[Writer’s note: This is a late and abbreviated version of CrankyYank—I’m taking some “me” time during the Labor Day holiday week, so I’m republishing my post from Leaving Triscuit that assumes the voice of our furbabies. Hope you enjoy, and remember: snag your copy of Leaving Triscuit before the prices increases next week! First up: a tribute to Gene Wilder through the eyes of his nephew, Jordan Walker-Pearlman.]
We lost a comedic genius this week—one to whom I have a personal connection of sorts. First, the news: Gene Wilder (1933-2016) passed away last Monday at the age of 83.
“He passed holding our hands with the same tenderness and love he exhibited as long as I can remember,” says Jordan Walker-Pearlman, nephew and “Gene’s kid,” in a statement released to the press. “As our hands clutched and he performed one last breath, the music speaker, which was set to random, began to blare out one of his favorites: Ella Fitzgerald. There is a picture of he and Ella meeting at a London Bistro some years ago that are among each of our cherished possessions. She was singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow as he was taken away.”
As The Mirror and other publications have reported, Wilder didn’t want children to associate a beloved character they lionized with Alzheimer’s disease. My take: even as he was suffering, he managed to be giving and protective of others up until the very end of his life.
I saw Gene’s protective personality up close. I was born and raised in Manhattan (hence the “yank” in CrankyYank), and during that time I attended The Calhoun School with Jordan Walker-Pearlman, who is quoted above. I witnessed the closeness between Gene Wilder and Jordan, and it touched me then as it does now.
‘Fishy is on the way’
Jordan (aka “Gene’s Kid”) and I spoke exclusively via e-mail and he shared some personal memories of a mischievous and loving man.
As a fan boy, my Top 5 greatest films will always have Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory on it. Others of Wilder’s films are on myriad top-10 lists too, including Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles and Stir Crazy—the first in a series of buddy movies with Richard Pryor. Woman in Red is one of my other personal Wilder faves; he glided through that film with same silliness and commitment to character as he did in his early work.
Himself an accomplished writer-director, Walker-Pearlman is currently adapting, producing and directing Ghetto Plainsman, based on the book of the same name by Jarid Manos. Variety reports: Plainsman “covers a man’s journey to find himself from his abusive rural Ohio childhood to the violent streets of 1990s New York, where he’s a drug dealer and self-loathing hustler, to America’s Great Plains — where he comes face to face with similar violence caused by man’s inhumanity towards nature. He sees his connection to all forms of life and transforms himself into the leader of a new ecological health movement.”
Variety also reports that Karenna Gore (daughter of Al Gore) is executive producing Plainsman, which is her first feature film. ❏
Writer’s note: Watch for follow stories on both the life of Gene Wilder and production updates on Ghetto Plainsman in future editions of CrankyYank.
If only for one day, wouldn’t you love to hear the words straight from the dog’s mouth? We can at least imagine.
If our dogs could talk, they’d say “Keep me on a leash at all times. Keep me safe and secure, and let all other dogs feel that way, too. My freedom isn’t worth someone else’s frustration.
Bring me inside if I’m too quick to bark.
Bring me to dog parks and picnics and places where dogs are allowed, but only if I play nice with others. Also, teach me how to be just as happy when I have to be home alone.
Teach me boundaries so I know the rules, but don’t be too harsh. I’m always learning just like you.
Don’t take me to places that scare me.
If you’ve rescued me from the pound, remember that we actually rescued each other in that moment. I might get more fearful when you leave, so do it consciously.
Don’t walk me with your nose buried in a smart phone. Pop out the earphones and enjoy the sounds of nature. You never know when our time together might have to end, so enjoy it. Be present and aware. Bad things could happen to me if you’re not watching what you’re doing.
If I have playmates whom I know and love, make sure I see them often.
If I offer kisses, take them.
If I try to steal a few extra sniffs on a walk, indulge me. I totally rock at smelling stuff.
Please explore methods for becoming an even better pet parent. Myriad books, coaches and classes can help both of us be better sentient beings.
Talk to me often. I may not communicate back in words, but I understand what you say way more than you think.
If I wink at you at the Humane Society and you’re ready for the responsibility, take me with you.
Thank you for giving me a good home.
Sorry for chewing the couch leg. I was scared.
The mailman is a bastard and I hate him with a passion but I love him so much so please make sure he comes back tomorrow.
Please include me in the packing process, and clue me in to when you’ll be back. Let me celebrate with you when you get home, because I’ve been eager to have a reunion. The smells in your suitcase can tell me the stories of your trip.
I wake up every day feeling lucky you’re here for me to love.”
# # #
Do more. Worry Less. Make your “hellos” even sweeter with better good-byes. Buy “Leaving Triscuit” today! Better yet, share with your pals and don’t forget to leave reviews. They are critical for discovery on Amazon.
The Washington Post lede says it all: “Hillary Clinton made one of the most consequential announcements of her campaign last Monday — and hardly anyone is talking about it.” From the article:
The big-ticket item in Ms. Clinton’s plan is $5 billion for community health centers providing substance abuse and mental-health treatment as well as traditional medical care, which jibes with some reform initiatives emerging from Congress.
As a topic near and dear to my heart (ARTvision Atlanta raised more than $50,000 for Positive Impact, which provides mental-health counseling to people affected by HIV in the Atlanta area) this issue needs a bright light shown upon it. From what I’ve read, Sec. Clinton’s policy ideas are a good start, but lacking in areas such as family consent and revision of HIPAA laws whereby relatives can assist people with mental illness.
Bottom line: we need to reduce stigma of mental illness across the entire American societal spectrum, without regard to income or economic status. Roughly 20 American military members commit suicide every day, so the issue is an epidemic in need of some political courage.
You wouldn’t know about this plan because everyone is talking about the damn e-mails, or Trump’s latest gaffe, or some other loosely collected nonsense. ❏
That’s a wrap guys. We’ll see you back here next Thursday at 2 p.m.
Will Pollock is an Atlanta-based freelance multimedia journalist focusing on retail, real estate, travel, politics and human interest. He is the author of two books (Pizza for Good & Leaving Triscuit), with more on the way. Sign up for the mailing list, follow on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram—and check out the book links below.
Make sure to comment often—cranky loves company.