When was the last time somebody got killed by a wild bear in Los Angeles?

Prompted by a recent conversation about the movie Grizzly Man.  (Forgot that Timothy Treadwell named one of the bears Mr. Chocolate.)

Andy Sublette, 46.

An experienced bear hunter who hunted and killed many bears, Sublette shot and wounded a bear after being separated from his hunting party near present-day Santa Monica in 1854. He was then mauled but stabbed the bear to death with his knife and with the help of his dog. His dog survived, but Sublette died seven days later due to his injuries.

So says Wikipedia citing Gary Brown’s The Bear Almanac.  I wonder if they mean, like, Santa Monica Santa Monica or the Santa Monica mountains (even, like, Malibu).

Anyway.  Heard it took the bear an hour and a half to drive back to Silverlake — the 10 was a nightmare!

Gay Hobo Slang

At Helytimes we love to get submissions for our roving correspondents.  Longtime friend of the blog Mat W. sends in this item:

A good many years ago, I was a pretty faithful reader of Alex Ross’s blog The Rest Is Noise (title later cannibalized for his book, which got him a MacArthur Genius Grant).  In those days I had a pretty boring job and would read almost anything on the internet that made it through the security filter of the company where I worked.  A lot of what Ross had to say made little sense since I didn’t (and still don’t) know much about music, but I would still skim the posts and found a few good bits and bobs.

One day, I came across this post:

“Gay hobo subculture”!? WHA?! Of course long-time readers of Hely Times may recall Smokestack Adrian, but I was intrigued. At the time, searches of the internet didn’t turn up much. I did learn a little bit more about it in George Chauncey’s great Gay New York, but it offers a pretty light treatment, though the subject of the book, I suppose, required only a glancing discussion.

However, I recently found a great book, called Gay Talk: A (Sometimes Outrageous) Dictionary of Gay Slang. It’s by a guy named Bruce Rodgers, and was published in 1972 (under a different title, I believe).  It is GREAT and really reaches back into the pre-Stonewall era for lots of verbal treasures.  Guess what a Veronica’s Veil is, you guys!

AND while paging through I found a whole entry on the hobo! Rather than type up the highlights, I’ll just include a picture of the entry for all you candy kids out there.

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The (sexy) Epic Of Gilgamesh



Gilgamesh is crushing it, basically:

Gilgamesh the tall, magnificent and terrible;

who opened passes in the mountains,

who dug wells on the slopes of the uplands,

and crossed the ocean, the wide sea to the sunrise;

who scoured the world ever searching for life,

and reached through sheer force Uta-napishti the Distant;

who restored the cult-centres destroyed by the Deluge;

and set in place for the people the rites of the cosmos.

Who is there can rival his kingly standing,

and say like Gilgamesh, ‘It is I am the king’?

Gilgamesh was his name from teh day he was born,

two-thirds of him god and one third human.

But his dominance is getting to be a problem:

Though he is their shepherd and their protector,

powerful, pre-eminent, expert and mighty,

Gilgamesh lets no girl go free to her bridegroom.

So complain ‘the warrior’s daughter, the young man’s bride’ to the goddesses.  So the goddess Aruru makes a man who will be a match for Gilgamesh.

In the wild she created Enkidu, the hero,

offspring of silence, knit strong by Ninurta.

All his body is matted with hair,

he bears long tresses like those of a woman:

the hair of his head grows thickly as barley,

he knows not a people, nor even a country.

Coated in hair like the god of the animals,

with the gazelles he grazes on grasses.

Joining the throng with the game at the water-hole,

his heart delighting with the beasts in the water.


Enkidu scares a hunter, who goes to Gilgamesh.  Gilgamesh says “ok, go get Shamhat the temple prostitute and go tempt Enkidu”:

Then Shamhat saw him, the child of nature,

the savage man from the midst of the wild.

‘This is he, Shamhat! Uncradle your bosom,

bare your sex, let him take in your charms!

Do not recoil, but take in his scent:

he will see you, and will approach you.

Spread your clothing so he may lie on you,

do for the man the work of a woman!

Let his passion caress and embrace you,

his herd will spurn him, though he grew up amongst it.’

Shamhat unfastened the cloth of her loins,

she bared her sex and he took in her charms.

