Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ursus Pretentious

image borrowed from bing

Ursus Pretentious

“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
Ursus Horribilis--grizzlies.

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. 

Glenn Buttkus

April 2013

Posted over on dVerse Poets MTB

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?


Brian Miller said...


in the end our pride eats us
and we end up pieces in its shat


and post humusly
maybe we do get there


sorry i am in a funny mood today

Anonymous said...

I remember this - and saw the documentary - he did get what he wanted - oddly enough - but not what he expected. K

Claudia said...

oh heck...what a story...wonder why they tolerated him so long...

Victoria said...

Oh my. Great example of irony, but sadly, of the kind of self-confidence that deludes. Nature demands our respect. Nicely told.

Anonymous said...

Some people are just a danger to themselves. Imagine him not realising that the only reason he lasted so long was because salmon were even easier to catch than he was.

brudberg said...

Oh I recall this. And when it come to irony it's so befitting that it was Werner Herzog doing the film - I still recall glimpses of Aguirre - the wrath of God

Actually a lot in common with Aguirre and Grizzly man

Unknown said...

I remember this story. Always felt disturbed by his fearlessness - it didn't seem possible that it could have a happy ending and of course it didn't but the irony runs deep in this story and I don't even know how I would have put it into words- glad you did :)

Anonymous said...

I don't remember the story but absolutely loved your telling of it. I think I might have to find that documentary.

Anonymous said...

A disturbing tale and ironic outcome.

Anonymous said...

Very polarizing documentary

Herzog = Genius

While I agree that Treadwell was misguided and had a lot of emotional and psychological problems and conducted himself hypocritically to the point that his actions endangered bears and other wildlife and another human being (the female friend whom was also killed), I want to point out that people of all educational backgrounds and experiences, including bear biologists and zoo workers and specialized photographers of wildlife and National Park workers and people who owned bears, have been killed by grizzly bears, in addition to polar bears and black bears, as well as other wildlife animals, and even "domesticated" monkeys, and dogs.

Michio Hoshino specialized in photographing the Alaskan grizzly bear, and he was killed by a grizzly bear in Russia

It's not Treadwell's fault that he was killed by a bear, it was simply a survival of the fittest situation and the bear won

It was a survival of the fittest situation because Mankind has a natural inborn inclination and natural right to explore the wild, and animals in the wild are naturally programmed to defend themselves and their territory

Campers, hikers, backpackers, scientists, wildlife photographers, zoo workers, National Park workers, wildlife reserve workers, bear owners,, have been killed by bears, some were killed even after shooting their attacking bear

Once upon a time bear hunters were killed by bears, 'tis