Monday, July 29, 2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013





I was talking to my friend recently and asked "did I ever tell you about the pen I found at the funeral?"
She said "not but that'd make such a cool opening line of a story"

Few months back...
 The record store I worked at was closing down. I hadn't been writing or making films.
Around this time my aunt had been sick. All through this time I had Marc Maron's WTF podcasts and I found them really, really comforting. It felt like weirdly like were bro’s since we have very similar taste in music, movies and comedy.

I thought he’d make a great interview subject. I emailed his publicist and asked for an interview for Vice. She wrote back explaining that’d be cool but he's were very busy right now but she’d what she could do

The next day my aunt passed. We drove to Newcastle with my brother and sister for the funeral. We stayed over in a shitty Travel Lodge. My sister booked the cheapest option and it ended up with her sleeping on a pull out couch and my brother and I sharing a double bed… I’m 33 he’s 45 it was slightly awkward. It was either the food or the stress but I damn I had to get up a bunch of times during the night to shit. The room was small and the ensuite bathroom was tiny. I didn't want to wake anyone up, it was fucking awful. I hate trying to shit quietly. It’s like a tiptoe shit or something.

Whilst waiting around  The morning of the funeral I decided that I’d take this break from work to focus more on writing and making movies.

I was thinking about my aunt and I remembered how cool and eccentric she was. She got me into some good books. One night when I was around 14-15 I reading For Esmé—with Love and Squalor by JD Salinger and I couldn't get my head around one story. I showed my aunt, she read it and told me it was about child abuse! ‘Yeah Steven the girls crying cause Uncle Teddy touches her at night’. It freaked me out and got me into wanting to seek out read more fucked up stuff. After that it was Burroughs, JG Ballard and Dennis Cooper.

When we got to the church I grabbed the nearest available seat. I looked down and infront of my seat was a pen – weird right? Who writes in church? Why was it there? I’m not really religious or superstitious but this was odd. I took it as a cool coincidence or a good omen.

The next day I was emotionally wrecked. I kept replaying the moment my uncle fell to his knees crying as the coffin went into the crematorium. I kept seeing the image in my head and everyone around him break down crying in reaction to him. That evening my phone buzzed and I got an email with a time and date for my interview with Marc Maron.


Tippi Hedren in California, photographed by LIFE magazine during the early 1970s. Best-known for her role in Hitchcock’s The Birds, Tippi is also the mother of actress Melanie Griffith, who is the little girl you just saw lying in bed with a lion, and also above with her head in its mouth.

In 1969, Tippi was filming a movie in Africa and visited an abandoned house in Mozambique occupied by 30 lions and their cubs. The time she spent there with the lions changed Hedren’s life forever and prompted her and her husband to make a movie about what they had seen.

They decided to start their own pride of 50 homegrown lions, acquiring them one by one. Tippi met with Ron Oxley, a man with an animal-rental business in Soledad Canyon (an animal-rental business renting out lions) who told them that “to get to know anything about lions, you’ve just got to live with them for a while.”
And so she did.

The whole family was involved in the feeding and care of lion cubs, who could be both loving and destructive at the same time. Tippi shocked a lot of people when she admitted that she absolutely made sure the cubs even slept with her or her children, believing that nothing was more important than day-and-night communication.

As preparations for the film progressed, neighbours began to complain about the family’s ‘pets’ and authorities cracked down.

And so the family packed up their things (and their wild cats) and moved to the remote Soledad Canyon to live on the reserve with the lions, where they continued the on-and-off filming of Roar.

During production, Tippi’s daughter Melanie, 19 years old at the time, was attacked by a lioness and needed 50 stitches to the face. The director of photography was scalped.

“They are dangerous. Everyone in my family has been hurt, so I’m aware of the dangers that exist with [all wild] animals, ” said Tippi at the time, who also had her arm severely scratched by a leopard, and was was bitten on the chest by a mountain lion.

Although this did not deter Tippi from dedicating her life to the animals, she now takes a different view on the idea of wild animals in the home and believes they should not be kept as pets.

Tippi Hedren with daughter, Melanie Griffiths at the Shambala Preserve
Soon after production of the film wrapped in 1983, she founded the Shambala Preserve, a fully functioning animal sanctuary to protect exotic animals who have suffered from gross mistreatment and neglect.

Huge numbers of dangerous animals are bred and sold in the United States for illegal purposes and Shambala has welcomed over 50 big cats, often dangerous; lions, tigers, cougars, black and spotted leopards, servals, bobcats, Asian leopard cats, and a jungle cat so they can regain their physical and mental health and live out their lives in dignity.

After the zoo at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch was shut down, his two tigers, Thriller and Sabu, were sent to live at Shambala. When Jackson passed away, Hedren said she had told the tigers that he died. “You don’t know what mental telepathy exists from the human to the animal. But I hope they understood,” Hedren told The Guardian.

Hedren still looks back with nostalgia however to the days when she had wild animals in her home:

“I miss nursing the cubs very much,” she said. “I really treasure that experience. There’s nothing sweeter than a little baby lion or tiger cub. They’re magical.”

To this day, Tippi still runs the Shambala Reserve, a non-profit organization in California.