hair were a mess. It all came together when his characters fell apart. His performance in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” (1971) was a master class of gradually shattering aplomb. Toward the end of the movie, when Wonka’s obsessive-compulsiveness overtakes him and he erupts at Charlie and his grandpa, who’ve inquired about why Charlie doesn’t win a lifetime of candy after all, Mr. Wilder’s rage struck a very young me the way “The Rite of Spring” shocked those Parisian ballet-goers in 1913. What kind of monster does this to people?
Some of that shock came from Mr. Wilder’s punching every word in Wonka’s tirade. “Wrong, sir! Wrong!” he shouts, and continues, “You stole Fizzy-Lifting Drinks! You bumped into the ceiling, which now has to be washed and sterilized, so you get … nothing! You lose! Good day, sir!”
Then, just like that, he changes his mind. Mr. Hyde goes back to being Dr. Jekyll. And Charlie wins. Mr. Wilder made the character as unstable as he could make the protagonist of a supposed kiddie movie. But that was him in a nutshell: funny at both extremes. In “Young Frankenstein,” Mr. Wilder lies atop the monster his character has created, peeved that the creature beneath him has been aroused, not subdued as he requested. “Sedagive?” he barks, referring both to an earlier joke about a sedative and the current situation, and turning each syllable into a note of aggravated disbelief.
There are many great comic movie actors, and all of them have that thing called timing, but while many of them make it look easy, few of them make it look as natural as Wilder did. True, his characters were often outsized and manic, but they were grounded maniacs — you always knew each of them had a very good reason for his fits. When Leo Bloom in The Producers does that weird gibberish over the loss of his blue blanky — “ungh nuhngnuhngnuhng, ungh nuhngnuhngnuhng” — it’s not just crazy nutso shtick; you really feel the loss of that blue blanky and want him to get it back. (How awful Max Bialystock would have seemed if he didn’t give it back!) I love Jack Lemmon, but great as he is I think he wouldn’t have elicited the same feeling in that role; Lemmon, when manic, was clearly operating somewhere above the normal spectrum of human behavior (“Security!“). Wilder, on the other hand, made even his most outre behavior look perfectly normal. He was perfect for the post-psychedelic era; he made you comfortable with psychological wreckage.
Yet he could also surprise you with the unexpectedness of his readings. I’m not just talking about oddities like “Stop, don’t, come back,” but his offbeat way of realizing classic comic builds. Look at the “do not open that door” scene, rendered below: the payoff would probably be funny no matter what, but the absurdly inappropriate mildness of “let me out, let me out of here, get me the hell out of here” just kills me every time. He constantly gave you something fresh, yet after the initial shock it usually made perfect sense. For a performer, that’s not too bad a definition of genius.
The sad news that Gene Wilder passed a few days ago from complications from Alzheimer disease was very upsetting to me, his films and performances have peppered happy moments of my life.
Wilder’s work with Mel Brooks, Richard Pryor, Woody Allen and more made him one of the comedy titans of his generation.
Gene Wilder was the Mad Hatter of American screen comedy. He could make you laugh without even moving, his beatific half-smile always shading into a sinister smirk, his soft-spoken manner a flimsy mask for the whirling maelstrom of mischief beneath. With his radiant blue eyes, explosion of frizzy hair and otherworldly demeanor, Wilder was an unsettling clown and an unlikely leading man. But his offbeat energy helped create some of the greatest screen comedies, and biggest box-office hits, of his generation.
Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee in 1933 to a Russian-Jewish immigrant father and a sickly mother who sometimes mistreated him, the young Wilder was bullied for being Jewish by other kids. As a young man, he did two years of military service in the psychiatry department of a U.S. army hospital, later spending many years in analysis working on his deep-seated feelings of guilt, shame and sexual repression. For a Jewish-American comedian, of course, there is no finer apprenticeship; Wilder certainly always laced his finest comic performances with an undercurrent of anguish. Tellingly, he cited Charlie Chaplin’s City Lights as a key inspiration because “it was funny, then sad, then both at the same time.”
Initially making his mark on Broadway, Wilder first registered on Hollywood’s radar with his small but scene-stealing appearance in Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967), all nervy intensity and deadpan mirth. His big break came a year later when Mel Brooks cast him in The Producers (1968) as Leo Bloom, the seethingly neurotic accountant recruited by Zero Mostel’s crooked Broadway operator Max Bialystock for a money-making scam reliant on the surefire failure of a tasteless stage musical about Hitler. Where Mostel is a wrecking ball of crazed energy on screen, Wilder balances him with Zen-like minimalism, despite the mounting panic in his eyes. The film earned him his first Academy Award nomination and cemented his star status.
Wilder’s fruitful creative partnership with Brooks led to two further collaborations. In the bawdy western spoof Blazing Saddles (1972), he provides the zany plot’s calm emotional center as The Waco Kid, a legendary gunslinger with a surprisingly philosophical manner: “I must have killed more men than Cecil B. DeMille,” he sighs ruefully. Two years later, in the affectionate monochrome vintage-horror pastiche Young Frankenstein (1974), Wilder stars as a hapless descendant of cinema’s most infamous mad scientist, wittily blending vaudevillian shtick with stylized Expressionist mannerisms. It was conceived by Wilder, and Young Frankenstein earned him a second Oscar nod, this time as co-writer with Brooks.
Wilder and Brooks brought out the best in each other, and each of their filmographies would be unthinkable without the other. But the eccentric star’s most memorable screen incarnation was in a non-Brooks project as the eponymous confectionery tycoon in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). Director Mel Stuart’s musical adaptation of Roald Dahl’s deliciously nasty children’s book was a box-office flop, but it is now firmly established as a beloved cult classic.
Wilder’s multilayered performance as Wonka — by turns menacing and playful, stern and tender, creepy and compassionate — is a master class in darkly surreal humor that set a new bar for generations of Batman and James Bond villains. Even today, it continues to resonate through remakes, musical tributes and an ever-evolving social-media meme featuring Wilder grinning manically in full mad-hatter mode.
The obituary continues, talking about his roles with Richard Pryor, and his wife Gilda Radner…
After undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the turn of the millennium, Wilder mostly stayed away from acting in his autumn years. With his fourth wife, Karen Boyer, he preferred to busy himself with charity work, painting and writing comic novels. More recently, as he succumbed to the Alzheimer’s that would eventually hasten his death, he preferred to keep his illness hidden from the public. This was because, as his nephew Jordan Walker-Pearlman explains, “he simply couldn’t bear the idea of one less smile in the world.”
As the news of his death spreads, everyone will think of his or her favorite insane-slow-burn Gene Wilder moment. The late Pauline Kael mentioned a quintessential one, the bit in Start the Revolution Without Me (1970) in which Wilder (as a haughty aristocrat) is informed that the noble bird on his shoulder is, in fact, dead. Wilder fixes the upstart with his laser-blue stare and says, with that eerie calm-that’s-being-slowly-strangled-to-death-by-escalating rage, “Repeat that.”
My own favorite is in Young Frankenstein (1974), which Wilder conceived and co-wrote with Mel Brooks. Here, with elaborate patience, Wilder’s Dr. Frankenstein poses the question to Marty Feldman’s Igor: What brain did the hunchback steal for the inexplicably brutal creature? “You won’t be mad?” asks Igor. “I. Will. Not. Be Mad.” By the time we hear, “Abby someone,” and the gentle but quivering, “Abby — who?” we are ready — eager — for the murderous explosion to come. No one built as exquisitely as Wilder from the genial, the gentle, the hopeful, to violent, no-holds-barred hysteria. At those moments, Wilder was unique — a genius.
From whence did this persona come? Born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee in 1933, Wilder spent much of his childhood as the object of anti-Semitic bullying, which was likely how he learned to keep his feelings under wraps while nursing an imagination of disaster. Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio compelled (coerced, bullied) him to tap into his dark side, but — unlike many Studio grads — Wilder used that newfound ability carefully, almost warily. In repose, he could be mistaken for a mild, Stan Laurel sidekick — and he was just that, in outline, opposite Zero Mostel’s Oliver Hardy in Brooks’s The Producers (1968). But there was always something seething underneath. As Willy Wonka in the clunky but fondly remembered Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Wilder made Roald Dahl’s sadism more family-friendly. But he still suggested — in the immortal phrase of “J.J. Hunsecker” — “a cookie full of arsenic.”
With his sympathy for the freaky outcast (nurtured by psychoanalysis), Wilder created Young Frankenstein, the rare parody that was also an act of celebration — of both the work being parodied and the originalFrankenstein myth. It was the apex of Wilder’s and Brooks’s series of collaborations, a succession of highs with almost no lows. When the two parted ways, both lost something. Wilder had a sentimental streak and a longing to be a “straight” romantic lead that led to vehicles like the weirdly flat The World’s Greatest Lover and the dire The Woman in Red. (Poor directing did in his attempt to do a Brooks-like parody with Feldman inThe Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’s Smarter Brother.) Brooks, who liked to cut the foreplay and jump right to hysteria, needed Wilder’s discipline and the grounding in psychological reality that came from Wilder’s Method training.
Wilder’s financial windfall came from his screen partnership with Richard Pryor, beginning with the blockbuster Silver Streak (1976), in which he was a passable romantic lead and, for a few moments, had something wonderfully jazzy going with Pryor. As a stereotypical ungainly white man, Wilder was a great foil for his edgy, African-American co-star. But in subsequent vehicles, Pryor lost that edge, and cocaine abuse addled his timing. And then there was Gilda Radner, Wilder’s third wife and the second woman in his life (the other was his mother) to die of ovarian cancer at a tragically young age. It was a love story offscreen, but onscreen with Radner he was perhaps too gentle. The madness had receded.
Rather than fight a business he no longer enjoyed, Wilder left the field — another tragedy, since he might have shifted into character parts the way other clowns with acting chops (Robin Williams, Albert Brooks) did. But he never abased himself, never betrayed his gifts, never sold his profession short. From his home in Connecticut, where he lived with his fourth wife, he wrote an upbeat memoir and several novels before Alzheimer’s took him.
His death will have the effect of sending us back to his work. You can savor his brief turn in Bonnie and Clyde, in which his high-strung conviviality exists astride a grave, and he freaks out Faye Dunaway’s Bonnie Parker. His scenes with Mostel in The Producers are classics, although the two didn’t rekindle the magic in the little-remembered American Film Theater production of Ionesco’s Rhinoceros. (It’s still worth a look to see Mostel transform into a rhinoceros in one of the roles that made him, onstage, a legend.) Blazing Saddles looms large, although as good as Cleavon Little is, the movie would have taken off into the stratosphere if Brooks had succeeded in casting Pryor in his prime. (The studio was too frightened of Pryor back then.)
Above all, re-watch Young Frankenstein, and learn. Watch Wilder be convulsively funny while serving as the straight man. Watch him lovingly yield the spotlight to the boisterous Feldman, the soulful Peter Boyle, the exquisitely tremulous Teri Garr, and the incomparably insouciant Madeline Kahn, among many others. With its emphasis on self-plumbing, the Method could produce actors too much in their own heads, but Wilder could go deep into himself and still be the greatest audience imaginable for his fellow clowns. That’s what lingers today. To be able to court madness in oneself while giving others a safe space to let their own creative spirits rip — that’s akin in comedy to saintliness.
There are many links I have for you that you may like to read about Gene Wilder:
Hullabaloo – Surely, he’s joking: R.I.P. Gene Wilder By Dennis Hartley
I guess I must have been in shock.
When I received a text from Digby asking if I’d heard about Gene Wilder, I steeled myself and immediately queried Mr. Google. There it was. But I refused to believe it. This just couldn’t be. That’s when I began a one-sided argument with my, erm…laptop:
“Wait a minute. Gene Wilder is no longer with us? Are you saying, he is no longer with us? Is that what you’re telling me, that Gene Wilder…is no longer here? No longer here. He was here, but now, he is not? IS THAT WHAT YOU’RE TRYING TO TELL ME?!”
Sorry, but people that talented, that funny, are simply not allowed to just up and leave us.
No, they do not just up and leave us, Wilder has left us a treasure trove of film to remember him…Where You Can Watch Gene Wilder Movies on Demand — Vulture
While discussing the sad news of Gene Wilder’s passing today it became abundantly clear that everyone has their own treasured connection to the legendary comedic actor, so we asked some of our writers to share what it is about Wilder’s roles that stood out for them.
Leachman remembers how he kept cracking up during one scene in the iconic film in which she played Frau Blücher. Wilder said Young Frankenstein was his favorite film, and you can see from the blooper reel below how much fun they all had on set. Brooks has said in the past that Blücher translates to a horse going to a factory and being turned to glue, hence the horses neighing loudly every time her character’s name was mentioned.
“I remember when we were shooting Young Frankenstein there was a scene where I had to get the group up the stairs immediately. I had to say, ‘Shtay close to zee candles’ and turn toward him. As I turned around I could see his face was in two pieces. We had to do our scene 14 times over because he’d be laughing so hard. Alas, alas. So dear Gene, I vill say, ‘Goodnight.’”
Comedy legend Mel Brooks paid tribute to the late Gene Wilder Tuesday on The Tonight Show. “He was sick, and I knew it,” Brooks said. “And he was such a dear friend. I expected that he would go, but when it happens, it’s still tremendous. It’s a big shock. I’m still reeling from … no more Gene. I can’t call him. He was such a wonderful part of my life.”
“I met him when my late wife Anne Bancroft was doingMother Courage, a Bertolt Brecht play, and Gene was in it,” he said. “He was the chaplain. He came backstage, and I got to know him a little bit. The chaplain is a great part – it’s sad and funny. It’s touching, and it can be amusing. So he said, ‘Why are they always laughing at me?’ I said, ‘Look in the mirror – blame it on God.’
“We became very good friends, and I told him about Leo Bloom in the thing I was writing called The Producers,” he continued. “And I said, ‘Look, I’m promising you: When we get the money, you are gonna be Leo Bloom.’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, when you get the money. You’re doing a play about two Jews who are producing a flop instead of a hit, knowing they can make more money with a flop. And the big number in it is ‘Springtime for Hitler.’ Yeah, you’re gonna get the money!”
Brooks said, after securing the funding, he surprised Wilder backstage after another play and told the emotional actor the news. “He was taking off his make-up in his dressing room,” he said. “I took the script, and I said, ‘Gene, we got the money. We’re gonna make the movie. You are Leo Bloom.’ And I threw it on his make-up table. And he burst into tears and held his face and cried. And then I hugged him. It was a wonderful moment.”
Be sure to click on those photo galleries…
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