Showing posts with label obituary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label obituary. Show all posts

31.7.23

Paul Reubens as Pee-Wee Herman: A Journey of Unapologetic Joy and Playfulness

Explore the joyful world of Pee-Wee Herman, brought to life by the legendary Paul Reubens. A nostalgic journey of unapologetic playfulness and iconic laughter.
Pee-Wee on his iconic bike from the 1985 Tim Burton classic "Pee-Wee's Playhouse"
Paul Reubens plays "Pee-Wee Herman" in Tim Burton's iconic 1985 film.

When I was a child, waking up early on Saturdays meant one thing: watching Pee-Wee's Playhouse. Little did I know that my love for this whimsical character, portrayed by the legendary Paul Reubens, would become a defining aspect of my childhood and leave an everlasting mark on my life.

At first, my parents might have thought my fascination with Pee-Wee was just a typical childhood obsession with colorful and silly television shows. After all, Pee-Wee's Playhouse was a delightful series featuring anthropomorphic household items like talking sofas and a witty globe. What could be more harmless?

However, my family's concerns started when I began to imitate Pee-Wee incessantly. I talked like him, walked like him, and found myself endlessly inspired by his exuberant personality: "La-la-la-la-la."  At times, I even found myself quoting his iconic lines, such as the famous exclamation about not messing with someone's dots. And I would say stuff like, "Knock! Knock! Who's there?" and "I know you are, but what am I?" I had fully embraced Pee-Wee's persona and couldn't help but express it, even in public places like the Piggly-Wiggly during grocery shopping trips.

While my mother, father, and older brother were not entirely pleased (and my younger brother just shrugged his shoulders) with my Pee-Wee imitations outside the comfort of our home, I felt a connection with the character that went beyond surface-level entertainment. Pee-Wee represented something deeper to me - a sense of jouissance, wild abandon, and the desire to be extraordinary and unapologetically unique.

When Pee-Wee's Big Adventure hit the big screens, I was six years old and already in my element, loving to show off and talk endlessly about my favorite things. Interestingly, my other passion at the time was listening to Christian singer Sandy Patti, which might have seemed like an odd combination for a young child. Nevertheless, my love for Pee-Wee and Sandy Patti knew no bounds.

The movie itself was a dream come true. I adored the Rube Goldberg contraption that prepared a simple bowl of cereal and fed the dog in the opening scene. And of course, who could forget Pee-Wee's beloved bike? I yearned for a life like his, filled with color, joy, and a happy home.

Looking back on those memories now, I realize that Pee-Wee was more than just a character to me. He represented a fantasy, a glimpse into an intriguing and liberating life. In my young mind, Pee-Wee embodied the essence of what I thought a happy and carefree life might look like - a single man, riding his bike, surrounded by a vibrant and accepting community. But most importantly, he cherished what mattered most to him - his beloved bike.

As the news of Paul Reubens' passing on July 30th, 2023, reached the world, I couldn't help but feel a profound sense of gratitude for the joy he brought to countless lives, including mine. The iconic laugh that resonated with so many of us will forever remain etched in our hearts.
Pee-Wee's Laugh: Which I Imitated Incessantly Until My Parents Forbade Me to Laugh Like Him. 

So here's to you, Mr. Reubens. Thank you for sharing the gift of Pee-Wee Herman with the world. Your unapologetic embrace of joy and playfulness touched the lives of many, including a little boy who found solace and happiness in your exuberant character. Heh heh heh!

4.3.20

On the Passing of a Friend and Mentor: Frank Levy, Storyteller

Francis Xavier Levy, Jr. passed away on Tuesday morning - Frank was a friend and a mentor to me. I’ll miss him terribly. I met him and his wife Bonnie when I was a volunteer page at the Mandeville branch of the Saint Tammany Parish Library. I was a teenager. I shelved books. But when Frank would visit the library, he and Bonnie enlisted me in their Stories in Motion program - I’ll never forget Flutterby the Butterfly (played fabulously by Bonnie Bess Wood). We even made the pages of the Saint Tammany edition of the New Orleans newspaper The Times-Picayune (My mom saved the clipping). I was the lepidopterist. That was about twenty-seven years ago (if I did the math correctly). I'll never forget Frank. He was (and is) a tour de force. Here are several things I learned from Frank Levy: 
  1. A great movie is a work of literature.
  2. Wal-Mart is better at 3 AM.
  3. Calculate the seconds it takes your local traffic light to turn red (and use this knowledge to help you know when to leave your house during rush hours).
  4. Sappho is awesome.
  5. Every kid can have a starring role.
  6. Back in 1992, Frank was already using the World Wide Web - and he taught himself HTML. I’ll never forget learning how to browse the web from him.
  7. Read. READ. Read.
  8. Stay quiet backstage.
  9. But own your lines on stage.
  10. Stage combat!
  11. Homemade beef jerky (DM me for the recipe).
  12. Talk to strangers. If they appear friendly. And invite them to dinner.
  13. Ask, and people might give you what you want.
  14. Frank was the lonely kid growing up. But as an adult, he dedicated his life to making kids happy.
  15. Your past doesn’t define you.
I’m sure I’ll think of more after I click “share now.” If you knew Frank Levy, please add to my list.
A snapshot of Mr. Frank Levy and his wife Bonnie Bess Wood.
Frank and his wife Bonnie

