Jeff’s Odd Destinations: Valley of the Moon

Valley of the Moon

Image result for valley of the moon tucson

image from yelp.org

First order of business, I have an important announcement to make. After much thought I have decided that “Jeff’s Eccentric People, Places and Things,” has to awkward a title. While I am pleased with how my work is coming out I decided to go with a different name. While “Eccentric Person of the Month,”  and “Unusual Place of the Month,” my old titles from the Seeds’ Newsletter have been suggested  I decided on “Jeff’s Odd Destinations” and “Jeff’s Gallery”

Now for a very special trip today, I take you on a very mysterious journey to a land of wonder and imagination. To Tucson Arizona’s mystic and mysterious Valley of the Moon. For over eighty years this strange land has enchanted children of all ages. Its story begins with the coming of the Mountain Gnome, George Phar Legler. Born in Evansville, Indiana somewhere between 1884 and 1887, George was a former post office clerk who was forced into an early retirement due to an automobile accident. He was also a spiritualist and believer in fairies. He moved to Arizona around 1917 and bought the 2.25 acres that soon became his life’s work. Nearby lived a clergyman whose teenage daughter was dying of tuberculosis. George created a little mountain scene with a waterfall and a bathtub lake just outside her window. She could leave her room and explore the serene landscape with her imagination. When she died George comforted her mother by telling her she had moved to the spirit world where she would live forever now. He found his life calling and expanded on the small landscape and started building the Valley in 1923.

 

Image result for george phar legler

image from tucsonvalleyofthemoon.com

 

With the help of friends, family and locals George Legler constructed his “secret” fairyland and wild animal sanctuary, opening up officially in 1926 and full of homemade rock decorations, buildings and sculptures of wonder opening to the public . George lived on the property giving tours, telling stories and performing magic tricks as the Mountain Gnome. During the Valley’s original run it did not allow boys in-between the ages of 12 to 21 as visitors in because George thought that they would upset the fairies for not believing or being imaginative for the “magic” to work. The Valley was open until 1963. George would live by himself in his now abandoned fairyland until 1971, when he got an unexpected surprise visit from a group of High Schoolers. While the park never officially closed, visitors were coming less and less. The Valley was falling into disrepair due to vandals and George’s health was failing due to his age.

 

The boys apparently thought they all shared the same dream of a friendly gnome. Apparently they decided it was no dream and went on a quest to find an almost forgotten part of their childhood, climbed over the fence and rediscovered the Valley. While George at first thought they were vandals, the Mountain Gnome gave them an over two hour tour and told them that they were welcome back any time. The boys later formed the Valley of the Moon Restoration Association (VOMRA) now called the George Phar Legler Society (GPLS). The Valley of the Moon was listed on the Arizona Historic Places Register in 1975 and George was awarded the Tucson Outstanding Citizen Award a year before he died in 1982 around age 95. It is also an official National register of Historic Places under Pima County in 2011 and a Historic Landmark for the city as of 2016. The Valley is now owned mainly by the GPLS and partly by the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.

image from http://tucsonsbirthday.blogspot.com

Now, I have never been to the Valley of the Moon (yet) so I can only judge from what I have read and studied but the park contains a large number of statues and buildings made from scraps of old toys, and junk George found and put together. This includes the Wizard’s Tower, a bridge, a cave, a homemade pond and an artificial flower garden. In 2008 a number of sculptures were added from closed down mini golf course named Magic Carpet Golf now a car dealership. A house that a friend of George Legler helped build in the Valley became a storage room for props and costumes stood on the site but burned down not too long ago. Today the park is kept by members of the GPLS and volunteers. I don’t know if it is still an animal sanctum however.