She did not recoil, she took in his scent:

she spread her clothing and he lay upon her.

She did for the man the work of a woman,

his passion caressed and embraced her.

For six days and seven nights

Enkidu was erect, as he coupled with Shamhat.

When with her delights he was fully sated,

he turned his gaze to the his herd.

The gazelles saw Enkidu, they started to run,

the beasts of the field shied away from his presence.

Enkidu had defiled his body so pure,

his legs stood still, though his herd was in motion.

Enkidu was weakened, could not run as before,

but now he had reason, and wide understanding.

Wild man fucks prostitute, loses his gazelle friends — oldest story in the world.

That’s all on Tablet One, by the way.  Remember the old rule: by Tablet Two, you should have established your characters and relationships.

What happens next is Gilgamesh and Enkidu become best friends and decide to go to the Cedar Forest to kill the monster Humbaba.

Helytimes Mailbag


Lots of readers wrote to me to the effect “You got Wild completely wrong, this is a great movie.”  A sample:

The fact that she can quit and has no reason to walk is what I liked.  I don’t see it as a motivation problem. I like that we don’t know what she means to accomplish almost precisely because she doesn’t know what she wants.  She just knows that the noise in her head telling her to act out and hurt herself and it’s turning her into a person who is different than the person she thought her mom wanted her to be.   So that’s why she heads into nature.  She never “arrives” so to speak, she just feels differently about herself by the time she gets to Ashland

Terrific!  Thanks for writing.  Like I said I thought it was pretty good.


Lots of incoming fire also came my way re: Selma.  (Funny to do an image search for “Selma”).  Let me quote from one:

Helytimes, I have a bone to pick with you.  Selma was a great movie.  I wept.  I may not know everything about LBJ but this was a powerful movie and I don’t get why you were being so hard on it.


Why were you so hard on Selma without taking any shots at an even more historically inaccurate movie, The Imitation Game, which misrepresents Alan Turing’s character, is similarly “all over the place” and is just a mess?

Well what can I tell you: I didn’t think it was that good.  It’s not an easy movie to make, surely.  Should it get points for difficulty?  Maybe!  If you liked Selma, that’s terrific.  I want you to have as many things to like as possible.

As for The Imitation Game — whatever, I can’t pay attention to everything!  It seemed to me that movie took place in a kind of bizarro reality so whatever historical crimes were extra- beside the point.  The Wikipedia folks seem to have it covered too:

Turing’s surviving niece Payne thought that Knightley was inappropriately cast as Clarke, whom she described as “rather plain”.

joan clarke

Harsh. I did wonder why the character played by Tywin Lanister was such an asshole to Alan Turing:


Was that real?  Tywin is playing Alastair Denniston.  Got this book:


and looked up every time Denniston appears, which is six times.  He’s never once a jerk to Turing.  This is the closest he comes:


Maybe Andrew Hodges just left that part out.  Is it unfair to real-life person Denniston to make him out that way?:

Libby Buchanan, Denniston’s 91-year-old niece and god-daughter, said she recalled a “quiet, dignified” man who was devoted to his work.

Judith Finch, his granddaughter, added: “He is completely misrepresented. They needed a baddy and they’ve put him in there without researching the truth about the contribution he made.”

The film’s writer, Graham Moore, and producers said: “Cdr Denniston was one of the great heroes of Bletchley Park.

“As such, he had the perhaps unenviable position of being a layman overseeing the work of some of the century’s finest mathematicians and academics — a situation bound to result in conflict as to how best to get the job done.

“I would say that this is the natural conflict of people working extremely hard under unimaginable pressure with the fate of the war resting on their heroic shoulders.”

The part of Imitation Game I found most interesting was the idea that once they broke the code, Turing and the boys and Kiera Knightley worked out a system to use the information they had in a statistically measured way.  Looked into this and couldn’t find much more about it.  Seems like actually the way it worked is they limited access to the Enigma info to a small pool of top military commanders, and even that they were haphazard and bad at.  This seemed like a decent article on that:

According to Gordon Welchman, who served at Bletchley Park for most of the war, We developed a very friendly feeling for a German officer who sat in the Qattara Depression in North Africa for quite a long time reporting every day with the utmost regularity that he had nothing to report.

qattara depression

Qattara Depression. Wonder what happened to that guy.

