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More weird deaths…

Following my last post of quirky death possibilities, here are a few I’ve known about myself.

ISADORA DUNCAN, MOTHER OF MODERN DANCE

American dancer Isadora Duncan, (1927-1977) known as the mother of modern dance, was strangled by her own long scarf which got tangled in the rear hubcaps of her open car while driving in France. (She was right to avoid ballet. Feet are destroyed by dancing on your toes.) Duncan had, herself suffered a terrible loss. Both her children and their nanny drowned when their car rolled into the Seine.

I paid my respects at her grave while visiting the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris.

THE FAMOUS HOLLYWOOD SIGN
ACTRESS PEG ENTERWHISTLE

I lived for awhile in the Hollywood Hills of L.A and passed the famous sign every night driving home from work. I couldn’t help but think of actress Peg Entwistle, who leapt to her death from that high sign. Peg (1908-1932) was only 24. In her suicide note, she started by saying ‘I am afraid, I am a coward, I am sorry for everything… Peg was distressed because roles didn’t come her way. I believe I once read an offer of a role reached her father a few days after her death.

I once had a neighbour who was a compulsive hoarder. We worried about fire from all the papers and magazines. We also worried about the woman having to manoeuvre around and over all the stacked stuff. Her bed was piled high and couldn’t be slept in. (She apparently slept with her sister nearby.) We were required to clear out her apartment.

MY BROTHER’S KEEPER, BY MARCIA DAVENPORT

THE COLLYER BROTHERS, COMPULSIVE HOARDERS

Our manager suggested I read ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ by Marcia Davenport. I did — and will never forget it. It is a true story about Langley and Homer Collyer, who lived in a 5th Avenue Manhattan Mansion they inherited from their mother. They never married. They never worked. Money was not a problem. They also never threw anything out. At their deaths in 1947, they’d accumulated more than 140 tons of dilapidated stuff.

HOMER’S CHAIR

The brothers feared intruders and set up traps. Langley, himself, was caught in one and crushed to death by trash falling from above. He was on his way to bring brother Homer some food. Homer, who was paralyzed and confined to an old, rotting chair, died about 12 days later from starvation.

ABOUT 140 TONS OF HOARDED STUFF WAS REMOVED AFTER THEIR DEATHS

Interesting book. Read it if you can. It IS fascinating.

Is honesty the best policy?

PHOTO BY CHANDRA

That’s an interesting question. It is a complicated issue. William Blake (1757-1827), the multi-talented English poet and artist, wrote ‘A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.’ I agree with that.

WILLIAM BLAKE (1757-1827


Our society frowns on chronic liars and rightly so. Yet, the naked truth can be so hurtful, in some people’s hands it becomes a knife which can pierce the heart.

Perhaps we need another word for avoiding ugly truths which hurt others, most of which they know about anyway. So, if a friend asks you to point out his/her failings, don’t — unless you’re ready to give up the relationship. They are probably just hoping for some kind words.

ARTHUR GOLDEN, BORN 1956

In the novel ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ by Arthur Golden, the protagonist says ‘There are good facts and bad facts, the bad facts are best avoided.’ I think she has a good point.

HENRY THOREAU (1817-1862

Thoreau, the American writer and libertarian famously said ‘Rather than love, than money, than fame — give me truth’, but he was talking about another issue altogether.

Then there is Oscar Wilde, who gave me so many hours of fascinating reading, who didn’t believe in telling the truth at all and said ‘The telling of beautiful untrue things is the proper aim of Art.’ and ‘He would be the best of fellows if he did not always speak the truth.’


I warned you. Honesty IS a complex subject. Think about it during the holiday and give me your thoughts afterwards.

OSCAR WILDE (1854-1900)

Above all, do have a happy holiday and a healthy New Year.

The Farming of Bones

I haven’t been to a city library since the pandemic started. For a long time, they were closed. However I’ve done very well sharing books with reading neighbours by using a little free street library a mere block away. I’ve learned they read some worthy books around here.


Stuff happens to me that never happens to other people. By sheer coincidence, after just finishing ‘The Feast of the Goat’ by Mario Vargas Llosa, a novel based on the Dominican Republic during dictator Trujillo’s era, what do you think falls into my hands?


A harrowing but fantastic can’t-put-down read by Edwidge Danticat called ‘The Farming of Bones’ about the destitute Haitians who crossed the border from Haiti into The Dominican Republic during Trujillo’s rule. Those who did struggled for survival doing the dirty and dangerous jobs no one else wanted, meanwhile suffering outright racism.


Danticat’s book didn’t end the way I wanted it to. A love story, the lovers don’t get to walk off into the sunset, get married and live happily after. If that’s what you want, it isn’t the book for you. It isn’t a pleasant story, but it reads true…

Feast of the Goat…

Trujillo

Right now I’m reading ‘The Feast of the Goat’, a novel which takes place in the Dominican Republic during the rule of the hated dictator Rafael Trujillo, who was called the goat. (Dominicans often made up nicknames for others.) Trujillo was assassinated in 1961.

The book is written by Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, who among many other literary prizes earned a Nobel Prize for literature. Llosa wrote extensively and was born in Peru in 1936.

Mario Vargas Llosa

On page #205 of my copy, I found the following quote:

‘AN OPEN BOOK IS A MIND THAT SPEAKS; CLOSED, A FRIEND WHO WAITS; FORGOTTEN, A SOUL THAT FORGIVES; DESTROYED, A HEART THAT WEEPS.’ By Rabindranath Tagore.

Tagore

Tagore was a Bengali poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter, and more. Obviously a brilliant guy. He lived from 1861-1941 when he died in Calcutta.

I love the quote…

Better than a novel…

Queen Elizabeth 1st wearing her red wig
Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex

I’m intrigued by history, but hesitate to call myself a history buff. I am actually more of a ‘history gossip’. The happenings of the past — political marriages, love-affairs, intrigues, murders and other goings-on are fabulous and often better reading than a novel.


For instance, take Queen Elizabeth 1st of England, who wore globs of white makeup to cover her pock marks. (It contained lead and caused many a death as a result.) Handsome Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, a favourite of hers, who was rumoured to have warmed her bed and probably did, in the end had to pay with his life when he made her really, really angry. After all, Elizabeth had absolute power.

Frances Sidney, Countess of Clanricarde, Robert’s wife


Being a favourite of the Queen was a dangerous business. Robert served her well, but when he acted against her wishes and had the audacity to marry Frances Sidney, Countess of Clanricarde and widow of the English writer, Sir Philip Sidney, he should have known he was walking on thin ice. Whatever WAS he thinking?

Hugh O’Neill, Irish Leader


The Queen didn’t act immediately, but she seethed. Then when he made an unauthorized truce with the rebel Irish leader, Hugh O’Neill, the Monarch at first greeted him kindly, but saw an opportunity for revenge. The angry lady ordered the handsome guy’s head chopped off. Well, what did he expect, the queen was obviously not amused.


It is also interesting to note that Robert was beheaded in 1601. Frances, Robert’s wife, died that same year too. I wonder??? Do you?