Image result for valley of the moon tucson

image from flicker.com

 

The Valley of the Moon is open on the first Saturday of every month for free and paid for visits are on special occasions and holidays. As well, exploring the Fairyland of the Desert shows are performed by members of the GPLS, many with the audience participating. You can find more information about the Valley of the Moon, George Legler, and helping to keep the wonder and magic alive at the website www.tucsonvalleyofthemoon.com. The Valley is at 2544 E. Allen Rd. Tucson AZ and can be contacted at 520-323-1331 and valleymoon1@yahoo.com.

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The life of Thomas Alva Edison

Who he was-Thomas Edison was an inventor. He was born on Feb. 11, 1847. To middle class parents in the town of Milan, Ohio. He had adhd which meant he had a hyper active behavior which made his teachers upset and impatient. Thomas Edison never stopped asking questions and had a self centered view on life. He was deemed “odd” by his peers. He started his job as a newspaper salesman. He peddled out by the railroad track.

 

Three things Thomas Edison was famous for-

1.The first electric vote recording machine

  1. He helped Benjamin Bredding make the first two way telephone.
  2. He invented the first practical dictaphone

What are your thoughts about this person?

Edison was very smart and used his skills to create better items for the world. He had difficult beginnings and people didn’t always understand him but he persevered and never give up. I believe Thomas Edison is the most influential person that ever lived.

 

WWW.ThomasEdison.com

Jeff’s Eccentric People, Places and Things: J. P. Patches

image from lunchwithcasey.com

 

Will someone please explain to me whatever happened with the image of clowns? When did they go from beloved bringers of merriment to soul-eating demons, pedofile serial killers, and even a depressed living metaphor for the meaninglessness of life. From the Joker to Pennywise (who is floating back to Derry, Maine on the big screen this September) to real life evil clown John Wayne Gacy, and the “Evil Clown Sighting,” fad last year doesn’t help.  In fact, I think the only mainstream clown people do not fear is now just Ronald McDonald, well maybe except for health inspectors and PETA.

 

First of all I want to apologise to any readers who have coulrophobia, but I feel that this may help you get over your fear. Besides look at that glowing, grandfatherly figure with a red nose. Do you really feel terrified by good old Chris Wedes? Known by children of three generations in Washington State as Julius Pierpont (J. P. to his friends) Patches, Mayor of the Seattle City Dump.

 

A local gem of great value, J. P. was the star of one of the longest local American children’s television. The character first appeared in 1953 in the Minnesota station WTCN Channel 11 played by Daryl Laub. He created the clown and played him for two years, however he left for a rival studio and Chris Wedes took over the role. Chris, already a professional local actor, was unsure at first; as he already was playing several characters on various shows and didn’t want to be overworked. He soon took to the clown like a frog takes to water and even took him to Seattle in 1958. The clown would perform on his own Emmy-winning tv show for over twenty years on KIRO-TV with over 10,000 on screen hours viewed. The show would be improv without a script, with most of the characters being played by the same person. There was Ketchikan the Animal Man, Miss Smith the delivery woman biker, J. P.’s arch enemy Boris S. Wort (Second meanest man in the world!) the Swami of Pastrami and especially not forgetting the Mayor of the City Dump’s pain-in-the-kester love interest Gertrude. All played by the versible and equally talented Bob Newman. One special gimmick the the show had was an amazing magical machine called the I.C.U.2.T.V. This miraculous device, which was most certainly not cardboard with a tv camera in it, J. P. could look into the homes of young Patches Pals (name for fans) on their birthday and tell where to look for presents, that had nothing to do with parents sending in letters ahead to the studio. The I.C.U.2.T.V. also worked as a teleporter to send J.P. and others to North Pole to help Santa with his naughty and nice list for Christmas

image from jppatches.com

 

The J.P. Patches Show aired twice a day, six days a week, for the first thirteen years. The next eight years it only ran in the morning and just Saturday morning for the last two. While the cast was small there were quite a number of famous guest stars including cartoonist Al Capp, the Harlem Globetrotters, Colonel Sanders and many more. The show entertained both children and adults and had over 10 thousand hours of on-air time. It had at least 100,000 viewers especially in the Puget Sound area and southwest British Columbia. The Mayor of the City Dump also visited the Seattle Children’s Hospital in the Laurelhurst neighborhood for the sick kids free of charge. The show was canceled in 1981 but this was far from the end of J. P. Patches

