There are many creatures in this world that could eat a human being. Lions, tigers, crocodiles, alligators, grizzly bears, Kodiak bears, polar bears (I’m told that they’re the only mammal that will deliberately stalk a human being just in order to eat them!), killer whales, great white sharks, hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, mako sharks, kimodo dragons…and others, I’m sure. It is almost enough to make one not want to go outside. (Though we’re fairly safe here….I’ve never heard of a gang of ruthless ground squirrels taking down a full-grown human being! Kids maybe, but not full-grown adults!)
Think about some of the great movie scenes: Quint being eaten by the great white in Jaws, people being eaten by Godzilla (what? You mean that wasn’t real?) James Bond movies with sharks that eat victims who fall through they floor when they made the bad guy angry or failed in their task to kill the great 007. Movies like Legends of the Fall had Brad Pitt being killed (and presumably eaten) by a great grizzly. It is quite enough to give a kid fears that some night, Tank (the family chihuahua) may get ravenously hungry and in the morning when mom comes in to get the little kid out of bed, she’ll find him/her missing and a fingernail protruding from sweet little Tank’s mouth!
As if all that wasn’t bad enough, now I’m going to really strike fear in your hearts with today’s photo. You probably aren’t in danger of being eaten by a tiger or polar bear or crocodile. But what about that lovely, shady tree in your front yard? You may have watched the Lord of the Rings movies when two hobbits are lost in Fangorn forest and the trees start to pull them into the ground to have them for dinner (fertilizer)? You thought that was just all made up stuff, right? WRONG! I offer this photographic proof, taken at Young’s Winery in Plymouth, California. If I’d not heard this fellow whimpering, I probably would have missed this scene entirely! You can see the poor fellow is turning bluish-green from lack of oxygen.
Okay, kiddies! Time for bed!!!!! Isn’t that a nice shade tree outside your window????!!!!
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: Woodrow Wilson Guthrie, whom Bob Dylan would later call “the true voice of the American spirit,” a native of Okemah, Oklahoma, was born in 1912 and thus entered adulthood just as America entered the Great Depression. Already an accomplished, self-taught musician, Woody Guthrie began writing music in earnest following his experiences traveling west to California with other Dust Bowl refugees in the 1930s. His first public exposure came during the latter part of that decade as a regular on radio station KFVD Los Angeles, but his most important work took place following a move to New York City in 1939.
In his first two years in New York, Guthrie made a series of landmark recordings for Alan Lomax of the Library of Congress as well as the album Dust Bowl Ballads, which served as the first introduction for many to a form that Guthrie helped pioneer: protest folk. Most famously in “This Land Is Your Land”—written in 1940 and first recorded in 1944—Guthrie fused long-established American musical traditions with a populist, left-wing political sensibility to create an entirely new template for contemporary folk. In so doing, of course, he laid the groundwork not only for the great folk revival of the 1950s and 60s, but also for such iconoclastic heirs to that movement as Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.
In his late 30s, Woody Guthrie began to fall ill, displaying the ambiguous physical and psychological symptoms of what would eventually be diagnosed as Huntington’s chorea, a genetic disorder that had probably killed his mother in 1930. In the 1950s, treatment for Huntington’s generally meant institutionalization in a psychiatric hospital, and Woody Guthrie spent his final 12 years in such facilities. In fact, it was in New Jersey’s Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital that a young Bob Dylan first encountered the man he’d traveled all the way from Minnesota to see.
Woody Guthrie was moved to Brooklyn State Hospital in 1961 and again in 1966 to Creedmore Psychiatric Center in the borough of Queens. He died at Creedmore on this day in 1967, at the age of 55.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: In all of history, the most destructive disease is malaria. More than 1.5 million people die from malaria every year. Some estimates say that throughout history, 1 out of every 2 persons who have ever lived died from this disease.