Wednesday, May 30, 2007

One Flew Over The Still Cuckoo-As-Ever Nest

I volunteered to come into work on my first day off this week in order to transport a severely and chronically mentally ill woman to the Oregon State Hospital over in Salem, our state's capitol city. Without betraying any deputy-patient confidentiality, I will simply tell you how this very interesting woman insisted we address her. I will also tell you that I obliged her on the request, but that it took me a while to get the name down. It's complicated. It's a formula. And it has to be said just so.

After months of languishing in a jail, she finally got a commitment order from the Court. She came in on what I like to call "the mentally ill person's criminal cocktail:" Disorderly Conduct (like disturbing the peace in other states) and Criminal Trespass II. What it boils down to is that she was being loud and obnoxious at the library and refusing to leave when told to do so by persons in control of the property.

Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison is a very bright woman. African American, "born in Egypt," as she would cautiously disclose to me after many months, she came to jail because (and this was a no-brainer) she is bipolar. If you haven't spent any time with a person who suffers from bipolarity while they are off their meds and in their manic phase, then count your blessings. They never sleep. Rarely eat. And boy can they cuss.

On the way over to Salem, something happened that just amazed me about Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison. She knew her music. She did not like my choice in radio (N.P.R.'s Morning Edition). Oh no. We had to listen to music. I selected an oldies station. When it began to fade as we stretched our distance from the coastal station, I changed the dial. In full-blown, pressured rant about God-knows-what, Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison didn't break stride and quickly inserted, "Where's my Bon Jovi?" I was stunned. Had no idea she was even listening through the mental thickness of her own program. I guess I sort of recognized the song, but I was never a Bon Jovi fan. Not by choice, just by circumstance. I like Bon Jovi. I just don't know their stuff. But boy, she sure did. On one other occasion she was was talking 5,280 feet per 60 seconds and I said aloud, just to test the waters, "Boy, I have no idea who this band is." Nothing. Rant continued. So I changed the station and just like that, out pops, "That was Scorpion." Scorpion? "Oh, I said," and changed it back. A few bars into the continuing song she adds, "Scorpion is a German band."

Really? I haven't Googled it. I just believed her.

My point is this: Crazy is crazy. But I have always experienced, in clinical settings as well as in situations of incarceration, that there is a golden thread of sanity holding the mix together. Somewhere deep down in the muck of all the broken noise, human beings know they are crazy. They know their brain is not working right. And if for no other reason than that, they are always to be treated with dignity and respect.

I am glad that Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison was taken off the street. But she doesn't belong in a jail. The de-institutionalization of the mentally ill is something this government needs to be ashamed of. I'm not advocating a resurrection of the old warehouse model. But something---ANYTHING---would be better than putting someone in a jail cell who really, when you get right down to it, is not a criminal. They are just ill. What if they put us in jail for getting the flu?

So we finally get to Salem. Building 50J. I escort Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison through the double entry doors and, as usual, we just sit there. People with photo name tags come and go. I've seen it before. Not a single person stops to ask if we have been helped or if we need a drink of water or if we need to use the bathroom. Once you get there, you never know what to do next. You just wait like an insect somewhere close to trapdoor spider's hole. I have been to this facility a half dozen times and the same thing happens. Nothing.

So finally, a woman comes out through the iron mesh enclosure security gate and says, "Do they know you're here?" Ah. Relief. A nice person. I tell her that I never know what to do next when arriving. She says that she will call "up there" and then takes out her cell phone. She finishes the call and turns to Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison, introduces herself and reaches out her hand. She got the response I thought she'd get---the smug look with cute African nose in the air and averted gaze. But this woman did a wonderful thing and for that I was appreciative. She welcomed my custody and smiled at her. She then told me she was the floor director. I introduced myself and she left. I got her name. I'm good at getting names.

Some minutes later, many people have come and gone through that security gate, none of whom asking if we had been helped. Eventually, a man and a woman came through the gate and sort of materialized out of the mist, becoming the people we were supposed to follow. I secured my weapon and magazines and entered. They did not utter a single word. I tried my best to get them to speak. I began to wonder if they were patients and not staff, but they had those photo name I.D.s on their blue shirts. I got the man to almost smile. Yeah, I saw the corners of his mouth start to elevate, but something reminded them not to move in that direction. And then there was that serious semi-frown they sported. I pulled out some of my best humor and he beat it.