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image from spudgoodman.com

 

You can’t keep a good clown down apparently. Chris Wedes and Bill Newman would continue to perform their roles in television specials as well as numerous public and private events across the state. Sadly even this circus has to close its doors eventually. On September 17 2011 J. P. put on the makeup and tattered, old, button covered, hat and coat for the last time at Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal. Fans all hoped for him a long and happy retirement but that did not come to be. Chris Wedes died ten months later on July 22, 2012 from a long battle with Multiple Myeloma, a type of cancer for white blood cells. He was 84 and survived by his wife, daughter and granddaughter. All of Puget Sound was moister than usual from the tears of Patches Pales of all ages.

 

Like many other long running local children’s show host in other states, J. P. Patches remains a minor cultural icon and almost a folk hero to the people of the Rain City. There are clips and episodes are on VHS, DVD, and the Internet. Archie McPhee, Seattle novelty company that created the “Horse Head Mask” for the internet menu, has among other weird goodies, J. P. Patches lunchboxes, socks, Christmas Tree and scented car ornaments. Along with Oregon’s clown Rusty Nails, J. P. is said to have inspired the Simpsons’ Krusty the Clown and had a shout out in the episode “Radio Bart” on Krusty’s “Birthday Buddies” list. The biggest monument, aside from the memories in fan’s hearts, is the statue, Late for the Interurban, in Fremont, Seattle, dedicated on the show’s fiftieth anniversary

 

image from wikipedia.org

 

You know what, I won’t do this for every article from now on, but here’s another YouTube video. I’m just in the mood.

JEFF’S ECCENTRIC PEOPLE, PLACES & THINGS: EMPEROR NORTON

Image result for sparkletack.com emporer norton

image from sparkletack.com

Think that politicians are off their rocker? I don’t blame you. No Matter what political party you belong to, there is no argument that most have more than one screw loose. And if there is any city in USA that has plenty of loose screws that is none other than San Francisco. But probably never in the city’s history (or the American government’s) has there been a more eccentric or bizarre character than Joshua Norton, the first and still only Emperor of the United States of America

The Emperor was born in England somewhere between 1814 and 1819, but grew up in South Africa. Joshua Abraham Norton moved to the US in 1849 with about $40,000.00, a little over one million in today’s money, to his name to seek his fortune. After some successes in real estate, he tried to make a monopoly in the rice industry with unsuccessful results that ruined him. Probably embarrassed, he left San Francisco for a short time.

Then, on September 17 1859, he entered a number of articles to various city newspapers declaring himself the “Emperor of these United States,” and later “Protector of Mexico.” For the next 20 years he paraded around the city inspecting his “realm” and delivering his own brand of philosophy and wisdom to all who would listen in an old navy uniform with golden epaulettes, a worn out old saber, gifts from the local military fort, and often with a beaver hat with a peacock feather and a brass rosette. (see picture). The people however decided to play along with him, giving him real royal treatment and the imaginary monarch was genuinely loved and respected by his “subjects”.

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image from en.wikipedia.org

He was given free meals at restaurants, rides on the trolley, a reserved seat at theaters and city council, and had a yearly inspection of the Army post at the Presidio of San Francisco. He only accepted handouts if the giver gave them as taxes and had his own money printed that was jokingly used by local business and were great souvenirs for visitors. His Imperial residence was just a room in a boarding house that he lived in for free. He even stopped an anti-Chinese riot by standing between the groups and recited the Lord’s Prayer. Another interesting event of his “reign” was when a police officer actually attempted to arrest him and send him to an asylum. The people were outraged and demanded that their Emperor Norton be released. The chief of police complied, issued a formal apology and had the police force salute the Emperor whenever he was present. His Highness saved the embarrassed policeman’s job by issuing an Imperial Pardon for the man who arrested him. He also printed a number of decrees, often printed in the city’s newspapers, demanding things like disbanding the Republican and Democrat parties, creating a League of Nations and even was a leading supporter of building the San Francisco-Oakland Bridge, a command finally obeyed long after the Emperor’s death, starting in 1933 and completed in 1936.

