image borrowed from bing
“I believe the common character of the universe is not harmony--
but chaos, hostility, and murder.”--Werner Herzog.
Timothy Treadwell was a true misfit, a charismatic clown,
a sometimes actor who was proud of being born on the
same day as Daniel Day Lewis, spending his youth
surfing, screwing, drinking, & doing drugs.
During one of his paranoid flights from society
and reality, he found his handsome self
on the Katmai Pennisula in Alaska,
a federal nature reserve swarming with
He loved it there, and returned several more times,
feeling connected, driven to be there, convincing himself
that he was bonding with the fearsome bears--who
were busy eating salmon and wild berries in preparation
for their hibernation--and oddly tolerated his presence.
He became embolden and began to walk up to some
of them, giving them pet names, swimming with them,
almost petting them, facing some of them down--until
they became his life.
He returned summers for twelve consecutive years,
shooting hundreds of hours of film, passing himself
off as a bear expert, calling himself the Grizzly Man
& an Eco-Warrior, appeared on the Discovery Channel,
Dateline NBC, and once even on David Letterman,
gave lectures to wildlife groups & school children,
formed a non-profit organization called Grizzly People,
soliciting enough money to keep funding
his annual treks to the Katmai.
He prided himself, bragged about facing the grizzlies
unarmed, never took a weapon with him, not even
a pistol--began to fancy himself as the bear’s
“Protector”. Looking into the camera at one point
he said, “I will die for these animals.”
It began to be obvious that his posturing was
becoming false braggadocio, shadow play,
a sad absurd sham. His effeminate speech,
gait, and demeanor did not ever threaten
the indifferent swarms of bear. At one point
he faced his own camera and said,
“I often wish I were gay--life would be
so much easier.”
In 2003, after an altercation with an airline employee,
Timothy snapped, and returned to the Katmai
with a female companion just as Fall was
turning the peninsula crimson.
One cold night in October, a rogue embittered old boar
came into their tent and dragged Treadwell outside.
He was only armed with his camera, which he activated,
but had left the lens cap on--so what was recorded
was only the terrible audio of him being eaten alive.
His companion did not flee. She attacked the grizzly
with a frying pan. He turned and killed her too.
The bear took two days to devour them both.
All that was found later were some tennis shoes,
part of a hand and wrist still wearing a man’s watch,
part of a head still attached to a picked clean
backbone, and part of a female ribcage.
Years later director Werner Herzog made a documentary
about this strange deluded man, trimming the hundreds
of hours of raw footage down to 103 minutes of film.
“I found that in all the faces of the grizzlies he filmed,
there was no kinship, no understanding, no mercy.”
So after a strange decade of bruin charade,
Timothy Treadwell got what he truly wished for--
a martyr’s death.
Posted over on dVerse Poets MTB
Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?