Anyway: I love getting mail, thanks for taking the time, keep it coming – helphely at gmail is the way.

World’s oldest wombat

Swam into my Internet ken a picture of the world’s oldest wombat:


I wondered how old Patrick was, and quickly found the answer:


The name ‘wombat’ comes from the now nearly extinct Darug language spoken by the Aboriginal Darug people who originally inhabited the Sydney area. It was first recorded in January 1798, when John Price and James Wilson, a white man who had adopted Aboriginal ways, visited the area of what is now Bargo, New South Wales. Price wrote: ‘We saw several sorts of dung of different animals, one of which Wilson called a Whom-batt, which is an animal about 20 inches high, with short legs and a thick body with a large head, round ears, and very small eyes; is very fat, and has much the appearance of a badger.


He loves his wheelbarrow.

Happy Birthday Patrick the Wombat! This 29 year old is the world’s oldest living wombat. Given that Patrick has never had children, or any partners in general, probably makes him the oldest living wombat virgin as well! Congrats mate!



(stealing these pictures from Buzzfeed and on backwards through Internet eternity to Tourism Australia)

Some favs

Little Orphan Annie

Really enjoyed this comedy bit from last year on Seth Meyers starring writer/comedian Michelle Wolf:

Helytimes reader Mat W. informs us that in the original Little Orphan Annie comic, Daddy Warbucks is married:

his wife (a plumber’s daughter) is a snobbish, gossiping nouveau riche who derides her husband’s affection for Annie. When Warbucks is suddenly called to Siberia on business, his wife spitefully sends Annie back to the orphanage.

Harold Gray

Harold Gray


In November 1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President and proposed his New Deal. Many, including Gray, saw this and other programs as government interference in private enterprise. Gray railed against Roosevelt and his programs. (Gray even killed Daddy Warbucks off in 1945, believing that Warbucks could not coexist in the world with FDR. But following FDR’s death, Gary resurrected Warbucks, who said to Annie, “Somehow I feel that the climate here has changed since I went away.”


Gray was especially critical of the justice system, which he saw as not doing enough to deal with criminals. Thus, some of his storylines featured people taking the law into their own hands. This happened as early as 1927 in an adventure named “The Haunted House”. Annie is kidnapped by a gangster called Mister Mack. Warbucks rescues her and takes Mack and his gang into custody. He then contacts a local senator who owes him a favor. Warbucks persuades the politician to use his influence with the judge and make sure that the trial goes their way and that Mack and his men get their just desserts. Annie questions the use of such methods but concludes, “With all th’ crooks usin’ pull an’ money to get off, I guess ’bout th’ only way to get ’em punished is for honest police like Daddy to use pull an’ money an’ gun-men, too, an’ beat them at their own game.”

Warbucks became much more ruthless in later years. After catching yet another gang of Annie kidnappers he announced that he “wouldn’t think of troubling the police with you boys”, implying that while he and Annie celebrated their reunion, the Asp and his men took the kidnappers away to be lynched.

ANN_annie~sandy_shoulders_c [Converted]

Gray reported in 1952 that Annie’s origin lay in a chance meeting he had with a ragamuffin while wandering the streets of Chicago looking for cartooning ideas. “I talked to this little kid and liked her right away,” Gray said, “She had common sense, knew how to take care of herself. She had to. Her name was Annie. At the time some 40 strips were using boys as the main characters; only three were using girls. I chose Annie for mine, and made her an orphan, so she’d have no family, no tangling alliances, but freedom to go where she pleased.”




Look, the nature of grieving is weird, how are you gonna judge how somebody grieves?  (but the typo?!)

This book:


first got me to really thinking about this.

George HW and Barbara Bush lost a daughter to pediatric leukemia when she was four years old.  Cramer says that something like half of all couples that lose a child split up, because the ways that two people grieve can be so divergent and impossible, even offensive, for the other person to deal with.  The Bushes were determined not to let that happen to them (and they didn’t).