After a minute or so, three more staff arrived. Same semi-frown. I introduced myself to them. They did not reciprocate. I had begun removing the belly chains and ankle restraints from Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison without being directed to do so. I figured, well, if they didn't want that, they would tell me. After I cut her loose, I said, "So, are we done? Is that it?" I had to ask. I was told that we were done. "So I just go?" They nodded. There was so much I wanted to say. I had pertinent data. I knew this woman and wanted to tell them about her. I held my tongue.

I looked Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison square in the eyes and said, "It has been a real pleasure knowing you, Mrs. Doctor Attorney Jim Morrison. I am so hoping we can meet after you are done being here." She just told me that she didn't like Jews and I told her that I appreciated her caring to share her opinion. Then I said so long, and left.

I drove across the street and took two cell phone pictures of the old Oregon State Hospital buildings. This is indeed where "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" was filmed. A security guy saw me in the cop car and approached the interior limits of the razor wired fence. I got out and walked up to him and in fine Gawpo fashion, introduced myself. He reciprocated. He was friendly. His name is Tom McD. He said that he began work at the place just a few months after the filming of the movie. "When it came out in the theaters, it was sort of funny because some of the patients were extras in the movie and it was like watching home movies." He said that the sink that was tossed out the window by "the big Indian" had been on display in the foyer of the main entrance until about a year ago. Tom said he didn't understand why they took it away, but that it is somewhere in storage. "Kinda crazy, if ya ask me," he said.

This is the east end of the old Hospital. Tom explained to me that the patients make pallets for large distribution companies. They put in a day of work and get paid for it.

The entrance to the old Hospital.

Just over the top of the car's roof are the double doors to some of the saddest examples of people in the business of helping others. They sure didn't help me. This is the new building.

Not long prior to his passing, a friend of mine saw Ken Kesey in a video store. Her continued staring was finally met with a knowing wink, "Yeah, it's me" it said, "thanks for knowing, and thanks for not rushing me for an autograph."

This video is 8 minutes long. You don't have to watch it all to get the idea. On my last trip over, though, I sure got the idea.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Louie Prima: C'e la luna mezz'o mare

Since I was a little boy, this song has played on hi fidelity monaural, as well as stereo record players at Italian or Sicilian gatherings. Especially, as you will soon see why, at weddings.

The song is C'e La Luna Mezz'o Mare and there is no doubt you have heard several renditions by as many artists. But when my grandfather told me what the lyrics mean, I was a bit embarrassed. Be sure to check out the running translation in the right hand column.

Our favorite artist, hands down, was Louis Prima. I have two collections of his songs on CD. If you think you don't know who Louis Prima was, then just think back to Disney's "The Jungle Book." Mr. Prima played King Louie Of The Apes.

When David Lee Roth did "Just A Gigolo," I was delighted and astounded by how loyal the band stayed to the original. They done Louis real proud. Even the Sicilian "filler" words toward the end of the song were true to form in one version, but I can't find that on You Tube. Oh, well.

This You Tube video doesn't do Louis justice. But I love how his then wife, Keely Smith just stands there, nearly motionless and looking quite bored as all the other cools cats jumped and bounced.

In this short example of Keely Smith, you will notice the wedding ring. What a voice. What a pure and beautiful voice.

Friday, May 18, 2007

It's A Small World After All

sorry, folks....comments were disabled. thx 2 sheila, MOB!