Some fascinating rumors spread around Emperor Norton during his “rule.” There was some talk that he sent a letter to Queen Victoria of the British Empire, asking for her hand in marriage. Some also said that he was the son of Napoleon III although Norton never claimed that, (and Louis Napoleon would still be a kid when Joshua Norton was born). Other people said that he was secretly still rich and only faked insanity. He is reported to have met a real emperor, Pedro II of Brazil when the South American monarch made a visit to the US and really did write to Queen Victoria, though I doubt she wrote back. On his way to a lecture at the California Academy of Science, His Majesty fell from a stroke and died on January 8 1880. His funeral had about 30,000 mourners and even a three gun salute. In 1934 a new tombstone was placed on his grave that said: Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.

The Emperor Norton remains a figure admired, laughed at and laughed with in American lore and San Francisco culture. He has inspired characters or appeared as a character himself in books, comics, role-play games and musicals by various authors including Mark Twain, Christopher Moore, Neil Gaiman and Robert Anton Wilson. Several western and anthology television shows have done an episode on the American Emperor including “Bonanza.” There is a walking tour in the city called “Emperor Norton’s Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine” with a guide dressed and acting as Joshua A Norton. There is even a parody religion, Discordianism, that has him as a second class saint (first class is for fictional characters) and one of the oldest LGBT organizations, the International Imperial Court System, uses the Emperor as an inspiration. (Well it is San Francisco!) The founder, Josè Sarria, gave himself the title “the Widow Norton,” and is buried at foot of his hero’s grave.

Every January 8 in the city he once ruled celebrates Emperor Norton Day. In America’s capital of Eccentricity, he still reigns  as the King of Eccentrics and is still the only monarch of the United States of America.

Image result for foundsf.com emperor norton

image from foundsf.org

Jeff’s Eccentric People, Places and Things: Mike Jittlov

 

Image result for mike jittlovimage from en.wikipedia.com

 

Who dosen’t like to go to the movies? I know prices for the snacks are outrageous when you can get them for at least three times less at the gas station. The lines are also a pain and so is all the crap you get for the first fifteen minutes of the show, (But I do enjoy  the film trailers). Well I guess we all could wait for Redbox to release the film for a buck or get Netflix. However some movies are almost forgotten as soon as they are made. Of course we’ve got our cult classics, b-movies, midnight movies and art films, but we have also have films so bad they probably should stay forgotten but we can’t because they are so bad ( I’m talking to YOU, M. Night Shyamalan’s “Last Airbender”). We do have some gems so rare they are hardly known and only the super nerdiest of nerds, geeks and film buffs can find, providing that they know what they are looking for. Which leads us to the almost unknown genuineness of Mike Jittlov.

 

Mike was born in Los Angeles on June 8, 1948. He became a math-language major at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and took an animation class to satisfy the art requirement. He made a number of short films specializing in stop motion, rotoscoping and pixilation, works that still look impressive for its time. His work won a number of awards and Academy Award nominations and even caught the eyes of the Walt Disney Company. There he created the shorts “The Collector” and its sequel “Mouse Mania” for Mickey’s 50th, a two hour special in 1978, celebrating the world famous mouse’s’ golden anniversary. “Mouse Mania” featured the first stop motion of Mickey Mouse and over one thousand Disney toys dancing in a psychiatrist’s office, with Mike Jittlov as the patient, to the tune “Baroque Hoedown,” the theme to the Disney’s Electrical Parade. The following year Jittlov worked on another project, a three minute short for another Disney special Major Effect entitled “The Wizard of Speed and Time.” In the short it…well…you know what, maybe it’s better if I just show you…

 

Whoa.

