Joseph Fiedler
July 2007
The Morbidity Test

Too bad they don’t have iSmell yet: got corpse flower? The corpse flower [Amorphophallus titanium] Titania at the University of CA Botanical Gardens is expected to bloom within days at the Tropical House. The plant is best known its distinctive odor.  On Monday, staff thought it likely that Titania would bloom within two or three days. And that's when the corpse odor kicks in, lasting for about 12 hours.

Visitors can enter UC Botanical Garden daily until 5 p.m., and viewing is permitted until 6 p.m. During the week, visitors are encouraged to take the campus shuttle, since parking is very limited.

The garden is publishing an online photo diary that includes the latest images of Titania. For more information, see the UC Botanic Garden
Titania today.
Trudy 2005 in full bloom.

Yeah, well to jazz the summer along, I painted my first skate deck for a show that Andrew Davis is putting on at the 555 Gallery back in Detroit.  I liked looking at the brand new deck [before I painted it ].  It was made in China.  I want to get a real wooden surfboard just to sit around the studio.  Really, it makes a big difference.  A real mood enhancer.  All the while, I kept thinking that Denis Wilson might drop by on his way over to the Spahn Ranch [even though he’s been dead for years]!

My deck is a didactic design with a HELLBENDER salamander motif.  I thought it would be cool to make boards with an educational, informational message.
Hellbender in progress in the "Tiki Studio".

The text runs like this:
The Hellbender is a large aquatic salamander [16-20 inches]. Its wrinkled skin makes identification easy.  The color varies from spotted yellow to red and brown. Eggs are laid under rocks in shallow water.
The finished deck.

I got all excited thinking of a whole line of salamander boards.  This idea goes way back to my childhood where I lived in an old “edge” community, situated between the town [of Millvale, PA] and the suburbs. It still had ‘hollows” like the old hollers in Dark Hollers, damp and stinky in the humid summer. We played in a vast holler that was fast becoming NOT hollow.  The land was being filled in from the housing development on the northern ridge.  Anyway, there was a lot of shack building, tree swings, animal cruelty, and green apple war games, that type of stuff.  Out of this came a legendary piece of wood that had been used for many things by many kids and was reputed to have survived a good burning.  Maybe it was A.J., Dube or Sucky who burned it. It was called the “Salamander Board” since, in legend, the salamander was said to have been able to withstand the heat of a fire and survive. It was sort of like an ephemeral talisman from a Lord of the Flies In Your Own Back Yard type of thing bringing it all back home. Yeah! Disclosure: I’ve never been on a skateboard, skis, in line skates or even regular roller skates [not that type of guy!]. Did I say that I lived [literally] around the corner from Meg and Jack White's mansion?
Andrew [the empresario], Chris [his dudeness] and Joe acting all "Detroit" and 8 Mile at the opening. These guys were my students when I had Don Kilpatrick's job. Hey, Now! with that 40!
Decks by expat Detroiters [now East Bay Hyphy-head Yea-yahs], Squirrel Master L and Serge Gay Jr.
Andrew’s blurb

SATURDAY JULY 28 Please come and join us for a party. There will be 40 custom decks exhibited on the wall or found somewhere in the gallery. The 1% Skate Team will be skating during the event on a quarter pipe, bank and other things built right inside gallery.
Live Music session with Brook Jacoby (KILLER)
!DANCE PARTY! with DJ Scott Zacharias.
Beverages will be served!+Free RedBull at event.

Gallery 555
Summer Reading
The painting.
New Orleans Story

Running with the regional publication thread/piggyback….

In 1963, I watched the JFK funeral proceedings on black and white TV with Russell Grandberg and my mother.  I suppose the affair had had a pretty profound impact on me. I was 10 years old. The famous pathologist, coroner to the stars, and leading JFK conspiracy guy Dr. Cyril Wecht was county coroner  [Allegheny County, PA –where I grew up] for many years. Since then, I’ve been sympathetic to JFK conspiracy stories. I just finished a job for New Orleans Magazine.  It was one of those stories, and a pretty crazy one at that!.

Dr. Mary's Monkey: How the Unsolved Murder of a
Doctor, a Secret Laboratory in New Orleans and
Cancer-Causing Monkey Viruses are linked to Lee
Harvey Oswald, ... Assassination and Emerging
Global Epidemics

By Edward T. Haslam

Dr Mary's Monkey - Did HIV originate in New Orleans?

This tale involves Dr. Alton Ochsner, Sr., and his co-worker, Dr. Mary Sherman. Both schooled or trained in Europe during their formative years, migrated to New Orleans to practice medicine, and were on the faculty at Tulane Medical School. Today Ochsner is a local medical legend; one of the physician founders of the medical complex bearing his name, Sherman is an unsolved New Orleans murder mystery.

Ochsner was and an early proponent of the link between smoking and lung cancer. He was a chest surgeon interested in all cancers and was elected national president of the American Cancer Society. He was also known for his ultraconservative politics.

Early in her career, Sherman published several papers pertaining to viral research [beginning in the 1940s]. After medical school, she finished a residency in orthopedics. In 1952, Ochsner recruited Sherman to New Orleans. He offered her a partnership at Ochsner Foundation Hospital, her own cancer laboratory, and a faculty position at Tulane. From 1952 until her death in 1964, Sherman published several research papers and served on expert committees dealing with bone pathology and cancers. 

The day before the Warren Commission [investigating the assassination of president John F. Kennedy] arrived in New Orleans, police found Dr. Mary dead in her bed. Murdered. Sherman's death involves a conspiracy tale involving a clandestine laboratory operated by freakish, assassination plot-underworld figure David Ferrie, a heavily guarded linear accelerator, monkeys from Tulane Medical School, a young high school science fair winner [and Lee Harvey Oswald's secret lover], and a plot to kill Castro with cancer causing monkey cells orchestrated by a right wing marriage between Carlos Marcello and Alton Ochsner, Sr. The stealth viruses were then dumped in Haiti where they simmered for almost two decades before erupting into a worldwide epidemic of various cancers and AIDS.

The documented cause of Dr. Sherman’s death was a heart-penetrating stab wound to the chest. The autopsy also documented multiple stab wounds to the abdomen, left arm, and right leg. Her sexual organs were also lacerated, but these were postmortem wounds inflicted on the dead body. Even more fascinating were the burn injuries. The only remaining portion of Sherman's right arm was a piece of charred fragment of her upper arm bone. They rest of the extremity was burned to a crisp. The body was discovered in Sherman's bedroom, and the bed was smoldering. Could a smoking accident have caused such severe burns? Or had her body been tampered with AFTER death and staged?

The low down, according to Haslam, is this: Sherman conducted experiments to mutate monkey viruses to assist Ochsner in research [funded by the State department].  The viruses were to be used for “national security” purposes. Something went wrong with the linear accelerator, and Sherman suffered a severe but non-fatal burn. Her associates covered it up.  Coincidentally, she couldn’t talk to the Warren Commission either! The case is closed.

After Sherman’s death, David Ferrie harvested the most lethal of the mutated monkey viruses and delivered them to Haiti, a country despised by the racist Ferrie and also close to Cuba. From Haiti the unleashed viruses spread around the world causing a pandemic of AIDS and soft tissue cancers.  Maybe after all these years, the anti-Castro guys have finally won, huh?

The sketch.
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