The instinct on Twitter to make someone’s death an opportunity for backhanded aggrandizement sets my nerves on edge.  I’m not sure why that particular thing gnaws at me so much.  Maybe because the whole point of the death of a noble guy, or death at all, might be to remind us how unimportant we are, or to encourage us to be better?

(Hardly a perfect model here: when SDB died I both wanted to talk about him and myself and also at the same time never talk about it.)

This dude David Carr was incredible, his death was shocking, the number of people he seemed to have touched directly is staggering.  In New York in 2009 I was talking to a girl who told me more or less unprompted about truly moving kindnesses and generosity David Carr had extended to her just out of excellence of character and goodness of spirit.

I’ll miss reading the guy’s stuff.  I was just reading his thing about Brian Williams because I’m sure he’d have something to say worth hearing.

Now this is a tribute:

If you can only have one sentence of writing advice, go with this:

“Keep typing until it turns into writing”

If you are prepared for an intense experience on the subject of death and grieving, might I recommend the American Experience “Death And The Civil War”?

If you’re rushed for time, allow me to summarize: the Civil War was a tremendous bummer.

Plan to redeem Brian Williams

brian w

Think this is a legitimately good plan:

Brian Williams announces he will buy a beer for every single American who’s ever actually been shot at in a military helicopter.

Ten city tour.  If you were once on a shot-at helicopter, go to the most convenient stop (they’ll be bars or VFW halls or something) and Brian Williams will buy you a beer and shake your hand.  You can tell him your story which will be good for him as a reporter.

In this way this beloved public figure can do serious penance and redeem himself and show he’s solid.

If he wants to provide pizza, that’s ok.  If he’s asking for my advice I’d say also go ahead and get pizza.  And good root beer for anyone who’s sober.

Learned an interesting bit of trivia about newsman Bob Schieffer the other day:

schieffer 2

Shortly after President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, while in the Star-Telegram office, he received a telephone call from a woman in search of a ride to Dallas. The woman was Marguerite Oswald, Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother, whom he accompanied to the Dallas police station. He then spent the next several hours there pretending to be a detective (the first of many deceptions during his career), enabling him to have access to an office with a phone. In the company of Oswald’s mother Marguerite and his wife, Marina, he was able to use the phone to call in dispatches from other Star-Telegram reporters in the building. This enabled the Star Telegram to create four “Extra” editions on the day of the assassination.



from this New Yorker article by Michael Pollan about psilocybin:

Carhart-Harris doesn’t romanticize psychedelics, and he has little patience for the sort of “magical thinking” and “metaphysics” they promote. In his view, the forms of consciousness that psychedelics unleash are regressions to a more “primitive style of cognition.” Following Freud, he says that the mystical experience—whatever its source—returns us to the psychological condition of the infant, who has yet to develop a sense of himself as a bounded individual. The pinnacle of human development is the achievement of the ego, which imposes order on the anarchy of a primitive mind buffeted by magical thinking. (The developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik has speculated that the way young children perceive the world has much in common with the psychedelic experience. As she puts it, “They’re basically tripping all the time.”)

This article gives a lot of ammo to hippies:

He said that the N.I.M.H would need to see “a path to development” and suspects that “it would be very difficult to get a pharmaceutical company interested in developing this drug, since it cannot be patented.” It’s also unlikely that Big Pharma would have any interest in a drug that is administered only once or twice in the course of treatment. “There’s not a lot of money here when you can be cured with one session,” Bossis pointed out.

Interesting talking about psychoactive drugs in medicine: pretty fast you hit the boundaries of science:

PATIENT: What does this drug do?

DOCTOR: Well, medically, nothing, but it might… make you feel like your ego died and you’ve come into harmony with the great spirit of the cosmos?

We’re at the limit of medicine here, crossing over to religion or at least social anthropology.

If you’re taking mushrooms in a lab in a New York hospital, under medical supervision, that’s gonna affect your experience.  If you take them after traveling to southern Mexico, in the house of a curandera, and you’re open to the idea that a curandera might have some kind of power, you’re gonna have another kind of experience:

In 1955, after years spent chasing down reports of the clandestine use of magic mushrooms among indigenous Mexicans, Wasson was introduced to them by María Sabina, a curandera—a healer, or shaman—in southern Mexico. Wasson’s awed first-person account of his psychedelic journey during a nocturnal mushroom ceremony inspired several scientists, including Timothy Leary, a well-regarded psychologist doing personality research at Harvard, to take up the study of psilocybin. After trying magic mushrooms in Cuernavaca, in 1960, Leary conceived the Harvard Psilocybin Project, to study the therapeutic potential of hallucinogens. His involvement with LSD came a few years later.

In the wake of Wasson’s research, Albert Hofmann experimented with magic mushrooms in 1957. “Thirty minutes after my taking the mushrooms, the exterior world began to undergo a strange transformation,” he wrote. “Everything assumed a Mexican character.”

(would they have assumed a “Mexican character” if Hofmann thought they came from Cambodia?)

If you get mushrooms from your college buddy, and the point is to clown around in the park, you’re gonna have another kind of experience.  If you’re a true hippie open to the idea that mushroom spores traveled to Earth as a kind of message from some distant galaxy, that’s gonna affect your experience.

What about this context?:

In a double-blind experiment, twenty divinity students received a capsule of white powder right before a Good Friday service at Marsh Chapel, on the Boston University campus; ten contained psilocybin, ten an active placebo (nicotinic acid). Eight of the ten students receiving psilocybin reported a mystical experience, while only one in the control group experienced a feeling of “sacredness” and a “sense of peace.” (Telling the subjects apart was not difficult, rendering the double-blind a somewhat hollow conceit: those on the placebo sat sedately in their pews while the others lay down or wandered around the chapel, muttering things like “God is everywhere” and “Oh, the glory!”) Pahnke concluded that the experiences of eight who received the psilocybin were “indistinguishable from, if not identical with,” the classic mystical experiences reported in the literature by William James, Walter Stace, and others.

That ain’t exactly laboratory conditions – there’s lots going on here.  I get that there’s a double-blind, but do you measure: who cared more about Good Friday going in?  Who was further along on some kind of spiritual journey?

My own thinking on this much affected by ideas of Helytimes favorite Wade Davis.  Got more interested re: ayahuasca.  It’s one thing to take ayahuasca at a rented house in Malibu.  Another thing to go to the Amazon, where your surroundings are halfway a hallucination before you drink a thing.  Big difference how you feel here:


Vs. here:

shamans house

Old advisor at college, a wonderful eccentric woman, used to say she thought all pre-meds should be anthropology majors.

Well I hope you’re wrong, Leslie Gelb!


from this roundup of predictions for “The World in 2030” from Politico Magazine:

No breakthroughs for the better

By Leslie Gelb, president emeritus and board senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations

The world of 2030 will be an ugly place, littered with rebellion and repression. Societies will be deeply fragmented and overwhelmed by irreconcilable religious and political groups, by disparities in wealth, by ignorant citizenry and by states’ impotence to fix problems. This world will resemble today’s, only almost everything will be more difficult to manage and solve.

Advances in technology and science won’t save us. Technology will both decentralize power and increase the power of central authorities. Social media will be able to prompt mass demonstrations in public squares, even occasionally overturning governments as in Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt, but oligarchs and dictators will have the force and power to prevail as they did in Cairo. Almost certainly, science and politics won’t be up to checking global warming, which will soon overwhelm us.

Muslims will be the principal disruptive factor, whether in the Islamic world, where repression, bad governance and economic underperformance have sparked revolt, or abroad, where they are increasingly unhappy and distained by rulers and peoples. In America, blacks will become less tolerant of their marginalization, as will other persecuted minorities around the world. These groups will challenge authority, and authority will slam back with enough force to deeply wound, but not destroy, these rebellions.

A long period of worldwide economic stagnation and even decline will reinforce these trends. There will be sustained economic gulfs between rich and poor. And the rich will be increasingly willing to use government power to maintain their advantages.

Unfortunately, the next years will see a reversal of the hopes for better government and for effective democracies that loomed so large at the end of the Cold War.


Conversational fodder for your Super Bowl party

Throwback to an old classic.  Milch spins Super Bowl –> Kierkegaard.  Starts around 0:41, meanders away by 3:40, pretty interesting again by 9:20 or so.

Good luck to both the Seahawks and the Patriots in returning to the spirit which gave them rise.  Stand by my Super Bowl pick.