 

Just blows you away the first time you see it. Right? I mean, I can not describe how I felt when I first saw this. I learned about it in a documentary and looked forever to find it. Then, after many years, almost giving up on looking for the Wizard until, “BAM!” I discovered Youtube and experienced the magic for myself. But if you think that was amazing you should see what Mike had up his green robed sleeve. This…

 

Image result for wizard of speed and timeimage from moviepostershop.com

 

Yep,  in 1989 Mike Jittlov created a full fledged 95 minute movie based on the three minute short he created ten years ago. In this film Mike Jittlov played himself, a brilliant, eccentric but unknown jack of all movie trades trying to get his big break in showbiz, despite his talent he is non union and is constantly under attack from by the book, arrogant, money-grubbing bureaucrats out to steal or destroy his work. Mike also directed, wrote, and produced special and visual effects for the movie, among other things. A number of big named (well sort of) stars appeared in the film like Steve Brodie, Philip Michael Thomas of “Miami Vice” and “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” fame, voice actor Will Ryan and Stephen Stucker. Music was done by John Massari, who also created  the soundtrack for “Killer Klowns from Outer Space,” and Russell Carpenter worked on cinematography. He later worked on big name films including “Titanic,” “Charlie’s Angels” and “Shallow Hal.” There was even a cameo of Ward Kimball, award winning animator and on of  Walt Disney’s core animators the “Nine Old Men.”  I just love this film, five out of five star entertainment at its best.

Sadly “The Wizard” was not released in theaters for very long and only appeared in a selected areas. It has been released on VHS and LaserDisc, but not on an official DVD, and has mostly great reviews at about every website I found about it. There is a created DVD image file made by fans that Mike is aware of and supports that is available on peer to peer networks until an official is released and the complete movie and others of his works are available on Youtube for your entertaining pleasure.

 

The question that Jittlov fans all over the world (all ten dozen of them) ask is what happens next? Where is our Wizard in the robe of Green? To tell you the truth he pretty much remained a mystery. He was a fairly common visitor at conventions during the nineties. He worked as a special effects technician on the blockbuster film “Ghost” and played was the voice of Han Solo in the fan film “Darth Vader’s Psychic Hotline,” and was was an early internet user creating his own website:http://www.wizworld.com/ but it REALLY needs an update. From what I’ve heard Mike gave up making movies due to the bad luck he had with the limited release “The Wizard,” and not getting much money from the video release. Lately has moved back in with his mother to look after her in her old age. Hardly anyone know of him. Where are the Wizard of Speed and Time fanarts or cosplayers at Comic Con? Still even if he never creates another film again and despite being barely known, I still see him as a renaissance man and genius who helped bring stop motion to new levels and hop with this article more people will start appreciating that wonderful green Wizard of Hollywood, and as Mike sometimes says, “May all your fine wishes and good dreams come true”.

 

Image result for wizard of speed and timeimage from pinterest

Shape shifting frogs

Once upon a time there was a very silly frog. The frog goes ribbit and whenever the frog goes ribbit he becomes human. When the frog is human he works at a circus. His job at the circus is to be the ringmaster. The ringmaster is wearing a necklace hat and sunglasses . When he turns back into a frog he uses his long sticky tongue to catch flies. The frog thinks flies are very tasty. He accidentally said ribbit and ate a fly when he was a human. He said ew that’s disgusting. The frog can shapeshift back and forth between a human and frog.

The end

By Sonja , David , Michele and Jonatan

Kyle’s food for thought quotes!

medieval

 

“To learn to succeed, you must first learn to fail.” —Michael Jordan

Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.

– Mark Twain

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.

– Mark Twain

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step. – Lao Tzu

Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war. – Donald Trump

If you’re going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill