The happiest “hippie” I ever knew has left the building. RIP Victoria Scalisi. It was maybe 1991. I was in City Market Savannah and the most beautiful girl on a skateboard I’d ever seen came racing down Congress Street past The Velvet Elvis. Her hair always well past her ass and beautifully so, flew behind her like some flag of individualism and part girl pirate. I froze and watched this mini, dark haired Edie Brickell looking babe skate by and thought, “Whoa, I’m in love.” She clearly took note of my lovelorn gaze and without blinking stared right at me and said in what I would come to learn was her usual coy manner, “Why don’t you take a picture it’ll last longer!” Then came the laughter that was so lighthearted and silly and I caught site of her divine overbite. I was embarrassed. I’d been made. But before climbing into her Griswold station wagon with a giant Band-Aid sticker stuck down the side of it, she gave me those “dark eyes” with some warmth and made a funny, but sincere sad face to let me know that no harm was done. And then she peeled off. A crime had been committed. Now I was more in love than ever. Everything about Victoria was infectious. I think because she had other worldly model looks and the creamiest white skin reminiscent of white chocolate, she distracted you away from her beauty by being silly and a hyper rock chick. All of which was actually who she was but when you were Victoria Scalisi (oh and that romantic name!), people were going to stare and she was moving through a minefield most of the time of people falling in love with her at every turn. Her personality in part became her shield to deflect and yet was her way of making sure her spirit, talent and personality could cut through the superficial and be in the spotlight and enjoyed and respected for itself. Even if yes, the windowdressing of that spirit was not hard on the eyes. Oh and make no mistake here, even though I was the king of Goth kids in high school, and could roll with the Gen X crowd and anyone “rocking it,” Victoria was way out of my league and way past my spiritual pay grade. Like I could only hope to be that “free” and for most of my early and late 20s when I really saw her around, I was way too burdened with self and concealing. It took me most of my life to really express my deeper self. Victoria was way ahead of everybody in that sense. She learned all of that 10 lifetimes ago. We were all really in her classroom and learning from her as she went. And although I was not close to Victoria or part of her usual circle, she never treated me any differently or as a stranger. Nope. She knew energy and auras and when we’d have an encounter, I knew she could see my insecurities and the fact that I could not shake that love lorn look from our first encounter and so her response was always either an embrace or she’d punch me in the shoulder or do a noogie on my head or whatever it was to remind me that life wasn’t all that bad and to skateboard like there was no tomorrow. That was Victoria’s way. She didn’t have possessions to give but she gave you something special spiritually to possess. Did I mention her voice? No, not her speaking one which was lovely and child like. But her singing one. She came to front a very followed and lauded band called DAMAD in 1993. I’ve heard them called Sludge Metal or Crust or sometimes Punk which is how I thought of them in a sense. But any perception of Victoria as “happy go lucky” went out the window when she growled these deep demonic song tones and screeching vocals that were akin to a witch coven that caught fire and maybe the witches ran into a deep cave full of orcs and kicked them in the nuts. That might describe her vocals and I guess in that respect she was embracing something opposite of people’s surface perception while center staging the fact that she understood darkness and her spritely, impish personality was heeled in much pain and learned survival skills. Or possibly she wanted us to know just how ancient of a soul she was by using her voice to invoke how far she’d come through time to be who she was now. I don’t know. I never got to really know Victoria or ask her where all of that came from. I wasn’t her intimate even if I wanted to be and like all of the lives she touched in small and large ways, she wore everything on her sleeve and made you feel as if you were a great kindred. I feel so out of touch with this news of her death. I didn’t know she was sick. Hell, I didn’t even know my friend and former co-worker, Denise, was one of her great run-a-rounds but I should have as Denise is another rare and strange fruit. I’m glad they were close. I can see that they deserved each other. That’s the funny thing. We didn’t deserve Victoria but damn we were lucky to be in the same universe with her and I do thank God for the blessing in my life that she was even if just momentarily and sporadically. Which was her nature. Maxing the moment and being radically sporadic. I’d almost be REALLY sad about Victoria less to know that she’ll live forever and that like Light, her purpose is movement and traveling and while some of us grieve here, she’s breaking hearts and inspiring laughter and making noise right now in the next life. I’d even gander to say right here in Savannah where some will mistake her for a ghost. Doubtful. Its just the power of her spirit spilling back over my friends. One that will always haunt us. Goodnight Victoria. You were beautifully bad ass.
When I got wind of this interview from the 6th Sense World office, I was intrigued to know more. When I saw Tyler Martina, he looked like a “too clean” Rock-A-Billy kid from California and so wondered if he was more trendy poseur or had some substance behind all of the tatts and such radiant skin. Hey, no one says you have to have clogged pores to be a greaser and who wants to be a greaser anyway? Turns out he was a real quality rocker guy with a lot of heart and intelligence and was really happy with the way it turned out. We met in the chapel at Hillcrest Abbey Cemetery and was with his family and that put a whole new light on him for me. He had a beautiful wife(?) and just darling daughter who apparently can see ghosts. And what I realized was they were really doing a neat family thing together by seeing the country and then also capturing neat characters and knowledge for the show’s listeners. It not only showed the guy had heart, but business savvy to go along with it. As I told them, the best thing my parents ever did for my brother and myself, was on summer breaks, and riding us around the country Griswold style to all of the big historic sites and National Parks across this great country of our’s and that they’d all be blessed for this as a family later in life. I think they were a tad too young to see all of that but I promise, they’ll one day be thanked by their daughter for it. Anyway, turns out I was their target character and just wanted to do a good job for them. So we talked life, death, paranormal, America’s Most Haunted City both in terms of how Savannah got the title, how I captured it formally and then went out and made a movie about it. We spoke of Bonaventure of course and one day time apparition moment I was witness to that was greatly affecting. Overall I think it turned out pretty decent and really inspired me to get back into my own podcast for 6thSenseWorld Radio more actively which hey, just ordered my new headsets and splitters today so be on the listen out! In the meantime, I hope this is entertaining and informative!
Doing It Different With Tyler Martina
Click Link For Interview
Although I have 2 amazing Apps of my own, The Haunted Savannah App & The Savannah Historical Apps, I was very honored to be asked by The Bonaventure Historical Society to script and voice two stories for their own. I was bummed that they scrapped one of my stories as it was the hardest to write and record, but they kept in my Conrad Aiken version and as he’s a hero of mine as writer and thinker, I’m more than dandy with the fact. The Apps are $4.99 and its very generous that $3.50 of each download goes back to the efforts of The Bonaventure Historical Society and I hope you will all consider downloading them.
iPhone Users Click Here https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bonaventure-cemetery-tour/id1154175914?mt=8
Android Users Click Herehttps://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tb.tb614&hl=en
CLICK PLAY TO HEAR SHANNON READ THE POEM
I am an Odd Fellow in The Tribe of Individualism and America is my Great Spirit.
Most Americans and probably most people in the Western world, have no real concept of how secret societies have truly underwritten the architecture of modern day civilization for good and or for evil. Which is not what I’m really here to fulfill as an understanding today. Nope, that’s next week! This writing is but a mere peek into a facet of one branch and my own reflection within the workings of that group.
In my own humble opinion, The Odd Fellows, were one of the more charitable in the history of such societies, and were part of what could be likened to an offshoot program of Masonic traditions but were “friendlied” up to make them more appealing to a nation full of working class people. The Odd Fellows became part of what were called The Friendly Societies and they, along with others like The Elks, Knights of Pythias, Order of Rebecca, Order of The Eastern Star, Alee Temple and dozens, became charitable arms of the nation embracing many causes. They assisted in the building of orphanages, asylums, hospitals, schools, and so many wonderful things that in my opinion, were at the height of advancement until Robber Barons captured the American dollar and in so many ways, gave control of welfare over to the government. I will also write about this in coming days to highlight how this radical and yet, subtle changing of the guard was an abysmal failure and today we have the crime, the ghettos along with the hate movements of the “have nots” to prove it.
By 1910, The Odd Fellows were the largest of fraternal orders in America, with 5 million members and raising 100 million annually in charitable revenues. The Odd Fellows were comprised of workers, actors, comedians and quite the “odd mix,” hence their name and are credited with being America’s first insurance salesman and notably, were the first whites to institutionally harbor slaves and teach them to read and write. In fact, there were black Odd Fellows who were still slaves and all of that collaboration was dangerous to say the least but shows the heart of such organizations. Furthermore, we typically hear the conventional narrative of Harriet Tubman and The Underground Railroad, but what is strangely lacking is how the The Odd Fellows were greatly instrumental to the movement and helped organize the “tracks” for which slaves could travel. In such reading? The “safe houses” that are often discussed and the symbols built into chimneys that designated them as havens for hiding were homes of Odd Fellow members. Quakers too, but lots of Odd Fellows. In fact, some of the marks on the houses were the symbols of The Odd Fellows. Every now and again, you’ll go through a Southern town and can still find those symbols in the brick design of chimneys and exterior woodwork.
Respective of myself as a storyteller in cemeteries, one aspect that is of great interest to me is that The Odd Fellows were a part and parcel to new thinking about cemetery layout in The Victorian Era, working hand in hand with city fathers as far as where they would make sense to create and how they should function in times of pandemics and the processing of the dead. Many “Stranger Sections” were courtesy of The Odd Fellows for burying indigents and “persons unknown.” It was not uncommon to find an Odd Fellows Lodge in very close proximity to a Victorian cemetery in the period. And for those who are in the know about such things, a good many of the symbols found on Victorian headstones, stem from The Odd Fellows’ canon. Their motto was, “Visit The Sick & Dying. Educate The Orphan: Bury The Stranger.” My kind of people you could say.
In part what moved me to write a few things about them today was that I unboxed my 19th century “Red Race” ritual costume and hung it up on my living room wall. Complete with quiver and arrows, a traveling bag, medicine pouch with flint rock and starter stick and then a rather creepy mesh mask that is smiling adorned with real hair, probably horse. I’ve had it for couple of years and decided while house cleaning it was time to show it off.
Seeing this costume also recalled that in a time when people didn’t have much education, a part of the role of lodges, was to give their members an opportunity to role play in order to better understand other cultures, and to learn something of the history of the world, and how certain pivotal human events became part of America. And as The Odd Fellows were certainly very Christian in their operations, and probably more diversely than the actual churches near them, role playing was also a way of teaching scriptures and their deeper hidden meanings not revealed to them in churches. By putting members in the roles of Biblical figures and letting them embody a sense of what those people did as individualists, along with some of their ritualism, they could feel more participants in the mystical world than just “average Joe” as they were outside of the lodges. Most key is that The Odd Fellows believed in teaching respect for other races and cultures, or at least in the parts of them, like any, that were worthy of respect.
All of these reflections today spurred me to write this blog because whether or not most people see it, we are living in a time where very skilled politicians and dubious social engineers who with their millions and billions, are intent on hurting relations between people and using “racism” and “bigotry” as their buzz words to divide The Tribe of America. And yes, we see the spirit of that hatred taking root in so called “educated” people who for some insane reason, probably self-hatred, are happy to brandish those concepts of ill will as their own monikers and run out to do the dirty work of such nefarious souls seeking such ends.
I don’t expect everyone to totally process everything I’m saying here. These are complicated subjects and I won’t claim to be their greatest author either! I just know that part of the goal of America, by its own history of say, The Odd Fellows, has been about We The People as a “tribe,” working together to solve our society problems. And without a largely infringing government and us running to them for the answer to every little willy nilly or major difference we have had with others. Constantly pandering to them and their media really, is to empower them with guns and force. This will only be to the destruction of us all and all “human” customs. Its actually our differences that makes us so unique in America but we have to make ourselves more self governing in our lives and deal with our brother’s like fellow members of the tribe. My message really here is that The People must be their own government more than ever if we are to really survive as a nation, and quite possibly a planet. In many ways, we must disenfranchise the government by being greater people.
So yes, I’m an odd fellow in my views, even if I believe I’m just being traditional. It is my love and understanding of history that makes me think I’m onto something not so odd here and is definitively American. Funny what unboxing a collectible evokes in one’s self. Putting it up on a wall to admire for a bit. But this is why I collect such things. They are like my flint and striking stick in the battle to survive and keep alive what is so integral in the war now and the battles to come. Especially in a time when most arguments lack historical perspectives and facts which is why everything is so lopsided between people. Many days it feels the rifts are less than a “The Haves vs The Have Nots” and is really more of a war between The Educated vs The Uneducated. I am also wise to know that we have been dumbed down to be this way by these leaders and their shadow government movements. They only want highly emotional people embattling so they can push, prod and enslave. All while claiming to be doing the collective good of course. For those reasons, this Indian costume is woeful in some ways but it also strengthens my spirit. Because of it, I cannot forget that people before me suffered much and fought hard battles for freedom so that I might inherit their spirit and live and understand them and pass it all along to others. Or as Oglethorpe duly printed on The Seal of Georgia, “Non Sibi Sed Allis” He too was fascinated by the Indians but that is another story for another writing…
Some people who have my personal email know that I go by the handle, Dr. Buzzard. Although I ease people minds when I tell them I’m merely a conjurer of story magic and not dark magic. Dr. Buzzard was the most historically famous Root Doctor in The Low Country South until the novel, Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil came along and made Lady Minerva, an aquaintance of Dr. Buzzard, more internationally known. Even if they were really operating on two opposite ends of the 20th Century more or less so they each have their own distinctions. And strangely were described as being married in the novel itself even if that was just fiction. Minerva was married to Buzzard’s rival is my understanding, either called Dr. Eagle or Dr Hawk. They always have great names like that. In my lifetime I’ve met Dr. Gregory, Dr. Frog and Mama Tilda who was 102 when we met and was the dream interpreter of the people on St Helena’s Island, SC. I also have in my personal collection some very important root doctor artifacts from very important famlies of that trade, and my prized possession is one cobalt blue pair of Dr. Buzzard’s spectacles given to me by a man who knew his family and purchased some of his belongings. As I tell people, if my house was on fire and I could run out with one thing, it would be Dr. Buzzard’s pimp’n looking specs! The article by my friend Beverly Willett was originally slated to have photos of a ritual I discovered in Bonaventure and dismantled after a year right before the city workers trashed it. I knew I had to preserve it to teach others about their culture. In the end, the photoshoot where mosquitoes ate at me for awhile was a bust, but was glad the article turned out so colorful and yeah, I got a little nod . One day I’ll share more of my own adventures with root doctors and consider the inclusion good juju for my directional mojo!
CLICK LINK TO READ!
If you’re ever driving up 221 from Augusta to McCormick, SC and you see a brown arrow sign with a tantalizing, “Long Cane Indian Massacre Site?” If you should follow it? Better have 4 Wheel Drive. What sounds like just a jiffy up the road is actually the longest, weirdest gravel dirt road in all of the woods of these here parts. You’ll also drive over 2 rather rickety old wooden bridges praying your vehicle doesn’t plunge below. But if that’s just your cup of tea? Then you may (optimal word here), just find a surreal and tragic place in the middle of nowhere that holds the remains of 23 women and children butchered by Cherokee who felt that the camp of 260 settlers was just too close to them 40 miles away. But when warning arrived, they felt it would be wise to track to Augusta for safer living. Unfortunately there was the dreaded bog in which their wagon became stuck and camping for the night was their undoing. There were 56 fighting men on hand but when The Cherokee assailed? The gun wagon was too far from them and after 30 minutes of fighting with what they could, a hasty retreat was made. Crazily, 9 children survived being scalped to the pleasure of some wig maker in Augusta I might think, but 23 women and children remained behind. Among them? The 76 year old grandmother of none other than John C. Calhoun (All Southerners must stand and bow for a moment of silence). Calhoun placed the etched marker himself to commemorate the spot. And if you do find it? You walk over a little metal foot bridge and stand among 100ft pines and it is so remote all there is in this place is the sound of wind whipping by you and through the treetops. Not a bird, not a squirrel. Just wind and it feels like spirits at war and even during the day, like screams all around you that you can’t truly hear, but you feel the force from the beyond clawing at your soul. I’m just glad it was the daytime.
Savannah says goodbye to one of our great characters in the 20th & 21st, Louis “Popeye” Green. He mastered horses, farming, being homeless and the Blues Guitar. As I mentioned earlier to a friend today, although he was “poor,” he had such a rich life and was very much like many of us downtown in the 1990s when we were much poorer and although he was pushing a homeless cart stacked to the gills with lane treasures, we were in solidarity as business dreamers and artists in the making. He represented hard work, dignity, perseverance, never-quit-attitude and much more that was old world human. He suffered much also at the hands of life and for a time with drugs. I always called him Louis in the barn of Historic Horse Tours, but noted that on the streets it was “Popeye.” Of which he became known more when an accident meant surgery with a plate in his head, left it see more strange in shape I suppose. Even before that I once asked him, “Why do they call you Popeye?” He said, “some say its my head and that I look like him.” I never quite saw it because I thought he was cute-handsome and so I always called him by his formal name out of respect. Popeye seemed too much of a street character name, and not that this was a bad thing, but I’d known him as Louis first, and I saw him as fellow resident vs just a vagabond. In my life, Louis became subject of one of my favorite stories that I still continue to share like a sweet morsel. Some 20 years ago, when I drove for Bill Royal and his family’s business, Historic Horse Tours, we were the underdogs in town as the 2nd ever carriage company and were up against the monopoly company in town and we had a barn full of characters like myself, Russell “Rusty” Browne, and Bill’s sister, Twila Delight Royal (real name), and Louis was a barn hand and kind of a side kick to everyone. He had zero body fat and every bit of his body was striated with muscle that looked as if made of barbed wire. As a comic book reader, I compared his handshake to that of shaking hands with Ben Grimm or The Thing” from Fantastic Four. It felt like pumice or a thick leather glove. I’d felt hands like that before with the men in my Kentucky family who’d picked tobacco and had worked the railroads and coal mines. But even Louis’ hands were tougher. And yes, he’d grown up poor and black in the most rural parts of Georgia picking cotton and breaking horses. Or so I’d been told and he’d hinted around too. He was truly “of the land” and shaking his hand was like being greeted by an old tree. And in spite of his street life conditions, was glad to have a job and the little horse family down on the end of Savannah’s Fahm Street. One cold morning, around 7:30, our little crew was in the only warm place in the metal shed barn, the shanty office with its space heater. We were getting ready of course to ride out to City Market to sit for probably what would be hours in the “pre-tourist” town of Savannah, Georgia until we got a fare. Oh my those days when the wind from the Savannah River whipped through the desolate City Market parking garage and iced you to the bone! God forbid if your gloves got wet while filling the water bucket! I remember days when you’d see Rusty Browne in his vintage grey overcoat and laceless combat boots and dirty turtleneck sweater standing in an empty City Market with a fire and boiling pot of water selling boiled peanuts! I’m pretty sure you can’t do that anymore or probably even then! To think he’s the King of The Pedicabs today but it was VERY humble beginnings and these moments amused me now as much as they did then. We were all really Savannah’s Rat Pack and inspired each other even when we might not have known that we were doing that but I’m pretty sure I knew it. None the less, back to this particular morning of subject. I vividly recall Bill Royal, Twila, partner Tom Smith, Ruth Bodek, myself and one preppy art student, Scott all huddled in the office waiting on our reservation sheets. Per routine, Tom, Bill and Twila were smoking of course and I’m sure with the ether of dung and fresh straw in the mix, that the room smelled a little rich. But it was warm and this was story telling boot camp! This was still the days of land lines and barely a working computer so it felt a bit thrown together and by the seat of their pants. The most modern appliance was a Bunn Coffee burner with 2 hot plates and the classic orange and brown tipped glass coffee pots to signify caffeine or that other kind for the weak. Those pots were known to not only break at the slightest tap and cut you deeply, but also reached temperatures above 200 degrees and caused unforgiving burns at the slightest touch of the already life threatening glass. The company probably should’ve been known as Burn Coffee and not Bunn! But as coffee drinkers, we take such risks for the brown manna. Suddenly the office door opened, and with that suction sound that always pulled some air the door’s direction, moved some paperwork and a horse to look up somewhere, in coasts Louis who was in search of the freshly brewed elixir. We all say, “Morning Louis,” and he replied in his usual chipper tone, “Morning every-bawdy!” Being that we were all so jammed into the room, and that such an action moment is thus hard to miss, we were all just unconsciously watching Louis shuffle through this small room. It was literally about 100 sq ft and yes, some of us had to shift to let Louis get past. What happened next will forever remain burned into my brain and I have told the story often with a great tone of amazement and like someone who’d seen something epically freakish. I liken it to the same feeling someone has when witnessing a magician’s illusion that defies reality and leaves you speechless to the point that you hear your brain thud against your skull while trying to decipher the physics. And let me say this. We might argue that when these glass coffee pots are full they are supremely hotter across their glass surfaces than they might be if just partially full. Hence why most of us, ok, 99.9% of us know the value of the thick plastic handles on those pots. When Louis found himself in front of these coffee pots, I had a perfect eye line on the unexpected super human feat about to occur. In the same manner one might just pick up a pen in which to write? Louis picks up the coffeepot with both hands FROM THE BOTTOM — then slowly walks over to the other side of the office (maybe 10 feet), like he’s holding an average object, and proceeds in a very gentle, pouring type manner, turns the coffee into his cup like he can’t spare a drop and when done, he about faces, walks unhurriedly back to the hot plates as if more concerned by breaking the glass than the atomic heat on his hand and then rests the pot softly down, picks up his coffee cup and walks straight out the door without a wince or a word and a smile on his face. When the door once more did its sucking noise, there was silence across our faces. Scott actually looked nervous. We were frozen with dumbfoundedness and for a moment stared at each other in silent disbelief and I think there then came some “Holy shits” and nervous laughter and I seem to recall that Twila with her raspy smoke laced vocal chords exclaiming a, “Fuck man, that Louis has worked hard his whole life!” Louis sure did. And I knew that although I’d worked Illinois farms and painting barns, that it would be unlikely I’d ever work as hard or suffer as much as Louis Green. And I don’t like to use the word suffer around such a man. He wouldn’t want to me associate that with him either. Even though he was hard knocks, he did it with an impish smile and an infectious sweet, gritty laughter. He was also very very loved by me and some great souls around him and hope he passed on feeling content and blessed for sowing some seeds. He definitely planted one in me as a human being and I’m especially grateful now. As years went by I would see him around Savannah and seemed like he was doing better even if he seemed to like what the streets gave him a sense of, which was being real and keeping it real. I respect that. There’s too much fluffy anymore and that wasn’t his style. Funny but I get that. Sometimes staying just above homeless gives you an edge of charge and challenge and motivation that being a fat cat can’t. I remember seeing Louis at an “old folks” home on Tybee some years ago and thought, “well this is cool, he’s near the beach. He deserves this.” I don’t think that probably lasted as that was probably too soft of a life for him and although Louis looked well aged, he looked younger than his age and never struck me as a guy who’d ever “be old.” His body was bent over years ago by a hard life but he made that cruel human form of his own a beautiful machine. It would also be later that I learned Louis was a master guitar player and yes, even with those calloused hands. I bet vibration was all they could still feel and maybe God made them that way so they could slide more perfectly around them as he transmuted all of his soul through them. When I heard he’d play in City Market or jam out at some bars with people this caught me off guard and prompted some momentary disbelief. Yet any disbelief was replaced quickly by more awe of Louis and made my heart extremely happy. I’m one of those people who loves to be surprised by human nature and then am never surprised what human souls can do. Which makes me even more sorry to hear of his passing and that Louis will play no more. You see in the star chart of The Savannah Universe, there are these distinct planets in our solar system of personalities, and Louis Popeye Green was a huge star and the rest of us in the galaxy feel dim today even if we will all shine a little more brightly for the rest of our days for having him near. He made beautiful music and made an instrument of himself and gave of it fairly and freely. Rest In Peace Louis. 10/12/44 -8/29/16
Special Thanks to Rusty Browne for his letting us know of his passing and being a constant for him on behalf of all of us…
Video Credit Rusty Browne.