Friday, May 30, 2008

Brautigan projections

It's been a few weeks since we posted anything by or about Richard Brautigan. I've been trying to find just the right poem or story of his to suit the season or my mood or some current event. But nothing seemed just right.

Until, that is, I heard on the radio a mention of Bill Ratican. Last week, Hibbing, MN held a big festival celebrating native son Bob Dylan and his music -- Dylan turned 67 in late May. Part of the event was a concert at Hibbing High School's famous auditorium. Minnesota Public Radio was giving away tickets and mentioned that the seats were next to the seat where the ghost sits. Bill Ratican (and his ghost, I guess) was my wife's great uncle, who was (among other things) a projectionist at the Hibbing movie house and a stagehand at the high school auditorium. His ghost is said to haunt the place and to prefer a particular seat in the house during rehearsals and performances.

Bill Ratican's ghost reminded me of this Brautigan poem, from "Rommel Drives on Deep into Egypt."

Mrs. Myrtle Tate, Movie Projectionist

Mrs. Myrtle Tate, movie projectionist
died Wednesday in San Francisco.
She was 66, retired.

We must remember again the absolute
excitement of the moon and think lyrically
about her death.

It is very important for our Twentieth Century
souls because she was "one of the few women
who worked as a movie projectionist."

Oh, honor this mothersisterbride
of magic lanterns with an endless waterfall of


Bleeet said...

Creeptastic, Jim! Your wife knows all the famous people. As a Virginia, MN boy, it should be known that we hate Hibbing. It is a nice school though; even if it was paid for with hush money. That's where I took both my SATs, and particiapted in sports and a few Math League and Knowledge bowl contests. Never saw Dylan or Ratican, though. It should be made known that I'm not a fan of the "Dylan-As-God" school of thought either. I've never seen the huge attraction. I like some of his stuff, but he's also quite an asshole.

Jim H. said...


There should be a town named West Virginia, MN.

Also, what did you think of the poem? Isn't 'endless waterfall of visions' a pretty phrase?

Also, another of Kathy's relatives operated a barbershop at the hotel where Dylan had his bar mitzvah.

Also, I like most of Dylan's stuff and do not care about his personality one way or another. For some unknown reason, our oldest son became a huge Dylan fan.

Also, how many paragraphs in a comment can begin with the word 'also' before it gets silly and redundant?

Bleeet said...


The poem is nice, conversational... reminds one not to try so hard to be poetic, but rather, just use the right words.

That was always the problem with my poetry - trying to hard to say things poetically - it became overwrought and studied.

I found the only good poetry I could write was when I was making fun of poetry.

By the way, you have to like Dylan, right? Your age and all. I think it was mandatory back in the day.

Also, 'also' sounds like 'asshole' if you say it fast and spin.

Greg said..., I mean...Who says Dylan is/was God? He's not; just one of America's greatest songwriters whose work will be remembered long after his (and your and my) personality is forgotten.

Great post Ed, and a cool family ghost story.