So one day I go to Blue's blog (it always seems to begin with Blue's blog) and I see this person leaving comments which appear interesting to me and I go to her page and her page is called Lisaoceandreamer and I really like that name and when I get to the page I am so totally drawn in by what she has to say and what she takes pictures of and so we start to leave comments on each other's pages and before you know it, we wind up on each other's blog rolls and then we are emailing and then one day I get an email telling me that she and her hubby, G and she are thinking quite strongly about coming up to Oregon for a little vacation and that they hoped that, while here, they would be able to visit a since-childhood friend of Lisa's and his wife and if she and G and I could all hook up for a visit, well, that would be very nice and I agreed and so I figured that her friends probably lived far away like maybe down in Roseburg or maybe even in Medford (barely in the state at all) or maybe way over in La Grande or Bend or Burns or Rome or French Glenn or Crane or Gladstone or Mist or Chemult or Clem or Drain or Post or Paulina or Dayville or Condon (not "m") or Metolius or Tumalo or Wagontire or Fossil or Bly or Shady Cove or John Day or The Dalles (one of only a couple cities whose names include a definite article like that, so I just had to use it in this sentence), or any number of other Oregon cities, so I just went ahead and told her the "town" I live in---which is really not a town at all, simply a rural area that shares the zip code that is housed in the Post Office that is housed in the last vestige of a town, the little ________ Store---and she wrote me back and said: "That's where my friends live. Their last name is _______." So I wrote back and said, "Oh! My! GAWD!!! You don't mean _____ and ____ __________!, do you?" And she said, "Oh! Her! GAWD!!! too" because yes, those ARE her friends.

_____ and _____ _________ live less than two crow-flying miles from my house. And I know them. And they know me. And Lisa and I got huge goosebumps. And we are amazed.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Columba fasciata

I used to hunt Bandtail Pigeons. But as they say in my rural county, "Not no more." I kind of got the hint when they reduced the hunting season from the entire month of September to September 15th-30th. The bag limit also went from six birds per day, six in possession, to four birds per day and four in possession. Then the season went to Sept 15th-23rd. Nine days. And the bag limit went to two per day and only two in possession. So you pretty much had to eat what you got that same day if you wanted to go and hunt the next morning. Seemed silly to continue to hunt something that was in such obvious decline. Unless, of course, you subscribed to, "Them Fish and Game people don't know nuthin'." But I don't subscribe.

The last time I hunted was about three years ago. But it's been many years since I hunted a Bandtail. There are certain birds, however, whose flesh I have a weakness for.

I love any gallinaceous bird (just think of Pico de ______ to get where that word comes from). These birds, quail and ruffed grouse included, have white breast meat (just like Pico de _____) and dark everything else. That's because can only fly short distances. Not so much blood to keep the wings flapping as with ducks and geese and----Bandtail Pigeons, which fly many miles per day. When a quail or a pheasant "gets up," there's a good chance you are going to have to go home and change your underwear because the explode, often times right under your feet. And since Bandtails and other doves are not gallinaceous, I'm not missing much.

There are quail and ruffed grouse around here, so I suppose I may venture out again some day. But I pretty much only buy a fishing license now. Besides, look at what I get to enjoy while helping these critters.

These birds are extremely skittish. They have a routine whereby they land on the tables, feed warily, and then explode with a thunderous roar, only to return to the eating surface once satisfied the coast is clear.

You can see how I have had to rig my window to shoot the video without scaring the birds. I will have upwards of 300 birds by June. Toward the end of June, they all disappear to feed almost exclusively on
Cascara sagrada (Chittam), the bark of which contains a very, VERY strong laxative.

Two things about Bandtails: 1) as with all doves and pigeons, they are able to get the most out of a wing beat like no other bird, such that they clap their wings together on the down beat. And 2) unlike other birds---including (I believe) other doves and pigeons, these can drink water without having to hold their head up to swallow. Check it out in the video. Then go see if a dove or common rock dove (barn pigeon) can do the same thing. I will, too.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

This little angel is prepared to do battle should the scary monster come out and try to frighten her. I admire her resolve.

I found this first one on Manola Blablablanik's blog, "Sex And The Beach," (a beach upon which I could so easily play Hooky!) and promised I would credit her with the discovery. So.

And if you haven't seen Will Ferrell's short video, "The Land Lord,"then you are missing another angel straight from Heaven, Pearl.

The Landlord

If you listen very carefully, you can hear Pearl's real mother laughing under her breath near the very end. And then of course you see Pearl turn toward where her mother is hiding around the door and say, "Come, Mommy." Too cute.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to all mothers and to all children of mothers as well. All you others can just wait for your own special day somewhere else.

Friday, May 11, 2007


This amazed me. I questioned it. I watched it again.

This amazed me.