4.8.05

Obituary: Georgette Pintado 1924 -2005

Georgette Pintado (1924 - 2005)

Les enfants, les enfants,” whispered Georgette Pintado, when Br. Bede Roselli and his mother Pam found her at Covington High School’s cafeteria, curled in the fetal position on a thin mattress on the floor. “All she could tell me was ‘I’m worried about the poor children,’” Br. Bede said. “We called her Nanan. Anybody she took care of was called Nana’s kids. She even had a personalized license plate on her old Cadillac: NANAN. She took care of my brother and me when we were kids and was one of the first people I confided in that I wanted to be a priest.”
     Georgette, along with dozens of other patients from Pontchartrain Health Care Center in Mandeville, had been temporarily relocated to the school turned shelter. Br. Bede, a monk at Saint Joseph Abbey, didn’t know she was at the school but stumbled on her while distributing Bibles with his mother, a certified surgical assistant from Madisonville, who had been volunteering her service at the shelter in the days following Katrina. “We didn’t know she was at the high school so you can believe how shocked we were when we found out she was there,” said Br. Bede.
     Georgette Pintado was born in France in 1924 and grew up during the time of the Nazi Occupation. As a young woman she had been harassed by SS soldiers at a train station for not having her papers on her; she couldn’t understand them so the German soldiers slapped her and threatened to rape her. Fortunately, she was able to get away unharmed but vowed to emigrate from France after the war. Leaving her family behind, she sailed to New York after the liberation, moved to New Orleans, had a son named George, married Nicholas Pintado, a Coast Guardsman, and moved to Mandeville where she lived over forty years. “When they met, her husband knew how to say, “oui,” and she knew “yes,” which was all the language they needed to fall in love,” said Br. Bede.
     Especially after her husband’s death of a heart attack, Georgette dedicated her life to caring for children at her home in Mandeville. In her two-story blue house in Old Golden Shores, she fed, cleaned and bathed scores of children through the years. “She wasn’t just a baby sitter, she was a real nanny,” said Jackie Lark, whose two children, Brian and Jeffrey, were cared for by Georgette from birth until they were old enough to be home alone. “She did everything for our kids, even baked cakes for them on their birthdays,” she said.
     For twenty-five years, every Wednesday she visited the sick at Pontchartrain Health Care Center as a Eucharistic minister. She was so committed to this weekly service, that if a parent kept their child late at her house on Wednesday they knew to pick them up at the nursing home. It wasn’t unusual for Georgette to arrive at the nursing home with five or six children in tow, assigning them special tasks for the patients. She not only distributed communion to the patients but spent ample time with each person, talking to them and giving out candy or cigarettes as needed. This was the same nursing home where she would move into after her quadruple bypass surgery in 2003. Her condition worsened after her son, George died of a heart attack in 2004. The impact of Katrina worsened her condition even further, along with the stress of relocating, her debilitating arthritis, and poor vascular circulation became too much for her body.
     Georgette was moved back to Pontchartrain Health Care Center three weeks after the storm. Father John F. Talamo, a Salesian priest at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church gave her the anointing of the sick before she went into a coma and a few days later she died on October 4, 2005. Father John declared her a “living saint” at her funeral mass and commended her for her unfailing service to the church. He mentioned that in her final days she still remembered the “Hail Mary” and the “Our Father” even though she was quickly losing consciousness.
     Georgette’s daughter-in-law Marci Tittle of Hickory Creek, TX and her granddaughter, Megan of Seattle, Washington, arranged the funeral and the gathering afterward at the home of Jean Champagne of Mandeville. Many of the children she cared for, the “les enfants” she spoke about before she died, gathered together there and shared stories about their Nanan. Nanan’s kids. Simone. Katherine. Sarah. Brian. Greg. Jean. John. Jeffery. Margaret. “It felt good to share what we remembered about Nanan and to know it was her who brought us all together,” said one of the children at the gathering. Nanan was the glue for these children’s lives — an influence that cannot be easily forgotten, no matter what may befall us.

N.B.: Georgette Pintado's obituary was published in The Times Picayune, Wednesday, October  12, 2005
PDF copy for printing